MEET OUR TEAM
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.
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!
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!
Emilee Hunter-Maguire, OTD, OTR/L
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.
Roy Hu, MSOT, OTR/L
Roy received his bachelor’s of occupational therapy from Kunming Medical University in China and his Master’s of Occupational Therapy from Creighton University.
During his time in school, Roy developed his interest in working and interacting with kids from a different cultural perspective. As he trained and experienced the DIR/Floortime model at Zier Institute, he was fascinated by the uniqueness and impact of the approach. He continued as a paraprofessional before joining us as an Occupational Therapist in 2022.
In his free time, Roy enjoys hiking in the mountain and travels all over the world. He’s a big music fan and even produces his own to express himself.