Before you vote for any candidate in the upcoming AOTA elections you should know their answer to two simple questions:
Why do I want to be the next AOTA Vice-President?
First I have a sincere passion and deep belief in the distinct value that occupational therapy can offer our society. Second I believe that the most effective way I can contribute to our profession is through volunteer service to my professional association.
I became hooked on occupational therapy as a junior in high school. After watching the movie “Brian’s Song” about a football player with cancer I decided I wanted to be a PT and began volunteering at the local community hospital. I was assigned to acute care outpatient and almost all of the treatment I saw involved basic ambulation of patients and A LOT of crutch training for sprained ankles and broken legs. I became disenchanted and decided to stop volunteering but the astute PT asked me why and convinced me to try volunteering in OT. All it took was two observation visits and I was set on what I wanted to do with my life. I marveled at the creativity, problem solving and the focus on what I know understand to be client-centered care. I didn’t know it then, but the OTs always involved their clients in occupation-based intervention and we performed ADLs, cooked meals, problem-solved grocery shopping, planned for being safe at home and for getting around my hometown of Bangor, Maine.
I was the sort of kid who always wanted to lead. I was Student Council Vice-President and President of the Bangor YMCA Leaders’ Club. I was a very young Supervisor at the Bangor City Pools and volunteered for leadership participation in almost every endeavor. As is consistent with my character, I completed one of my three Level II fieldworks at AOTA in the Division of Continuing Education and got my first exposure to AOTA volunteer leadership and staff close-up. I benefited from amazing mentorship over the first few years of my career by my fieldwork supervisor Susan Robertson who had high expectations and confidence for what I could achieve! My first AOTA conference was 1986 as a practitioner with one year of experience. I listened to Katherine (Kitty) Reed give her Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture on the “Tools of practice: heritage or baggage?” and heard AOTA President Eleanor (Ellie) Gilfoyle address the audience on “Professional Directions: Management in Action” and discuss the value of creative partnerships. My first conference was an extraordinarily impactful event.
My early experiences convinced me that occupational therapy has amazing potential to address society’s needs and that I could contribute to achieving that potential. An example was speaking to a large audience at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. who had viewed the groundbreaking made for television movie about teen suicide “Silence of the Heart” and explaining the contribution of occupational therapy to preventing teen suicide. These beliefs were also why I chose to volunteer to be the Vice-President and then President of the District of Columbia Occupational Therapy Association (DCOTA) after just four years of practice. The association needed someone to volunteer and I stepped forward.
My entire career has focused on developing occupational therapy programs and promoting the profession to achieve our potential. Today my passion is Vision 2025 and guiding the profession through our next steps towards meeting society’s occupational needs. I envision supporting practitioners in established areas of practice such as school systems, SNFS and hospitals while also promoting emerging roles in practice settings such as primary care and population health initiatives. We can do both, there is no need to choose and I have experience in both camps.
All of my experiences have convinced me that my greatest potential for contributing to achievement of an aspirational future for occupational therapy is as a volunteer leader. After 33 years of practice and experience as a State Association President, Chairperson of an AOTA Special Interest Section, Chair of the Special Interest Section Council, Speaker of the Representative Assembly (RA) and AOTA Secretary I am ready to take my next step in achieving my potential as a volunteer leader as AOTA Vice-President.
Why should you vote for me?
So I am passionate and committed…but is that enough? Why should you vote for me for Vice-President? The answer mirrors the story of my passion and commitment. Campaigns are not the time for modesty, so I hope you will appreciate my confidence and taking this opportunity to promote my skills and experience.
I have served as a direct care clinician in inpatient rehabilitation, acute care, inpatient psychiatry, a neonatal intensive care unit, a skilled nursing facility and two work rehabilitation programs. I have a broad understanding of occupational therapy intervention in a wide variety of settings. Today I work leading nearly 100 OT and PT practitioners and am connected to the daily real life challenges of today’s health care environment.
I have been a manager in a community-based hospital, a large academic medical center, an entry-level educational program (as Program Director) and now as the Director of the largest and first ranked cancer rehabilitation hospital and research center. I am an expert in management and the management processes of strategic and operational planning, financial planning and management, personnel development, mentoring and management, continuous quality improvement, outcomes measurement and marketing and promotion of occupational therapy services. This is a critical skill set for the AOTA Vice-President who has traditionally been responsible for strategic planning, evaluation of the AOTA Executive Director and oversight of the Centennial Vision (now Vision 2025) activities.
I have been an educator in a masters’ entry program and several post-professional clinical doctoral programs. I developed and delivered multiple courses. I guided the fourth ranked occupational therapy program through the accreditation process and have deep familiarity and working knowledge of the accreditation standards, the accreditation process and of the culture and climate of higher education.
I was a researcher and developed multiple occupational therapy interventions that were tested through the implementation of $1.2 million dollars of federal research funding. I served on multiple NIH grant review panels and have represented AOTA and occupational therapy on expert panels for NIH and the National Cancer Institute. I have skills in academic leadership having served as a Program Director in one of the top rated educational programs in the country. I have a demonstrated history as a practitioner scholar developing and implementing funded research combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to demonstrate the distinct value of occupational therapy. Through these experiences I gained an understanding of the challenges faced by our occupational therapy scholars and scientists and what AOTA and AOTF can do to support them.
I have been a consultant to multiple community-based organizations and educational programs. I served for 6 years on the Board of Directors of the Alexian Brothers’ AIDS Ministry and have guided Boards of Directors, state OT associations and multiple faculty groups through strategic planning and visioning. I was involved in the development of both the Centennial Vision and AOTA Vision 2025 as an elected AOTA leader.
I have been a staunch advocate for occupational therapy on Capitol Hill, at State Houses, in federal agencies and in communities. I have been a front line advocate and mentored others in the process of advocating for the profession. I have visited Congress on behalf of AOTA and the profession for 20 years and have mentored others in advocacy.
I have been a steady volunteer for state associations and for AOTA and have continually asked, “How can I help? What can I do to contribute?” I have pursued a path of progressive leadership consciously making decisions about the next challenge that I can take on to make a difference and to gain a new set of skills as a volunteer leader. I will bring this skill set to my daily work on your behalf.
I served in the Representative Assembly as SISC Chair, as Speaker and as Secretary for a total of 11 years. As Secretary I served on the AOTA Bylaws, Policies and Procedures Committee (BPPC) as we went through a major Bylaws revision. I know our official documents inside and out and few AOTA leaders can match my working knowledge of these documents.
I have a solid understanding of the philosophical base of our profession, our core values and the processes of developing and implementing theory-driven, occupation-based and evidence-based occupational therapy interventions. I was recognized in 2017 with the AOTA Recognition of Achievement Award for my contributions in program development.
It is wonderful that we have a vibrant slate of candidates for Vice-President. What sets me apart and why you should vote for me is the combination of the experiences that I have had and the multiple advanced skills sets I have developed over 33 years.
This is the right time for me to commit to being a servant leader and to give all I can to AOTA and our profession.
I hope that I have convinced you of this as well, and that you will vote for me to be the next AOTA Vice-President!
The opinions expressed in my blog are personal and neither represent the views of my employer nor any organization.