Meet Our Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists
Melanie Krevitz Bellissima, M.S., CCC-SLP
Melanie has been active in the speech therapy world since the young age of 14 when she began to observe speech therapists in different environments. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from West Chester University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders. During her years at WCU, Melanie served as President of NSSLHA (National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association), earning her the” NSSLHA Members Honor Award”, national recognition awarded on the basis of scholastic achievement, service to the academic unit, and professional conduct. Melanie was also awarded the “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges” award and was nominated for the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.
Continuing her education towards her goal of becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist, Melanie studied at Towson University where she earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She served as President of NSSLHA at the graduate level as well.
Melanie has extensive experience in the field, working at several pediatric outpatient facilities where she treated a variety of clients with a range of disorders and diagnoses. She also spent several years working at a camp for children on the Autism Spectrum, where she developed and implemented the camp’s drama program.
She also created individualized positive behavior plans and activities to enhance social skills such as non-verbal communication, conversation building, friendship making, and problem solving.
Melanie wanted to create a therapeutic environment that was unlike any other. A place where every child is seen as special with a unique therapy plan created just for them. A place where the therapist is handpicked for a child’s specific needs. A place where kindness, respect, and love are at the forefront of all therapy. Thus, Great Start Therapy was created. Melanie is a licensed speech-language pathologist in the state of Pennsylvania and certified by the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).
Erika Seiver, OTR/L
Erika is an Occupational Therapist with experience working in a variety of pediatric settings, including public and charter schools, outpatient centers, preschools, and early intervention. She has worked with children with a wide variety of diagnoses, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down’s syndrome, developmental delay, Cerebral Palsy, and acquired and traumatic brain injury. Erika is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
She was honored to be selected to present her research at the AOTA Annual Conference & Expo on two occasions, for her work on OT’s role in refugee family resettlement, as well as her experience implementing OT-based health and wellness programs for communities in rural Rwanda. She has a strong passion for enhancing children’s independence in family roles and routines through play-based interventions. Erika is a registered Occupational Therapist with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson University, where she received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. She also holds a B.A. from New York University in Psychology.
Patti Dormer, M.S., CCC-SLP
Since elementary school, Patti has loved working with kids whether through volunteering or babysitting. She grew up with some exposure to special needs children since her older cousin has Down syndrome. In high school, Patti learned about the field of speech therapy and became especially interested in it.
Patti attended La Salle University and completed their 5 year Master program in speech pathology. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Science and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. While at La Salle, Patti participated in a research study examining how increases in certain cortexes of the brain may affect speech motor control. Patti also participated in and helped to run a volunteer group associated with St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. She graduated with Maxima Cum Laude honors.
Currently, Patti is working for a public school district in Bucks County. She is completing her fourth school year there. She also has previous experience in pediatric outpatient facilities with clients aging in range from 2 through 20 years of age. Patti has a love for working with a variety of clients and helping them to achieve their goals!
Patti is a licensed speech-language pathologist for the state of Pennsylvania. She is also licensed nationally through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Caitlin Brown, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Caitlin’s interest in working with individuals with disabilities began at age ten when her younger sibling began receiving a variety of specialized services. She acted as a mother’s helper, nanny, and camp volunteer for many children with autism and other developmental disabilities. After graduating high school, Caitlin spent five summers working as an instructional assistant in autistic support classrooms. Caitlin soon realized that working with individuals with special needs was her true passion. Caitlin went on to complete her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Communication Science and Disorders at Penn State University in 2013. She completed a Master of Education program at La Salle University in 2021.
While studying in the undergraduate program at Penn State, Caitlin served as a research assistant for the “Autism Theory to Intervention” project. During her graduate program, she served as a research assistant in the Augmentative and Alternative Communication lab. Caitlin was a recipient of the U.S. Department of Education Children’s Communicative Competence Project Personnel Preparation Grant, for which she completed additional coursework and clinical experiences related to working with individuals with complex communication needs and their families.
Caitlin looks forward to the unique set of skills and challenges that come with each new client. She believes that a team approach and creative problem solving are key components of improving the quality of life for each individual with speech and language challenges. She has enjoyed the opportunity to work with individuals of many ages and abilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Apraxia, ALS, Traumatic Brain Injury, Rett Syndrome, Dementia, and a range of genetic disorders.
Caitlin is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in the state of Pennsylvania and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Jill Ranck M.S., CCC-SLP
Jill’s love for helping those with special needs began in high school when she volunteered within the Life skills classroom. After graduating high school, Jill attended La Salle University earning her Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. While at La Salle, Jill conducted a research study to examine the usefulness of parallel translated texts for English-language learners. Jill interned at Great Start Therapy throughout her undergraduate career. She loved the kids and staff so much she came back to work at Great Start after graduating!
Furthering her studies, Jill graduated from East Stroudsburg University, where she earned her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
Currently, Jill is working full-time in the public schools. She enjoys working with children of all ages to achieve their speech and language goals while having fun!
Jill is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA)
Stefanie Brown, M.S., CCC-SLP
Stefanie attended East Stroudsburg University as an undergraduate majoring in Speech and Language Pathology. She went on to obtain her masters in Speech-Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. For the past 9 years, she has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in their Early Childhood Services department and works with children 3- to 5-years old.
Stefanie is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds a national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).
Gina Athas, M.A., CCC-SLP
Gina attended Boston College as an undergraduate majoring in English. She then worked in the business field in Boston, New York City, and New Jersey as a marketing analyst. Her employer, Prudential Insurance Company, introduced large-scale layoffs and Gina used her severance to attend a graduate program at the College of New Jersey to pursue a career as a Speech Therapist.
Gina graduated with a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology. She then worked for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Preschool Division, for 11 years. During that time, she treated a wide variety of issues affecting speech and language. After she left, Gina provided private therapy for preschoolers. She also substituted for Council Rock School District in Newtown Middle School and Holland Middle School as well as Newtown Elementary, Rolling Hills, Churchville, and Welch Elementary. Gina currently works in Early Intervention for several agencies, servicing children in the birth-to-three population.
Gina is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).
Mary Cooper, M.A., CCC-SLP
Hi! I am Mary Cooper. I graduated with my Master’s in the Arts of Speech-Language Pathology, from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. I practiced in NY starting with my clinical fellowship in Early Intervention, then moving on to working with preschoolers and school-aged children in private practices, as well as a center-based preschool program.
Upon relocating to Pennsylvania in 2016, I revisited Early Intervention, working with kiddos varying in diagnoses, ages 0-3 years of age. As a part of my training over the years, I have completed PROMPT levels I & II, where I can implement this hands-on technique, in conjunction with oral motor work, language play and traditional sound production strategies to make every kiddo successful in reaching their goals. Mary is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).
Sarah Scheidell, M.S., CCC-SLP
Sarah graduated with her Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from East Stroudsburg University. Sarah was a collegiate athlete during her undergraduate years at Temple University and East Stroudsburg University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from East Stroudsburg University with her Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Sarah’s time on the soccer field inspired her to complete a graduate thesis on the Effects of Concussion on Hearing Screening Results in Impact and Non-Impact Collegiate Athletes. Sarah presented her research at The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in 2018.
Sarah’s passion for helping others began soon after her grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After accompanying her grandmother to her speech therapy sessions, Sarah knew she had found a way to pair her desire to be of service in the healthcare field with a treatment modality she could relate to on a personal level. Sarah’s time working at The Talk School educating children with autism and speech and language disorders also sparked her interest in becoming a speech pathologist.
Sarah enjoys working with both children and adults of all ages. She has experience working with clients age 2 to 92 with a range of disorders and diagnoses. Sarah has always been captivated with the idea of helping others communicate and she has found a way to pair that desire with her passion and empathy and become a speech-language pathologist.
Sarah is a licensed speech-language pathologist for the state of Pennsylvania. She is also licensed nationally through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Lisa Farling, OTR/L
Lisa has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist for 15 years. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a BS in Human Development and Family Studies then went on to earn her Master’s in occupational therapy at Philadelphia University. Lisa has enjoyed helping children to achieve their greatest potential across all settings including the home, daycares, schools, and outpatient clinics.
Lisa treats a wide variety of conditions in children from birth to 21. She loves the individualized nature of OT and works with each child and his or her family to determine the most relevant therapy goals and the best path to achieve them. Lisa incorporates her own love for games, puzzles, and crafts into the important work she does with her clients and loves to explore her clients’ interests to maximize their success in OT. The greatest outcomes are rooted in a cohesive plan across environments with parents playing a pivotal role. Lisa believes that Great Start Therapy provides an ideal environment for family education, sensory integration, and occupation-based intervention.
Lisa is trained in Sensory Integration Therapy, Handwriting Without Tears, The Astronaut Training Program, Interactive Metronome (IM), How Does Your Engine Run (The Alert Program), and the SOS approach to feeding. She looks forward to pursuing animal assisted therapy in the next chapter of her professional life. Lisa is a registered Occupational Therapist with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania.
Christine Telsey M.S., CCC-SLP
Christine discovered her passion for speech therapy in middle school when she began shadowing some family friends who were in the field. She went on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from West Chest University and continued her graduate education at La Salle University where she earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
After graduating from La Salle University in 2015, Christine began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in their Early Childhood Services department, working with children 3- to 5-years old.
Christine is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).
Ilissa Abovitz, M.S., CCC-SLP
From a young age, Ilissa knew she wanted to work with children. She gained exposure to the field of speech pathology from her mother who was a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist. Combining her love of working with children, education, and science, Ilissa decided that this too would be her career path.
Ilissa graduated with honors from Pennsylvania State University (We Are!) with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Magna cum Laude from La Salle University with a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Ilissa has 8 years of experience working in public schools with children ranging from 3-18 years of age. Ilissa provided speech/language services to children with a wide variety of communication needs including autism spectrum disorder, articulation impairments, expressive and receptive language disorders, impairments in fluency, auditory processing disorders, social-pragmatic difficulties, Childhood Apraxia of Speech and hearing impairments.
Ilissa grew up in Bucks County and has recently moved back after living with her family in Chicago, Illinois (3 years) and north New Jersey (5 years). She is looking forward to working with new children and families!
Ilissa is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in the state of Pennsylvania and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Erica Wiler M.S., CCC-SLP
Erica, who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders from Temple University, has always had a passion for celebrating individual differences. Throughout high school and college, she volunteered with Athletes Helping Athletes, an organization that promotes a mutual respect and acceptance for students with special needs.
In addition, she was also a counselor at Camp Pals, a camp that creates inclusive experiences for people with down syndrome. During her time at Temple, Erica served as the president of the sign language club and was a member of NSSLHA. Upon graduation, Erica furthered her education and went on to complete her Master’s of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology from the College of Saint Rose. Here she served as a graduate assistant, where she gained experience working with a multitude of clients with a variety of communication needs. Erica currently works in a school setting with both children and adults with varying developmental and intellectual disabilities. She enjoys working with clients of all ages and building relationships through communication.
Erica is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania and holds national certification with the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA).