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Faculty and Staff

Ruth Ramsey

Full Time Faculty

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L Director and Chair
Professor and Chair

BS, San Francisco State University
MS, San Jose State University
Ed.D., University of San Francisco

Dr. Ramsey is the founding director and chair of the occupational therapy program at Dominican University of California. Since its inception in 1996, she has led the program through three national accreditations and a transition to graduate degree-granting status. The program currently enrolls over 200 majors in two tracks, an entry-level master's track and a BS/MS track. Prior to establishing the program at Dominican, she taught at San Jose State University and practiced clinically in the area of mental health with adults, adolescents and seniors. She holds a master's degree in occupational therapy from San Jose State University and a doctoral degree in Education from the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Ramsey teaches across the curriculum and also supervises Capstone project groups. Her research interests include healthy aging, community-based practice in occupational therapy, and innovative approaches to health professions education. Dr. Ramsey is active in state and national professional associations and presents regularly at conferences. She is a past member of the Commission on Practice of the American Occupational Therapy Association, and a co-founder of the Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Action Coalition. Link to Ruth Ramsey's full profile

Li Kitsum

Kitsum Li, OTD, OTR/L 
Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy 

OTD, Rocky Mountain University
MS, Suny Buffalo 

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr. Li was the 6th Hong Kong-trained graduate entering into the profession of Occupational Therapy.  Dr. Li has certifications in both Neuro Developmental Therapy and Neuro-Ifrah for the management and treatment of adults with hemiplegia.  She has also received advance training in Bioness, Myomo and Saebo, and other contemporary interventions used in the treatment of hemiplegic upper extremities. Her areas of interest include interventions for individuals with vestibular dysfunction, low vision, cognitive and visual-perceptual impairments. In addition to being a certified FallProof instructor, Dr. Li also holds advanced practice licenses in California in hand therapy and physical agent modalities.

Dr. Li has over 20 years of clinical experience in working with adults and seniors in a variety of settings. She was one of the pioneer therapists to work with head injury in community-based program as well as onsite therapist in industrial settings in the 1990s. Currently, she teaches Occupation in Adults and Seniors I and II, and serves as thesis advisor. In addition to teaching,she maintains her clinical practice in outpatient clinic working primarily in Hand therapy and CVA rehabilitation. Link to Kitsum Li's full profile


Alison Virzi

Alison Virzi, MS, OTR/L
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Occupational Therapy
Assistant Professor     

BS, Dominican University of California
MS, Dominican University of California

Alison Virzi is the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at Dominican University.  In this role she is responsible for the development of fieldwork sites and placement of students.  Alison is a Marin native and a graduate of the first Dominican University of California Occupational Therapy class in 2000. Upon graduation she worked as a hand therapist for two outpatient hand clinics in Marin.  She has taught various classes in the occupational therapy program, and supervised students for the Healthy Seniors community practice lab and Marin Brain Injury Network. She also advises freshmen in the program.

Alison received her Master's degree in Education in spring 2011.  Her Master's thesis, entitled "Preventing Dequervain's Tendonitis in Nursing Mothers," was published in the Educational Resources Information Center. Alison continues to live in her hometown of Fairfax with her two children, Kate and Drew. Link to Dominican Scholar Selected Works page.



Jane Dressler, JD., OTR/L
Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
Academic Fieldwork Associate, Occupational Therapy                                                                                                                                                    

BS, SUNY-Buffalo
MS, San Jose State University
JD, Golden Gate University School of Law

Jane Dressler, JD, OTR/L has practiced and/or taught psychosocial occupational therapy for over 30 years.  She earned her undergraduate degree in OT from State University of New York Buffalo and later went on to receive a masters degree in Health Care Administration from San Jose State University.  Mid career she attended Golden Gate University School of Law and was admitted to the California Bar in 2001. In addition to psychosocial OT practice, her interests are in advocacy, leadership and governmental affairs. Link to Dominican Scholar Selected Works page.


Shad St LouisShad St. Louis, MS, OTR/L
Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy                                                                                                                                                       

BA, St. Olaf College
MS, Tufts University

Shad has been an occupational therapist at both the clinical and administrative levels since 1995. He has worked primarily in the area of physical rehabilitation with a focus on neuro-rehabilitation, particularly spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. He has recently held his ADED specialty certification in Driver Rehabilitation and has presented extensively at local, regional and national levels on this topic. A leading academic point of interest for him is the effective learning of clinical reasoning skills and the bridge to their application in clinical settings.  

Shad maintains a clinical practice at Alta Bates Herrick Rehab Hospital in Berkeley and also at San Francisco General Hospital.  Shad currently teaches Occupations of Adults and Seniors 1, Conditions in OT, and Human Movement Analysis.


Ruth Ramsey

Julia Wilbarger, Ph.D., OTR/L
Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy

MS, Boston University
Ph.D., University of Denver                                                                

Julia Wilbarger, Ph.D., OTR/L joined the faculty as an adjunct professor in the fall 2012 semester to launch her thesis groups, and in the spring 2013 as an associate professor. She was previously an assistant professor of occupational therapy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She holds a Master of Science degree in occupational therapy from Boston University, and a doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology, specializing in developmental cognitive neuroscience, from the University of Denver. Dr. Wilbarger has done extensive research,  published and presented on issues of sensory processing, sensory modulation disorders, and sensory integration in children.


Melisa Kaye, MS, OTR/L                                   Mkaye bio photo.jpg
Term Instructor, Occupational Therapy

BS San Jose State University
MS San Jose State University

Melisa Kaye, MS, OTR/L has been in pediatric Occupational Therapy practice since 1999. Melisa is the founder and director of Firefly Center: Therapy Services for Children, a San Mateo based pediatric OT clinic. Melisa holds advanced certification in Sensory Integration, and has extensive experience with school-based and clinical OT practice and management. She has provided consultation and program development services to a variety of organizations throughout San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties, with emphases on serving at-risk children and families, children developmental challenges, and children with regulatory and sensory processing difficulties. Melisa co-authored the book Let’s Go to Kindergarten: A Family Guide to School Readiness. She advocates, educates and presents extensively on factors involved in school preparation and success.

Melisa is a faculty member at Dominican University and at San Jose State University. Her teaching and research interests include education in the digital age, Autism, sensory processing and integration, handwriting/perceptual motor skill, kindergarten readiness, self-regulated learning, and the development of cognitive and metacognitive skills in children. Melisa is a 2014 California State University Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program award Recipient, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Education at the University of San Francisco. Link to Dominican Scholar Selected Works page.

Part Time Faculty

Joanne FigoneJoanne Figone, MS, OTR/L
Associate Adjunct Professor, Occupational Therapy

BA, University of California, Berkeley
MA, University of Southern California

Joanne has been in the field of pediatric occupational therapy for over 30 years, working in acute care settings, school environments, out-patient community clinics, and private clinics. She presently has a private practice in Petaluma, California. She has extensive experience with early intervention, feeding disorders, neuro-muscular disorders, autism spectrum disorders, school intervention and sensory integration. She is certified in the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests, Neuro-developmental Therapy, Perceptual Enrichment Program, and the Handwriting Without Tears Program.

Ms. Figone also has training in the Therapeutic Listening program, the SOS feeding program, and the Interactive Metronome Program. She has presented numerous workshops regarding child development, feeding, pediatric occupational therapy, sensory processing, and neuro-developmental therapy to therapists, teachers, mental health professionals, and parents. She is currently a workshop presenter for Handwriting Without Tears. She teaches Occupations of Children and Adolescents l and II, including clinical and community practice labs. Link to Dominican Scholar Selected works page.


Shad St LouisSusan Schwartz, MPA, OTR/L, FAOTA
Adjunct Professor, Occupational Therapy

BS, San Jose State University
MPA, University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning & Development

Susan Schwartz received her Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy from San Jose State University in 1974, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning & Development in 1985.  She has served as the Program Coordinator and Manager for several medical centers and as a consultant for the American Occupational Therapy Association.  She is currently serving on the Steering Committee for Dominican University’s Center for Health Aging, and on the Community Advisory Board for the University of California San Francisco HDF Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Ms. Schwartz has received numerous awards, including the Hector Cortes Community Service Award which was presented to her by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin in December of 2013, and is recognized for her clinical and organizational leadership.  Her research on breast cancer and the environment has been presented throughout the Bay Area.  Her work with colleagues on the “Latina Adolescent Outreach Project” was awarded first prize for “Greatest Public Health Impact” at the Breast Cancer and Environment Research Center’s 5th annual meeting in 2008.  Susan teaches the Community Program Development course in the occupational therapy department at Dominican University.



Diane Griffeath, MAShad St Louis 
Administrative Coordinator, Occupational Therapy 

BA, Dominican University of California
MA, San Francisco State University                                                                  

 Diane Griffeath, MA, joined the Occupational Therapy Department as the Administrative Coordinator in January 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Dominican University, and a Master of Arts degree in gerontology with a specialization in long term care administration from San Francisco State University. 


Claire Murphy, BA Claire Murphy.jpg
Instructional Resource Coordinator, Occupational Therapy

BA, New College of California                                                           

Claire Murphy joined the Occupational Therapy Department as the Instructional Resource Coordinator in September 2013. She holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University and taught grades K-8 prior to her coordinator positions in higher education. She enjoys making pottery in her spare time. 

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Faculty & Staff