Meet the Team

Our team of dedicated professionals maintain a common commitment to providing the highest level of quality care.  Our leaders and therapists represent the best, brightest, and most-talented individuals in their respective fields.

Joanne L. Ward, OTR/L, CPI Certified Instructor-Associate

Executive Director

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since April 2014

Joanne graduated from State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center and has worked nearly 35 years in a variety of settings including JFK Medical Center, Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. In 1989 she assumed the role of Director of Occupational Therapy, following the grand opening of Universal Institute’s first rehabilitation facility in New Jersey. She later went on to work in many other rehabilitation settings in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, before returning to UIRehab in April of 2014 when she joined our Pennsylvania facility as Executive Director. Joanne has always had a passion for assisting brain-injured individuals and remains an advocate within the brain injury community.

Fun Fact: Joanne was the Occupational Therapist that worked for NFL football player, Dennis Byrd throughout his rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Medical Center. His therapy and recovery were chronicled in the book “Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story” as well as a TV movie of the same title.

Sigrid Hurdle, BA

Assistant Executive Director

Kim Kishel, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since April 2016

Kimberly graduated with a DPT from Misericordia University where she also receive a B.S. in Health Care Management.  After becoming a licensed Physical Therapist in early 2016, Kimberly began working at UIRebab.  Her passion is working with individuals to improve their mobility and quality of life through care, compassion, and Client-centered goals.

Fun Fact: In her spare time, Kimberly enjoys spending time with her husband, their mini-rex bunny Casey, family, and friends.  She and her husband also enjoy traveling throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Elvis Santos PT, DPT

Physical Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since August 2021

Elvis graduated in 1999 from the Philippines with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy.  During his time working with clients in outpatient and home care settings, he began the long process of applying for U.S. citizenship.  After nine years of paperwork and fulfilling all requirements, Elvis was accepted in 2008.  He went to Shenandoah University in Virginia to complete his Doctorate in PT.  Throughout his time in the U.S., Elvis has worked in multiple settings, including SNF, inpatient, ALF, ILF, memory care and outpatient settings.  Elvis is a member of AAOMPT (American Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapists).  Elvis enjoys reading current and top research articles pertaining to his field, as well as attending evidence-based lectures/seminars in order to deliver the best and appropriate approach to facilitate recovery of his clients.

Fun Fact:  Elvis and his wife love to hike and run on days the weather is cooperative.  In the colder winter months, skiing and snowboarding a favorite pastime.

Jennifer Peters, RN

Registered Nurse

Cheryl Bercaw, RN

Medical Coordinator

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since November 2021

Kayla Joseph, MS

Coordinator of Day Services

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since February 2022

Latteshia White, BS

Case Care Coordinator

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since September 2016

“I truly believe that all my experiences thus far, ultimately led me to Universal Institute. I enjoy being the liaison for our clients and their families. I love that I am given the opportunity to connect with our community each and every day. It brings me great joy!

After graduating from Kutztown University with a B.S. in Psychology, Latteshia followed her passion of helping others. Continuing on this path by taking on various roles which are altruistic in nature, Latteshia worked with many different populations providing in-home services to at-risk families.

“Live the life you love. Love the life you live.” – Bob Marley

Howard Williams, OTR/L

Prevocational Therapist/Occupational Therapist

Kristen Veil, CBIS

Coordinator of Compliance

Pamela Defensor, PT, DPT

Rehab Coordinator

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since June 2015

Pamela Graduated with a B.S. in Physical Therapy from De La Salle Health Sciences University in the Philippines. She moved into the United States in 2008 and become licensed in Physical Therapy in the U.S. in 2009. Pamela went on to continue her education by completing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Dominican College, New York in 2011. Pamela has nearly 15 years of experience in the field of Physical Therapy including outpatient skilled nursing, ALF, home health, and neurologic injuries and disorders. Pamela focuses on providing exceptional care through current evidence-based practice with care and compassion for her clients.

Fun Fact: Pamela is vegan, enjoys Zumba and working on her physically fitness. She loves volunteering at a local daycare for under-served children providing them healthy snacks. On the weekends she serves food at local soup kitchen and then participates in barefoot trail running.

Calleen Wagner

Administrative Assistant

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since September 2017

“Working here is like having an extra family. Everyone is always there for each other.”

Calleen has been working in the health care industry for nearly 10 years. Her steadfast commitment for providing excellent support within fast-faced environments is what has helped her to excel in her current role. At UIRehab, Calleen is responsible for many moving parts of front desk operations. In addition to various administrative functions, she is instrumental in the process and smooth coordination of client scheduling.

Ashley Sosnowsky, BS

Admissions Coordinator/Marketing

Thomas McCurnin, BS, CBIST

Coordinator of Education and Training

Kimberly Wokpetah PT, DPT

Physical Therapist

Katharine Carter, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Edlira Nesimi, MA

Cognitive Therapist

Jason Mann, COTA/L

Cognitive Therapist

Michael Rock, BS, CBIS

Cognitive Therapist

With UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since November 2015

Michael has worked in human services since 1985, mostly in mental health, and has served in various clinical and leadership roles throughout the years. As a Cognitive Therapist, Mike enjoys facilitating large and small cognitive themed groups. He uses humor in his work and feels successful if he provokes a smile in each person he encounters every day. “A noble man gifted in the ways of The Force,” Mike’s ability to intuitively navigate his job, has earned him the nickname Obi-Wan Kenobi. He can always be counted on for his insightful advice and astounding ability of bringing calm and order to any situation. Simply stated, Mike ROCKs! Mike has a B.S. in Psychology and is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist.

Fun Fact: In his free time, Mike enjoys working with his hands. He owns three properties in Jim Thorpe, including a popular guest house which he operates with his wife.

Amie Federico, MA, ATR-BC, CBIS, LPC

Cognitive Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since December 2014

After graduating from Marywood University with a M.A. in Art Therapy, Amie began working with residents in an Alzheimer’s neighborhood where she planned and led various therapeutic group and individualized activities. Two years later she transitioned to Universal Institute as a Cognitive Rehabilitative Therapist. During her time as a cognitive rehabilitative therapist, Amie worked towards getting her Art Therapy Board Certification and License as a Professional Counselor. Amie loves to see our Clients find new avenues for expression through various art materials.

Fun Fact: In her spare time, Amie loves trying new craft projects or recipes for baking. She especially enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Hannah Wittman, MA

Cognitive Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since November 2020

Susan Ingram, MS, CCC/SLP

Speech Therapist

Roberta Kasmiroski MS, CCC/SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since August 2018

Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Bobbi graduated from Seton Hill College in 1977 with a degree in Music Education. She continued music training at the University of Texas in Austin earning a Master’s in Applied Music and Voice Performance. She met her husband while in Texas and in addition to raising two little girls, Bobbi returned to school to pursue a Master of Science in Communication Disorders at Texas Woman’s University where she graduated with a 4.0. “I enjoyed tutoring the undergraduates; they liked my house and the food. It proves you are never too old to learn new things!

After a year of providing speech therapy in the public schools, Bobbi decided to pursue a career working with adults. She has spent the majority of her career in long-term care, working both as a therapist and as well a rehab manager. Bobbi is still active in her love for music. She is a soprano and sings with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem. She is also a church musician with the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

Fun Fact: Bobbi sang the national anthem for the Pittsburgh Pirates in July of 1976. She met Willy Stargell (left field) and Danny Murtaugh (manager) and they presented her with a baseball.

Rachel Campos, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since September of 2019

Rachel is an occupational therapy graduate from Alvernia University where she supplemented her academic studies with track and cross country, as well as volunteering with the Reading Youth Initiative for intercity children. She has always found an interest in the brain, including traumatic brain injuries as well as chronic neurological conditions. She has an interest in adaptive equipment and technology as a means of advancing the client’s quality of life and level of independence. Rachel enjoys working at UIRehab because of the great potential to build relationships with the clients and celebrate their advancements.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Fun Fact: Rachel enjoys photography, especially sunsets and far away landscapes. She loves traveling with friends, going on hikes, and practically LIVES at the dog park when not at work.

Kathleen Ko, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Kayla Joseph, MS

Coordinator of Day Services

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since February 2022


Hannah Wittman, MA

Cognitive Therapist

with UNIVERSAL INSTITUTE since November 2020


Awesome Team Member

If you have a passion for learning new things, sharing your knowledge with others, and recognize that a positive attitude is what matters most, UIRehab may be the right place for you! When you join UIRehab you will become part of a vibrant culture that thrives on making a meaningful impact not only on the Clients we serve, but also on one another. We are currently hiring for positions in our Bethlehem, PA location. Visit the careers page of our site to learn more.