Faculty

Please note, the faculty list may change as a result of the new meeting dates.

Course Directors

Occhino       Matthews_Cropped.png

John Occhino, MD, MS

John A. Occhino, MD, MS practices urogynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where he completed his fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS).  Dr. Occhino serves as program director for the FPMRS fellowship and is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. Dr. Occhino’s focus on education allowed him to attend “Surgeons as Educators”, a competitive course hosted by the American College of Surgeons focused on optimal teaching methodology in surgical specialties.  He has also directed Urogynecology courses specifically focused on the education of advanced practice providers and is currently the co-chair for the American Urogynecology Society (AUGS) Advanced Practice Provider course.  The Urogynecology team at Mayo Clinic includes physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists, providing a team-based approach to managing patients with a variety of pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Occhino is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.  He is an active member in the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS), International Urogynecologic Association (IUGA), International Continence Society (ICS) and American Urogynecology Society (AUGS).  

Matthew Barker, MD, FACOG

Matthew A. Barker, MD practices urogynecology in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  A South Dakota native, Dr. Barker returned home to teach and start a comprehensive pelvic floor center after finishing his fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.  He is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Internal Medicine at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Dr. Barker has developed and led courses in Urogynecology, specifically focused on the education of advanced practice providers.  He currently serves as the co-chair for the American Urogynecology Society (AUGS) Advanced Practice Provider course. He has incorporated physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, and advanced nurse navigators into his urogynecology practice with Avera Medical Group. This team approach to patient care increased access to care for women with pelvic floor disorders and improved efficiency and patient flow within his practice. Dr. Barker is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.  He is an active member in the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, International Urogynecologic Association, and American Urogynecology Society. 


Course Faculty


Carissa Aboubakare       Ralph Chesson

Carissa Aboubakare, WHNP-BC

Carissa Aboubakare currently provides care in the general Gynecology Clinic and the Women’s Incontinence and Sexual Health Clinic at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, WI. She received a Master of Science of Nursing from Case Western Reserve University, where she was trained as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Prior to that, she received a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. Her clinical interests include sexual health, female urinary concerns, pelvic floor dysfunction, and pelvic organ prolapse. She also enjoys creating medical illustrations for publications.

Ralph Chesson, Jr., MD

Dr. Ralph R. Chesson is currently faculty in the section of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery in the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Urology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. He is currently a member of nine professional organizations, serving on committees as well as a reviewer for nine journals. He has numerous journal articles, chapters and presentations. His interest in fistula work took him to Niamey, Niger yearly from 2004 until 2009 and Kigali, Rwanda 2010 to 2015. He also has done yearly mission work in Nicaragua from 2000-2017. He has been a yearly visiting faculty in the first Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana from 2014-2019.  He has also done surgical missions to Liberia and most recently Haiti. In 2018 he was the first Mentor of the Year from the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, probably related to his international work with other surgeons. 

Nicole Cookson Tanaz Ferzandi

Nicole Cookson, PT, DPT

Niki Cookson, PT, DPT, WCS practices at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where she has the privilege of devoting her physical therapy practice towards the treatment of patients with pelvic floor dysfunction, lumbopelvic pain and pre/post-natal cares. She received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Southern California and went on to complete a doctorate in Physical Therapy from Southwest Baptist University. She further specialized becoming a board-certified specialist in women’s health physical therapy and has been recognized for her evaluation and treatment in the pregnant/post-partum population. She currently acts as the Clinical Lead Physical Therapist for the pelvic floor dysfunction program and serves as faculty at Mayo Medical School’s physical therapy program, where she teaches the women’s and pelvic health curriculum. She is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association- Section of Women’s Health and participates on the Education committee.  She is an advocate for women’s health, participating in local community-based education as well as speaking nationally on physical therapy’s role in pelvic health.

Tanaz Ferzandi, MD, MBA, MA

Dr. Ferzandi is Director of Urogynecology at the University of Southern California and the Associate Fellowship Program Director. She is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at USC, recently having moved to the region from Boston where she was Director of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at Tufts Medical Center. She is fellowship trained and board certified in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery and in Obstetrics & Gynecology. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Currently, she is a Director at Large on the AUGS Board of Directors and is Council Chair for Practice Management which oversees the Coding and Reimbursement Committee and the Payment Reform Committee. In 2017, Dr. Ferzandi also obtained her Master’s in Business Administration from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Among her many interests, she is passionate about gender equity in the surgical subspecialties and currently serves on the Women in Surgery Committee at the ACS. She is currently a reviewer with the ‘Green Journal.’

Christina Lewicky-Guapp Brian Linder

Christina Lewicky-Gaupp, MD

Dr. Lewicky-Gaupp is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery and completed an accredited fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Michigan. She is an Associate Professor as well as the Director of Resident Gynecologic Surgical Simulation in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Lewicky-Gaupp is a passionate and gifted surgical educator receiving the Resident Excellent Teaching Award for three consecutive years and awarded Most Outstanding in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2011. She recently completed APGO’s competitive surgical scholars’ program. Her research and clinical interests include prevention and treatment of childbirth related pelvic floor injuries and the relationship between anatomic defects on pelvic floor imaging and pelvic symptoms. She is the Medical Director of our PEAPOD (Peripartum Assessment and Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Around the Time of Delivery) clinic, this clinic is one of only a few in the country and her on-going funded research includes prospectively following a large cohort of women with obstetric anal sphincter lacerations. She has authored or co-authored 25 scientific papers and currently serves as a reviewer for several scientific journals, including the prestigious Journal of Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery as well as Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Lewicky-Gaupp’s clinical interests include childbirth related pelvic floor injuries, urinary and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.

Brian Linder, MD

Dr. Brian J. Linder is an assistant professor of Urology and OB/Gyn at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.  He completed his general surgery internship and urology residency at the Mayo Clinic.  He then completed a 3-year Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the same institution.  During that time, he also earned a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Science.  He received his undergraduate degree and MD from The George Washington University.  His clinical and research interests include urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, hematuria, and genitourinary reconstruction. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and editorials.

Shawn Menefee Amy Park

Shawn Menefee, MD

Dr. Shawn Menefee is a clinician investigator and director of the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. As co-director of the joint University of California, San Diego, and Kaiser Permanente Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship, he had the opportunity to educate and supervise residents and fellows. He is a site primary investigator in the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network and was the site primary investigator for 2 cycles of the Urinary Incontinence Treatment Network. Dr. Menefee has taken a large role in the intellectual pursuits of these networks, from protocol development to the interpretation and write-up of results. Dr. Menefee has developed a research infrastructure within the Division of Clinical Trials Research that drives quality through clinical research. He has also collaborated with other physicians within Kaiser Permanente on research trials on vaginal mesh, robotic surgery, complications of mesh and laparoscopic hysterectomy, microscopic hematuria, surgical ergonomics, and demand for pelvic floor care.

Amy Park, MD

Dr. Park is a urogynecologist at the National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery at the Washington Hospital Center. She is board-certified in both Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery and Obstetrics/Gynecology. Dr. Park is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Urology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She specializes in minimally invasive techniques such as vaginal, laparoscopic and robotic assisted surgery, in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary and fecal incontinence, fistula repairs, and other pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Park is the incoming Division Director, Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, at the Cleveland Clinic.

Cara King Eric Sokol

Cara Robinson King, DO, MS, FACOG

Dr. Cara King is a member of the Cleveland Clinic Section of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS). She is the Director of Benign Gynecologic Surgery and Associate Program Director of the MIGS Fellowship. She completed her residency training at Tufts University, Baystate Medical Center in Obstetrics and Gynecology followed by a Fellowship in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Magee-Women's Hospital and Master's Degree in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She has served as an FMIGS Board Director at Large and is currently a member of the SGS Executive Board as well as a member of The Academy for Surgical Coaching Executive Board. Her research efforts are focused on competency based medical education and simulation-based assessments. She completed course work in the Surgical Education Scholars Program through APGO/CREOG in 2018. She has earned multiple teaching awards for education endeavors for both medical students and residents, including the Ellen Hartenbach Award in 2018 for Innovation in Simulation.

Eric Sokol, MD

Dr. Eric R. Sokol is Co-Director of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Urology. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University and his Fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at Brown University. He joined Stanford in 2005 and helps direct the joint FPMRS fellowship program. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Urogynecologic Society and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, where he was Scientific Program Chair for the 2016 Annual Meeting. He also currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology and as an Advisor to the Board of Trustees of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL), among others. Dr. Sokol’s principal area of research is in the development and testing of novel technologies to address unmet healthcare needs. He is currently the national PI for the pivotal MonaLisa Touch FDA approval trial (with all grant funding going to Stanford University). Dr. Sokol is the inventor of a novel anal sling system for fecal incontinence and was the recipient of a Coulter Foundation Innovation Award for collaborative work in the development and testing a novel vaginal bowel control device which is now FDA approved. Dr. Sokol was chosen as a Stanford Biodesign Faculty Fellow and received a Robert Howard Next Step Award and a Spectrum Medtech Innovation Award, as well as NIH SBIR grants for novel pelvic floor therapies. Dr. Sokol is a Professor-in-Residence at StartX, where he advises numerous early stage start-up companies in the medical device, consumer and mobile health spaces. Dr. Sokol is co-founder of AVA, a venture-backed company developing a first-of-its kind wearable device that senses and protects people from air pollution.

Julie Starr

Julie Starr, APRN, FNP, PhD

Julie Starr has been employed as an APRN in a urogynecology setting 2007 to present. Dr. Starr specializes in nonsurgical management of women with pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, defecatory dysfunction, pelvic pain and dyspareunia. She lectures nationally and internationally on use of biofeedback and neuromuscular electrogalvanic stimulation in treating women with symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. She is a co-author/principal investigator on numerous publications/research studies related to treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction and is Chair of the Advanced Practice Nursing Council at the University of Missouri Health Care 2013 to present.