Emerging Leaders Development Program

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The development of strong leaders within the profession of occupational therapy is essential to achieving the goals outlined in AOTA’s Vision 2025. The Emerging Leaders Development Program recognizes and invests in students and new practitioners who demonstrate dedication and commitment to professional service at the start of their career. The program provides selected candidates with leadership training and ongoing mentorship by identifying needs for volunteer service within AOTA that match with each participant’s leadership goals.

Once chosen, candidates participate in a formal face-to-face (2-day) leadership institute at AOTA headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, and are paired with a mentor who currently holds a leadership position in the Association. Through this collaborative mentoring relationship individuals participate in service learning activities over a 1-year period that directly support strategic priorities identified by the AOTA Board of Directors. Although candidates will develop leadership skills that could potentially transfer into practice, the goal of this program is to provide leadership training and experience through direct engagement in Association activities. The program is not designed to provide clinical mentoring. Emerging leader participants are expected to network and share their experiences through AOTA publications, formal and/or informal presentations, as well as completion of periodic feedback surveys.

Who Should Apply?

This program is designed for individuals who desire to stay actively involved in AOTA leadership and volunteer opportunities. It is the program’s goal that the leadership training and experience provided shall inspire continued service within AOTA throughout one’s career.

  • Occupational Therapy/Occupational Therapy Assistant students in their last year of professional preparation (expected graduation before September 1, 2018)
  • New practitioners with ≤5 years of experience (entry-level graduation after September 1, 2012)
  • Applicants must be AOTA members in good standing at the time of application and throughout the duration of the program.

Candidates must commit to the following:

  • Attend a 2-day Leadership Institute hosted at AOTA headquarters in Bethesda, MD, from September 26 to 27, 2017. Travel and hotel costs will be covered by AOTA.
  • Actively participate in formal mentorship for a period of 12 months following the Leadership Institute at AOTA Headquarters
  • Complete service learning activities determined in collaboration with an assigned mentor
  • Complete periodic feedback surveys, both during and after participating in the program
  • Participate in leadership service within AOTA after the program has concluded, based upon available opportunities

Application Requirements

1. A personal narrative that addresses the following:

  • Why participation in the ELDP is an important next step in your leadership development
  • Demonstration of leadership growth through a process of self-reflection on past leadership successes and challenges
  • Description of how a sustained, collaborative mentoring relationship will contribute to your leadership development
  • Description of personal strengths, including how these align with selected areas of interest related to AOTA leadership roles, committees, current activities, and priorities. Please review AOTA Leadership Opportunities and AOTA Vision 2025 for current strategic priorities. 
  • Personal narrative should be 400 to 1,000 words in length. Applicant must write clearly and concisely using professional language and correct spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

2. A reference letter from a professional supervisor, professor, or AOTA or state association leader who is also a current AOTA member with first-hand knowledge of your leadership experiences and qualities. Please provide your reference source with the attached Request for Reference instruction letter. Please do not upload the Request for Reference form in the application site.

  • The reference letter should provide strong evidence of leadership abilities and how the applicant has contributed and participated as a leader over time.
  • The reference letter should specifically address why the applicant is a good fit for the ELDP at this time as well as his/her ability to become a successful leader in AOTA upon completion of the program.
  • The reference letter must be signed and sent on official facility or school letterhead.

3. A current curriculum vitae or résumé.

4. A signed copy of the Program Director/Work Supervisor Form endorsing the applicant as an individual who has shown consistent performance in an academic/work setting with the interpersonal skills necessary for successfully completing this program. The supervisor does not need to be an OT/OTA or an AOTA member.

No paper applications will be accepted. Do not upload any additional documents other than those outlined above, as they will not be considered. Please review eligibility criteria prior to applying.

If you have questions about the program or application, please contact