Faculty, Staff & Board

Faculty, Staff & Board 2017-10-20T10:03:43+00:00

Administration

Misti Oxford-Pickeral, Executive Director
Joanne Epstein, VP Administration
Chuck Graham, Academic Dean
Ruby Bienert, Clinic Director
Odalis Cruz, Finance Director

Jessica Babapour, Registrar
Isabelle Winzeler, Admissions
Glenn Morris, Financial Aid Director
Patty Getford, Student Dean and Intensive Coordinator
Andi Houston, Executive Assistant to Administration
Casey Halwani, Receptionist

Faculty & Staff

Andrew Ali Hamm, B.A., M.Ac, A.P. (FL), graduated from University of Florida with a degree in East Asian Languages. He received his M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2004). Andrew maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Ruby Bienert, B.A., M.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), holds a B.A. degree in Botany and a M.S. in Agriculture from University of Florida. She received her M.Ac. degree from the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (2003). Ruby is in private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Jim Brooks, B.A., M.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), holds a B.A. in Psychology and Master of Social Work from State University of New York at Albany. He received his M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2010). Jim is in private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Teresa Bruggeman, R.N., A.P., B.S.N., L.Ac., M.Ac. Earned her Bachelor Degree in Nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She graduated with her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in 2012. Teresa maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Carrie Chauhan, B.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), earned her B.S. degree from Central Missouri State. She received her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2010). She has taught the national exam preparation course for the Academy and now serves as Assistant Director of Chinese Herbal Studies. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Gary Dolowich, B.A., M.D., M.Ac., L.Ac. (CA), holds a B.A. in Psychology from Brooklyn College. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine and his M.Ac. from College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (1981) in Leamington Spa, UK. He is the author of Archetypal Acupuncture: Healing With the Five Elements and is in private practice in Santa Cruz, California. Acupuncture.

Jennifer Downey, B.A., M.A.O.M, A.P. (FL), graduated with a degree in music from University of Florida. She received her Masters of Oriental Medicine from Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine (2002). Jennifer maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Herbal Studies.

Thea Elijah, B.A., M.Ac., L.Ac. (VT), graduated with a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Empire State College in New York. She received her M.Ac. from Traditional Acupuncture Institute (1995). She is a featured lecturer nationwide and maintains a private practice in Brattleboro, VT. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Joanne Epstein, B.A., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), holds a B.A. in Radio and Television from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Public Affairs from Occidental College. She received her Licentiate in Acupuncture from Worsley Institute of Classical Acupuncture (1996), and her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2001), along with a Master of Medical Qigong. Joanne maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Merry Gerard, B.A., M.Ac., L.Ac. (MA), received a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York in Buffalo. She holds a M.Ac. from both the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (1982) and the College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (1989) in Leamington Spa, UK. Merry is in private practice in Boston, MA. Acupuncture.

Patty Getford, A.A., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), graduated from University of Florida with an Associates degree in Computers/Electronics Repair. She earned her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2001). Patty currently practices in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Chuck Graham, B.A., M.Ac., L.Ac. (MD), holds a B.A. in English/Fine Arts from Loyola College. He received his M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2002). Chuck maintains a private practice in Baltimore, MD. Acupuncture.

Rachel Harrison, B.A., M.A., M.Ac., M.M.Q., L.Ac. (MN), earned a B.A. in Music Performance from the Eastman School of Music and a M.A. from Julliard. She studied at Academy for Five Element Acupuncture where she received her L.Ac. (1999) , her M.Ac. (2001) and Master of Medical Qigong. Rachel is in private practice in Minnesota. Acupuncture.

Mary Huse, A.A., R.N., M.Ac., L.Ac. (CA & OR), graduated with an Associates degree in Nursing from College of the Redwoods. She earned her M.Ac. from Traditional Acupuncture Institute (1990). Mary is in private practice in California and Oregon. Acupuncture.

Brendan Kelly, B.A., M.Ac., L.Ac. (VT, MT), graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Political Science in 1992. He received his M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2004). Brendan has a private practice in Burlington, VT. Acupuncture

Michael Kowalski, B.A., L.Ac., B.Ac., A.P. (FL), earned his B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale University. He received his B.Ac. (1984) and L.Ac. (1987) from College of Traditional Acupuncture in Leamington Spa, UK. Michael maintains a private practice in Jacksonville, FL. Acupuncture.

Alexander Love, M.Ac., L.Ac. (CO), received a M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2004). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Classical Chinese Medicine. He is a certified Quantum Cranial Practitioner and Instructor. Alexander is in private practice in Colorado. Acupuncture.

Nicole Mezoff, B.F.A., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), holds a B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She received her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2003). Nicole is in private practice in Palm Beach, FL. Acupuncture.

Dava Michelson, B.F.A., M.Ac., D.M.Q., A.P. (FL), graduated from Antioch College with a B.F.A. She received her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2002), along with a Master of Medical Qigong. Dava maintains a private practice in Miami, FL. Acupuncture.

Amy Moore, B.M., N.D., A.P. (FL) earned her B.M. from the Julliard School, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University, and her MAOM from Lane College of Integrative Medicine (2004). Amy maintains a private practice in Newberry, FL. Acupuncture.

Gale Mowry, B.S., M.Ac., C.A. (MT), earned a B.A. in Pre-Medical Sciences from The Evergreen State College. She received her M.Ac. from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2002). Gale is in private practice in Helena, Montana. Acupuncture.

Robert Murdoch, L.Ac., B.Ac., A.P. (FL), studied Biology and Physics at Poole College in England. He earned an L.Ac. (1986) and a B.Ac. (1990) from College of Traditional Acupuncture in Leamington Spa, UK. Robert is in private practice in Cape Coral, FL. Acupuncture.

Misti Oxford-Pickeral, B.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She received her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2003). She is the executive director of the Academy, and the former director of the Chinese Herbal Studies program. She also maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture/Herbal Studies.

Mindy Rohrbacher, R.Y.T., B.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), graduated from the University of Florida, Magna cum laude, with a B.S. degree in Health Science. She received her M.Ac. from Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (2012). She is the Assistant Director of Herbal Studies, maintains a private practice in Gainesville and is a registered yoga teacher. Herbal Studies

Janet Rucker, A.P. (FL), received her Diploma in Acupuncture from the Classical Acupuncture Institute (1990) in Jacksonville, FL. Janet maintains a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Dan Sachs, B.S., B.Ac., M.Ac., L.Ac. (MA & VT), holds a B.S. in English from the State University of New York. He earned both his L.Ac. (1984) and B.Ac. (1989) from College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa, UK. He received a M.Ac. (1989) from Traditional Acupuncture Institute. Dan is in private practice in both Massachusetts and Vermont. Acupuncture.

Amy Sear, B.S., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), graduated from Cornell University and received her M.Ac. from Acupressure-Acupuncture Institute. Amy has a private practice in South Florida and is the acupuncture physician at the Breast Cancer Center of Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, FL. Herbal Studies.

Pam Smith, B.A., M.Ac., A.P. (FL), earned her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 1974 and her M.Ac. from the Traditional Acupuncture Institute in 1990. She has taught at the Academy since 1994 and has a private practice in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Eve Soldinger, B.A., M.PH, B.Ac., M.Ac., L.Ac. (MD), received a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University. She earned her B.Ac. from College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (1988) and her M.Ac. from Traditional Acupuncture Institute (1989). Eve is in private practice in Maryland. Acupuncture.

Stewart Thomas, B.A., B.F.A., graduated from University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Asian History and Chinese Language, and earned his B.F.A. at Philadelphia College of Arts. Stewart is a master calligrapher, local creative director, and owns a private art studio in Gainesville, FL. Acupuncture.

Susan Weiser Mason, B.A., B.Ac, M.Ac., L.Ac. (ME), holds a B.A. in Education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received her B.Ac. College of Traditional Acupuncture (1989) and her M.Ac. from Traditional Acupuncture Institute (1986). Susan maintains a private practice in Maine. Acupuncture.

Governing Board

Chairperson Merry Gerard, M.Ac., has served for a number of years as the Board Chair and seen the Academy through many stages of growth including a change of location from south Florida to Gainesville, the hiring of a new Executive Director, the scouting of real estate for the purchase of our two buildings, and several fundraising campaigns. She has been practicing and teaching Five Element acupuncture for more than 30 years. Merry is based in Newton, Massachusetts, where she maintains a thriving private practice.

Vice Chairperson Leslie Suskin, the newest member of our Boardis the co-owner of Suskin Realty and a devoted volunteer in local schools and affordable housing agencies. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1982 with a degree in accounting. Leslie’s expertise and knowledge of the Gainesville community is a huge asset in our ongoing efforts to build local awareness of our school and clinic.

Secretary-Treasurer Gale Mowry, M.Ac., is a 2002 graduate of the Academy. She was a student of the first clinical internship group in south Florida, as well as a graduate of the Academy’s first Chinese Herbal Studies program. Gale was instrumental in developing new procedures for the student clinic and organizing the Academy’s initial Chinese herbal dispensary. Since graduating, her dedication to the school has taken many forms, including teaching preparation courses for the national exam, developing policies for professional conduct, and developing curriculum. Gale practices acupuncture full­time in her private practice in Helena, Montana.

Michael Kowalski, B.Ac., is an acupuncturist in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also Founder/Director of the 5 Element Institute of Jacksonville, which provides continuing education courses for physicians, nurses, and acupuncturists. His interest lies in building an interprofessional bridge between the acupuncture profession and biomedicine through research, treatment, and educational programs rooted in the tradition of Five Element acupuncture. His objective is to encourage collaborative and integrative clinical practices that enhance the patient experience, improve health outcomes, and lower healthcare costs. He has been an acupuncture educator for more than 30 years.

Misti Oxford­-Pickeral, M.Ac., is the Chief Executive Officer of the Academy and a member of the Board’s Executive Committee. Misti provides leadership both for the school and at the national level, where she was recently named President of the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). She is an alumni of the school as well as the former admissions coordinator for the Academy. She consistently receives the highest possible marks for her teaching and clinical supervision in both the acupuncture and herbal studies programs. Prior to joining the Academy staff, Misti maintained a full­ time private practice in acupuncture and herbal medicine and served as an adjunct faculty member at Bluefield State College.

Angela Xistris Krueger, M.A., works in higher education as a teacher and administrator and is currently the Substantive Change and Graduate Assessment Coordinator at the University of California, Merced. In addition to expertise in graduate level programs, she has an intimate knowledge of our academic programs and the functions of the administrative team. Following her tenure at the Academy as the admissions coordinator and registrar, she consulted on several writing assignments including the Academy’s website and marketing materials. She is also a writing consultant for graduate students.

New member: Leslie Robinson