Onward and Upward

Future of the profession is the focus at AOTA 2018

Last week, over 7,000 occupational therapy professionals from around the nation—and the world, for that matter—converged on Salt Lake City, UT, for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Annual Conference and Expo.

The Salt Palace Convention Center hosted this year’s gathering, where AOTA promised a ‘not-to-miss’ event. The delivered with a collection of lectures, ceremonies, and presentations to clarify the Association’s Vision 2025, and their hopes for the future of the profession beyond. Over 1,200 educational and poster sessions complemented the impressive array of speakers and a full exhibit hall to offer attendees an unforgettable experience.

A few highlights of the four-day event:

  • Nyle DiMarco, a former winner of “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Next Top Model” served as Keynote Speaker for the 2018 event. DiMarco shared that he does not see his deafness as a disability and seeks to bring awareness through his media profile. Viewing his deafness as an asset rather than a limitation has allowed him to hone his abilities as a model, as he is accustomed to nonverbal forms of communication. DiMarco shared details of his own journey through occupational therapy, as well as his belief that through hard work, commitment, and a belief in yourself, “nothing is impossible.”
  • AOTA President Amy Lamb, OTD, OT/L, FAOTA, shared her ideas for the future of occupational therapy, opining that current practitioners bear the responsibility of creating a legacy. Harnessing creativity through innovation is a shared responsibility for all who endeavor to create breakthroughs in practice and research.
  • This year’s Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture was offered by Gordon Muir Giles, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, who lauded the current era of rapid technological and professional innovation while reminding attendees and practitioners that OT’s primary responsibility is helping clients to find a way to carry out their everyday, commonplace activities despite any injuries or limitations.
  • The Plenary panel discussion for this year, entitled Autistic Individuals as Equal Partners in Occupational Therapy Research, discussed the challenges in research issues critical to the community of people with autism, while reinforcing the importance of a client-centered agenda.

If you missed this year’s event, it’s not too early to start making plans for AOTA 2019 in New Orleans, LA, from April 4–7.

AOTA Welcomes New Executive Director

In the days leading up to AOTA 2018, the Association made an important decision as to the direction of their own future when they appointed Sherry Keramidas, PhD, FASAE, CAE, as the new executive director of AOTA.

Chosen from an impressive array of over 100 candidates who interviewed for the position, Dr. Keramidas rose to the top thanks in large part to her impressive experience in positions of leadership throughout the world of health care.

For 20 years Dr. Keramidas served as the Executive Director of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS). Previously, she served as CEO of the American College of Dentists; as the Associate Executive Vice President of Research and Education of the American Physical Therapy Association; and as the Scientific Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She also served as a Special Consultant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), working on research program evaluation, strategic planning, and interagency collaboration in the Office of the Director and across NIH. She has served on advisory groups for government agencies and academic organizations.

Dr. Keramidas received her PhD in neurosciences and physiological psychology from Purdue University. She participated in executive education programs at the Kellogg School of Management and Haas School of Management. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives and holds the Certified Association Executive designation. She is also a Certified Executive and Leadership Coach.

“I am honored to be selected for this role at AOTA and excited to work with the staff, volunteers, members, and Board in facilitating new paths to a great future,” said Dr. Keramidas.

Dr. Keramidas officially assumes the role of executive director on May 1, 2018.

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