Friday, August 23, 2013
Last week I traveled to AOTA Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland to kick-start my yearlong journey in the Emerging Leadership Development Program (ELDP). I did not know what to expect because I was not given a lot of detail as to what we would be doing for training. All I knew was that I was going to be given a mentor who would help with a yearlong project. When I got there I met many people from all over the country who would be participating in the program with me. Some had already finished school and had been practicing, while others like me were finishing up school. Thursday we all walked to AOTA headquarters together excited and anxious to start our training. We got into the AOTA board room where the Board of Directors usually hold their meetings and met Midge Hobbs, the director of the ELDP, Nancy Standford-Blair, an educator on leadership, Amy Lamb, AOTA’s Vice President, and Ginny Stoffel, AOTA’s President. It was surreal to hear so much about these individuals and to finally be able to meet them in person. They were all very passionate about this program and eager to get started.
The focus of our training on Thursday was about our leadership values and purpose, being a servant leader, how to deal with conflict, and reflecting on how we came to be leaders. It was an eye opening experience that helped me focus on my core values and what my goals are as a leader. We were also able to meet with AOTA staff within the building and I was able to talk to Frank Gainer, who coordinates conferences, and Maureen Peterson, AOTA’s chief professional affairs officer. There wasn’t enough time to meet with everyone!
Friday we learned more about the workings of AOTA and opportunities for leadership positions within the organization. There are many opportunities and I would love to share what I’ve learned! We also had a chance to meet with our mentors to discuss ideas for a yearlong project. I called my mentor Izel Obermeyer, who is the Chairperson for the Affiliated State Association President (ASAP), to discuss some ideas. Mrs. Obermeyer was very open to the suggestions I had and provided helpful feedback to help me start my project. We agreed on focusing on student involvement within state associations. Mrs. Obermeyer said that most beginning practitioners are not very involved with their state association. I hope that through focusing on student involvement in associations it will encourage students to continue to be involved in their state association when they become a practitioner.
The two-day training went by too fast! It was a great way to make connections with other occupational therapists in the US and I know I will be collaborating with them in the future. I enjoyed every minute of this experience and I am very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.