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Full-time Faculty

Gwen Bartolacci, OTD, OTR/L

Associate Professor and Weekend College Coordinator
Phone: (570) 674-6257


Dr. Bartolacci is a licensed occupational therapist with 20 years of clinical experience. She has been a staff therapist, manager and director of occupational therapy services in a variety of settings and has worked extensively with adults with psychiatric conditions and physical disabilities. Dr. Bartolacci received a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of North Dakota and a Master of Education degree from Pennsylvania State University. She earned her doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Nova Southeastern University. Special interests include community-based occupational therapy services, lifestyle redesign, health promotion and wellness programs.

Lori Charney, MS, OTR/L

Lori Charney, OTD, OTR/L is a 1993 graduate of College Misericordia where she received her BS in Occupational Therapy. She has worked as an OT in various practice areas including home health care and adult inpatient rehabilitation with a focus on stroke, spinal cord, oncology and orthopedic specialty areas. Dr. Charney returned to Misericordia University to obtain a post professional master’s degree in OT in 2011 and a clinical doctorate in 2014. Her doctoral capstone was the development of a sensory/social summer camp for students with autism which included a research component to determine the effectiveness of pairing sensory activities and social skills instruction to improve social participation. Dr. Charney presented her capstone at the national AOTA conference in Baltimore, MD in April, 2014. She also has extensive experience in the public school system where she developed a district wide sensory program, an assistive technology program, and an outdoor sensory playground. Dr. Charney, who is an assistant professor, teaches introduction to OT, conceptual foundations, geriatric intervention, contexts and environments, and is a research chair in the weekday program.

Lori Charney

Joseph Cipriani, Ed.D., OTR/L

Phone: (570) 674-6412

Dr. Cipriani earned his B.A. degree from Wilkes College, a B.S. degree from Misericordia University, M.A. degree from Wichita State University, and his Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Cipriani is a full professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. He teaches courses in Applied Functional Anatomy, Research Methods, Geriatric Intervention, a doctoral course in advanced research methods, and supervises student research projects. Professor Cipriani has presented 13 papers at national or international conferences in occupational therapy, often in conjunction with student research groups. He has presented in venues as diverse as the American Occupational Therapy Association National Conferences; World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress (Montreal, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden), the World Congress of Rehabilitation International (Oslo, Norway), and the International Federation of Aging World Conference in Prague, Czech Republic.

He has also co-authored 11 articles in professional journals, and written two book chapters. Dr. Cipriani has published in well known journals such as Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics; The Australian Journal of Occupational Therapy; The World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin; Arthritis Care and Research; and the British Journal of Occupational Therapy. Most of his published research has been in the practice area of geriatrics and has been co-authored by students within the occupational therapy program. He has recently been appointed to the Editorial Review Board for the journal Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics. Dr. Cipriani was honored with the 1995 Misericordia University Teaching Excellence Award and in 2007, the Lewis & Barbara Alesi Excellence in Scholarship Award. He is one of only 4 professors in the history of Misericordia University to win more than one of the three highest faculty awards. He had maintained his clinical practice as a per diem therapist a regional medical center in acute care (including intensive care unit, cardiac services unit, and trauma care), rehabilitation, and outpatient services for over 20 years. Dr. Cipriani has also had the privilege of being a chaperone on multiple student service trips through Campus Ministry at Misericordia, including western Jamaica, and City Mission homeless shelter in Schenectady, New York.

Picture of Joseph Cipriani

Jennifer Dessoye, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Assistant Professor
Phone: (570) 674-6494

Jennifer Dessoye OTD, earned her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and a Bachelors in Psychology from Misericordia University. After practicing for 10 years she decided to further her education and completed her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from her alma mater. Dr. Dessoye practiced in both in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation including an executive role as the manager of 5 clinics and their respective PT, OT and Speech professionals. After having children of her own, she found her passion treating children in the school system. She loves her work with children, especially those on the autism spectrum, and still maintains a current practice in pediatrics while teaching at MU. In addition to teaching full time, she developed and owns the Kindergarten Readiness Program in Hazleton, PA . Currently she is teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses: Occupations I, Occupations II, Pediatric Intervention I, Introduction to OT, Pediatric Assessment, Management and Supervision, as well as research groups interested in pediatrics.

  Jennifer Dessoye

Dawn M. Evans, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor
Phone: (570) 674-6415

Dawn M. Evans, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department at Misericordia University. Dr. Evans holds a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree (’12), Master of Science degree in Organizational Management (’05) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy with a minor in Psychology (’88) from Misericordia University.

Dr. Evans has twenty-five years of clinical experience in the practice areas of psychiatry, physical disabilities, and forensics. She has held positions as an occupational therapist at Danville State Hospital working with persistently mentally ill clients on behavior modification units, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center on the in-patient acute care and rehabilitation units, Farview State Hospital/SCI Waymart with persistently mentally ill forensic clients and Mercy Special Care Hospital on the gero-psychiatric unit. Occupational therapy courses Dr. Evans currently teaches include: OT 103 Introduction to Occupational Therapy weekend program, OT 220 Human Development I weekday program, OT 221 Human Development II weekday and weekend programs, OT 511 Adult Intervention lecture and lab weekday and weekend programs, OT 570 OT Management and Supervision weekday program and OT 690/695 Research Project I and II weekday program.

Dr. Evans research interests are in health and wellness. She is currently involved in conducting collaborative research projects with graduate occupational therapy students in the areas of adolescent and parent perceptions of healthy living. Dr. Evans has presented at numerous state and national occupational therapy conferences. Dr. Evans was the lead investigator and co-author of the following article:

  • Evans, D., Conte, K., Gilroy, M., Marvin, T., Theysohn, H., and Fisher, G. (2008). Occupational Therapy- Meetin the Needs of Older Adult Workers? Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, 31(1), 73-82.


  Dawn Evans

Grace Fisher, Ed.D., OTR/L

Professor & Department Chair

Grace Sheldon Fisher, Ed.D., OTR/L, is the Chair of the Misericordia University Occupational Therapy Department. Dr. Fisher holds a doctoral degree in educational administration from Temple University (’97), a master of science degree in human services administration from Misericordia University (’87), a post-baccalaureate certificate of proficiency in occupational therapy from the University of Pennsylvania (’79), and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Wilkes College (’74). She previously held positions at White Haven Center, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, and Gannon University. At Misericordia University Dr. Fisher teaches OT 520 Research Design and OT 320 Impairments and Disabilities.

Dr. Fisher’s professional experience includes adult and geriatric physical disabilities practice and occupational therapy management. She is certified in neurodevelopmental therapy for the person with adult hemiplegia. She also serves as a faculty research committee chair in the graduate research series for the occupational therapy program. Dr. Fisher is involved in conducting collaborative research with graduate occupational therapy students in areas which include environmental safety for older persons, the role of occupation in the lives of individuals with chronic pain, and the provision of occupational therapy to individuals who have severe and persistent mental illness. She has a special interest in the development of health care assessment instruments. Dr. Fisher also guides graduate student research projects in a local assisted living center which seek to determine how the use of purposeful group-oriented occupations can improve qualify of life and happiness in elderly residents.

Recent publications of which Grace is a co-author are listed below.

  • Fisher, G. S. (2014, September). Reflections on the information age, social norms, and professional ethics. Administration & Management Special Interest Section Quarterly, 30(3), 1–4.
  • Cardinale, J., Malacari, LK, Broggi, S.R., Savignano, J., and Fisher, GS. (2014). "The Model of Occupational Empowerment and Gunnarsson’s Tree Theme: Intervention for Mothers in Recovery." Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 30, 43-68.
Picture of Grace Fisher


Suzanne Lennon, M.S., OTR/L

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
Phone: (570) 674-8180

Suzanne Lennon has been a licensed occupational therapist for almost 14 years, primarily in the area of mental health. She has held positions in the psychiatric unit of the Bloomsburg Hospital and at Clarks Summit State Hospital. She was most recently the academic fieldwork coordinator of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA.

At Misericordia University, Suzanne oversees and coordinates all aspects of Occupational Therapy fieldwork. This includes both the traditional and weekend college students.

Suzanne received a B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University in Kindergarten and Elementary Education and a M.S. from Misericordia University in Occupational Therapy. She maintains her clinical practice through per diem work at two local community hospitals.

Ellen McLaughlin, Ed.D., OTR/L

Associate Professor
Phone: (570) 674-6399

Ellen McLaughlin, Ed.D., OTR/L, BCP, associate professor, has been a faculty member in the occupational therapy department for the last twelve years. Dr. McLaughlin received her bachelor's and master's degrees in Occupational Therapy from Misericordia University and a doctorate from Rutger's University in Learning, Cognition and Development. Along with her doctoral degree, Ms. McLaughlin also received a certificate in interdisciplinary Infant Studies. She is board certified in pediatrics by the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Primary teaching responsibilities of Dr. McLaughlin's are within both the undergraduate and graduate courses pertaining to pediatric intervention and occupational therapy theory. Other responsibilities include supervising student research projects and advising freshman students. Dr. McLaughlin is coordinator of the research series in Occupational Therapy.

Dr. McLaughlin's clinical experience is in school based occupational therapy and early intervention programming for children with autism. Her research interests are in the areas of haptic perceptual development and accessibility issues for the disabled.

Ellen McLaughlin has been involved in accreditation activities for the past 8 years, and is currently Chair of the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). ACOTE is a 21 member council that accredits 317 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs, to assure program quality and assist in program enhancement.

  Ellen McLaughlin


Lalit J. Shah, Ed.D., OTR/L

Phone: (570) 674-6414

Professor Lalit J Shah Ed.D., OTR/L, graduated in 1978 with B.Sc. in Occupational Therapy from Seth G. S. Medical College- Bombay University- Bombay, India. In India he practiced OT primarily in Orthopedics, General surgery, and Plastic surgery with specific interest in burn patients. After coming to the USA in 1982, he worked in a rehabilitation center for 2 1/2 years. He then practiced in the area of Developmental Disability and became Director of the OT Department at St. Joseph's Center in Scranton, PA. He also practiced in Home-Health care, consulted with several Nursing Homes, and worked with children in Early intervention programs. He completed his SI certification in 1994. After completing his MS in Occupational Therapy from Misericordia University, where he was awarded a Research Fellowship, he became Adjunct Professor in OT since 1989 in the weekend program. He became a full-time faculty member in 1993 and joined the University as an Assistant Professor, teaching several different courses in both the Traditional Program and Weekend Program. Following is the listing of classes taught in the past: OT 313/713 (Neuroscience Lecture/Lab), OT 312/712 (Functional Anatomy), OT 335 (Environmental Dimensions of Human Performance), OT 422/522/722 (Intervention I Lecture/Seminar /Lab), OT 423/523/723 (Intervention II Lecture/Seminar/Lab), etc.

Dr. Shah graduated in 2001 from Nova Southeastern University with Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree in higher education. He received his tenure in 2002 and became Associate Professor. He also developed Pediatric Specialization Track in traditional OT program and is teaching classes covering topics like Sensory Integration, NICU, Pediatric splinting etc. He became Full Professor in 2007.

He has served on various advisory boards in the local area agencies including PAC of VNA Hospice in Scranton, PA. His research interests include SI and application of long distance technology in the learning /teaching process. He has several extra-curricular interests and enjoys traveling and playing various sports. He lives with his wife Shakun Shah, daughter Dr. Gunjan Shah, and son Paurush Shah in Clarks Summit, PA.

Photo of Lalit Shah