Executive Director

ICDL Advisory Board, Colorado State University Affiliate Faculty, Salem State University Visiting Assistant Professor

Virginia Spielmann is an Occupational Therapist and the Executive Director of STAR Institute for Sensory Processing. She obtained her PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development in August 2021 and is Visiting Adjunct Faculty at Salem State University Occupational Therapy Department, and Affiliate Faculty at Colorado State Department of Occupational Therapy. She is a published author, researcher, and well-travelled and masterful public speaker.

Dr.…

Treatment Center

Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist for over 25 years. She received her BSc in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1996 and her MSW from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2012. She has received advanced training in sensory integration (SIPT certification, STAR ProCert1, STAR ProCert2), listening therapy (Therapeutic Listening, iLs), feeding therapy (SOS), DIR, mental health (DC:0-5 Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood), and infant massage (CIMI…

Chelsea graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Services from Kansas State University in 2014 and then in 2018 graduated from Pueblo Community College with an Associate of Applied Science Occupational Therapy Assistant. Since 2018 she has worked in multidisciplinary team pediatric outpatient settings and post-acute care rehab with adults. She has supervised four OTA students and in May 2022 presented for OTAC on social emotional development in children and teens with her past supervising OTR. Chelsea enjoys building relationships with families and helping them…

Paulina received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She then completed her Master of Occupational Therapy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Paulina’s training and clinical experience began centered around the DIR/Floortime model in outpatient pediatric settings both in Chicago and Italy. Paulina has completed the STAR Institute Intensive Mentorship Program Level 1 and holds a Profectum Level 1 Certificate in the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based Model/Clinician (CL1).

Paulina’s special…

Alexa graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science. She then went on to complete her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. Alexa’s doctoral capstone was on the role of occupational therapy in postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and sensory modulation in POTS. She has spoken on POTS at the AOTA Inspire Conference and Dysautonomia International Annual Conferences. 

Alexa has experience practicing in outpatient, early intervention, and home health settings. Alexa is passionate about providing…

Rachel graduated with her Bachelor of Arts from the State University of West Georgia and received her Masters in Education in School Counseling from Georgia State University. Following three years of work as a high school counselor, Rachel served for two years in Burkina Faso as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in the sector of Girls’ Education and Empowerment. Prior to coming to STAR Institute, Rachel worked in community mental health with families of children and teenagers who were in the foster care, adoptive, juvenile or truancy court systems. This multi-faceted work included…

Andrea “Dezi” Valdez received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2015 and went on to earn her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University in 2023. While in OT school, Dezi applied for and was accepted into the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Institute for Future Scientists in Occupational Therapy, which was an event where students could meet and network with the leaders in occupational therapy research. She completed fieldwork rotations at Sensory Kids in Portland, OR; Lincoln Regional Center in Lincoln, NE…

Consultants

Jackie Bartell, M.Ed., has been working in the field of special education for over 30 years. She has worked with special needs children in a variety of settings, including both private and public schools, as well as consulted with families in their homes. She draws on her experiences, that include work with Stanley Greenspan and Serena Weider, with insights that help professionals and parents to understand the relationship they have with their child and how to apply the DIR model within a home or school setting.

As an expert training leader for ICDL, she provides online and in-…

Throughout over 25 years as a speech-language pathologist, Jennifer has developed extensive knowledge and experience in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and has presented at the state and national levels.

Her clinical experience in the public schools, private clinics, early intervention programs, and community-based adult workshops and group homes, informs and drives Jennifer’s interests in developing the communication and language abilities of children and adults with complex communication needs. As a result, Jennifer appreciates the unique perspective…

Mariah Person joined STAR Institute in 2020 excited to partner alongside STAR Institute's commitment to social, occupational and disability justice.

Mariah is an aspiring dance movement therapist with a passion for helping people to heal and develop through movement, and advocating for the significance of stimming for health and wellness. Mariah creates accessibility conscious curriculum for their dance/creative movement students and collaborates to create "autistic space" events.

Mariah received their official autism diagnosis at the age of 25, in July 2019. Mariah's…

Kieran Rose is a published Writer and International Public Speaker whose essays at www.theautisticadvocate.com have been read by over a million people and cited in numerous research papers.

With a background in Education and service delivery, Kieran delivers his own specialist Autism training to families and Professionals and provides private consultancy for charities and organisations across the world that support Autistic children, adults and their families. An experienced international public speaker, Kieran regularly…

Education Center

Ewa joined the STAR team in April 2023 as the Education Coordinator. She has a master's degree in human resources and considers herself a people person. Ewa is a traveler by heart. Her greatest journey started a few years ago when she moved to the US. Since then, Ewa lived in 6 different states, finally choosing Colorado as her home. Now she’s focused on her professional career and ready for new endeavors.

Research Center

Dr. Schoen is the Director of Research at STAR Instititue. She is an occupational therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience and a doctorate in occupational therapy from New York University (2001). She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship awarded by the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Psychiatry, under the mentorship of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller. She is a co-author of the Sensory Processing 3 Dimensions Scale currently being standardized by Western Psychological Services.  Dr. Schoen is an Associate…

Marketing

Crystal is a creative professional with over 15 years of experience in strategy development, marketing, design, and project management. She has a Design Management degree from the Art Institute of Colorado. Crystal has a strong customer service philosophy, developed leadership, and effective management. These attributes allow her to drive creative insights and brand messaging that align with the wants, needs, and budgets within her current role and projects.

As part of the STAR team, Crystal's expertise and wide-range skill set allow her to elevate STAR's marketing and fundraising…

Operations

Tory started at STAR in 2020 as the Executive Assistant to Dr. Virginia Spielmann and has since grown into the role as the Development & Fundraising Officer. She works with all of our generous donors, community partners, and outside organizations. Tory has her B.A. in Special Education and over 14 years of experience working in both programmatic and administrative areas of non-profits. She is thrilled to use her skills to support the mission of STAR and spread awareness of sensory health and wellness. It is her belief that when we educate on and implement sensory-informed practices…

Ann is the Operations Coordinator at STAR, supporting the executive and clinical teams with all things administrative. She is also a Master of Arts in Counseling student at Regis University pursuing licensure as an LPC and further training in Jungian Analysis. Ann is passionate about holistic wellness and is excited to support the STAR team in their pursuit of delivering sensory health to the world. In her free time, Ann enjoys video games, art, yoga, and learning about spiritualities and cultures from around the world. On the weekends she can be found at your local coffee shop or at the…

Andrea will be your personal guide into STAR Institute’s treatment program. In most cases, she will be the staff member to respond to your inquiries when you contact us. She will review your developmental history form and make recommendations about how to proceed. She conducts intake evaluations and helps coordinate programs for families coming to STAR Institute from out of town. Andrea has managed therapy clinics since completing her college degree in management and marketing.

Front Office Team

Jessica will be your point of contact if you have questions or concerns regarding Billing/Insurance or any general questions regarding STAR’s process.  She has 20+ years of experience working in a Customer Care role where 5 of those years were dedicated to being an Admin & Support Staff to Adults with Disabilities.  During her off times, she enjoys playing video games, board games, photography, outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Kayla comes to us with a variety of talents and experiences from customer service to education. She has her Bachelor’s in Psychology, and after several years as a preschool teacher decided to pursue her Master’s in Divinity. When she’s not at STAR Kayla leads the children’s program at her church, and enjoys adding to her library, catching up on her favorite TV shows, visiting the family farm, and playing board games, D&D, and PokemonGo.

Cre'ghnaija Moye joined STAR Institute in 2023 as the Client Care Coordinator.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and hopes to use it alongside her other social and mental health studies to bring holistic thinking/ methods.   

To further pursue a career and education, Cre'ghnaija made the move to Colorado to work in a space that shared a similar set of values.  Cre'ghnaija hopes to bring a sense of comfort to families as well as her skill set to STAR. When she is not at STAR, she is out actively finding ways to give back to the community, indulging in the arts, or…

Founder