Category Archives: Faculty

Dr. Glen Gillen Announced as New Program Director

It gives us great pleasure to announce that Dr. Glen Gillen has accepted the position of Director of the Programs in Occupational Therapy at Columbia. He will begin this new role on September 1, 2018, when Dr. Janet Falk-Kessler will be retiring from her distinguished service in this role.

Dr. Gillen received his undergraduate degree from New York University, as well as a Masters degree from NYU as well. He later obtained an EdD from Teachers College/Columbia. He has been a part of the NYP/Columbia community since joining the staff at the hospital in 1990, and a faculty member in the OT program at Columbia since 1993. Most recently, he has served as a full Professor at Columbia, and as the Associate Program Director for OT.

Dr. Gillen has been highly accomplished as an academician within the field. He has authored 30 original publications, and more than 100 publications in total, including serving as the editor of the definitive textbook on stroke rehabilitation for Occupational Therapists, now in its fourth edition, and as co-editor of Willard and Spackman. He has received numerous awards and invited lectureships, including the keynote Eleanor Clarke Slagle lecture at the national meeting of the AOTA. He is widely acknowledged as a leader in the field of Occupational Therapy nationally and internationally.

In addition to his role as Program Director, Dr. Gillen will serve as a Vice-Chair in the Columbia Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine, and will also service as an Assistant Dean at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Dr. Gillen to his new role!

Program Director Janet Falk-Kessler Announces Retirement


It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Dr. Janet Falk-Kessler will be retiring before the fall of 2018.  Janet has been a pillar of our department, having been on our full time faculty since 1985 and serving as the Program Director since 2001.  Janet’s accomplishments are too numerous to list and she will be missed dearly.


Some highlights include:
  • Developing the joint MS/MPH program, the first of its kind.
  • Serving as a champion to maintain our program’s commitment to mental health
  • Developing a joint EdD program in conjunction with Teachers College Department of Movement Science
  • Shepherding the post-professional OTD through the University administration and the New York State Department of Education, resulting in Columbia University being the first New York State based program to offer this degree.  It is now on the record for degrees that may be granted in New York State because of her tireless efforts.
  • Securing dedicated OT space in the Learning Center, which now serves as our OT lab.
  • Developing our Programs elective program
  • Shepherding our department through four accreditation cycles and serving as lead for two of them.

Her honors include induction into Kappa Delta Pi, the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Roster of Fellows for “outstanding contributions to mental health education”, serving on multiple editorial boards, and many more.
On behalf of the dozens of faculty members and thousands of students she has mentored, we wish her only the best during her “refirement”.  Most importantly, we wish her well as she enjoys her current role of grandmother to Violet and Evelyn!

Dr. Emily Raphael Greenfield Celebrates Retirement

Dr. Emily Raphael Greenfield will be semi-retiring from our program at the end of this month.  The faculty and staff of the OT and PT departments gathered earlier this week for a luncheon to celebrate Dr. Raphael Greenfield and her many accomplishments and contributions to our program.

Dr. Raphael Greenfield graduated from the Columbia Programs in Occupational Therapy in 1986, after initially earning a Masters degree in Anthropology.  She later received her Ed.D from Teachers College in Health Behavior Studies.  Two of her classmates, Julie Kern and Diane Schreibman, who also remain involved in the programs, were also in attendance.

She created an outstanding Mental Health curriculum in our program and is dedicated to providing services to the homeless population, especially at the Fort Washington Men’s Shelter.  She and Dr. Sharon Gutman created the SMART program,  a multi-modal, interactive skill-building program targeting living skills necessary for the transition from the shelter to apartment living.


We are all very glad she’ll continue to stay involved in the programs next year, and we wish her all the best in her retirement.


Dr. Dawn Nilsen Participates in Lehman College Public Health Minute

Dr. Dawn Nilsen participated in the Lehman College, CUNY public health minute segment with Dr. Bill Latimer, Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing.  Dr. Nilsen spoke about the stroke motor review she and Dr. Glen Gillen are working on with AOTA.  You can listen to the segment at the link below:

OT Faculty Honored at CUMC Luncheon

Several OT faculty members were honored at the annual P&S Honors Luncheon today.  Lee Goldman gave remarks thanking the faculty for making Columbia a top notch place to be, and medical students played a musical selection.

The faculty honors include:

Sharon Gutman, PhD, OTR for her promotion to Professor of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (Occupational Therapy) and as a grantee of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.

Dawn Nilsen, EdD, OTR/L for her promotion to Associate Professor of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (Occupational Therapy).

Katherine Dimitropoulou, PhD, OTR/L for her 2016 Irving Institute Clinical Trials Office Pilot Award.

Janet Falk-Kessler, EdD, OTR as a grantee of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.

Glen Gillen, EdD, OTR as an Apgar Scholar of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators and for delivering the keynote address at the 2017 Vermont Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference.

Lenin Grajo, Phd, EdM, OTR as a recipient of the Provost’s Grant Program for Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery.


March/April Faculty Update

Dr. Lenin Grajo published a chapter, “Occupational Adaptation”, in Perspectives on Human Occupation: Theories Underlying Practice.  

Amanda Sarafian will be attending a workshop as part of the the Research CP initiative to set a patient-centered research agenda for cerebral palsy (CP).

Dr. Emily Raphael-Greenfield and Dr. Sharon Gutman published an article, “Effectiveness of a supportive housing program for homeless adults with mental illness and substance use: A two-group controlled trial” in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Dr. Glen Gillen and Dr. Dawn Nilsen presented at the Cornell Stroke Symposium.

Amanda Sarafian and Dr. Lenin Grajo are working with AOTA to do a systematic review of evidence for pediatric OT interventions to determine their effectiveness on learning and academic outcomes.

Dr. Glen Gillen is one of the featured medical experts in Healing the Broken Brain by Dr. Mike Dow and David Dow.  The book asks clinicians all of the questions that stroke survivors and their families want to know the answer to.

February Faculty Update

Dr. Glen Gillen was the first speaker in the Boyt Schell Visiting Occupational Science Scholar series at Brenau University.

Dr. Dawn Nilsen and Dr. Glen Gillen launched a clinical trial at Helen Hayes Hospital.  They aim to differentiate between two dosages of self-directed Mirror Therapy added to treatment as usual for decreasing arm and hand motor impairments, improving activity level, and increasing self-directed participation after stroke.

Phyllis Simon published an article in LGBT Health entitled “Development of an Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Model for Older LGBT Adults” about her work with elinc, an Elder LGBT Interprofessional Collaborative Care Program.

Dr. Glen Gillen was the keynote speaker at the Vermont Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference.

January Faculty Updates

This month in faculty news:

Dr. Sharon Gutman has been promoted to the rank of Professor.

Dr. Dawn Nilsen has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Dr. Lenin Grajo co-authored an article in the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention entitled “The occupation and participation approach to reading intervention (OPARI): A community of practice study”.

Dr. Emily Raphael-Greenfield and two CUOT alumni published an article, “Adapting to a challenging fieldwork: Understanding the ingredients.” in the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy.


November Faculty Update

  • Dr. Glen Gillen gave keynote addresses at Eastern Michigan University, the Massachusetts Occupational Therapy Association, and presented two lectures at the Braintree Neurorehabilitation Conference.
  • Dr. Lenin Grajo was named the interim director of the OTD program.
  • Dr. Glen Gillen is a new member of the Virgina Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.
  • Dr. Sharon Gutman was asked by AOTF to be on committee to facilitate research in mental health.
  • Dr. Glen Gillen’s book Cognitive and Perceptual Rehabilitation: Optimizing Function was published in Korean.

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