Emerging Leaders Development Program

The Emerging Leaders Development Program for 2015 is no longer accepting applications for this year. Thank you for your interest!

AOTA’s Emerging Leaders Development Program gives students and new practitioners the tools and training to become strong leaders within occupational therapy to help the profession achieve the goals of the Centennial Vision. Selected participants receive leadership training, ongoing mentorship, and participation in current service opportunities that match each participant’s own leadership goals.

The development of strong leaders within the profession of occupational therapy is essential to achieving the goals of AOTA’s Centennial Vision. The Emerging Leaders Development Program recognizes and invests in students and practitioners who have demonstrated dedication and commitment, through service to the profession, at the start of their career. The program provides selected candidates with leadership training and ongoing mentorship while addressing volunteer service needs within AOTA.

Once candidates are chosen, they receive formal face-to-face (2-day) training focusing on leadership development and other components of the program. Following training, candidates are paired with a mentor, who currently holds a leadership position within the Association, and they participate in service learning activities over a one-year period which directly supports AOTA’s Strategic Priorities. Although candidates will develop leadership skills that could transfer into practice, the goal of this program is to provide leadership training through engagement in Association activities.  The program is not designed to provide clinical mentoring. Emerging leader participants are expected to share their experiences through AOTA publications or formal and informal presentations as well as completion of periodic feedback surveys.

Who Should Apply?

Applicants may be occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant students in the last year of professional preparation, or new practitioners with five years or less experience. Applicants must also be members in good standing of AOTA at the time of application and for the duration of the program.

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 individuals to continue service within AOTA throughout their careers.  Candidates must be able to commit to the following:

  • Attendance at a fully funded, 2-day training at AOTA in Bethesda, Maryland to be held Tuesday, August 18 through Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Travel and hotel costs (Monday & Tuesday nights) will be covered by AOTA.
  • Participation in formal mentorship for a period of 12 months
  • Completion of service learning activities determined in collaboration with an assigned mentor
  • Expectation of leadership service within AOTA after the program has concluded

Application Process

Applicants must submit:

1. A personal letter of interest (double-spaced, 12 point font; min/max words 400/1000) which describes why you see yourself as an emerging leader and addresses the following:

  • Explanation of what you hope to accomplish in your career and professional life, listing any personal and professional goals as they relate to leadership development. 
  • Description of how you learned about the Emerging Leaders Development Program, and how your participation will support growth in your current role, assist in achieving your goals, and promote your leadership development. Specifically describe how participation in this program will enable you to develop a trajectory toward leadership within AOTA. 
  • Description of your leadership philosophy that includes examples of past and current leadership experiences in which you demonstrated effective leadership. Please include details describing how you were able to successfully lead others citing any challenges and achievements that may have occurred.
  • Explanation of how you will benefit from a structured mentoring relationship that includes experiences embedded within the governance and organizational structure of AOTA, as well as what you can offer to a mentoring partnership. Please review AOTA’s Strategic Priorities, and identify which priorities are of interest to focus your leadership activities. Although AOTA cannot guarantee that each candidate will be paired with a mentor who shares the same activity interests, we strive to do so within the parameters of the pool of available mentors.

2. A reference letter from a current AOTA member who has first-hand knowledge of your leadership ability. Please provide your reference source with the Request for Reference instruction letter.

  • The reference letter should provide a strong recommendation, as it accounts for approximately one-third of the total score in the selection process.
  • Individuals providing the letter of reference may be professional supervisors, professors, existing AOTA or state association leaders.
  • Reference letters should specifically address why you are an appropriate candidate for the program including aspects of your personal character, leadership qualities, leadership potential, and your ability to successfully complete the program. 

3. A current curriculum vitae or resumé.

4. A signed copy of the Supervisory Form that verifies eligibility for the program. The supervisor does not need to be an OT or an AOTA member.

No paper applications will be considered.  The application site opens Monday, April 20, 2015.

All applications must be submitted electronically no later than Monday, May 11, 2015.

If you have questions about the program, please contact:

Rebecca Argabrite Grove, MS, OTR/L; Governance, Leadership Development & International Liaison; 

Please direct all application submission questions to: Varsha Stein at