402-933-2882 info@zierinstitute.com

MEET OUR TEAM

Larry M. Zier, OTD, OTR/L

Some describe their work as a calling, an unexplainable pull to a particular field of interest, or at the very least, an overwhelming desire to make a difference. For Larry, it happened well into a career in business. Its impact was so significant that he changed careers, returning to school to work with children in an area that is little understood and certainly underserved.

Larry Zier, OTD, OTR/L, earned his clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University. He has received training in sensory integration, the DIR/Floortime approach, and therapeutic listening and holds a Profectum DIR certification. Larry was inspired to become an occupational therapist to create a more relationship-based option for parents and have an opportunity to offer an alternative to power and control.

His passion is working with children and their parents to help them achieve their highest potential physically, emotionally, and socially. His approach is to treat each child individually, always keeping their unique strengths and differences in mind. He strongly believes in the role of family involvement, as well as collaboration with caregivers, teachers, and other professionals, as integral to a child’s growth and overall success. Larry enjoys working on all aspects of family and child development – motor, sensory, emotion systems; tying them all together in dynamic experiences.

Larry and his wife, Peggy reside in Omaha, Nebraska and have 4 children. They spend their time between Omaha and Chicago where the Zier Institute and AZA Chicago clinics are based. Additionally, Larry is helping support families remotely all over the country. Along with his family, he enjoys running, biking, yoga, jujitsu, and anything that will get him outside.

envelope   Larry M. Zier, OTD, OTR/L

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Theresa Kennelly, Senior Therapist, OTD, OTR/L

Theresa is an Omaha native with a love for the Huskers and Bluejays! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a teacher. Still, she discovered occupational therapy after working with a child with Autism and later experiencing OT in its purest form on a mission trip to Uganda. While on this trip, Theresa had the unique and rare opportunity to shadow an occupational therapist. It was from this occupational therapist that she learned the authentic nature of this field. The OT Theresa learned from used a few supplies, sticks and wood, to make walkers and supportive seating for children, among many other therapeutic interventions. Seeing how effective occupational therapy was in its most simplistic and raw form convinced Theresa that this was the field for her. Theresa graduated from Creighton with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and her doctorate in Occupational Therapy.

Theresa joined the Zier Institute team in 2020 as a student and became a full-time employee after graduation. In 2023, Theresa was promoted to Senior Therapist, playing a crucial role with our families, therapists and staff.

At Zier Institute, Theresa discovered the power of relating with children through play and understanding the integral components that uniquely make up each child. Using the DIR Floortime model, she continues to find meaning by honoring the child’s self and building relationships with the children and families she works with. Theresa holds a Profectum DIR/Floortime level 1 certification, Star Institute Sensory Integration Hybrid Level 1 Mentorship Certificate, and has completed several Profectum master classes. Additionally, Theresa has taken courses with Kelly Mahler, OTD, who specializes in OT and the interception system.

In her free time, you will likely find Theresa playing with her two big dogs (Ella and Wrigley), playing sand volleyball, doing yoga, or reading!

 

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Emilee Hunter-Maguire, OTD, OTR/L

Emilee was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Omaha to attend Creighton University in 2010. Emilee earned her bachelor’s degree of psychology in 2014, worked for Creighton Campus Ministry and towards her Master’s of Theology in 2015, and graduated from Creighton’s Occupational Therapy program in 2018–a true blue jay! She also holds a Profectum DIR/Floortime level 1 certification. Prior to coming to Zier Institute, Emilee worked with Amy Zier + Associates abroad in Italy.

Emilee is (almost) a 300hr certified yoga instructor, certified in Children’s yoga, and has completed seminar I of John Barnes’ myofascial release training. She teaches yoga in the Omaha area. Her specific areas of research include animal-assisted therapy, time management skills, and a case study where yoga was used as the primary intervention in a child with anxiety. Emilee incorporates several principles of yoga into most of her OT sessions with clients at the Zier Institute.

In her work as an OT at Zier Institute, she’s inspired by meeting people where they’re at and joining them in building a better life, whatever that means for them! Emilee thrives in Zier Institute’s clinic environment as it’s a space for everybody–kids and adults alike. She also thinks she has the best co-workers in the world. Right back at you, Emilee

Emilee enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, Zeus. She also enjoys reading, cooking, playing games (board games and cards are her favorites!), and soaking up the sun with 50+ SPF!

envelope   Emilee Hunter-Maguire, OTD, OTR/L

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Kayla Peck, OTD, OTR/L

Kayla was born and raised in Omaha, only a few blocks away from Creighton, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and continued to complete her clinical doctorate in occupational therapy. Kayla grew up familiar with occupational therapy with an occupational therapist mother and physical therapist father. She knew she wanted to go into one of these fields, but it was not until Kayla discovered the DIR/Floortime model of Zier Institute that she settled on occupational therapy.

Kayla spent many years as a competitive gymnast. She found a way to integrate her love of gymnastics with occupational therapy as the director of a program at her gym for kids with special needs. Kayla could see the impact of full-body movement on the sensory system and realized this what she wanted to focus on with children. Kayla continues to use the knowledge she gained during this time in her occupational therapy practice as she loves to incorporate gymnastics moves into her sessions to impact the sensory systems.

When she’s not at the clinic, Kayla enjoys reading books, playing chess, going for walks, spending time outside, eating ice cream, and playing with her dog, Luna.

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Taylor Sramek, MSOT, OTR/L

Taylor Sramek was born and raised in Omaha, NE. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s in Occupational Therapy at Methodist College.

As a student, she completed fieldwork at Zier Institute, where she grew a love for the DIR Floortime approach and connecting with children and families through relationship-based play.
Taylor also completed a fieldwork at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital-Omaha, where she utilized neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) approaches to assist those recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and autoimmune disorders.

With the skills and knowledge she has gained from these settings, she works to implement a holistic approach with the children and families at Zier Institute.

In her free time, you can find Taylor playing sand volleyball in the summer, taking her dog for a walk or to the park for play dates, playing board/card games with family, and crocheting.

 Taylor Sramek, MSOT, OTR/L

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Taylor Gutzman, MSOT, OTR/L

Taylor was raised in Green Bay, WI, and yes, she is a huge Green Bay Packers fan! Taylor graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2016, majoring in Human Biology with a minor in Human Development. Taylor received her MS in Occupational Therapy at Allen College in Cedar Falls, IA, in 2019. She started working in an outpatient clinic and has over three years of experience in pediatrics.
Taylor became familiar with occupational therapy through a family member who was an OT in occupational health. She then discovered the holistic nature and the endless possibilities for occupational therapy to impact others through various shadowing and volunteer experiences. Through these experiences in getting to know the work of various occupational therapists, Taylor also began a journey of self-discovery and becoming her most authentic self.

Taylor embraces being a lifelong learner and is committed to professional and personal growth to provide the best care for her clients. She holds various continuing education certifications related to the sensory system as she quickly discovered that body disorganization often impacted performance and participation in valued occupations.

Certifications include:
• Star Institute Sensory Integration Hybrid Level 1 Mentorship Certificate
• Three Steps to Improving Interoception: An Evidence-Based Approach
• Brain and Sensory Foundations, First Level.

Taylor understands the importance of relationships in all interactions and is known for her ability to empathize and connect with others, which has been essential in her work as an occupational therapist. She values community partnerships and established a relationship with her alma mater working with OT students during her time in Iowa.

Taylor was drawn to Zier’s Institute’s relationship-based approach and believes in the power of collaboration with all involved for optimal outcomes. She enjoys the innovative environment at Zier Institute and is looking forward to exploring and implementing creative problem-solving in her work with others.

Taylor loves all things outdoors, including walking with her dog, Lambeau. She also enjoys exploring Omaha, live music, reading, yoga, games, and traveling.

  Taylor Gutzman, MSOT, OTR/L

 

Rachel Lee, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech Language Therapist

Rachel grew up in Omaha and knew from an early age that she wanted to be in a helping profession. While obtaining her master’s degree at KU, Rachel focused on classes specializing in alternative and augmented communication (AAC) and early language development.

After graduation, Rachel worked in a skilled nursing facility during the height of Covid for a year before having her twins. Shortly after, she made a career move to the Papillion La-Vista School District as an SLP for the next four years. While in the school district, she worked with preschool through sixth-grade students. Additionally, Rachel installed core communication boards in every “specials” classroom and on the playgrounds to increase communication between all students.

Rachel’s therapeutic styles are rooted in child-led, play-based, and total communication methods. She knows the importance of creating meaningful relationships with clients and families and using the client’s strengths to build upon growing other skills. She has training in Natural Language Acquisition Stages and Gestalt Language Processing. She has expertise in AAC, early language development and speech sound disorders.

In her spare time, Rachel enjoys spending time and traveling with her husband, John, and two kids, Jackson and Olivia. She finds joy in competing in triathlons, half-marathons, and anything that involves movement.

Education:

Augustana University, Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders

University of Kansas, Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology

 

Katy Barnes, OTD, OTR/L

Katy, a native of the Chicago suburbs, returned to Omaha with her husband to be near his family, bringing a wealth of experience and passion for occupational therapy. Her journey into the field began at Iowa Children’s Hospital, where she witnessed firsthand the power of using real-life experiences and personal connections to build developmental skills in children and young adults. 

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Physiology with minors in Psychology and Public Health from the University of Iowa and a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University.

Katy’s deep fascination with how family dynamics and culture influence our engagement in play led her to explore pediatric therapy practices globally. Her research, including a study on the treatment of autism spectrum disorder in the Dominican Republic, focused on understanding the experiences of caregivers, therapists, and children in occupational therapy treatment. This enriched her understanding of cultural nuances in therapeutic interventions. 

Additionally, Katy holds certification in Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding therapy, recognizing the significance of sensory systems in addressing feeding differences.

She enjoys being outside and traveling with her family in her spare time. She can be found camping, hiking, and adventuring with her husband, new baby, and dog, Bucky Barnes.

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Dr. Mattia Epps, OTD, OTR/L

 

Mattia was born in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. From a tender age, she profoundly realized that her calling lay in service and care. This revelation settled in as she navigated her most impactful years, guided by a passion for children. Mattia’s passion was ignited while volunteering in her high school’s special education classroom, affectionately known as “The Rockstars.” In this nurturing environment, she found herself deeply connected with her peers and wanting to advocate for those with special needs. Through those interactions, she was introduced to the unique field of occupational therapy that sparked a flame within her.

In her pursuit of occupational therapy, Mattia attended Tennessee State University. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences with a Concentration in Therapeutic Studies and a Doctorate Degree in Occupational Therapy from College of Saint Mary. As a College of Saint Mary student, she completed clinical experiences at a skilled nursing facility and an outpatient pediatric clinic. 

Mattia encourages healthy social and emotional relationships in her personal life and understands how important those dynamics are for the growth and development of children. She was drawn to Zier Institute’s family-centered dynamic and holistic approaches to helping children and their families reach their goals. With enthusiasm and gratitude, she embraces the opportunity to contribute her talents and perspectives. She is confident that her journey with Zier Institute will be one of growth, fulfillment, and meaningful impact.

In her free time, Mattia enjoys cooking, reading, listening to podcasts and church sermons, watching TV, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

envelope   Mattia Epps, OTD, OTR/L

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