This interview is part of a series to promote the AOTA elections. I contacted all of the candidates from two key races and will systematically be releasing these interviews from January 21- January 26, 2015.
Why did you decide to run for the AOTA Board of Directors?
I have had a very fortunate career. As a student I was chair of the national student organization, where I had great leadership experiences with AOTA. I have three degrees in my profession and was in the first PhD class in occupational science. My mentors have included Dr. Kay Grant at Ohio State and Drs. Florence Clark, Ruth Zemke, Diane Parham, and Jane Goodall at the University of Southern California. I have had great experiences helping to build our first research society, the SSO:USA. I accepted the first fully endowed chair position in our field in 2000. I have always planned to do this. For me, in the unfolding of my career, it is time to step up to this level of AOTA service! Also, this is a very exciting time for OT! I want to offer all of this that I have been so fortunate to learn, to help as I can.
If elected, what do you anticipate your upcoming year will look like?
My upcoming year would not look very different! I always do lots of service. I have dedicated my life to OT and I am very passionate about occupation. I am fortunate to be an endowed chair who pretty much makes her own plans in response to a mandate to serve OT. My research time is focused on developing OT transition services to secondary students with disabilities and I teach various levels of students, mostly using my own textbooks, Occupation by Design and Occupational Science for Occupational Therapy. Usually, my service includes work with the Society for the Study of Occupation: USA, various elected positions within Eastern Kentucky University, projects for AOTA, and reviewing grants and journal articles. If elected, I would continue my research and teaching, but bow out of all my other service in order to take on work for the AOTA Board.
What are two specific goals you would like to achieve through your office in the upcoming year?
Right now, I am really hoping to get involved in planning for the 2017 celebration of OT's 100th anniversary! The AOTA meeting that year should be the biggest party OT has ever seen--don't miss it! If elected, I will work to insure that in 2017 we make a special effort to look back at our history and consider far into our future, in order to freshen our perspectives on our field. As important as it is to do the Board work of addressing pressing issues, it is also essential to generate and share in celebrations and appreciations of who we are and all we have to offer as a profession! OT is like a rocket taking off. Let's stop, notice, celebrate, and consider that! I call this "the party ticket"!
The second thing I am very interested in is OT's transition to doctoral entry level. This is happening now, with more and more universities changing to the doctoral entry level degree, and even more post-professional OTDs being offered each year. My first teaching position in 1996 was in the first OTD at Creighton University and now I teach in an OTD at EKU. The OTD puts OT in a much better position to compete in the health care marketplace, provide evidence-based practice, and show all our potential. It is an exciting time of change, even though change tends to make everyone very nervous! Change is the only constant. This change will be slow, but very important for us.
In what area is it most critical for the AOTA to achieve growth over the next 5 years?
I think AOTA should grow its supports to students and to researchers. We need to diversify our membership benefits, such as meetings, journals, and online communities to meet the needs, not just of clinicians, but of those two important groups: students who hold the future of our field in their hands, and researchers who are pushing our practice and evidence forward into innovative new areas.
What is one thing that you want voters to know about you?
My daughter just passed her NBCOT exam!!