2010 Emerging Leaders: The Future Looks Bright
By Stephanie Yamkovenko
The excitement in the room was contagious. Conversations about the profession, leadership, and mentoring permeated the room as the 15 participants in AOTA’s new Emerging Leaders Development program met with AOTA staff members for a networking reception at AOTA Headquarters. The participants spoke enthusiastically about the things they were learning during the 2-day institute and program kickoff.
AOTA announced the Emerging Leaders Development Program in the fall of 2009, and, by the application deadline, had nearly 90 applicants for the program’s 15 spots. The program is the result of a Representative Assembly (RA) charge to promote leadership within the profession.
“The program is really about opportunities to get involved in the transition from student to new practitioner,” said Tim Wolf, OTD, MSCI, OTR/L, and the chair of the Emerging Leader Development Committee. “They are really involved as students, and active and motivated, but then we don’t have a place for them after graduation.”
Participants echoed Wolfe’s sentiments about not having a natural transition to involvement in AOTA after graduation. “Sometimes when you’re looking at AOTA, it’s really intimidating and sometimes you think, ‘how can I ever possibly get in there?’” said participant Kristen Weber.
“I’d like to gain an understanding of where people can become involved at AOTA and then examine my skill set and my core beliefs and see where would be a really good place to focus my energy,” said participant Tiffany Sparks Keeney, MOT, OTR/L.
The participants in the Emerging Leaders Development Program are either students in their last year of their educational preparation, or practitioners with fewer than 5 years of professional experience. The program officially kicked off on January 8, with an Institute aimed at teaching the participants about leadership.
“They are learning about what effective leadership is,” said Nancy Stanford-Blair, PdD, co-facilitator of the Institute and a professor at Cardinal Stritch University. “They are learning about themselves as leaders, and learning how to develop that capacity in others in their organizations.”
To begin this process, the participants spent some time identifying their strengths and weaknesses. “We are hoping to have them look in a really mindful and conscious way at themselves, and build on the strengths they have as leaders,” said Ginny Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA, AOTA Vice President and co-facilitator of the Institute.
“I think they are an impressive group,” said Blair of the 15 participants. “They seem to be very engaged. They are bright. They are making a lot of connections. I think they feel really grateful to be here and have this opportunity.”
Each participant will spend the rest of this year working collaboratively with an existing AOTA leader mentor on a service learning project.
Participants noted the uniqueness of the relationships and networking they had already experienced with their fellow participants. “I’ve already identified people who will be lifelong colleagues and friends,” said participant William Janes, OTD/S.
The emerging leaders have energy and passion for the profession and for achieving the goals of the Centennial Vision. The program’s aim to develop leaders, help new practitioners be more involved, and capitalize on their motivation for participation seems to be working already.
“You do your academic and clinical work, then you get right to the job and you just hit the ground running,” said Sparks Keeney. “You suddenly find yourself in the workplace, and sometimes it’s all you can do to get through the billable minutes and get on to the next client. I’ve had the academic class work, I’ve had some professional experience, and now it’s a great time to step back and look at the big picture.”
More pictures of this event are available on OT Connections.
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s staff writer.