Once a year, the Outstanding Alumni Award is presented to a Rocky Mountain University (RMU) graduate for their distinguished contributions to their profession and for service to the University or community at large.
The 2022 award winner is Lisa Dannemiller, PT, DSc, PCS Emeritus, a graduate of RMU’s Doctor of Science in Pediatric Science (DSc) program in 2005. For over 42 years, she has contributed substantially to physical therapy clinical practice, research, and instruction.
Dannemiller received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. While working toward her undergraduate degree, Dannemiller had a unique experience that motivated her to work in the physical therapy (PT) profession. “I had the good fortune of being assigned as a volunteer in the PT Department at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital across from my dorm,” Dannemiller said. “It was so inspiring that I changed my path and began pursuing PT rather than medical school.”
While in PT school, Dannemiller was introduced to the practice of pediatric physical therapy and, after graduating, worked for many years as a pediatric physical therapist in Virginia, New Mexico, and Ohio.
“It was almost 20 years into my career as a clinician when I felt that I needed to challenge myself to contribute in a different way to the field of pediatric physical therapy,” Dannemiller said. “When I heard about the Doctor of Science program at RMU and learned that it would be led by Dr. Jane Sweeney, a highly respected leader in our field, I had to apply.”
During the course of the program, faculty members like Jane Sweeney, PT, MS, PhD, and Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, made a profound impact on Dannemiller. “I cannot highlight enough how valuable it is to have mentors who can help guide you in directions that you may not have ever considered,” Dannemiller said. “It is these mentors who can see your strengths and selflessly spend their time to steer you toward professional activities that could change your life.”
Both Sweeney and Rapport endorsed Dannemiller for this award, expressing their enthusiasm for the extraordinary work Dannemiller has done in the field of physical therapy.
“Dr. Dannemiller’s leadership and professional service have been extraordinary,” Sweeney said. “She embodies the virtue of altruism and brings honor to our university through exemplary professional service and continuous advancement of pediatric science.”
“Dr. Dannemiller is a committed, passionate and devoted pediatric physical therapist who brings her love of the profession, concern for children, and desire for life to everything in her path,” Rapport said.
Since completing her DSc in 2005, Dannemiller has presented 24 scientific and professional presentations at both national and international conferences and is an author on 18 peer-reviewed articles. One of her most recent contributions is as the first author on a Clinical Practice Guideline about the Physical Therapy Management of Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder, one of the two American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) pediatric PT guidelines that have been published.
She has been a devoted volunteer to the APTA, providing service on the Colorado Chapter APTA Professional Development Committee and as the President of the Pediatric Special Interest group. She also served nationally as Region 2 Director for the APTA Academy of Pediatric PTs and co-chaired the Movement System Task Force for the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.
She has received various awards including the Bud DeHaven Award for Extraordinary Service to APTA Academy of Pediatric PTs in 2017, the Bob Doctor Service Award by the Colorado Chapter APTA in 2019, and the Toby Long Award for the most outstanding manuscript in the Pediatric Physical Therapy journal in 2020.
Dannemiller currently works as a full-time faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Physical Therapy Program and serves on several university committees including the Admissions, Curriculum, and DEI committees. She is the current Chair of the APTA Academy of Pediatric PTs Nominating Committee and has worked on an interdisciplinary Infant Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado for 12 years.
For more information, visit RMU’s alumni awards webpage.