COTAD Co-founder Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh initially established the COTAD Chapters Program in 2017 as part of the COTAD mission to meet society’s occupational needs by developing local and national initiatives and aligning with key stakeholders to create a socioculturally diverse workforce that is able to provide culturally sensitive and client-centered services to occupational therapy consumers.
COTAD Chapters are designed to support occupational therapy students to work together to develop and promote diversity and inclusion within occupational therapy education programs and in the profession. Each Chapter is designed to create opportunities and resources to foster open conversation and increase awareness of different lived experiences to increase cultural humility. We envision that each Chapter will provide a safe environment where students gather to have open dialogue about current affairs, unconscious bias, and the impact of culture on occupation. Chapter leaders and membership chairs will have the opportunity to work alongside leaders in COTAD and connect with other students around the country, collaborate with COTAD to create presentations, events, and share resources with other programs to communicate the desire to increase diversity within the occupational therapy workforce and prepare clinicians to serve diverse client populations.
By working with students to establish and grow COTAD Chapters, Dr. Anvarizadeh is helping students establish valuable professional skills while preparing the next generation of occupational therapy educators and practitioners to serve an increasingly diverse clientele. As the Chapters program continues to grow, we hope to see today’s student leaders become tomorrow’s advocates for diversity and inclusion within the occupational therapy profession and around the world.
To learn more or establish a COTAD Chapter on your campus, read the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why establish a COTAD Chapter?
Student members of COTAD members stand to gain many valuable benefits, including:
- Connecting and collaborating with students and Chapters across the country
- Developing communication, collaboration, and advocacy skills
- Receiving mentoring from COTAD leaders
- Learning and exchanging ideas on quarterly COTAD Chapter conference calls
- Earning state, national, and international recognition for COTAD Chapter efforts to promote diversity and inclusion (including COTAD Chapter Award)
- Gaining access to valuable resources and materials for advocacy and education
- Supporting and advancing COTAD’s mission of a future with a diverse workforce prepared to serve culturally diverse clientele
Is a COTAD Chapter the same as a SOTA?
COTAD Chapters are distinct from SOTA groups in that they are formed with a specific focus on identifying and addressing issues related to diversity and inclusion and are local affiliates of the national COTAD nonprofit. Just as COTAD as a whole collaborates with many other professional organizations but maintains a distinct identity, COTAD Chapters are designed to work alongside existing SOTAs and other organizations at occupational therapy programs.
How is a COTAD Chapter structured?
Each chapter is required to have a Chair and Faculty Mentor who serve as the Chapter’s primary representatives and liaises with COTAD leadership. Beyond this, each chapter’s organization can vary widely. The great diversity in occupational therapy programs (class size, resources, hybrid vs. traditional curriculum) means that each Chapter will have to determine how best to accomplish its goals. Some Chapters have enough members to form multiple committees, and others have a dedicated few who coordinate projects and communication – there’s no right or wrong way, and flexibility is key.When deciding which structure is most appropriate for your Chapter and community, review your Needs Assessment and communicate with your Faculty Mentor. After the establishment of your COTAD Chapter, we recommend members write bylaws describing the leadership and/or committee structure. For more questions about how to organize your Chapter, email Dr. Anvarizadeh.
How do I establish a COTAD Chapter at my OT program?
The process for establishing a COTAD Chapter will require a minimum of a one year commitment from all participants, including the Chapter Chair and Faculty Mentor(s).
- Complete a Needs Assessment for your campus and student body. Please have as many students as possible complete the form; the results will be sent to Dr. Anvarizadeh.
- Complete the Annual Chapter Commitment Form.
- Take the necessary steps to become an officially-recognized campus organization. Connect with your faculty advisor to learn about how to structure your Chapter and plan your group's activities (see FAQ about group structure below).
- Pay dues to become recognized as an official COTAD Chapter via Paypal or member profile. (Include your Chapter name and "Annual Dues [YEAR]" in notes on Paypal.)
- Email Dr. Anvarizadeh to schedule introductory meeting.
- After initial meeting with Dr. Anvarizadeh, you will receive a Welcome Letter and COTAD Chapter Certificates via email.
- When current Chapter Chair transitions out of their role, complete the COTAD Chapter Chair(s) Transition Form and schedule a meeting with Dr. Anvarizadeh to finalize transition.
Why does our Chapter have to pay dues?
As a nonprofit organization, COTAD is composed of all volunteer members who freely donate their time and talents. However, we have many operating expenses (website hosting, business transactions, resource development) that require a steady source of income to keep our organization active and effective. Your dues go to helping us pay our taxes, maintain our website, create new programs, sustain old programs, and continue to work towards our organization’s goals.
How can our Chapter pay annual dues?
You can pay annual dues via the COTAD Paypal website. Please include a memo with your program's name and the text "Annual COTAD Chapter Dues" to ensure the funds are documented accurately. If you need an invoice, please email our Treasurer Stacy Wilson.
I am interested in completing research with COTAD. How can I make this happen?
We're excited that you're interested in partnering with us to complete your research project! Please complete the COTAD Chapter Student Research Inquiry Form and a member will be in touch shortly.
How can I keep track of the work our Chapter is doing?
Keeping accurate records and tracking data is crucial to assessing your Chapter's impact on its members and your community and helping us demonstrate our value as a nonprofit. After each event, complete the COTAD Chapter News form to keep us up to date!
I was in a COTAD Chapter but I have since graduated from my OT program. How can I stay involved?
Congratulations on your graduation! If you are still passionate about issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, we encourage you to join COTAD as a member and find your fit on one of our many committees.
Become a COTAD Member and gain access to valuable information and resources
Apply to become a Committee Member and get involved with a specific project
Apply to become a mentor or mentee in the Minority Mentorship Program
Submit commentary for inclusion in research presentations (What I Wish You Knew About Me)
Submit a case study for the case study library featuring clients and practitioners with diverse backgrounds
Plan a fundraiser or donate to support the COTAD mission and help us achieve our goal of raising $25,000
Start a COTAD Chapter at the school where you work (if you are an academic)
Donate your time, money, or resources to a local COTAD chapter
Host a diversity-related presentation (COTAD members have access to pre-existing slides on a variety of topics for various audiences)
Request a COTAD speaker for your class, conference, or COTAD Chapter event
Advertise a job posting, program, or other event on COTAD website and social media
Encourage coworkers and leadership in your workplace to join or support COTAD
Plan to join the Annual COTAD Service Day that takes place every spring
Attend an in-person or virtual COTAD-ED event
Purchase COTAD swag online or at the Annual AOTA Conference & Expo
Purchase the COTAD Toolkit for info on recruitment, retention, and the Pipeline program