Massage Therapy Faculty Bios
See the Campus Directory for a full listing of Massage Therapy Faculty and Staff.
Alan Nunes, AAS, LMT, NCBTMB
Alan entered the world of massage therapy in 2003 while working for UPS and traveling the west coast extensively as a musician. He attended National Holistic Institute in California and began a career that has brought happiness, enlightenment, freedom and stability.
During his education, Alan was fascinated by the tangible effects of massage therapy and its ability to allow clients to rediscover balance within themselves. This sparked a desire within to constantly learn and do more for others and eventually lead him to COCC in 2008.
Alan’s studies and passions over the years include: Shiatsu, Thai, Jin Shin, Aromatherapy, Craniosacral, and Western massage techniques. His work over the years include: a 6 month massage internship in a mental hospital with those affected by severe schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, spa and clinical work, private practice and instructional workshops throughout Oregon and California. He has also traveled the country, spoken at national massage conferences and served on committees for the AMTA and ABMP.
Alan is honored to serve as the current Program Director for The COCC Massage Therapy Program in beautiful Bend, Oregon and is dedicated to providing passionate instruction and an academic experience that is both engaging and diverse while fostering a student’s path to success. He enjoys spending time with his family, the outdoors, and creating art.
Kristan “PeaceBird” Banks, LMT
Kristan, known also as “PeaceBird”, is excited to be joining the team at COCC, bringing nearly a decade of body and energy work experience through her work with local non-profit OMfield; a sustainable eco-village and healing community. Her time with OMfield provided a platform for personal and spiritual growth which jump started her passion to fulfill a lifelong dream of connecting with others in the most beneficial way.
It was from this passion that Kristan was inspired to begin offering her intuitive services and alternative healing modalities, thus the creation of her practice Healing Spaces, which until recently had been largely grassroots as a “pop-up healing space” found mostly at festivals and backwoods barter fairs. Drawing from her interests in psychology, biology, and the spiritual, Kristan discovered a way to blend her unique qualities and talents, and more recently massage therapy, into a healing opportunity that goes beyond the surface of the physical.
With a passion for helping individuals identify the source of their “dis-ease”, Kristan is continually practicing the arts of self-care, and fine tuning the inner and outer layers of releasing that which no longer serves us, both individually and collectively. She is convinced that the philosophy of “as one heals, we all heal” holds as much truth as “everything happens for a reason”, further inspiring her to reach out as a facilitator of healing the spaces within.Her years of living off grid and learning the language of the universe have brought with it a vibration that lets her know when it’s time to get outside of the four corners of town, and back into nature… a place to recalibrate, realign, and center.
Rodney Cross, DC
Meet our Adjunct Instructor of Kinesiology, Dr. Rodney Cross. A native Oregonian and practicing chiropractor in central Oregon for the past 29 years. He is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and a MENSA. In January of 2016 he will celebrate 30 years of marriage to his wife Lynn. He and Lynn have 3 grown boys. Currently they rescue and care for many animals including dogs, cats, chickens, and parrots. Besides his clinical practice teaching has become a passion to him. He has been teaching in higher education for the past 10 years. His hobbies include gardening, fermenting things like sauerkraut, ginger beer and pickles.
Alli Jorgensen, LMT, CPT, BA Sociology
Alli has had a private massage practice in Bend since being licensed in 2006. Employing a variety of modalities - Swedish, deep tissue, cupping, gua sha, and Watsu - she welcomes the challenge of more therapeutic-based work. She also comes to us with an extensive background in fitness and personal training and loves the combination of these two careers. She enjoys educating massage clients on the benefits of exercise and self-care, and vice-versa, her training clients on the benefits of massage. In her fourth year at COCC she's always excited for the day when the "light bulb" turns on for her students and everything comes together.
Alissa Locke AAS LMT
Born and raised Oregonian, Alissa moved to Bend in 2001 and has been enjoying the beautiful views and amazing running and hiking trails ever since!
Her massage education started in 2003 at our very own Central Oregon Community College where she received her AAS in massage therapy with a focus in Deep Tissue Massage. Her massage style has evolved into a Therapeutic-Swedish blend to gently help clients achieve their health and wellness goals.
Alissa's love of massage and desire to be part of the community led her to join our wonderful massage program team at COCC. Beginning as Teaching Assistant of kinesiology in 2010 and growing into her new role as Adjunct Instructor."I love working with our students and remembering what is was like to start the journey to the wonderful world of massage."
Emma Maaranen, LMT
Emma Maaranen is a clinical massage and movement therapist who over the past fifteen years has worked with athletes from weekend warrior climbers and marathoners to professional ballerinas and Olympic figure skaters helping them stay healthy through training cycles, sleuthing repetitive pain patterns, and fully recover from serious sports and orthopedic injuries in conjunction with their medical teams.
As a therapist, Emma blends clinical modalities including NMT, Myofascial Release and Myoskeletal Alignment with Dynamic Movement Repatterning to address immediate soft tissue dysfunction and address underlying structural and postural habits to avoid future injury. Emma believes learning is a collaborative adventure and readily admits she learns as much from her students as they learn from her. She is an anatomy geek but is not all books and study! She does her best to exercise all eight bikes in her stable and torments her friends with cooking experiments (and miss-experiments).
Stephanie Manriquez, BS LMT
Stephanie Manriquez came to massage therapy late in life after a career as a cake-decorating technician, diaper service business owner, and a single parent of 6 children.
As a licensed massage therapist and the prior Program Director of the Licensed Massage Therapy program at COCC, she graduated from the COCC LMT program in 1999. She was also a faculty member and taught several classes for the LMT program.
Stephanie has volunteered on the NCBTMB ethics committee and CE Approved Provider committee. She served on the AMTA School Summit committee and currently teaches the online business class for the LMT program at COCC in addition to teaching the Ethics for LMTs and Ethics and Professional Conduct online classes for COCC Continuing Education.
Stephanie has had a massage therapy license in Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. She earned a BS in Business & Psychology from Eastern Oregon University and an Associate of Massage Therapy from COCC.
Stephanie Has served eight years on the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists and currently serves as a public member on the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers.She is excited to share her life experiences with others and enjoys gardening, camping, and family gatherings with her 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Vanessa Many, LMT
Following many years of service work across the country and international travel including two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar, Vanessa earned her 800-hour massage diploma from East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon in 2015.
Vanessa deepened her studies in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she became certified in Advanced Thai Massage at Loi Kroh Massage School.
With a compassionate presence, Vanessa is dedicated to offering a space for every client to practice self-care, whether recovering from injury or healing emotionally.
On a personal note, Vanessa lives with a chronic autoimmune disorder and understands
the challenges that come from bodies that don't always work the way we wish they would.
Vanessa has spent many years living and working in wilderness settings and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, enjoying backpacking, hiking, boating and taking her puppy Gracie on all sorts of adventures. Her hobbies include cooking, dancing and traveling, and she is grateful to call Bend home. She is particularly honored to help guide the students at Central Oregon Community College on their journey to becoming massage therapists.
Kelly Palacek, LMT, BA English
AA Liberal Arts Psychology
Reiki Level 2 Practioner
Kelly studied at East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, OR. Having been a Reiki practitioner since 2008, she believes just as much in metaphysical causations to ailments as environmental and situational contributing factors to symptoms. Therefore, her belief in healing and approach to bodywork represents the duality of Eastern and Western philosophies.
Kelly immediately started her own business as soon as she was licensed in 2014. She began performing massage out of a tiny studio in Portland, and now rents part of a yoga facility for weekly clients in the Bend area. She has given informative talks to assisted living communities for the elderly, for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and for pregnancy groups, on how beneficial massage can be for them, as well as relevant contraindications. Kelly has performed massage at events, yoga classes, and businesses locally, and sat on employer panels for local massage schools.
As a massage department supervisor at a multi-disciplinary clinic, Kelly conducted interviews for LMT's. A company created a position for her as an HR Assistant to the LMT department, simultaneously seeing the need for a department head as well as the ability to be an organized leader. In this role, she was instrumental in cultivating a course with the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy for our massage personnel in which they now obtain contact continuing education credits for our training.
Tabitha Ward, LMT
Meet our instructor Tabitha Ward! Tabitha has been an active massage therapist since 2003 and an instructor in COCC's LMT program since 2010. She specializes in Prenatal, Swedish and Deep Tissue massage. Her love for pregnancy spills over into other areas of her life as a birth doula, childbirth educator, and newborn photographer.
Kasey Wheeler, LMT
Kasey has thoroughly enjoyed her massage practice for the past twelve years serving our beautiful community. She graduated from Central Oregon Community College in December 2005. Kasey found her training as a competitive gymnast in her youth to be a natural transition to Thai Massage, her specialty. She also offers Swedish, relaxation and Deep Tissue Massage. She has traveled twice to Thailand to study in the North and South. Kasey has a compassionate and empathetic spirit that allows her to connect easily and openly with her clients. She believes massage therapy is a key component for promoting a long and healthy life. When she is not working you will ind her out in nature, hiking, skiing, or sitting by the river with her dogs and husband. Possessing boundless energy, in addition to her private practice at Desert Lotus Wellness Center, she worked at a local physical therapy clinic for 10 years. She teaches Thai Massage in the massage therapy program at COCC. Her clients have been known to say that she has "magic hands" and her massages are a gift. Make an appointment with her today and enjoy a nurturing and healing treatment.
Elyse J. Williams, MS, CNS, RH (AHG)
Clinical Herbalist, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Reflexologist, Reiki Master/Teacher Elyse brings nearly two decades of experience studying and practicing herbal medicine. Her early fascination with plant medicine led to over eight years of self-study with native people in rural Alaska, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize and Peru, and prompted her to pursue a Master of Science degree in Herbal Medicine at the Maryland University of Integrative Health.
As her Washington, DC practice grew, Elyse connected the need for healthy functioning digestion to properly utilize herbal medicine, and became a Certified Nutrition Specialist through the National Board of Certified Nutritionists. Not long after, she saw the need to engage her clients emotional and energetic imbalances in order to promote the physical healing they were seeking. This led to further study and certification at the Baltimore School of Reflexology, training in essential oil therapeutics and Aromatherapy, Mahatma Reiki Master/Teacher training and becoming a certified instructor of SynergyDance, based on Randolf Stones Polarity Therapy methods.
Since moving to Bend in 2010, Elyse has continued to expand her personal practice with new powerful tools, including HeartMath-based energy work and chakra clearing/trauma release. Elyse serves as an instructor at Central Oregon Community College where she teaches Aromatherapy I & II, and Reflexology classes. She also teaches professional/community continuing ed courses, including an Elemental Herbal Medicine series, Healing with Essential Oils series, and Reflexology for Everyone through COCC's Community Learning Program. Elyse is a Registered Herbalist (RH) through the American Herbalists Guild (AHG).
Amber Wodtli, LMT
Meet Amber Wodtli, originally from upstate NY, she has traveled from East coast to West coast and many places in between following her passion of exploration and life experience. She chose to pursue the journey in Massage Therapy in Portland OR, where she lived for 7 years before moving to Bend in 2008. She has spent the last 9 years devoted to teaching at Central Oregon Community College. She recently sold her private practice, Action Dynamix Massage, to pursue teaching continuing education in therapeutic Cupping to Health Care professionals throughout the Northwest.
With over 14 years of experience in the field Amber's range of modalities include Myofascial release, structural alignment, Sports, and NMT. Her main focus in bodywork is geared toward working with amateur and professional athletes, and educating clients on the benefits of recovery and self-care. She is dedicated to the growth and education of her students and finds inspiration in their accomplishments. Shes an avid volunteer in the community and is always in search of creative ways to get people involved. When shes not busy working hard she is often seen with a smile on her face; hitting the trails on her Mt bike, skiing with her dog, and exploring the wilderness.