My personal mission is to elevate the minds, bodies and spirits of fellow human beings. The modalities of massage therapy, yoga and life coaching, my personal and professional experiences, and my core character traits of professionalism, friendliness and thoroughness, enable me to do this in ways that no one else can! This ultimately wins the respect and loyalty of my clients, and allows me to truly make a difference in the lives of those who employ my services.
My career journey to this point has been non-traditional and paved with rich experience.
It all began with interest in science.
In 1992, I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Combined Sciences and, in 1994, a Master's Degree in Analytical Chemistry from Youngstown State University. I worked in the field of fluorescent dye chemistry for over 18 years, employed first in 1995-2001 by Amersham Biosciences (now a part of GE Healthcare), where I manufactured and analyzed fluorescent CyDyes®. This lead to a 3 year assignment in Cardiff, Wales, UK, where I trained personnel to manufacture the dyes and conducted additional process development.
Living in Wales was an exciting and enjoyable adventure!
After returning, I worked as a research associate at the Molecular Biosensor & Imaging Center at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) from 2002-2013. Projects included synthesis of voltage sensitive fluorescent dyes to study cardiac arrhythmias, the use of fluorescent dyes to study hemodynamics and vessel development to advance biomedical engineering, and the development of pharmaceutical formulations to support the use of theranostics in cancer research. I have authored and co-authored over a dozen academic research articles, which have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Shortly after I began working as a researcher, I realized that while the work I was doing would eventually benefit people 5-10 years later, I wanted to have more immediate impact, so I decided to become a massage therapist. Massage is something that has been with me all of my life. As a child, I would massage my father's feet and walk on his back to alleviate his aches and pains. This continued over the years as I casually massaged close friends as my contribution to making their lives better and providing the positive reassurance that physical contact does. It became evident to me that I could utilize these innate skills to help others outside my immediate circle.
In 2004, I began training and in 2006 I earned an Associate in Science Degree in Massage Therapy from Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus, graduating with highest honors. I attained national certification in massage therapy and bodywork (NCMTB) in November 2006 and became a licensed massage therapist in the State of Ohio in May 2007. I have been an active a member of the American Massage Therapy Association since July 2005, and have served on the national Bylaws Standing Committee for 7 years. In 2011, Pennsylvania implemented a new licensing requirement for massage therapists and I became an LMT in PA as well. I have volunteered in HIV/AIDS and LGBT elder organizations for the past 10 years. More recently, I have become interested in hospice and palliative care.
Upon graduating, I started a group chair massage business, Massage Therapy Professionals, Ltd., with the intention to leave research altogether, but then began doing research that I truly loved. This caused me to reevaluate my goals. I decided to do both careers and in 2010, I changed my business to a solo massage practice, Centered Presence, Ltd. At the time, Research chemistry and massage therapy appeared to be diametrically opposed; however both require dedication, creativity and the ability to react to what is observed, or in the case of massage therapy, palpated. Work in both fields complemented the other: my analytical approach has allowed me to engage my mind along with my intuitive abilities in massage therapy. In turn, the relaxation techniques and increased body awareness have made me more effective as a researcher, allowing for better management of stressful deadlines.
I maintained a full time job and a part time massage practice as a new way of life. In 2013, I changed fields from interdisciplinary research to laboratory safety compliance at CMU. I was responsible for all of the hazardous material safety inspections at CMU. In 2016, I starred in and was a driver of establishing the first ever online Laboratory Safety & Hazardous Waste Training (LSHW) for CMU’s Environmental Health & Safety Department. This was both ground-breaking and well received.
After working for 10 years concurrently as a chemist and a part time massage therapist, I was ready to progress and I became interested in life coaching. In my work as a massage therapist, I "coach" people in discovering their own ways to dismantle stress through responding to the somatic awareness that massage brings. In 2016, I completed International Coach Federation (ICF) training to be a professional life coach through The Goldvarg Group, with additional focus on serving the needs of the LGBT community. During the coach training, I received professional coaching as well. This is when it became clear to me that it was time for me to further develop myself as a wellness professional and pursue the fire that has been burning within for so long. It also became evident that it was time to add yoga instruction to my services, which was something I always dreamed of doing. So later in 2016, I entered yoga teacher training at Kripalu School of Yoga with anticipated completion in February 2017. Coaching helped me to focus my hopes and desires, and design avenues to take action. In November 2016, I left my career of 22 years in chemistry to pursue working entirely for myself in Centered Presence, Ltd. This bold move created the space for me to pursue my life’s work. Coaching enabled me to go through 3 years worth of changes in just about 6 months.
The sequential introduction of massage, yoga and coaching for me as a client has changed my life in immeasurable ways. I first became interested in massage as a form of stress reduction and healthier alternative to drinking. As I received more massage, my body awareness increased. As a massage therapist, I became interested in yoga as a means of exploring body, mind and spirit, and especially how I could bring more centering to my massage sessions. Yoga changed my life entirely! In addition to deepening embodiment, there is a growth and maturity that comes along with practicing yoga. I became more comfortable in my skin, with my emotions and being in my life. It allowed me to become aware of my own innate wisdom, become settled in my being and maintain connection to something larger than myself. With this maturity, I turned to life coaching to gain further clarity on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, formulated focus and took action!
As a direct result of my personal experience, I offer massage, yoga and coaching as stand-alone modalities, but also foresee a pathway of personal growth and fulfillment of life purpose for clients by combining these modalities in series. Massage is therapeutic, heals the stress, tension and wounds of the past, and serves as a somewhat passive entry point. Yoga is a more active exploration of the body and spirit in the present, and an integrated growth continuation. Coaching is very proactive and empowering; it transforms and creates the future through conscious intention and self-designed actions, and is a logical conclusion. It is this final step of coaching that brings the benefit of spiritual stability and maturity gained through yoga to fruition by transforming it into action that contributes to well being of others and the planet.
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PROFESSIONAL TRAINING & CERTIFICATIONS
International Coach Federation (ICF) training (2016)
200 - Hour Kripalu School of Yoga teacher training (2017)
SELECTED CONTINUING EDUCATION COMPLETED
Bodywork in End of Life Care: Journeys in Dying (New School of Bodywork Advancement, 2015)
How We Heal Ourselves and Others (Institute for Brain Potential - IBP, 2013)
How the Brain Forms New Habits (IBP, 2012)
Listening to the Body: Understanding the Language of Stress-related Symptoms (IBP, 2011)
Cancer & Massage Therapy (Susan Salvo, American Massage Therapy Association - AMTA, 2010)
Geriatric Massage (Susan Salvo, AMTA, 2010)
Implications of Presence in Massage Therapy (Jack Blackburn, AMTA, 2008)
SELECTED PUBLIC SPEAKING COMMUNITY EVENTS
Body-Centered Guided Meditation (2013) – Pittsburgh Prime Timers (PPT)
Stress & Wellness (2013) and The Distracted Mind (2013) – Nexus and PPT