Emerging Leaders Development Program

The Emerging Leaders Development Program application window is closed and will reopen in Spring 2017.  Thank you for your interest!

We welcome the following leaders to the program: Jesse Ausec, Moira Bushell, Gabrielle Heckman, Sabrina Hilton, Lauren Jones, Bridgette LeCompte, Rebecca  Masterjohn, Miranda Miller, Erin O’Donnel, Hanna Paul, Nicole Rowe, Gail Stephens, Abigail Swidergal, Kirsty Vannoy, and Jarrett Wolske.

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. Prior to the 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 potentially 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 (from the date of entry-level graduation). 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 Monday, August 15 through Tuesday, August 16, 2016. Travel and hotel costs (Sunday & Monday 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 (min/max words 400/1000) which describes why you see yourself as an emerging leader and addresses the following:

  • Description of your personal leadership philosophy with examples of how this has contributed to your professional growth and potential for future leadership in AOTA. Please include and reflect on both past and current leadership successes and challenges.
  • Identification of your personal leadership goals as they relate to the mission of the Emerging Leaders Development Program, and how past leadership experiences have shaped your leadership strengths and interests.
  • Explanation of how you expect to benefit from a collaborative mentoring relationship that includes experiences embedded within the governance and organizational structure of AOTA, as well as what benefits you will contribute to a mentoring partnership as it relates to your leadership goals.
  • Please review AOTA’s Strategic Priorities. Identify and describe two priorities that align with your personal strengths and leadership interests 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 abilities. Please provide your reference source with the attached Request for Reference instruction letter. Please do not upload the Request for Reference form.

  • Individuals providing the letter of reference may be professional supervisors, professors, existing AOTA or state association leaders. The reference letter must be signed and sent on official facility or school letterhead.
  • The reference letter should provide strong evidence of your leadership abilities and how you have contributed and participated as a leader over time.
  • The reference letter should specifically address why you are an appropriate candidate for the program, and include positive aspects of your personal character as related to AOTA’s core professional values, and your ability to become a successful leader in AOTA upon completion of 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/OTA or an AOTA member.

No paper applications will be considered.  Do not upload any additional documents other than those outlined above, as they will not be considered. 

The application site opens Monday, April 25, 2016.  All applications must be submitted and received electronically no later than Monday, May 23, 2016.

Please review the eligibility criteria prior to submitting an application. This is particularly important for those applicants who are currently within the first five years of practice. Eligibility begins with your date of graduation, not the date you began working. For example, if you graduated before August 15, 2011 you will not be considered eligible.

If you have questions about the program, please contact: