Brooke Howard, MS, OTR/L – Clinical Director, Skills for Life

Brooke has a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Sargent College at Boston University and an undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Oberlin College. Brooke has been working as a licensed Occupational Therapist since 2005 and at Ivy Street School since 2009. Before coming to Ivy Street, she worked in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and supervised the outpatient program at Franciscan Hospital for Children. Brooke also worked as an adjunct faculty in the Occupational Therapy department at Sargent College from 2010-2014. Brooke was a founding member of the transition program at Ivy Street and has continued to grow, develop and support the program since. Most recently Brooke was a founding partner of Ivy Street’s community-based program, Skills For Life where she works in the community with young adults who seek to gain more independence.

Jane Hannafin, MS, OTR/L – Program Director, Skills for Life

Jane has a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from The University of New Hampshire and her undergraduate degree in Occupational Science from The University of New Hampshire. She joined the team at Ivy Street School in 2012 after working at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital on the Traumatic Brain Injury Unit for several years. From 2012 to 2016, Jane worked in various capacities at Ivy Street, with a specific focus on the transition and vocational programs. Since 2016, Jane has been a founding partner of Ivy Street’s community-based program, Skills for Life where she works in the community with young adults who seek to gain more independence.

Ariel Schwartz, MS, OTR/L – Occupational Therapist

Ariel Schwartz, PhD, OTR/L has been working with Skills for Life since April 2017. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. Her research is focused on transition age youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She is particularly interested in community-based intervention. She enjoys helping young adults reach their community living and transition-related goals.


Dafna Goldwasser, MS, OTR/L – Occupational Therapist

Dafna has a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Studies from Boston University. Dafna is currently working as an Occupational Therapist at Ivy Street School, focusing on the transition-based classrooms. Prior to her work at Ivy Street, Dafna worked in a variety of pediatric and school-based settings in the greater Boston area through Easter Seals of Massachusetts. She also worked for several years in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in the Washington, DC area, rotating through the orthopedic and TBI units. Dafna is very passionate about working with young adults to develop functional living skills and gain confidence while participating successfully in their community.

Alicia Dessanti, MS, OTR/L – Occupational Therapist

Alicia has a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Studies also from Boston University. She has previous experience working with clients ranging in age from birth-22 with a range of disabilities in a variety of settings including: inpatient and outpatient pediatric rehabilitation, a school for students with significant and complex disabilities, and the public school system. Alicia also currently works in a special education program helping teens and young adults prepare for transitioning from school. Her role there has a strong focus on maximizing students’ vocational capacities. Alicia is particularly interested in work with teens and young adults that occurs within their community and home and focuses on increasing their independence and meaningful participation in these environments.

Jessica Johnston, MS, OTR/L – Occupational Therapist

Jess has a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Boston University – Sargent College.  Jess brings experience in settings ranging from traumatic brain injury and neurological rehab, community-based mental health, and work in the school system.  Jess brings a focus on the use of functional and cognitive-based strategies to assist clients in managing day to day activities.  Jess has also been trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is skilled in working with clients with a variety of mental health needs.  She enjoys being outside, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.

Shawna Boesch, BS, CBIS – Community and Vocational Coach

Shawna joined the Ivy Street Community in 2012 while completing her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Simmons College. Shawna has always been passionate about supporting individuals with unique challenges and needs and has experience in a variety of school and healthcare settings, including hospitals and Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities. Shawna’s mission at Ivy Street has always been to support all students in becoming self-determined agents of their own life as they transition into young adulthood. Shawna supports the Vocational Department and Transition team in preparing Ivy Street students for gainful employment, continuing education and independent living.