The Vocational Team

vocational rehab gardening

Understanding that rehabilitation after a brain injury affects all aspects of a person’s life, Pate Rehabilitation’s vocational team offers vocational rehabilitation services in addition to the traditional rehab programs. Vocational rehabilitation provides a multi-disciplinary approach to assist patients either returning to their previous jobs or guiding them in their pursuit of new jobs that meet their new skill sets. With vocational and on-site job evaluations, we frequently implement work samples in treatment, taking care to include the patient, patient’s family, and often the patient’s employer in developing a return-to-work plan.

Here’s a look at some of our therapists on our vocational team.

Brinlee Creek Ranch


Emily Harstad, occupational therapist, Independent Living Skills team
Emily received a Bachelor’s degree in both health science and Spanish, and a Master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Florida. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has been at Pate since 2008.

“I will never forget the feeling the first time someone is able to put on their shirt or squeeze my hand. All of their hard work finally pays off, and it is incredible to share that with them.”


Jennifer Featherston, Ph.D., lead vocational therapist
Dr. Featherston received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas, her Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling psychology from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and her Ph.D. in rehabilitation from the University of Arkansas. She is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC), certified vocational evaluation specialist (CVE) and a licensed professional counselor-intern. Dr. Featherston joined Pate in 2009, bringing with her more than 10 years of experience in rehabilitation psychology and research.

“The most rewarding aspect of the vocational rehabilitation process is getting to work closely with patients and their employers to develop the return-to-work plan. For many patients, this point in the process represents the culmination of all of their hard work in the various therapies. It takes the work of the entire treatment team—the patient, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and psychotherapists—to get them to this point, so everyone is invested in the process. I feel very fortunate to be included as part of the team.”


Anne Marconi, speech therapist, Independent Living Skills team
Anne received her Bachelor of Arts in hearing and speech science and her Master of Arts in speech-language pathology from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. A lifelong Yankee, Anne joined the staff at Pate in 2009 after falling in love with the ranch during a temporary assignment.

“Working with the patients has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding opportunities of my career. To experience patients helping one another and becoming like family to each other while working toward individual goals is both unique and inspiring. It is unlike anything I have ever known.”


Villa Creek


Jennifer Conine, case manager, Independent Living Skills team
Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Texas Christian University. She became a part of the Pate family in 2011.

“I love the innovation at Pate and the ways in which we empower patients and their families. I have seen the power of a good support system and enjoy advocating for better quality of care for individuals recovering from brain injuries. My favorite part of working at Pate is witnessing patients getting healthy, gaining confidence, and choosing the next path of their journey.”


Dr. Dawn Toudouze, neuropsychologist, Independent Living Skills team
Dr. Toudouze completed both her Bachelor’s degree in sociology and Master’s degree in counseling at the University of North Dakota. She practiced as a psychotherapist for five years before returning to graduate school, earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Seattle Pacific University. She completed her internship and post-doctoral residency in post-acute brain injury rehabilitation, and is a licensed psychologist. She has been with Pate since 2009.

“I love being on the ‘getting-back-to-work’ team as patients are preparing to return to independent living, driving, and working. It is exciting to be a part of each patient’s unique journey toward community reintegration.”


Linda D’Aquino, treatment-only rehabilitation technician, Independent Living Skills team
Linda worked for nine years at the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, currently known as the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), in the vocational division. In this role, she assisted patients with physical and mental challenges return to a level of functioning that would allow them to return to work. Linda joined Pate in January of 2011 as part of the vocational team.

“I engage with every patient, checking on their progress with support and enthusiasm. I love helping each patient be a winner in everything he or she does, even working in the garden. There, patients forget their problems, focusing on planting, pulling weeds and harvesting. The wind and sun work their magic, their hands reach for the soil and canes are laid aside. I head for home each day knowing that I have the best job in the world.”

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