Associate Professor Virginia Stoffel, PhD, OT, FAOTA, and OT Program associate director in the Department of Occupational Science and Technology, was added to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) list of “100 Influential People in the Profession.”
Stoffel completed the third and final year of her term as president of AOTA, an organization she has belonged to for forty-two years. As her term as president concluded on June 30, 2016, she serves as past-president offering her support to the incoming president and vice-president, and takes part in AOTA’s various professional initiatives.
AOTA’s Centennial Vision
The honor comes in time for the OT profession’s centennial anniversary. In 2017, both AOTA and the profession of OT will turn 100, and as Stoffel concludes her service as president, she looks forward to celebrating all that the organization has achieved.
The Centennial Vision Statement reads: “We envision that occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs.”
Stoffel echoed the vision statement when commenting on the importance of building awareness for the profession across the globe. “We’ve made it our goal to ensure that individuals, policymakers and social leaders empower people to enjoy a higher quality of life by preventing and overcoming the obstacles that keep them from doing the activities they value.”
Building awareness for OT around the globe
From 2009, when she began her service as vice-president, until her last month as president in June, 2016, Stoffel visited eight countries, including Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Japan, Scotland, Colombia and Uganda.
On her travels, Stoffel made many presentations on leadership development, mental health and substance abuse. She also commented on the current state of practice in the US while working closely with leaders of international OT organizations.
Highlights from time well served
Stoffel is proud of the growth that the OT profession has sustained during her time as vice-president and president of AOTA. Since 2009, the profession grew from 145,000 OTs, OTAs and OT students to over 200,000.
In addition, Stoffel is thankful for the opportunities her leadership role has afforded her to connect with students, practitioners and managers who are new to AOTA. “The simple fact is that to achieve the goals we have set in our Centennial Vision, we need all hands on deck. Everyone involved with the profession has important contributions to make, and I’ve worked to provide people with avenues to get involved.”
Capping off a fabulous career in OT
In April of 2016, the AOTA hosted their annual conference in Chicago. Stoffel delivered the Farewell Presidential Address, Coming Home to Family: Now is the Time. She also presented at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA’s, Recovery to Practice initiative.
At the AOTA 2017 Centennial Conference in Philadelphia, Stoffel presented with past presidents Carolyn Baum, Penny Moyers, Florence Clark and current president Amy Lamb on the Presidential Centennial Vision Panel.
“Being able to connect with practitioners in the US, as well as from around the world, gave me new perspectives on what we can offer others, as well as what we gain from our connections with others. That led to my pursuing a new position as the alternate delegate from AOTA to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), a role that I was elected to serve until 2020. I have much to learn as a culturally competent leader in the profession, and I look forward to what’s ahead.”