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General Contact Info

POTAC Steering Committee members come from all over California. We would be happy to assist OTs working in mental health in any way we can. We know some OTs work alone in one-person departments, and we are available to discuss questions and issues. Please feel free to contact us at

POTAC Steering Committee

Contact List

Lynne Andonian, PhD, OTR/LSan José, CA
Eileen Auerbach, MS, OTR/LSan Francisco, CA
Amy Brokering, OTR/LMill Valley, CA
M. Terry Bowman, OTR/LSan Francisco, CA
Colleen Brennan Devine, MS, OTR/LSan Rafael, CA
Beth Ching, OTD, M.Ed., OTR/LOakland, CA
Rebecca Elder, MS, OTR/LSanta Cruz, CA
Susan Fisher, MS, OTR/LSanta Cruz, CA
Lynna Kaplan, OTR/LPortola Valley, CA
Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/LSan Rafael, CA
Barbara Rodrigues, MS, OTR/LSanta Cruz, CA
Patrice Sovyak, OTR/LSanta Cruz, CA
Susan MacDermott, OTD, OTR/LSan Marcos, CA
Ingrid Leu, OTD, OTR/LLos Angeles, CA
Sheela Ivlev, MS, OTR/LBay Area, CA
Bianca Doherty, OTD, OTR/L San Diego, CA
Sara Delucchi, MS, OTR/LLong Beach, CA
Julie Rahan, MS, OTR/LSan Jose, CA

Member Bios

Lynne Andonian, PhD, OTR/L

Lynne Andonian

Associate Professor Lynne Andonian, PhD, OTR/L earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Boston University, an M.A. degree in Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, and a PhD in Organizational Systems from Saybrook University, San Francisco. She has over 25 years of clinical experience, primarily in mental health, in a variety of settings including inpatient hospitals, outpatient partial hospitalization programs, public schools, and community-based settings. Dr. Andonian has also worked abroad with people with disabilities in Zambia and Uganda. She has presented nationally and internationally on her research interests that include community advocacy for underserved groups in the US and abroad, people with mental illness, international and multicultural issues, and occupational therapy clinical education.

Eileen Auerbach, MS, OTR/L

Eileen Auerbach

Eileen Auerbach is a founding member of POTAC and currently the chair of the Steering Committee. She received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of Minnesota in 1964. More recently, she earned an Advanced Practice Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at San José State University in December 2001. Prior to her retirement in July 2008, Eileen was the senior occupational therapist in an assertive community treatment center in San Francisco’s Mission District: Mission ACT. Eileen started out in OT working in both medical surgery and psychiatry in a general hospital in St. Paul for five years. When she moved to Chicago, she worked at Illinois State Psychiatric Institute (ISPI), the state teaching and research hospital, for two years. Finally she came to San Francisco in 1969, working at Mission Day Treatment Center, which morphed into Mission ACT in 1997.

At her Mission ACT job, she was primarily a mental health case manager; secondarily an employment specialist; and next an occupational therapist. All her duties called for the use of OT skills. Eileen’s main interest was in helping clients find, get and retain jobs. Her master’s thesis project was a qualitative study seeking to find out the components contributing to successful long term employment for the seriously mentally ill. She has published and presented extensively on this and other topics over the years.

M. Terry Bowman, OTR/L

Profile photo of M. Terry Bowman

M. Terry Bowman graduated with departmental honors from San José State University with a BS in OT, minor in Psychology. She has mental health experience both in the US and in the UK. Her specialties include acute inpatient, forensics, medium and low secure settings, community, diversity and inclusion, spirituality, humor, sexual health, wellness, and creative writing. Her OT roles are clinician, consultant, clinical investigator, fieldwork educator, guest lecturer, mentor, presenter, publisher, and supervisor. She has written and contributed to numerous professional publications, both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed, on both sides of the Atlantic and was featured in and OT Practice. She was a member of the POTAC Steering Committee from 1996 to 2012. She resigned when she started a private practice in 2012, the only one to provide community mental health and wellness services in the entire San Francisco Bay Area for several years. At the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference and Centennial in 2017 she co-presented on the topic of “Developing a Private Practice in Mental Health Occupational Therapy.” When she realized she never stopped communicating with or promoting POTAC, she thought it would be a good idea to return to the Steering Committee.

Amy Brokering, OTR/L

Amy Brokering

Amy Brokering received her BS in Occupational Therapy with a minor in Psychology from Dominican University in 2004. Amy completed her mental health internships at Santa Rosa Memorial’s partial hospitalization program and at Mission ACT. Previously, Amy had a long career in the publishing industry as a production and graphic design manager. Current areas of interest include health issues of older adults, expressive therapy, grief and loss issues, and spirituality.

Contact Amy at with any job listings or event announcements to be e-mailed to POTAC’s member list.

Beth Ching, OTD, M.Ed., OTR/L

Elizabeth “Beth” Ching, OTD, M.Ed., BSOT, OTR/L, Associate Professor, Samuel Merritt University (SMU), is a Third Generation Korean Chinese American born in Vallejo, California and has been an occupational therapist since 1985.  Beth has been committed to working with underserved populations throughout her career.  She has presented at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) about reducing health disparities and mentoring Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth to enter the health professions.  She also held the SMU Faculty Diversity Coordinator position in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Ching has published in the Journal of Cultural Diversity, Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, Journal of Diversity and Equality in Health and Care; she has co-authored  “Psychosocial and Cognitive Issues Affecting Therapy” in Neurorehabilitation for the Physical Therapist Assistant (2021).  Dr. Ching was honored to receive the 2021 Faculty of the Year Award at SMU.

Susan Fisher, OTR/L

Susan Fisher lives and works in Santa Cruz, CA in the Prevention and Early Intervention Program in the Santa Cruz County Department of Mental Health. Susan has been practicing in the field of mental health for over 20 years. She has worked in a variety of settings, including partial hospitalization, home health and community-based outpatient. She has dedicated her career to working with individuals who experience severe and persistent mental illness. Susan has received specialized training and certification in the ACL, Geriatric Mental Health, ANSA, and with multiple cognitive assessment tools. In a recent article in Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners (Vol. 29, Issue 6, P. 24) Susan wrote the article “Partners for Change: A Successful Mental Health Collaboration” describing their Senior Companion program, designed to address the high rates of depression, isolation and suicide of older adults in Santa Cruz County. Recently, on February 6, 2015 Susan presented as part of a panel for a POTAC Friday Forum on “OT & Older Adults: Practical Approaches to Meet Cognitive, Psychosocial and Physical Needs” at San José State University.

Karen Leigh, MS, OTR/L

Karen Leigh

Karen Leigh earned her MS in Occupational Therapy in 2005 from San Jose State University. Following the successful completion of her final Level II internship at Mission ACT under the guidance of Eileen Auerbach, MS OTR/L, it became evident that Psychiatric Occupational Therapy was indeed Karen’s calling. Karen, however, recognizing the breadth of her OT education, was adamant about initiating employment in the Physical Disabilities arena before segueing into psych. After two years in a skilled nursing facility, Karen decided it was time and obtained two newly developed psychiatric OT positions at the SFVAMC. There, she is responsible for delivering OT services in the Social Focus Cohort within the nursing home as well as in the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center, an outpatient psychiatric program. Karen is most passionate about community re-integration where she had the opportunity to facilitate the development or recovery of significant roles within the greater community.

Anne MacRae

Anne MacRae

Dr. Anne MacRae retired from her 30 year career at San Jose State University and was granted the status of Professor Emerita. She remains active in occupational therapy as a frequent guest lecturer and as a consultant for the California Institute of Behavioral Health Services (CIBHS); various county behavioral health services; and for occupational therapy services in Malta. Her primary scholarly and practice interests include cultural diversity, social and occupational justice, curriculum and program development, educational pedagogy, recovery and wellness models, environmental and contextual issues, collaborative models of treatment, community practice, and functional deficits of psychiatric symptoms. Among her extensive publications is the internationally acclaimed text, Psychosocial Occupational Therapy: An Evolving Practice, co-edited and co-authored with Dr. Elizabeth Cara, and now in its third edition. Other past positions include consultant/practitioner for Trinity County Behavioral Health Service (TCBHS) and coordinator of the SJSU post-professional (distance) program and international advisor. Dr. MacRae also supervised the SJSU psychosocial occupational therapy clinic for 20 years.

Dr. Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Occupational Therapy at Dominican University of California. Dr. McCarthy began her career as an occupational therapist in 2004 participating in the landmark occupational therapy research study: The USC Well Elderly Study II: Health Mediating Effects of the Well Elderly Program. She worked in Orange County CalWorks program at a center for substance abuse and domestic violence recovery. She then completed her clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy at USC in 2008, focusing on the development of the program Lifestyle Redesign® for the College Student. She then moved from Los Angeles to Ireland to teach Mental Health Occupational Therapy at University College Cork, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy from 2012 to 2016. She started her position at Dominican University of California in fall of 2016, teaching Psychosocial Aspects of Occupation. Karen’s clinical experience is in the areas of mental health, Lifestyle Redesign®, life coaching, dating coaching, older adults, college student well-being, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Her research interests include mental health and Occupational Science.

Susan Macdermott, otd, otr/l

Susan MacDermott has more than 15 years of experience as a practicing therapist and educator. In addition to her role as a Doctoral Coordinator at the University of St. Augustine in San Marcos, CA, she currently serves as an occupational therapist at Lasting Recovery, a substance abuse and recovery program in San Diego.

Her past experiences in mental health include being the occupational therapy director for Mariposa Women and Family Center in Orange, California, which provides community mental health services to women who have experienced domestic violence and other mental health concerns.   She also practiced in community and hospital-based mental health services in Mullingar, Ireland.  During her time at the University of Southern California OT Faculty Practice she worked as part of the chronic pain team providing services with a Lifestyle Redesign approach. 

She is excited to bring together communities of OTs passionate about mental health from the San Diego area to POTAC as the San Diego Chapter Representative. 

Barbara Rodrigues, MS, OTR/L

Barbara Rodrigues

Barbara Rodrigues, MS, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at San Jose State University and, after some years in clinical practice, returned to earn her Master of Science via the post-professional distance program. Her primary clinical experience has been in serving those with mental illness throughout the lifespan and in a variety of settings. She currently supervises a strong rehabilitation therapy team providing services at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. Her background and experience in addressing psychosocial needs is heavily relied on in program development and addressing needs of hospitalized individuals including hospital-wide education for vulnerable populations.

Barbara has been a member of the Practice Committee for the California Board of Occupational Therapy, a participant for the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Strategic Planning Committee, and a long-standing steering committee member for the Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Action Coalition (POTAC). She has been recognized by OTAC with the Fieldwork Educator Award and has been a co-author for chapters in Occupational Therapy with Elders: Strategies for the COTA and Psychosocial Occupational Therapy: A clinical practice. Barbara has had the opportunity to teach at the Sacramento City College Occupational Therapy Assistant program and more recently at San Jose State University’s Occupational Therapy program; she continues to provide guest lectures and presentations on various topics.

Patrice Sovyak, OTR/L

Patrice Sovyak

Patrice Sovyak has been an OT since 1998 working primarily in community based mental health, her first love and calling. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from San José State University and has been a Behavioral Health Fieldwork Supervisor for SJSU OT Interns for 14 years because she thinks OTs are a perfect fit for mental health services. She is currently Director of Community Services for Front St Inc., a behavioral health agency in Santa Cruz County, and supervises a supported housing program that provides both housing and support for individuals living in the community. In the past her roles have included program director of a residential day treatment intensive program, and program director of a social rehabilitation facility. Her current passion is learning about, understanding, and sharing a trauma-informed approach to services in mental health settings. She feels this is a paradigm shift and loves to share this exciting development with anyone who will listen. Patrice is also a certified facilitator of Wellness-Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) trainings.


Dr. Ingrid Leu OTD, OTR/L has had an interest in mental health since she was a student at the University of Southern California. She obtained her doctoral degree in 2014 which explored the qualifications and barriers of occupational therapy in pediatric mental health. r Leu is currently the Director of Occupational Therapy at Exodus Recovery, which provides psychiatric treatment services in hospital based inpatient and outpatient programs in Los Angeles County. She supervises Level I and Level II students from different universities in order to increase exposure and pique interest in mental health. Dr Leu is also an instructor at Stanbridge University.


Sheela Ivlev has worked in inpatient and outpatient behavioral health and physical rehabilitation programs in several San Francisco Bay Area hospitals, taught San Jose State University’s graduate OT psychosocial clinical course, and is currently running a wellness-based virtual practice. She is committed to removing the barriers to care like stigma, affordability, awareness, and accessibility that keep people from accessing services for mental health.