Meet the Staff

 

Occupational Therapists

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Stacy Kozlowski, OTR/L
Abil-OT Owner 

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Jenny Bednar, COTA/L

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Alyson Davis, MOT, OTR/L

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Janine Fogarty, COTA/L

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Venus Griffith, COTA/L

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Meghan Machin, COTA/L

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Anika Schuyler, COTA/L

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Alyssa Smith, COTA/L

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Brittany Smith, COTA/L

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Penny Wood, MS, OTR/L

Speech Therapists

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Stephanie Ayers, MS, CCC-SLP 

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Julianne Russo, MS, CCC-SLP

Physical Therapists

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Coming Soon!

Elizabeth Bevelacqua, PT

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Tanya Josephs, PT, DPT

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Katy Littlefield, PTA

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Leah Lawson, PT, DPT

Office Staff

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Tabitha Talley, Office Manager 

 

Stacy Kozlowski, OTR/L

Abil-OT Owner 

Stacy is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience in the areas of developmental disabilities, physical dysfunction, environmental modifications, sensory processing disorder and feeding.

 

As an occupational therapist, Stacy believes it is vitally important to treat client’s psychological and emotional well-being, as well as their physical needs. She is passionate about her role in helping children overcome adversity, and is always  inspired by the tenacity of the human spirit. It is truly gratifying to be a part of the healing process, or the process of watching a child develop and acquire new skills. Whether a child is challenged physically, mentally or emotionally, being able to analyze, identify and implement techniques that result in positive change is deeply humbling. It could be as simple as providing equipment to a child with increased muscle tone that enables them to self feed, or training caregivers on a sensory diet that increases a child’s ability to participate in family mealtimes or attend social gatherings, but to many families it is anything but simple, it’s life-changing. It is immensely rewarding to be a part of that process.

 

Stacy began her career working with children and adults, and supporting families recover and regain function following traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and burns. The opportunity to work closely alongside a diverse team of medical professionals was invaluable to her growth as a therapist.  As gratifying as she found working with children in the acute stages of illness and injury, she found her greatest assets were helping adapt and modify physical, social and emotional barriers for children with developmental disabilities to gain purposeful connections in their communities. 

 

As an OT for United Cerebral Palsy in NYC, with extensive training in community integration and adaptive equipment, Stacy was chosen to direct the design and renovation of a simulated training apartment for people with disabilities. The apartment became a platform to train children and young adults how to access their home environment, focusing on environmental modifications and adaptive strategies that allowed them to live as independently as possible, with emphasis on their abilities. Following the renovation, she managed the UCP/NYC orthotics and bracing clinic, working alongside the physiatrist and orthotist to fit children with customized orthoses and adaptive equipment to maximize their functional independence.

 

After moving to North Carolina in 2009 with her family, Stacy has been dedicated to integrating her passion for universal accessibility by helping children and their families harness their inner strength, while working with children in diverse environments. She is driven by a desire to promote accessibility and community integration for children with physical and emotional challenges, while promoting self determination.

 

Stacy has training in the areas of Neurodevelopmental Treatment, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, Handwriting Without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, The Wilbarger Protocol, Sensory Integration and Meditation. Stacy also has extensive knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis, integrating sensory based strategies with behavior based interventions for optimal progress and goal attainment. Stacy is also trained in the AEIOU Systematic Approach to Pediatric Feeding, the Merry Mealtime Guide, the Safe and Sound Protocol, and is SOFFI certified. 

 

She has been happily married to her husband John for 15 years, and they are the proud parents of 3 daughters.

 

Jenny Bednar , COTA/L

Jenny is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant. Jenny graduated from Virginia Tech University receiving her Bachelors of Science in Human Development with a focus in Childhood and Adolescence. Jenny knew she always wanted work with children even from a young age.  She further pursed her education by attending Baltimore County Community College receiving her Associates Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2015.

 

Jenny has a passion for working with children and their families. She believes parent participation and collaboration is vital in therapy. Jenny has experience working in different pediatric settings including schools, pre-schools, daycares, and private practice. Beginning her career working in a private practice, Jenny’s population included ages 3-21 with various disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Visual Perceptual and Fine Motor Deficits, Sensory Processing Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Feeding Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Learning Disabilities. From there, Jenny worked in a public separate day school treating medically fragile children and adolescents with Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairments, and other genetic disorders. It was there that Jenny learned that the little moments of success are indeed big moments and should be celebrated! Jenny has a passion for finding the just right challenge during therapy sessions while always making the child feel successful. Jenny enjoys bringing creativity, messy play, movement, patience, and energy to her treatment sessions.

 

Jenny and her husband just moved to Cary and are enjoying exploring the outdoors with their dog. Outside of work, Jenny enjoys biking, traveling, art, and spending time with family and friends.

 

Alyssa Smith, COTA/L

Alyssa graduated from Pitt Community College in 2016, earning her Associate's Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.  She has since worked with both the pediatric and adult populations, specializing in early intervention. Prior to starting her career in Occupational Therapy, Alyssa spent ten years as a nanny working with children with and without special needs and their families.  It was on this journey that she was introduced to the profession of occupational therapy and she witnessed first-hand the difference OT made in the lives of children and their caregivers.  She was inspired by the occupational therapist and the intimate relationship that evolved in therapy, empowering and unleashing a child's hidden potential. Alyssa has also spent a great deal of time volunteering for Pitt County Schools adaptive physical education programs, helping children with special needs actively participate in physical activities alongside their peers.

 

For Alyssa, it is a privilege to help support and encourage children to participate in daily tasks and overcome obstacles and barriers that may seem impossible or insurmountable.  Alyssa is a dynamic therapist who brings skill, creativity, excitement, and compassion to her treatment approach, specializing in child and family centered interventions to help clients meet their goals. She is experienced in developmental delays, fine and gross motor delays, visual processing and visual perceptual skill impairments, sensory processing disorder, autism, and Down Syndrome. 

On a personal note, Alyssa is happily married to her husband  Gray. They live in Clayton with their two energetic dogs, Charley and Sadie. Alyssa has a passion for music, crafting, and the outdoors.
 

 

Stephanie Ayers, MS, CCC-SLP 

Stephanie attended California State University, Sacramento where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and then her Masters degree in Speech Pathology. Stephanie has over 10 years of experience working with children of all ages in a variety of settings including public schools, private clinics, preschool centers, and homes. Stephanie is constantly expanding her repertoire of skilled interventions with professional competency courses. She has attended a variety of conferences and professional trainings, including Hanen and PROMPT trainings. Stephanie enjoys working with families to help them learn how to facilitate their child's communication skills, and loves seeing new communication skills emerge!  She is happily married and a mother of three.

 

Julianne Russo, MS, CCC-SLP

Julianne completed her undergraduate studies in cognitive science at the University of Delaware, and her graduate studies in communication disorders at SUNY New Paltz. Throughout her educational career, she has gained experience working with a variety of populations as a student clinician. While studying upstate New York, she provided in-home services to children 0-3 years of age; worked with a geriatric population in an audiology clinic; and served pre-teen and teenage children in a middle school setting. She graduated in 2016 with a M.S. in Communication Disorders, and began working on Long Island shortly thereafter. Julianne completed her clinical fellowship year working with children 3-16 years of age. She has experience serving children with a wide variety of diagnoses, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Nagar Syndrome, as well as children with developmental or speech delays. During her time as a clinical fellow, Julianne worked to become level 2 PROMPT trained and attend many continuing education courses in Applied Behavior Analysis. In 2017, Julianne moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and has loved the change of pace! She has been working in elementary schools for the past 3 years, and has found her passion working with children of all ages. She is enthusiastic about working with other professionals and family members, and incorporating a team approach into her therapy sessions.

 

Brittany Smith, COTA/L

Brittany is a highly skilled and trained Occupational Therapy Assistant.   As a therapist, and as a mom to 2 teenagers, Brittany is passionate about working with children, helping them access their inner strength and determination so they are able to reach their full potential.  She firmly believes that trust and commitment should be the foundation of any relationship.  She is keenly aware how important the therapeutic relationship is to functional progress, helping children feel safe and empowered to step outside their comfort zone. 

 

Brittany has volunteered extensively in the public school system, helping children to adapt to their environment and to achieve their classroom goals.  Brittany has diverse experience working with adults and children with brain injuries in various settings, and understands the unique presentation of each individual with a brain injury.  It is always her commitment to recognize the strengths of her clients and adapt client centered treatment plans.  She has also worked in the school environment as well as outpatient pediatric setting, working with a variety of diagnoses including sensory processing disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, and developmental delays.  Brittany believes in a holistic approach when treating the child, actively involving the family to maximize follow through and carry over. 

 

Brittany has an interest in sensory processing disorders, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Brittany lives in Bailey with her 14-year-old daughter Jocelyn and 13-year-old son Landon along with a house full of animals including 2 dogs, 3 cats and a feisty hedgehog. She has volunteered in her children’s schools, with the church and participates every year in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” as this is a passion of hers. Brittany enjoys spending as much time as she can with her extended family and friends on the boat at the lake or venturing out for whatever activity they pick for the day. 

 

Janine Fogarty, COTA/L

Janine is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant with over nine years of experience working in various areas of developmental disabilities. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at York College in New York City. Janine worked in the city as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, connecting children and their families to well-deserved services. Soon after, she obtained her Applied Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant at Suffolk County Community College in New York. 

 

Witnessing the impact Occupational Therapy can have on someone’s life firsthand, is what drew Janine to this career. She finds joy in the little things in life because they are all parts of the bigger picture. She believes in considering the whole person and discovering what motivates them. By doing so, she can create interventions that are encouraging and at the “just right challenge.” Being able to maximize a child’s capacity to play, be included and grow to their full potential is truly fulfilling. Contributing to the process and seeing a difference, not only humbles her but fuels her to explore and learn more. 

 

She has experience in home and community-based settings working with children with autism, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorders, developmental delays, and more. She has worked both in the school setting as a teacher’s assistant and a respite worker. She has experience using communication boards, transition pictures, various devices, interactive metronome, vibe plate, weighted vests and more. In response to the pandemic, she helped create, launch, and facilitate a telehealth program for children. 

 

Janine is a volunteer Program Director at a summer camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. She has been involved with the organization since 2011. With her background in sports and fitness, she develops and facilitates the sports activities for the children with the proper modifications. She is also a part of the leadership team and helps with planning throughout the year. She feels lucky to be able to help provide this experience for the children so that they could do what is most important in their lives, to be a kid.

 

Janine and her husband recently moved to the area to be closer to family. Outside of work and volunteering, she enjoys going on adventures, exploring new places, playing board games, and trying new foods!

 

Penny Wood, MS, OTR/L

Penny is a graduate of Towson University with her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, with over 25 years of experience working with children and adults.  She is specialized in the areas of sensory integration, picky eating, and fine motor skills.  She is certified in Therapeutic Listening, including use of Quick Shifts; Astronaut Training (visual-vestibular-auditory triad); and Interactive Metronome (IM).  Penny excels at maximizing functional independence for self care, vision/visual perceptual skills, and integrating family-professional partnerships. 

 

Outside of work, Penny enjoys horseback riding, playing with her dogs, biking, hiking, and kayaking.  

 

Elizabeth Bevelacqua, PT

Liz is a pediatric physical therapist who has enjoyed many years of work in the field.  She graduated from Daemen College in East Amherst, NY.  She has been a PT for 32 years She has worked in a myriad of settings, including outpatient clinics, home health, residential facilities, and public schools. Liz has treated children with a variety of diagnoses, including but not limited to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal diseases. She has extensive training in adaptive equipment and orthotics. Liz has a passion for assisting children of all ages along their path. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading and gardening.

 

Alyson Davis, MOT, OTR/L

Alyson received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Louisiana Tech University and then went on to receive her Master’s of Occupational Therapy from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. After receiving her Master’s Degree in 2014, Alyson moved to North Carolina with her husband to start her career as a pediatric occupational therapist. Alyson has worked in multiple settings, including daycares, outpatient clinics, schools, and homes, and she has worked with children with a variety of diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, developmental delay, ADHD, anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Alyson has extensive experience utilizing a sensory integrative approach during therapy sessions and believes in the importance of motivating, child-led therapy to maximize progress. Alyson has advanced training in the Safe and Sound Protocol, Handwriting Without Tears, the ALERT program, and LAMP (Language Acquisition Through Motor Planning). She also has experience utilizing Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, and Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) in her therapy sessions. Alyson believes strongly in the importance of a team approach and enjoys collaborating with families and other disciplines to maximize a child’s progress across environments. In her spare time, Alyson likes to listen to music and enjoy the outdoors with her husband and son.

 

Meghan Machin, COTA/L

Meghan is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant. She graduated from Cortland State University with a Bachelor' of Science in Special Education.  While teaching, Meghan first learned about Occupational Therapy and quickly realized it was her true calling.  Meghan further pursed her education by attending Suffolk County Community College receiving her Associates Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2015. 
 
Meghan has worked in a variety of pediatric settings where she treated populations of age 2-21 with various disorders such as Developmental Delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD/ADD, Visual Perceptual and Fine Motor Deficits, Opposition Defiant Disorder and Down Syndrome.  Meghan has some experience with specialized tools such as Weighted Vest, Proprioceptive Vest, and Therapeutic Listening.  Meghan has a passion for working with children and understands the value of working closely with their families. She believes parent collaboration is a vital part of the therapeutic team.   
 
Meghan and her husband just moved to Clayton with their one-year-old son from Long Island, New York.  They are enjoying exploring their new surroundings. Outside of work, Meghan enjoys traveling, music, finding a good coffee spot, trying new restaurants, and spending time with family and friends. 

 

Venus Griffith, COTA/L 

Venus is a passionate and dynamic pediatric therapist whose personal experience with her youngest daughter, a micro preemie diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, led her to devote her life to helping other children and families overcome adversity.  Watching her child achieve milestones with the assistance of skilled and caring therapists helped her understand the unique and vital role Occupational Therapists serve in helping children gain independence.  She has experience working with children in the school and outpatient settings with a wide array of diagnoses including developmental delays, Autism, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, sensory processing disorders, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, and gross and fine motor deficits.  She is a licensed and board certified Occupational Therapy Assistant who is skilled in working with families and caregivers as well as collaborating with other practitioners to help individuals develop and reach their personal goals.  Venus has diverse experience working with both adults and children and enjoys working with families to help each individual reach their full potential. Venus resides in Goldsboro with her two daughters Alivia, 11 and Amelia, 7,  and their English bulldog, Texy.  In our spare time we love to go to church, watch movies and play sports outdoors, and try out new restaurants. 

 

Katy Littlefield, PTA 

Katy is compassionate, driven, and ready for the adventure. She has been a Physical Therapist Assistant for 4 years having gained experience in inpatient, outpatient, and home health working with everyone from 0 to 102. Her past experiences, including starting out as a traveling therapist, giving her the opportunity to work with a variety of neurological and musculoskeletal diagnoses. She embraces every client, every challenge, every goal, teamed with brilliant therapists to provide fun, creative and purposeful interventions to advance movement and mobility.

 

Katy not only has a love for therapy but absolutely loves being outdoors. She swam competitively for 14 years and in that time also coached young kids how to swim. Katy is a new mom and recently relocated to North Carolina.

 

Leah Lawson, PT, DPT

Leah received their undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biology from The University of Texas at Austin before moving to Eastern Kentucky and earning their Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Kentucky.  Leah is committed to advocating for people in the community and enjoys helping children with special needs, volunteering during graduate school to assist with accessibility in education and coordinating resources for those underserved in the community.  During their internship, they developed a passion for working with children and families, treating a variety of diagnoses in a small, community hospital rotating through the outpatient clinic and NICU.  Since graduating, Leah has worked with both adults and children, helping patients with dementia in memory care facilities, and evaluating and treating infants and young children in the community.  They find their true calling in pediatrics, working alongside families and caregivers to help infants with diagnoses including torticollis, plagiocephaly, brachial plexus injury, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and developmental delays. While in school, Leah completed their capstone clinical in a pediatric outpatient facility treating a wide range of conditions, and is excited to work in outpatient pediatrics.  Leah enjoys rock climbing, dancing and attempting to train their dog to not eat food off the sidewalk in their free time.

 

Tabitha Talley, Office Manager 

Tabitha attended Campbell University and received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She spent 12 years in law enforcement as a fingerprint agent and then a police officer. She recently stepped away from the law enforcement world to be able to take care of her daughter, Emmie, who was born with down syndrome. 

 

In her free time, she loves to play volleyball. She also loves to go on hikes and bike rides with her daughter and husband of almost 7 years. 

 

She is an integral part of the Abil-OT team, helping families with scheduling and understanding the initial intake process, coordinating between therapists and clients, and obtaining authorizations.  Tabitha understands first-hand the challenges of caring for a child with special needs and takes great care to ensure all families and children are warmly welcomed into the Abil-OT family and receive the assistance they need.  Staff often say she is the pulse of Abil-OT Kids Therapy, and we are so fortunate to have her.

 

Tanya Josephs, PT, DPT

Tanya is a dynamic and highly trained physical therapist.  She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Studies from Merrimack College in North Andover, MA.  Tanya continued her education in the pursuit of her goal of becoming a PT at the University of Rhode Island where she obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.  Tanya has a passion for connecting with her patients and their families as they work toward goals in a collaborative manner.  She has 10 years of experience in multiple health care settings working with children and adults including: outpatient clinics, inpatient rehab, skilled nursing facilities and home health care. Tanya has extensive training and experience working with neurological, developmental, cardiopulmonary and orthopedic diagnoses.

 

She recently relocated to the Raleigh area from Rhode Island with her husband and three young children. Tanya is an avid reader, writer, podcast listener and binge-worthy series watcher, but she cherishes spending time with her family most.

 

Anika Schuyler, COTA/L  

Anika is a certified and licensed occupational therapy assistant with experience working in the pediatric outpatient setting. It is her passion to empower children to conquer their own world. Anika values working closely with families to provide the best outcome for the child. Anika spends her time outside of the office with her fiancé, at the gym or exploring the beautiful state of NC.