Centennial Vision Journal Entry
Penny Moyers Cleveland, EdD, OTR/L, BCMH, FAOTA
Where did January go? Now we are well into February and like my other journal reports, the extraordinary journey continues. I enjoyed time with my family over the holidays, welcoming the birth of my first grandchild, a boy, and perhaps a future occupational therapist! I assure you that I do find time to balance and focus on family.
January started off with an explosion of fireworks following the successful launch of two more leadership initiatives. I attended the AOTA Leadership Development Institute for the Affiliated State Association Presidents (ASAP) along with 14 state association presidents. ASAP Chairperson Patrick Bloom, and Vice-Chairperson Rebecca Argabrite-Grove attended as did AOTA staff Maureen Peterson, Chuck Wilmarth, Laurel Radley, and Ralph Kohl.
The association management consulting firm Leadership Outfitters, Inc. conducted the Institute, with the focus centered upon ways to utilize new leadership skills and develop leaders within each president’s respective state.
Using the work of Kouzes and Posner, the state presidents were taught to use the leadership principles of “modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.”
With these practices as the foundation, the presidents reflected on the essential elements of leading and the impact on state members. The Centennial Vision goal of developing the capacity to lead is definitely in progress!
AOTA’s Maureen Peterson attended the launch of the second AOTA/AOTF sponsored Mentoring Circle® in Denver, Colorado. AOTA and AOTF jointly awarded 17 fellowships to aspiring leaders in this unique mentoring program. The focus of this year's program is on developing the leadership of academic program directors in both OT and OTA programs.
The power of the Leadership Mentoring Program is that participants are offered a series of 16 mentoring sessions led by the Catalyst Mentor Catherine Nielson. Cathy is Professor Emeritus in the Division of Occupational Science in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cathy will use stories from her personal experience to efficiently convey best practices that promote leadership.
Overall, this initiative is a way to address the critical need to enhance the emergence of strong occupational therapy leaders within the academic community, while at the same time building the profession’s capacity to influence and lead.
On November 29, 2007, AOTA conducted via conference call an open Town Hall meeting for occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants working in the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The meeting was led and facilitated by Chief Public Affairs Officer Christina Metzler and Tim Nanof, legislative representative. Participating staff included Fred Somers, Maureen Peterson, Dan Jones, and Laurel Radley. Discussions focused on ways in which AOTA can best support its members working in the VA.
A second VA/AOTA Town Hall conference call was held January 28, 2008, attracting almost twice as many attendees. The discussions focused on issues related to shortages, pay equity, professional development, and the need for training specific to poly trauma, vision, musculoskeletal injuries, cognition, evidence-based practice and driving. These are important areas to address so that occupational therapy practitioners employed in the VA can better meet the needs of veterans.
After the town hall meetings, AOTA Policy staff facilitated a meeting with VA rehabilitation officials in early February. Fred Somers, Christina Metzler, Maureen Peterson, and Tim Nanof attended the meeting for AOTA and discussed issues of mutual concern and interest.
I also attended alumni events at Duquesne University and at the Texas Women’s University program in Dallas, where students, faculty, and practitioners are actively linking education, practice, and research—another of our Centennial Vision priorities. Outstanding Duquesne alumni (pictured below) received awards that exemplified the University’s mission to develop practitioner scholars.
At Texas Women’s University, I met with students and discussed the upcoming national election and the importance of raising money for the American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC). They raised more than $300 for AOTPAC, demonstrating outstanding leadership in advocacy. I also encouraged them to think about how they could take leadership a step further by urging practitioners in the Dallas area to contribute during this crucial election.
Texas Women's University students raised over $300 for AOTPAC.
I also rolled up my sleeves with the students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to implement a service project for United Cerebral Palsy. The project involved clearing land to build a “ropes course.” This is but one example of how our students all over the country are working with their communities to clearly establish the value of occupational therapy, and express interest and commitment in facilitating the participation of everyone in daily life activities, including leisure.
Students cleared land for the United Cerebral Palsy "ropes course."
Well, I am actively working with AOTA Executive Director Fred Somers, AOTA staff, and our Board of Directors to plan our upcoming Board meeting in February.
We have an exciting agenda planned with emphasis on the Centennial Vision strategic initiatives, as well as the continued development of our public awareness campaign. The Board is actively evaluating our progress thus far on our extraordinary journey, as well as examining its own leadership development necessary for conducting the actions to accomplish our “unreasonable and audacious goals.” While in the Washington, D.C. area, I will continue to spread the word about the Vision by holding a town hall meeting at Howard University and by lobbying Congress on veterans' issues. There is more to come as the road leads to this year’s Annual Conference and Expo in April, where I hope to see many of you!