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Our Faculty

Our faculty at The Institute for Holistic Health encompasses three areas of responsibility: teaching, mentoring, and service. While the faculty has the ultimate goal of preparing students for the New York State board exam, they also instill a passion for massage therapy by ensuring that there is a dynamic interchange of knowledge between the teacher and the learner and through the directing of hands-on techniques.

We look forward to introducing our faculty and staff very soon.

Robert Durr

School President

Rob is the owner of two very successful Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spas in Poughkeepsie, NY, and Brookfield, CT, one of which was the fastest-growing spa two years in a row. Rob has extensive experience in business and looks forward to sharing his expertise with you in the Business Practice course at The Institute for Holistic Health.

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Andrea Bowen Whitney, MS, LMT

Director of Education

Andrea Bowen, MS, LMT has been a practicing massage therapist since 2009. Andrea specializes in therapeutic and medical massage, and has extensive experience in treating shoulder injuries including, but not limited to: rotator cuff injuries, frozen shoulder and bicipital tendonitis. She also treats those suffering with low back pain and has great success in treating Piriformis Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome. In addition to providing expert hands-on therapy, Andrea also has many years of experience as an educator, including creating and teaching over seven different courses as an instructor of massage therapy. She is also certified as a Continuing Education Provider for massage therapy in New York through the NCBTMB. Andrea brings her knowledge and expertise to every class she teaches, and loves sharing her passion for massage therapy with her students. 

Kristen Nelson, MS

Office Manager

Kristen holds a BA in Psychology from Western Connecticut State University and will be completing her Master of Science Degree in Health Services Administration at the Sage Graduate School in Troy, NY in May of 2023.  She manages and oversees all of the functional areas of the Institution, and The Institute for Holistic Health would be lost without her!  She is also our instructor for CPR, First Aid, & AED.

Dr. Gary Mercurio, DC

Head Instructor of the Science Department

Dr. Mercurio graduated Cum Laude from Life University in 2008 where he earned his Doctorate of Chiropractic. Not only has Gary provided excellent chiropractic care to his patients, he also has extensive teaching experience. As the head of the science department at The Hudson Valley School of Massage Therapy, Gary taught the following courses to massage therapy students: Anatomy & Physiology, Pathology and Myology & Kinesiology. Gary also teaches Tai Chi, Qigong and Healing Meditation Classes at Ulster County Community College, Ulster BOCES, and various senior living communities and hospitals. Gary’s extensive knowledge coupled with his compassionate nature make him a valuable asset to the IHH community.

Jean McGee, MS, LMT

Techniques Instructor

Jean McGee, MS, LMT has been a Massage Therapist and Instructor of Massage Therapy for over a decade. Jean has previously served on the faculty at Springfield College, MA, Iona College, NY, and at The Finger Lakes School of Massage, NY. Jean has greatly appreciated bringing her didactic and practical knowledge to helping guide her students on their educational journey and feels blessed to have learned from every student she has taught. Along with her education and extensive trainings, Jean believes that her work ethic, approach to the healing arts, and joy for life have been developed and guided by her family. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with her children and granddaughter, and working out at CrossFit. Her dedication to community service is as a co-founder of Second Chance Foods (SCF), a non-profit organization with our,“…mission to elevate the health of people by recovering nutrient-dense food from local sources, provide it to organizations that address hunger, in order to break the cycle of wasted food and food insecurity.”

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Karen Verderber, BS, LMT, CLP, LPN

Techniques Instructor

Karen Verderber is a graduate of The Swedish Institute in NY and The Academy of Lymphatic Studies in FL. Prior to starting her career in massage therapy, she practiced in NY State as a Licensed Practical Nurse bringing more than 20 years of experience in the health field to her massage practice. In her private practice, she has worked with clients that are dealing with Lymphedema, as well as with post-surgical patients. Additionally, Karen has worked in a collaborative capacity with thirteen other practitioners of The Integrated Medicine Network of the Hudson Valley, a practice that facilitated teamwork to best support patients’ and clients’ healing process. Karen also worked as an Instructor at Hudson Valley School of Massage Therapy in Ulster County teaching Medical Massage and managing Clinical and Business Classes.


Grant Freer, MS, LMT

Techniques Instructor

Grant has been a New York State licensed and practicing massage therapist since 2005. He also has a degree in acupuncture and is currently in training to become a sangoma (traditional African healer). He practices a globally influenced set of healing modalities combining traditional Asian, Native American, European and African techniques to create customized treatments. His range and experience as a healer offer a unique perspective in the world of massage therapy and he is delighted at the opportunity to share his knowledge and skills at The Institute for Holistic Health.

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Abigail Bowen, MS

Librarian and Collections Manager

Abigail is our librarian and collections manager. She graduated from Simmons University in January 2021 with her Masters in Library and Information Science. She has previously worked at the Catskill Public Library, the Putnam History Museum, the Bard College Library, and in the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute’s library and archives. She is currently an archivist for Marist College Archives and Special Collections, the archivist for the Peter Throckmorton Project, and a board member for the Rhinebeck History Museum. Additionally, Abigail received her BA in History and Political Science from Binghamton University in 2018 and is an adjunct lecturer at Marist College.

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Anthony Mantello, MS, LMT

Techniques Instructor

Anthony Mantello has been a Licensed Massage Therapist for over eight years. He specializes in oriental massage, reflexology, and sports massage. He’s worked with Albany Empire Indoor Football Champions, the Joffery Ballet School in NYC, Ironman Triathletes, and has taught massage therapy in Upstate NY. Mr. Mantello’s training in Oriental Medicine brings a different perspective to treating chronic injuries and pain that does not readily resolve from standard massage care. Mr. Mantello lives in the Hudson Valley with his family and enjoys making his own vanilla extract and limoncello.

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Dr. Jillian Sherry, DC, MSACN, MA

Science Instructor

Dr. Sherry graduated Cum Laude from New York Chiropractic College with her Doctor of Chiropractic degree and Master’s of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition. Additionally, she possesses a Master’s degree in Psychology from Pace University and Bachelor of Science from Le Moyne College. Dr. Sherry has a strong educational foundation in the Biological Sciences and Anatomy & Physiology that has attributed to her success. She has experience working alongside massage therapists and other practitioners in multidisciplinary settings and currently treats patients in Nanuet, NY at a practice that specializes in treating complex scoliosis cases. Dr. Sherry’s extensive knowledge in Anatomy & Physiology and Pathology along with her passion for teaching gives her the ability to offer a comprehensive understanding of the material. She hopes to make substantial contributions to this community and add to the overall success of the students at The Institute for Holistic Health.

Catherine Cusumano, MS LAc

Science Instructor

Catherine attended Tri-State College of Acupuncture (TSCA) where she graduated with a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in June 2004. She was trained in TCM, Japanese style and Trigger Point Acupuncture. Catherine received her nutrition counselor education at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2009. She has been a Reiki master since 2006. Prior to attending acupuncture school, she received her Washington State certification in therapeutic and relaxation massage from Ashmead School of Massage in Seattle, WA in November 1996. Catherine is currently practicing acupuncture at Pellegrino Healing Center in Hyde Park, NY.

Marianne Durr, MS

Science Instructor

After receiving a BS in Biology, Marianne worked as a biochemist at the American Health Foundation doing cancer research. As the labs introduced computerized systems and instrumentation, Marianne went back to school and received a MS in Computer Science. She then worked as a programmer at IBM for several years in both the Research facility in Yorktown and the manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie. Wanting to use both degrees, she moved on to Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals as a systems analyst supporting the toxicology, QC, and library areas of the research and manufacturing facilities. Having taken time off to raise her family and help her husband open two spas, Marianne is excited to get back to the sciences and looks forward to introducing her students to the wonders of Anatomy and Physiology.

Any Questions?

Call us at ‍845-475-0010 or email us at