Recently the new President of the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Ronald DePinho, shared his vision that we will cure 5 cancers in the foreseeable future. Now THAT is a vision worth supporting! I believe it to be true; when you have a strong, clear, aspirational vision of the future it is easy to rally others to work in the same direction!

AOTA's Centennial Vision is also a strong, clear and aspirational vision and one that I have been so excited to support! I was honored to be invited to participate in the two leadership retreats (in 2004 and 2006) that led to the development of the Centennial Vision when I served AOTA as the Special Interest Sections Council Chairperson. As the large group of leaders from our profession and key stakeholders shared their thoughts about the future, it was so exciting to see energy, enthusiasm, hope and concrete ideas coalesce over a few key concepts:

·     Power

·     Widely recognized

·     Science driven and evidence-based

·     Globally connected

·     Diverse workforce

·     Serving society's occupational needs

As the SISC Chairperson and next as the Speaker of the Representative Assembly and member of the AOTA Board of Directors I worked tirelessly to help propel our association and the profession toward achievement of the Centennial Vision. I collaborated with the leadership of the Program Directors of both occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs, the Assembly of Student Delegates, all of the Bodies of the Representative Assembly and the AOTA Board to take action and I continue to work hard to make the Centennial Vision a reality.

Here are a few examples from my experience that have helped me understand the value of the key concepts included in our Centennial Vision. These are also examples of why I think I am prepared to do a great job as the next Vice-President of AOTA:

·    In addition to my 8 years of management experience as Program Director for the 4th ranked occupational therapy program in the country and now as Director of a 90 person rehabilitation department I have been actively involved in professional activities at the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Medicine and the Social Security Administration. From these experiences I have developed and am presenting a workshop on developing professional power at State Association conferences and at the AOTA conference in Indianapolis in 2012.

 

·    I am currently serving as the Chairperson of the AOTA Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Reform Implementation and am overseeing the work of 6 working groups of volunteers to develop resources for members and to keep us on the front of health care reform.

 

·   I have advocated for occupational therapy at all levels of government from frequent visits to Capitol Hill to visit Representatives and Senators, to lobbying state and local governments on issues related to accessibility, disability rights and access to health care.

 

·    I have collaborated with scientists from around the globe on the development and revision of occupational therapy assessments, the revision of occupational therapy conceptual practice models, and research and program development in the area of work and work disability. I was Co-Investigator on over $1.2 million dollars of federal funding to document the value and outcomes of occupational therapy interventions.

 

·    I have experience in the development, evaluation and application of occupational therapy science and evidence. I understand the connection between theory and practice, between academia and the clinic because I have been in both worlds for the last two decades. While serving as a faculty member and program director at the University of Illinois at Chicago my research took me into 3 community-based organizations where I worked with clients and served as a member of the Board of Directors of one organization for 6 years. I have written a text book on evidence-based management and now I am the Director of a 90 person department responsible for both OT and PT services.

 

·    I have been a staunch and active advocate for social justice, diversity and human rights in my writing, in my research and in my professional duties. For example I was invited to be the guest editor of a special issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy on social justice in 2009.

 

·    I “get” the value of occupation in our everyday lives and when we bring occupation into our work with individuals, families, organizations and communities. I have first-hand experience in each of the 6 Centennial Vision priority areas (Children and Youth, Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Productive Aging, Rehabilitation, Disability and Participation, and Work and Industry). I deeply appreciate how much practitioners contribute to meeting society’s occupational needs whether they work in “traditional” practice or an emerging practice area.

More than anything, what may best prepare me to be the next Vice-President of AOTA is my vision for our future beyond 2017. I have boundless optimism matched with persistence and perseverance. I see obstacles and problems as exciting new challenges that we can meet and overcome!

We will cure 5 cancers at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

We will achieve our Centennial Vision for the profession of occupational therapy and I am thinking beyond………

I can’t wait to be a part of it all!

I ask for your support  and your vote to be the next Vice-President of AOTA when voting begins on Tuesday, January 17th.

Thank you!