Carlin Michels Achievement Award

The Carlin Michels Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the physical therapy profession and/or the Association in one or more of the following areas: direct patient care, education, research, and service to the community or profession. 



    Debora L. Miller, PT, MBA, FACHE

Ms. Miller’s passion and commitment to the physical therapy profession is evident by her numerous contributions and accomplishments as a clinician, educator, and in the areas of academic and healthcare leadership. She has maintained continuous membership in the Association since joining as a student in 1976. Across her career, she has nearly 30 years of experience in rehabilitation and healthcare leadership and has 15 years of university teaching experience. Debbie has been extensively involved with the HPA Section of APTA and was instrumental in developing content, teaching, and assuming leadership roles in the LAMP Institute for Leadership. She has been a tireless role model and advocate for leadership development in the profession and she earned Fellow status with the American College of Healthcare Executives. Within PPTA, she has been a district director, a conference programming committee chair, and a member of the Insurance Relations Committee. She also finds the time to serve her community by being elected to the school board.

CTI Humanitarian Award

This award is given for service that occurs outside the profession of physical therapy.


Judy Traister, PT, DPT, MA

Dr. Traister has had an extensive history of providing service to others. She has been a longstanding volunteer with Surgicorps International, a non-profit organization that provides free surgical and medical care to those in need in developing countries.  Her work with Surgicorps, across 11 mission trips over the past 8 years, has taken her to Bhutan, Guatemala, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Zambia.  Judy has been a valuable member of the surgical team by providing much needed pre- and post-surgical PT services and consultation.  When not functioning as a PT, she willingly helps out in a variety of other roles – providing comfort care, reassuring patients and families, giving hugs, attending to the needs to operating room team, planning trips, and packing supplies. During her career as a physical therapist, Judy has been a volunteer for the Lily Society of Easter Seals, the Art for AIDS Committee, and the Sports by Ability Games.  She has been a continuous member of the APTA and PPTA since 1969 and has been a Chatham faculty member since 2001. She graduated from West Virginia University with a BS degree; D. T. Watson School of Physiatrics with a Certificate in Physical Therapy; Duquesne University with a MA degree; and Chatham University with a transitional DPT degree.


Service Award

The Service Award is presented to a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who has significantly contributed to the betterment of physical therapy within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has supported the mission of the Association.


Norman L. Johnson, PT, DPT, DEd, MSS, MBA

Dr. Johnson's contributions to the PPTA are both numerous and longstanding. He recently completed an 8-year appointment to the State Board of Physical Therapy, where during his tenure, he served as vice-chair and chair of the group.  Serving on the State Board, he was instrumental in ensuring enforcement of practice standards.  A member of the Association since 1982, Norm served the PPTA on the Professional Development Committee, the PTA Utilization Task Force, and the SWD Education Committee and has been a Legislative Ambassador since 1987. Dr. Johnson served his country for 40 years in the Navy and is the Director of the PTA program at Community College of Allegheny County – Boyce Campus, a program he founded in 1988. Dr. Johnson also gives back to the profession by being an innovative educator, and a role model and mentor for his students and colleagues.



Paul Slocum, PT, MS, ATC


Mr. Slocum’s contributions to the PPTA clearly meets the requirement of consistent service of long duration in the betterment of physical therapy in the State. An Association member since 1973, he has made substantial contributions by serving on the Chapter Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, and leading the Referral-for-Profit Committee, while at the same time serving on APTA’s PPAC and POPTS Task Force. He was instrumental in conducting the research that identified the critical issues for members in the state and used that information to work with PPTA leadership to identify legislative and practice priorities. Paul was elected 5 times as a Delegate representing the PPTA to the APTA House of Delegates, was a member of the Continuing Education and Insurance Relations Committees, and served as the Secretary for the PA PT PAC for 13 years. In addition to service to PPTA, Paul was active in the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society (PATS) and served a term as its president. In his role as PATS Legislative Chair, Paul worked with PPTA to resolve the longstanding issue of athletic trainer credentialing in Pennsylvania.

Steven Kolumban Award

This award acknowledges a physical therapist assistant who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in clinical practice, community service, and personal commitment to physical therapy through professional contributions to the PPTA, the PPTA PTA Special Interest Group (SIG), or the APTA. 



Lee Ann Derr, PTA

Ms. Derr has served on the executive board of the PPTA PTA SIG.  As the Vice-chair of the PTA SIG, she was actively involved with recruiting and mentoring new volunteers and helped to develop policies and procedures that facilitate the leadership transition process within the group.  Lee Ann in her leadership role has given voice to the interests of the PTA and the PTA SIG at PPTA Board of Directors Meetings. Lee Ann is the current treasurer for the South Central District and has been involved with the PA PT PAC. She has been a role model for the PTA through her pursuit of life-long professional development and has an unwavering dedication to the patients that she serves and the profession. Lee Ann is a skilled clinician, who embraces the PT-PTA team approach to care.

Special Interest Group Awards

The awards for each SIG recognize a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant that is a member of APTA/PPTA and has made meaningful contributions to physical therapy at the individual, Chapter, or National level in the practice area supported by the SIG.  The contributions can be in any of the following areas: excellence in patient care or clinical practice; excellence in education or research; and/or community advocacy.

Pediatric Special Interest Group


Robin Dole, PT, DPT, EdD, PCS  is currently professor of physical therapy, director of the Institute for Physical Therapy Education and an associate dean in the School of Human Service Professions at Widener University.  She has been a board certified pediatric clinical specialist since 1996 and chair of the Pediatric Specialty Council since 2014.  She serves on the editorial board for the journal Physical and Occupational Therapy in Physical Therapy.  Robin has been an active pediatric clinician and educator for more than 25 years practicing in early intervention and school based settings and engaging in research, consultation, and mentorship with children, families, therapists and students. Her scholarly contributions include improving Individualized Education Plan participation by therapists, describing and enhancing pediatric entry-level curriculum and clinical education, selecting and interpreting standardized assessment and outcome measures and implementing successful knowledge brokering  activities.

Private Practice Special Interest Group


Tim Parnell MSPT, ATC is  the owner of CrossRoads Physical Therapy  ( with offices in Duncansville and Martinsburg PA.  Tim and CrossRoads Physical Therapy are a solid example of the importance of private practices in the healthcare community.  His practice delivers significant value for the healthcare dollars spent.  His practice promotes to the community that physical therapists are the true movement experts and should be the entry point into the healthcare system for movement related impairments.  His commitment to running a practice centered around the needs of the patients while delivering comprehensive care is impressive given the ever increasing downward pressure of insurance regulations and declining reimbursement.

Neurology Special Interest Group


Dr. David Wert PT, PhD currently works as an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.  David is well liked by his colleagues and students alike.  He is described as "having an easy non-threatening demeanor in class with a deadly serious approach to the content".  David has continued to pursue excellence in teaching.  The PPTA Neuro SIG would like to congratulate David on being an excellent educator for future clinicians and the 2017 Neurologic SIG awardee! He provides education for NeuroScience I and II and has provided care and interventions for the neurological and geriatric population. David has been published on such topics as geriatric wellness, gait and physical activity, is a journal reviewer , and has received numerous awards including the Jack Walker Award from the APTA. Dr. Wert's award was presented to him in Pittsburgh. We thank and congratulate him.

Geriatric Special Interest Group


Dr. Carol Maritz, PT, EdD, GCS is the Associate Dean, Samson College of Health Sciences and Professor of Physical Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA.  She has made substantive contributions to Geriatric Physical Therapy through research, education, presentations, and advocacy.  She has multiple peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations on function and balance training in older adults.  In 2016, Dr. Maritz was recognized for her research contributions and named the Outstanding Researcher in Geriatric Physical Therapy by the Academy of Geriatric PT.  She developed the Southwest Elders Exercising Together (SWEET) program in 2007, a community-based group exercise program designed to decrease risk factors associated with falls in the older population.  As part of this program, she trained DPT students to deliver exercise interventions as part of their capstone projects.  This program is ongoing, and has involved training of more than 30 DPT students who work with older adults in the area of health promotion and wellness.  Additionally, Dr. Maritz has been an advocate for exercise and health promotion instruction and education in disadvantaged urban areas in Philadelphia.  She has served on the Board of Directors for ElderNet of Lower Marion and Narberth and on the Program Advisory Committee for LIFE at Home.  The Geriatric Special Interest Group is proud to recognize Dr. Carol Maritz for her outstanding contributions to Geriatric Physical Therapy.

Dr. Tom Stewart Award Recipient


Sean Sebeck was a physical therapy student at DeSales University where he hs gone above and beyond for the professional association. He serves the PPTA's Practice and Research Committee and Mentorship Work Group. He was also actively involved in the APTA Student Assembly Loop Communication Network and Student Special Interest Group Project Committee in addition to serving as a student ambassador 2015-2016.  Sean is the DeSales University Student Physical Therapy Association APTA Committee Chair.  This is the first Dr. Tom Stewart Award from DeSales University


Student Leadership


Dayna Ehlers is physical therapy student at Misericordia University where she has been an exemplary student leader including service as President of Misericordia Physical Therapy Club,  Global PT Day of Service Ambassador, and an Academic Policy Committee Student Representative.  Dayna has also been actively involved in the APTA as am Student Representative for Student Special Interest Group and  a PT-PAC student liaison and has attended many conferences and meetings. Dayna has also been invested in giving back to her community through community service initiatives. She is the first recipient of a Student Leadership Award from Misericordia University


Sabrina Evers is a physical therapy student at Chatham University where she  teamed up with another classmate to start a Graduates Go Green club., an organization strives to educate others about Chatham’s core value of sustainability and promote an ecofriendly campus. Additionally Sabrina has been an advocate for individuals with disability by volunteering at the Woodland’s Foundation to provide companionship to children and adults with disabilities during weekend retreats and serving as treasurer of Go-Baby Go, which she created with classmates, to adapt toy cars for children with disabilities. Sabrina is the first Student leadership Award Recipient from Chatham University.


Sierra Shepherd
is a physical therapy assistant student at Community College of Allegheny County Boyce Campus and has been an exceptional student maintaining a 4.0 GPA while serving as Vice President of the Student Physical Therapy Association on campus. Additionally she has been active in the community volunteering for women's shelters and helping families in need around the holidays. Sierra has stepped up as a volunteer at PPTA district events. This is CCACs 5th student leadership award recipient.