Meet our Faculty and Staff

pa program faculty

Meet our Faculty


Jennifer Hixon, DHSc, PA-C

Founding Director & Chair of Health Sciences


Dr. Hixon is the founding program director of the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program. Her priority strategy for Westfield State’s PA program is to attract a diverse pool of students and to place a significant emphasis on intercultural awareness and diversity. Additionally, Dr. Hixon is focused on creating a personalized learning experience for the 24 students expected to enroll in the entering class. “Our intent is to keep this program small so we can provide individualized instruction and ensure program excellence,” said Hixon.

Dr. Hixon is widely known in Western Massachusetts as the founding program director of the Bay Path University Physician Assistant Program, where she was responsible for developing all aspects of the program including curriculum development, facilities management, and faculty recruitment, key elements required for the successful completion of the American Review Commission-PA (ARC-PA) Provisional Accreditation Process. She was previously Dean of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences School of Physician Assistant Studies and the program director for the Springfield College Physician Assistant Program. She was also a site visitor for the ARC-PA. As a practitioner, Dr. Hixon served as physician assistant of sports medicine and orthopedic surgery for the United States Field Hockey Olympic Team. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Dr. Hixon was responsible for the medical welfare of the athletes of the team, coordinating care with the team physician, and creating conditioning programs.

Dr. Hixon serves on the governance committee of the Physician Assistant Educators Association and is a founding board member of the KEVS Foundation, which aims to educate and help prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in children and young adults. She also serves as a Trustee to the Baystate Academy Charter School, and is a member of the Baystate/UMass Medical School Curriculum Committee.

Dr. Hixon holds a B.S. in physician assistant studies from Hahnemann University, an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology from Springfield College, and a doctorate of health science from Nova Southeastern University.

Kristin L. Dardano, MD

Medical Director


Dr. Dardano is the Medical Director for Baystate Medical Practices – Northampton Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Interim Chief of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology with Baystate Medical Center.  She has practiced general obstetrics and gynecology in the Pioneer Valley since 1998. She currently sees patients in Northampton and teaches residents, medical students, and Physician Assistant students at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. She is on the medical staff at Baystate Medical Center.

She has been involved in medical education throughout her career, serving as the OB-GYN Clerkship Director at Baystate Medical Center from 1998 to 2006.  She was involved in all disciplines of medical education as the Chair of the Tufts University School of Medicine Curriculum Committee from 2003 to 2007. This involved oversight of the entire medical school wide curriculum, including accreditation and strategic planning for curriculum revision.

She has studied behavioral event-based interviewing techniques for admitting medical students to residency and been involved with projects to prevent medical errors by improving communication skills in the health care setting. She has received multiple teaching awards and citations, including the Zucker Clinical Teaching Prize at Tufts University School of Medicine for innovation in clinical teaching. She is looking forward to serving as the Medical Director for the Physician Assistant Program at Westfield State University.

Sharon Woods, MPAS, PA-C

Director of Didactic Education


Professor Woods is a lifelong resident of Western Massachusetts and has spent her entire professional career serving the healthcare needs of its residents.  She is a 1993 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a BS in Zoology and was a member of the inaugural class of the Springfield College Physician Assistant Program in 1996.  She completed a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska in 2003.  She has over 23 years of patient care experience spending almost the majority of her professional career with Baystate Health Systems in the fields of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neurology and Geriatric and Palliative Care Medicine.  During her time with Baystate she helped develop the outpatient Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic, coordinated the expansion of the Pet Therapy Program to the Neurosciences Division, as well as helped develop hospital-wide patient assessment tools for the neuroscience inpatients.  Her areas of expertise include acquired and traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Neurologic Disorders and Musculoskeletal Disorders.


Stephen Lee, DBH, MS, PA-C

Director of Clinical Education


Professor Lee is a member of the principal faculty for the Westfield State University Physician Assistant program. As both a PA and a behavioral medicine practitioner, his practice emphasizes the integration of behavioral health into primary care. He is conducting research on the effects of cognitive hypnotherapy as a treatment modality for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and PTSD symptomatology.  Professor Lee was formerly the Director of Clinical Education at Bay Path University’s Physician Assistant program and a professor at Springfield College.  He also serves as an adjunct professor for Quinnipiac University’s Physician Assistant program and the Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies in Arizona. 

He holds over 20 years of experience in medicine including serving in the United States military as an active-duty and reserve Navy Hospital Corpsman and as an Army Battalion Medical Officer for a mountain infantry unit.

Jessica Marchesi, MS, PA-C
Assistant Professor


Professor Marchesi is the Director of Didactic Studies for the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program. She completed her A.S. in Biology at Holyoke Community College, B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts, and M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies at Bay Path University. After achieving her degree and certification as a physician assistant, she has worked for Mercy Medical Center, Baystate Health Systems, Noble Hospital, and Jewish Geriatric Services in the fields of emergency medicine, urgent care, hospital medicine, subacute rehabilitation, addiction medicine, and geriatrics. Over the course of her clinical career, Professor Marchesi has precepted many physician assistant students during their clinical rotations and has previously worked in the academic arena as adjunct faculty for Bay Path University. Professor Marchesi is a native of Westfield and maintains strong ties to her community. 


Michelle Duffelmeyer, MD

Assistant Professor


Contact Us

577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086

Bates Hall

P: (413) 572-8149

Make sure to follow the program at any one of our social media sites:

WSUPA Program Director and PA students at grand rounds