James Madison University

Faculty and Staff

Elizabeth Richardson, MS, OTR/L, Director

Elizabeth Richardson is the director of James Madison University's Occupational Therapy Clinical Education Services (OTCES) and full-time faculty member with JMU's Occupational Therapy Program. She earned a B.S. degree with a concentration in occupational therapy and an M.S. degree in Health Sciences at JMU.

Elizabeth has worked with children of all ages, from newborns to teenagers, in a variety of settings that include school, in-home, and outpatient clinic settings.  She has participated as part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals providing assessments to children through JMUs Child Development Clinic (CDC). Her experience in pediatrics includes evaluation and treatment of Sensory Processing Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorders (including Autism and Asperger's), ADHD, feeding difficulties, fine-motor delays, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, visual impairment as well as other conditions. She is certified in Interactive Metronome (IM) and Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) and has completed specialized training in Sensory Integration.   

Elizabeth teaches pediatric intervention and community-based wellness courses at JMU, is part of a an organization that provides inter-professional assessment and services (IPAC) for children diagnosed with autism, provides OT services to children at OTCES, and provides clinical instruction to JMU OT students. She has presented at national, state and local conferences and workshops on topics including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder, sensory integration, sensory processing disorders, and adolescent mental health.

Cindy Colwell, MOT, OTR/L, Associate Director/Occupational Therapist/Volunteer and Clinical Education Coordinator

Cindy Colwell is an alumnus of James Madison University having completed her B.S. degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Occupational Studies and a master’s degree in occupational therapy (MOT).

She concluded her MOT education with two full-time fieldwork positions.  The first position was with OTCES, providing therapy services for the children and families using OTCES for treatment. The second position was at Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville, VA, as part of the Pediatric Outpatient OT department. While working at the Kluge CRC she was able to observe both inpatient and NICU departments. She has worked with a multitude of diagnoses ranging from autism and developmental delay to muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, as well as many others. Her first position after graduating was working as an occupational therapist for the Piedmont Regional Education Program in the county school system for Fluvanna, VA. She provided OT services for students, helping to improve their academic, social, and functional skills and abilities to make their school day an encouraging experience.

She joined the OTCES staff in August of 2012.

Christiana Santos, MOT, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist/ Director of Innovative Programming

Years before becoming an occupational therapist, Christiana Santos worked in various capacities with children having special needs.  She is best known for her warm, fun, engaging and loving approach when working with children. She has gained respect through her sensitivity, creativity, and practical tools and methods for success. 
As an alumnus of James Madison University, she completed her B.S. degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Occupational Studies.  She minored in art, specializing in painting and drawing.  She continued her education in the JMU graduate program to earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy (MOT).  She is bilingual in Spanish.  She concluded her MOT education with two full-time fieldwork positions: a private pediatric practice in northern Virginia, and at Sheltering Arms Hospital in Richmond, VA working with a diverse age group and a variety of neurological and physical impairments. 

After graduation she worked as an OT for Excel Therapy, an outpatient clinic that also served Montvue, a skilled nursing facility in Luray, VA. In this position she worked with adults and children with a variety of physical, neurological, and developmental disorders. 

Christiana’s specific experience in pediatrics includes evaluation and treatment of children with a variety of diagnoses, including Sensory Processing Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, including Autism and Asperger's, ADHD, fine-motor delays, developmental delays, as well as other conditions. For all of her clients and patients, Christiana’s goal is to use a client-centered approach to improve and encourage growth within academic, social, mental/psychological, physical, and functional skills and abilities to allow for an overall improved quality of life.

She joined the OTCES staff in the summer of 2015.

Marsha Longerbeam, Ph.D., CCC/SLP

Dr. Longerbeam is an alumnus of James Madison University earning her B.S, M.S. and Ph.D. in Communication Science Disorders.  She is an assistant professor in the Communication Science Disorders Department as well as the CSD specialist for OTCES. Her special interests include autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration disorders and behavior intervention and management. Her research projects include the impact of sensory integration intervention on vocal/verbal output, and the impact of communicative attempts of children with autism.  She is involved in the interprofessional autism clinic, which trains and educates graduate students from occupational therapy, psychology and communication science disorders. Prior to becoming a JMU educator/practitioner she spent 31 years working in Virginia public schools as a speech language pathologist. 

She joined the OTCES staff in the summer of 2015.

Tomi Hensley, B.S. Student and Special Programs Coordinator / Developmental Specialist

Tomi Hensley is an alumnus of James Madison University having completed her B.S. degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Occupational Studies and a minor in chronic illness.

Tomi’s position as Student and Special Programs Coordinator is to perform a variety of tasks depending on volunteer application deadlines and tasks within JMU-OTCES. This includes corresponding with current and future volunteer applicants, scheduling interviews, scheduling weekly volunteers, and other administrative tasks as assigned by the Volunteer Coordinator/Clinic Supervisor. Tomi additionally helps assist with development of, marketing & implementing special community-based programs and services. Her position as Developmental Specialist is to help provide developmental services in the natural environment to eligible children through the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Infant Toddler Connection HR-ITC. Tomi’s position helps to extend the resources in JMU-OTCES to better assist and direct the needs of our clients.

She joined the OTCES staff in the summer of 2017.

Mekayla Heizer, COTA/L, Occupational Therapy Assistant

Mekayla is a 2018 alumnus of Jefferson College of Health Sciences where she received her Associates of Applied Sciences in Occupational Therapy Assistant and Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences with a minor in psychology.

Mekayla has always known that she wanted to pursue a career working with children with special needs. Over the years Mekayla has volunteered at therapeutic equine centers working with pediatric and adult clients with a variety of diagnosis including autism, developmental delay, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and traumatic brain injuries. While attending Jefferson, Mekayla had the opportunity to complete several fieldwork rotations in various settings. However, she always felt the most competent working in pediatrics. Mekayla completed her final level II fieldwork rotation at OTCES in the Spring of 2018 and fell in love with the staff she worked alongside of and clients she was able to serve.

She joined the OTCES staff in August 2018.