DPT Alumni Awards

We celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni with awards for Distinguished Alumni and Emerging Leader. Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy Alumni Association presented the awards to these individuals on February 3, 2022.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Gerald Brennan for DPT Alumni

Gerald P. Brennan ’75
Catherine Worthingham Fellow
American Physical Therapy Association

  • 3-time winner of the APTA Rose Excellence in Research Award: 2007, 2017, 2019
  • 2022 Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy Richard W. Bowling-Richard E. Erhard Orthopaedic Clinical Practice Award
  • 2019 Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy Paris Distinguished Service Award
  • 2019 Intermountain ROMS Quality Improvement Award
  • 2015 APTA Innovation 2.0 Award
  • 2011-2017 APTA Orthopedic Section Vice-President
  • 2006-2010 APTA Research Section Vice-President
  • 2003-2006 APTA Research Section Program Chair
  • 2003 Physical Therapist of the Year, APTA, Utah Chapter

“Dr. Brennan’s scientific accomplishments and his contributions to the physical therapy profession are well known to each of us; and it is our opinion he is extremely deserving of being recognized with this prestigious award. Our interest in nominating Dr. Brennan is increased by the fact that while he has been extremely influential to the physical therapy profession - he is perhaps best described as a kind, considerate, enthusiastic, and respectful colleague.” ~Drs. George, Horn, and Goode

“His energy, enthusiasm, and interest for learning about this system was obvious…that was the first time I had a meaningful discussion with Dr. Brennan and luckily for me, we connected enough to stay in contact over the past 20+ years.” ~Dr. Steve George, Duke Clinical Research Institute Director of Musculoskeletal Research

“He has given me invaluable career and personal advice in which I still reflect on today. I am unsure that I will ever encounter someone as special as Dr. Brennan in my professional career again. He is my benchmark for what I mentor should be and I strive to provide this same level of commitment to my mentees as Dr. Brennan has provided to me.” ~Dr. Maggie Horn, Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy Assistant Professor

“As a fellow alumnus of the Duke Physical Therapy Program, I am proud to join in the nomination of Dr. Brennan for the Duke Physical Therapy Distinguished Alumni Award…Dr. Brennan has been an inspiration to the physical therapy profession. We are proud to call him a Duke PT Alum.” ~Dr. Adam Goode, Duke DPT Class of 2005

Emerging Leader Alumni Award 

Tasala Rufai for Alumni Awards DPT

Tasala Rufai ‘12
Durham Veterans Affairs Healthcare System
Geriatric Physical Therapy Program Director

  • Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatric PT
  • Duke Black Alumni Vice-President of Student Affairs
  • Duke DPT Summer Discovery Program Mentor
  • Clinical Teaching Certificate from Stanford Faculty Development Center for Medical Teachers
  • Author of Chapter 28 Geriatric Examination in Orthopedic Clinical Examination textbook
  • Durham Veterans Affairs Healthcare System Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services Interview Panel Member Kenan Institute for Ethics Project AMOURS (Adult Mentors of Underrepresented Refugee Students) Mentor

“What makes Dr. Rufai a strong candidate for the emerging leader alumni award is not her strides she has made within her personal professional career but the work she has done with the generation coming behind her, knowing that her legacy is only as strong as the ones she nurtured and developed. She has been a mentor to myself and others in my class, fostering in depth conversations about geriatrics, residencies and the importance of DEI work in the field.“ ~Amanda Clarke, Duke DPT Class of 2023 President

“As an educator and mentor to her residents, Dr. Rufai is a living example of the mission of the APTA which is to build a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society. She is helping to build the community through her work with the advancement of innovative clinical education opportunities and also her service to educating future leaders regarding the power of service to the profession. She has empowered numerous residents to take a bigger role in the advancement of care for older adults and our United States Veterans. In addition, she has been a strong advocate for the delivery of evidence-based and compassionate care to this patient population.” ~Mike Schmidt, Duke DPT Class of 2012

“Her mantra, ‘The details matter’ speaks to the thoughtfulness she puts into everything she does and to how much she truly cares about improving the profession of physical therapy through high-quality mentorship. I am honored to highly recommend Dr. Rufai for this award and to be learning from such a fantastic physical therapist, fellow Duke DPT alumni, and human being.” ~Daniel Fleming, Duke DPT Class of 2021
“I am proud to know her as a fellow PT.”  ~Jenna Bialik-Speight, Duke DPT Class of 2012

Distinguished Alumni Award

–2021  Blair Packard ‘76
–2020  Alan Lee ‘94
–2019  Kelley Kubota ‘94
–2018  Elizabeth Mostrom ‘78
–2017  Dan Vreeman ‘03
–2016  Anne Weekley Thompson ‘79
–2015  Gary Zigenfus ‘74
–2014  Rebecca Craik ‘72
–2008  Andrea Behrman ‘80

Emerging Leader Alumni Award

–2021 Tara Widgins Dickson ‘12
–2020 Michael Schmidt ‘12
–2019 Amy Arundale ‘11
–2018 Matthew Ithurburn ‘12
–2017 Paul Salamh ‘07
–2016 Annalisa Na ‘09
–2015 Reebecca Gutman Quinones ‘07
–2014 Dean McCall ‘04