This interview is part of a series to promote the 2015 AOTA elections. You can read interviews from the AOTA Board of Directors candidates and from a candidate for Student President here. I also made this handy voting guide.
Why did you decide to run for President of the AOTA?
I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve the profession of occupational therapy in a variety of positions over the years. When elected as the Vice President of AOTA in 2012, I approached the position with the same mindset I’ve used in the other positions I have served in, with 100% of my focus on the current position I’m serving in instead of what is next. As I approached my final year in the term of my Vice Presidency I felt there were several projects that still had more work to be done and that I still had more to give to those projects. I’m hopeful that as AOTA President-Elect and ultimately AOTA President I will have the opportunity to continue my active work on these initiatives among others.
If elected, what do you anticipate your upcoming year will look like?
The President-Elect position provides the incoming AOTA President with a year to prepare to take on the role. I think it is important to note that current AOTA President Ginny Stoffel will continue serving as the President through June of 2016 and the AOTA President-Elect will work closely with her to ensure a seamless transition for the Association. The AOTA President-Elect will deliver their inaugural presidential address at AOTA’s annual conference in Chicago in April 2016; however will not officially take the role of President until July of 2016.
I anticipate the President-Elect’s year will be immersed in the visioning process for beyond 2017, supporting the AOTA President, and supporting the incoming AOTA Vice President. As AOTA Vice President, a part of my role includes being responsible for overseeing the strategic planning of the AOTA Board of Directors and serving as chair of the Centennial Commission which is a group of leaders across the association who focus their work to the Centennial Vision and the annual priorities set by the Board. I regularly track and report our progress to the Centennial Vision. This background will be very beneficial in my role as President-Elect and ultimately as President.
In addition, I would expect to continue working on initiatives that I am currently engaged in such as the OT distinct value priority and promoting the role of occupational therapy in primary care.
What are two specific goals you would like to achieve through your office in the upcoming year?
- Support an inclusive visioning process among AOTA members to develop a clear roadmap for the profession beyond 2017.
- Promote the use of the OT distinct value statement and materials being developed to further move the profession down the path of being a powerful and widely recognized profession.
In what area is it most critical for the AOTA to achieve growth over the next 5 years?
Of critical importance is being able to define, articulate, demonstrate and document the distinct value of occupational therapy. This has been a part of our professional dialogue for over fifty years and as we approach our 100th year it is time we step forward to the challenge. This will serve as a mechanism to ensure the vitality of the occupational therapy profession and access for recipients that can benefit from our services.
Additionally, we must maintain our focus on issues that are important to the future of occupational therapy practice such as: expanding advocacy and influence and being present at policymaking tables, growing membership in state and national professional associations, and development of positions in primary care to meet the needs of the shifting health care system.
As we look at the dynamic systems in which we practice, it is important for the profession to have an open dialogue about our preparation of the next generation of practitioners and identify methods to develop well-equipped system thinkers that meet the occupational needs of individuals and society.
Finally, I believe that we must empower occupational therapy practitioners to use their clinical judgment and expertise to demonstrate how occupational therapy enhances quality, improves efficiency and serves as a cost effective solution that will meet the needs identified by both healthcare and education systems.
What is one thing that you want voters to know about you?
Deciding to run for AOTA President was a very reflective process for me. I included my family in this process from the very beginning. My husband and our children (13 and 11) are aware of the professional satisfaction I find in the work I do for AOTA and they are also very aware of the amount of time this work takes. I do not miss much on the home front and you will often find my family traveling with me as they are able. I am grateful that my family supported and encouraged me to run for AOTA President. If they had not, my name would not be on the ballot.