RT Faculty

Heather R. Porter, PhD, CTRS, FDRT

Creator and Chair of RT Wise Owls | hporter@temple.edu

Heather is a professor in the RT program at Temple University and a fellow in the National Academy of Recreational Therapists. Her area of specialization is adult inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation. She’s received multiple teaching awards and has been recognized for her contributions to the field of RT by professional associations. She’s published multiple books, book chapters, and refereed journal articles, and she mentors RT students in manuscript development for publication.

Heather Burket, MS, CTRS, CCLS

Heather is an instructor in the RT program at Temple University. She is a dually certified Therapeutic Recreation and Child Life Specialist who has worked in the field of pediatric therapeutic recreation and child life for over 8 years. She has been employed in a variety of pediatric service domains including medical daycare, step-down intensive care, acute rehabilitation, and behavioral health. She has had exposure to multiple acute care service arenas including but not limited to oncology, neurology, ICU, emergency care, and outpatient clinic services. Heather is a Past-President for the New Jersey Eastern Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Association, has served as an NCTRC exam item writer, is the Delaware state representative on the Joint Taskforce for the exploration of RT licensure, is a past Peg-Connelly Scholarship Recipient of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, and currently serves as a member of the Peg Connelly Scholarship Application Review Committee. She has additionally had training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.

Ann Dolloff, MEd, CTRS

Ann is an instructor in the RT program at Temple University. After 22 years directing RT services in community-based recreation and summer camp facilities for individuals with disabilities and their families in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, Ann returned to Temple University in 2004. She joined the Institute on Disabilities with Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology, the state AT Act Program, as assistant director, and a teaching adjunct in the RT program. In 2012, she accepted a full-time faculty position with the RT program. She has also taught at West Chester University and the University of New Hampshire. In addition to her passion for teaching, she is also a long-time instructor and coach in various adapted sports and still teaches adapted skiing every weekend with the PA Center for Adapted Sports at Camelback Mountain in the Poconos.

Bryan McCormick, PhD, CTRS, FDRT

Bryan is a professor in the RT program at Temple University. He is a past president of ATRA and is a fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences and the National Academy of Recreational Therapists. He is the author or co-author of over 60 peer-reviewed publications, more than 40 published research abstracts, 3 books and 15 book chapters. Working with co-investigators and graduate students, his group has successfully used a variety of data collection and data analysis techniques to capture the everyday experience of adults with severe mental illness. His current work is focused on translating basic findings on everyday life activities into field-based interventions to improve social functioning and community participation among adults with schizophrenia. He is a two-time recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research and lectures in psychiatric services in Serbia (2010) and Bosnia (2017). He has provided trainings in the US and internationally on the use of recreation as a form of psychosocial intervention in psychiatric rehabilitation. His teaching includes both undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of RT, social psychology, and social science research methods.

Brandon Snead, MS, CTRS

Brandon is an instructor in the RT program at Temple University. His professional background includes leading RT interventions for adults with mental health diagnoses, targeting motivation to participate in community based recreation. In this effort, he has developed and led biking and storytelling interventions, physical activity fairs, and worked with Temple University college students to facilitate Leisure Education conferences for consumers of mental healthcare. As an instructor, he aims to offer experiences that allow students to apply what they learn in classes in real-world settings.

Gretchen Snethen, PhD, CTRS

Gretchen is an associate professor in the RT program at Temple University and the Assistant Director for the NIDILRR funded Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion. Her professional experience consists of direct and managerial work with youth and adults with mental illness. Her research focuses on understanding the relationship between environmental factors and community participation; using the community to promote physical activity engagement; and developing interventions that use recreation and leisure as a means to promote independence in the community. In addition to her research, Gretchen remains connected to the RT profession through her leadership with the American Therapeutic Recreation Association Evidence-Based Practice Taskforce.

Gena Bell Vargas, PhD, CTRS

Gena Bell is an associate professor in the RT program at Temple University and the RT Graduate Program Director. Her clinical background includes work in an urban acute psychiatric inpatient setting with people experiencing symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, some dually diagnosed with substance abuse. She has also worked in inpatient physical rehabilitation, with persons that have experienced strokes, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations. Gena has spent a considerable amount of time running around in the woods leading children and adults with and without disabilities in various team building activities and ropes courses. Her interest areas include efficacy research on RT practice, with a focus on exploring the use of motivational theory in increasing continued participation for all.

Aurora Verlin, MS, CTRS

Aurora is an instructor in the RT program at Temple University. Her clinical background is in geriatric care with a specialization in working with individuals with dementia. Prior to stepping into the instructor role at Temple, Aurora served dually as the director of therapeutic recreation and personal care administrator within a Life Care Community which included skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation, personal care, memory support and independent living. She also has clinical experience in stand-alone nursing homes, personal care/memory support, adult day programs and senior centers. Aurora was one of the developers of the Engagement in Preferred ActivitieS Scale (EPASS), which aims to measure engagement of individuals with dementia in preferred leisure activities. She currently serves as the vice president/president-elect of the RT Foundation. Additionally, Aurora enjoys mentoring current RT students and recent alumni in presenting at local and national conferences. Her interests involve dementia, cognitive fitness, engagement related to quality of life, caregiving interventions, and improvement of RT curriculum.