| 7 October 2021

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Celebrating the 2021 Board Excellence Award Recipients

The Board of Directors of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) is committed to identifying and recognizing excellence among our faculty, staff and alumni and the roles they play in the success of our students and our institution.

On Wednesday, October 6, the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences’ Board of Directors hosted its sixth annual Board Excellence Awards ceremony. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and students as role models of the University. Each of them, in their unique way, plays an integral part of our students’ journey, in making their dreams a reality and in transforming health sciences higher education in our country.

This years’ awards recognized a stellar group of 15 faculty, staff and alumni who are dedicated to the University’s mission, core values and service to our students. This year saw an unprecedented number of nominations—353 in all, with 271 of those coming from students in our “Student First” award categories.

Award categories include:

  • Student First Awards –recognizes faculty and staff who demonstrate commitment to the University values with an emphasis on student first (these awards are student-nominated)
  • Excellence in Teaching – honors faculty who demonstrate the University’s core values and promote the science and art of teaching and learning
  • Excellence in Scholarship – supports the University’s strategic emphasis on faculty research
  • Excellence in Innovation – recognizes innovative employees who show creativity when confronted with challenges, issues or a need or desire for improvement
  • Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – reinforces the University’s commitment to nurturing an inclusive environment for all students, faculty and staff and to developing exceptional practitioners who are culturally responsive to their patients and communities
  • One University Collaboration – recognizes staff who positively impact the University through a collaborative spirit
  • Distinguished Alumni Award – recognizes the accomplishments of alumni whose success exemplifies the spirit and vision of the University
Congratulations to the following individuals who have been selected as 2021 Board Excellence Award recipients:

Student First Award — Faculty

Helen Carey, Ph.D, MSc Adv OT, OTRDr. Helen Carey

Academic Program Director, Associate Professor, MOT/OTD Programs

St. Augustine, FL

Dr. Helen Carey joined the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in March 2020 from the United Kingdom. Dr. Carey qualified as an occupational therapist in 1990 and gained clinical experience in mental health and physical fields in a wide variety of settings. She built a special interest in neurology from 1993 and developed clinical services in acute, outpatient and community services. Latterly her clinical role has been with Reach Rehabilitation Services delivering case management rehabilitation for people with acquired brain injury.

Dr. Carey managed occupational therapy services in Chester, UK from 1996 and delivered a Therapy Director role. In 2006, she supported the establishment of new occupational therapy education at Glyndwr University, North Wales and became a lecturer practitioner eventually leading the occupational therapy service. The subject now delivers occupational therapy part-time and full-time program, physiotherapy and post-registration therapy masters delivery. Dr. Carey gained fellowship funding in 2012 to study the impact of increasing the level of doing for people with ALS and this became the focus of her PhD which she attained in 2017. Dr. Carey has devised the Model of Doing which embraces the delivery of occupational therapy in a rehabilitation context. Dr. Carey is Chairperson of the North Wales Branch of Motor Neurone Disease Association and a supporter of the Florida Chapter of ALS. She has presented widely regarding the delivery of occupational therapy for people with ALS.

Student First Award — Faculty

Erin Menefee, DPT, OCS

Faculty Lab Instructor, DPT Program

San Marcos, CA

Erin Menefee, DPT, OCS graduated from the San Diego State University Doctor of Physical Therapy program in May 2017, where she was presented with the Research Excellence Award. Prior to receiving her DPT, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona, where she was also a member of the division I cross country and track team. Since graduating from SDSU, she completed a postgraduate Orthopedic Residency program through Kaiser Permanente, earning her Orthopedic Clinical Specialist certification. Dr. Menefee has been a Contributing Faculty Instructor since 2017 in the Movement Science II course and has since assisted in Gross and Applied Anatomy courses and Musculoskeletal I.

Dr. Menefee also works part-time in an outpatient clinic in addition to following her other passion outside of physical therapy, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in 2020.

Student First Award — Faculty 

Lacey SparkDr. Lacey Spark

Assistant Professor, OTD

Austin, TX

Lacey Spark attended the University of Oregon and Pacific University for her undergraduate career before earning her Master of Occupational Therapy from Pacific University in 2010. After graduation, she worked in community mental health practice and presented at the annual American Occupational Therapy Association conference on occupational therapy groups for early intervention and treatment of psychosis. Since moving to Austin in 2011, she has been serving the geriatric population in home-health, skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living settings. She began teaching as contributing faculty with the Austin campus in 2015 and has taught Skills and Procedures, Patient Care Management, and has guided students through their Level I psychosocial fieldwork experiences.

Student First Award — Staff 

Ryan Davis, EdD

Director, Student Welfare

Dallas, TX

Ryan Davis, EdD is a motivated and energetic leader with more than 10 years of professional experience working with diverse populations in a college setting. He is goal-oriented with departmental planning, policy formation and implementation and program development experience. Dr. Davis also has proven leadership and crisis intervention skills with the ability to analyze situations for areas of growth, to take action and to produce effective solutions. He serves as Director of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the University’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee as well as the University Behavioral Intervention Team (UBIT). The charge of IDEA is to facilitate policies, guidelines and programs that support the University’s commitment to foster a sense of inclusion, growth and belonging for all members of the USAHS community. While UBIT responds to student needs by reviewing concerns, determining needed interventions and providing outreach. Dr. Davis worked in student affairs with Laureate International Universities, then transitioned to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2018. He has a Master of Arts in Family Psychology and a Doctor of Education from Hardin-Simmons University.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Ryan Reed, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPTRyan Reed, PT, DPT


Miami, FL

Dr. Reed attended Tulane University in New Orleans and received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1997. Dr. Reed then attended the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and received his Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree in 2000. He returned to USAHS to complete a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2003 as well as his Manual Therapy Certification in 2006.

Dr. Reed has worked as an orthopedic clinician for the past 18 years and has managed and helped plan, design, and open orthopedic clinics including the Brooks Center for Back and Neck Health. In 2008, Dr. Reed completed his orthopedic residency at Brooks Rehabilitation and earned his Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist (OCS) credential. Dr. Reed was also selected to serve on the American Board of Physical Therapy Orthopedic Specialist exam standards setting committee in 2008. Dr. Reed completed his manual therapy fellowship in 2012 with Brooks rehabilitation.

Dr. Reed has been an adjunct faculty member with the University of North Florida, Emory University, and Mercer University working with the residency and fellowship programs. Dr. Reed became certified in Dry Needling in 2014. Special interests include pain science, dry needling, and evidence-based practice.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Angela Gibson

Contributing Faculty, DPT Program

St. Augustine, FL 

Angela M. Gibson, EdD joined the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2018. She is a contributing faculty member and doctoral advisor in the Doctor of Education program. Dr. Gibson provides student-centered learning through effective practices for traditional and competency-based courses. She teaches in a fully online learning environment, utilizing synchronous and asynchronous mediums and multimodal technologies to support learning and integration of knowledge. Dr. Gibson mentors and advises doctoral students and serves on dissertation committees. She also develops new curriculum and provides curriculum redesign support through assessment and quality improvement evaluation and initiatives. Dr. Gibson has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from George Mason University, a Master of Arts in Human Performance Systems, Instructional Design and Development from Marymount University and a Doctor of Education with concentrations in Adult Education, Higher Education and Community College Leadership from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Excellence in Scholarship Award

Navpreet Kaur, PT, DPT, PhD, MTCNavpreet Kaur, PT, DPT, PhD, MTC

Associate Professor, DPT Program

Austin, TX 

Dr. Kaur received a Bachelor in Physiotherapy from Lyallpur Khalsa College in India in 2004. She worked as a physical therapist in an outpatient facility in Michigan from 2006-2013. Her case load all these years was mainly orthopedic and sports rehabilitation. Dr. Kaur completed her DPT from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah. While working full-time, she earned her PhD in Orthopedics and Sport Science in 2013 at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Her dissertation focused on developing new and effective exercises for shoulder rehabilitation. After finishing her PhD in 2013, Dr. Kaur accepted the full-time core faculty position at the Austin campus in January 2014. In fall 2013 she completed Manual Therapy Certification (MTC).

Dr. Kaur is part of the orthopedic faculty, and her teaching responsibilities include courses in Musculoskeletal and Evidence-Informed Practice.

Excellence in Innovation Award 

Elisabeth McGee, PhD, DPT, MOT, PT, OTR/L, MTC, CHT, CHSE

Director of Simulation Education and CICP Operations

St. Augustine, FL

Dr. Elisabeth McGee, PhD, DPT, MOT is the Director of Simulation Education and CICP Operations at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Dr. McGee earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Occupational Therapy from USAHS and has over 15 years of specialized clinical experience in the areas of upper extremity evaluation and treatment, trauma care, and orthopedic rehabilitation. She holds clinical certifications in manual therapy (MTC) and hand therapy (CHT).

She earned her PhD in Educational Technology from Walden University with a dissertation focus in simulation education, technology adoption, and innovation diffusion. Dr. McGee is also an experienced faculty member (15+ years) and researcher. She has authored peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks and best-practice standards, and has presented at several national and international conferences. Dr. McGee has served on and led several committees, task force groups, and advisory boards, such as the Innovation Steering Committee, Society for Simulation in Healthcare Florida Alliance, Interprofessional Education Task Force, INACSL Standards Development Committee, and the St. Johns County School’s STEAM Advisory Board. She is skilled in healthcare innovation, educational technology, simulation education, curriculum design, and media production. She enjoys collaborating with others to drive transformational change in the areas of immersive and experiential learning, blended learning, multimedia design, pro bono practice models, telehealth, interprofessional education (IPE), virtual reality and augmented reality and 3D printing.

Excellence in Innovation Award 

Keith B. McWilliams, OTD, OTR/L, CBIS, DRSDr. Keith B. McWilliams, OTD, OTR/L, CBIS, DRS


Dallas, TX

Dr. Keith McWilliams is a client-centered and innovative occupational therapist with more than eight years of experience in Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Treatment and Research, Oncology Treatment, Management, Budgeting, Training/Program Development, and Client/Family Relations. Dr. McWilliams is based at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences Dallas campus. Dr. McWilliams received his Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) degree from Maryville University Saint Louis. He was a NCAA Men’s Basketball athlete, being a member of the 2003-04 NCAA Tournament team and a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) champion. In 2013, he became a Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS), awarded by the Brain Injury Association of America, and a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (DRS). Dr. McWilliams was awarded Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) from Texas Woman’s University in 2016. He is a one of the first graduates to receive the degree in the state of Texas. His capstone project focused on Driver Rehabilitation for clients with acquired brain injury.

Excellence in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award – Faculty

Gabriela Perez, OTD, MS, OTR/L, CSRS, PTA


Miami, FL

Dr. Gabriela Perez is a core faculty instructor in the Occupational Therapy program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in Miami campus. She entered the role of teaching as a lab assistant since 2018, and came onboard as full-time faculty. She started her career as a physical therapist assistant since 2009 and remains practicing. Dr. Perez earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education with focus on Health and Fitness, and her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida International University. She received her Clinical Post-Professional Doctorate from the University of St Augustine in 2020. Dr. Perez has worked in various settings such as inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient, and home health, primarily with the neurological population. Since then, she has attained certifications as a Certified Stroke Specialist (CSRS), Neuro-IFRAH, and is a Constraint induced movement therapist. She has also developed and taught continuing education courses focusing on the treatment of the neurological population. She has a passion for teaching and is currently pursuing her doctorate in education at this time.

Excellence in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award  – Staff

Matthew Chase


San Marcos, CA

Matthew Chase (he/his) manages the San Marcos Campus Library, providing reference services and research consultations to the university community. He also coordinates digital exhibits, health and wellness services, and workshops on inclusive and intersectional research practices. Matthew combines critical librarianship and sociological praxis to inform his approach to library instruction and community engagement.

Matthew holds a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and a Master of Arts in Sociological Practice from California State University, San Marcos. His teaching and research interests include social justice discourses in digital spaces, bias in internet search engines and scholarly databases, inclusive and intersectional practices in research, library exhibits as self-instruction spaces, and community engagement in academic libraries.

One University Collaboration Award

Stephen Cheung

Senior Director, Product Strategy

St. Augustine, FL 

Stephen Cheung joined the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2015. He leads the University in product management and drives collaborative cross-functional efforts with marketing, enrollment, finance, business development, market research, academic leaders, IT, HR and various university operational groups across multiple U.S. campuses and degree programs. Cheung effectively directs a cross-functional team that is focused on achieving our goals for the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology programs. He has also spearheaded several recent projects, including management of the University’s reentry plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, management and communication of the University-wide accreditation calendar and working with finance to create and/or revise financial models for new programs and initiatives. Previously, he held management positions at Healthy Back Inc., Under Armour and Limited Brands. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Georgetown University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

One University Collaboration Award

Tonya Riley

Academic Advisor

Dallas, TX

Tonya Riley joined the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in August 2019. She is the only advisor handling student onboarding issues for all post-professional programs, including the Nursing, Master of Health Administration and Master of Health Sciences programs. She also assists with first professional program onboarding. Riley has a relentless desire to advocate for her students and is organized, student-centered, professional and cordial. Previously, she was a Human Resources and Accounting Coordinator at St. Mark’s School of Texas. She has 18 years of experience in higher education, providing counseling to students and administrative efforts to academic leadership. She has held positions at Remington College, Mid-South Community College and the University of North Texas. Riley has a Master’s in Public Administration from Strayer University and a Bachelor’s in Literature and Music from LeMoyne-Owen College

Distinguished Alumni Award

Leilani Hermosura-Bautista, MSN, RN, FNP-C, NE-BC

DNP Graduate ’21

San Marcos, CA

Leilani Hermosura-Bautista, MSN, RN, FNP-C, NE-BC graduated from the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in spring of 2021. She has been a nurse practitioner since 2007. Her experiences include practice in an outpatient setting as a nurse practitioner for medical home setting for stroke population; also, duties and responsibilities include oversight of outpatient services as an Assistant Nursing Director since July 2018. Dr. Hermosura-Bautista currently serves as an Assistant Nursing Director for the Outpatient Care Services at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center as well as a Nurse Practitioner providing primary care services to patients with stroke and other neurological disabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she led an interprofessional team in the outpatient care services in implementing clinical operations that protected both patients and staff from heightened exposure to COVID-19. As the director of their Employee Health Services, she led the organization with the surveillance plan for the workforce members due to COVID-19 infection or exposure. Here she provided guidance to employees including their return-to-work plan and generating a notification alert to departments exposed to the employee, further minimizing spread of the infection to others. At the peak of the pandemic, Dr. Hermosura- Bautista remained vigilant with her team with the flu vaccination for the 2019-2020 season. As a result, the Los Angeles Department of Health Services recognized these efforts in leading the flu vaccination with an overall compliance rate of 92%. Dr. Hermosura-Bautista has a Master’s in Nursing from California State University, Long Beach, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from Kaplan University and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Steve Sudell, DPT, ATC

DPT Graduate ’19

St. Augustine, FL 

Steve Sudell, DPT, ATC graduated from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program on the St. Augustine, FL campus in 2019. Dr. Sudell has been a Crossfit competitor since 2012 and specializes in working with athletes on their mobility, prehab and post-injury physical therapy at his clinic, Prehab2perform. In 2015, along with two of his patients, he co-founded StretchLab, an assisted stretching facility that helps individuals improve their overall flexibility through stretching versus traditional massage. He created the comprehensive stretching protocols still in use today and trained hundreds of “flexologists.” StretchLab went from one location to over 220 in less than four years. He is also the Founder and creator of the Neck Hammock, a simple device that attaches to any door for neck pain relief in just 10 minutes or less. The idea came to life after watching his younger sister battle leukemia. The Neck Hammock was launched on Kickstarter in October 2017, where it raised more than $900,000, placing it in the top 1% of all 2019 Kickstarter campaigns. Dr. Sudell hopes to inspire other physical therapists to use their degrees and ideas to innovate and create new opportunities outside of the clinical setting.

Congratulations to this group of outstanding recipients. Your dedicated service to students and the University is an inspiration, and we thank you for all you do.


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