COTAD honors faculty and mentors and provides financial support to students and practitioners each year to acknowledge their contribution to our efforts and dedication to diversity, equity, and justice initiatives.

Nominate a COTAD Chapter, faculty member, or COTAD Mentorship Program mentor for an award to celebrate their success and demonstrate the value of diversity in our profession.

Winners will be announced at the second annual COTAD Live! virtual event - All nominators and nominees are encouraged to attend.


All award winners will be featured in the COTAD Courier, COTAD social media pages, and on our website.

Honors & Awards

Outstanding Faculty Award

This award recognizes a faculty member of an occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant program who embodies and promotes the vision and mission of COTAD.
Applications must include:

  • Applicant's name, credentials, & email
  • Nominee name, credentials, & email
  • Nominee occupational therapy program affiliation
  • Brief statement outlining how the nominee embodies and promotes the vision of COTAD through their professional behaviors, work activities, and/or instruction (300 words or fewer).

Excellence in Mentorship Award

This award recognizes a past or current mentor in the COTAD Minority Mentorship Program who has had a lasting impact on their mentee. NOTE: All current and past COTAD MMP mentors are eligible to receive this award. Applications must include:

  • Applicant's name, credentials, & email
  • Nominee name, credentials, & email
  • Brief statement describing how the nominee has gone "above and beyond," provided inspiration or support, or helped mentee achieve personal or professional goals (300 words or fewer)

COTAD Chapter of the Year Award

This award recognizes an official COTAD Chapter that has been active and effective in furthering education and awareness of occupational therapy and diversity issues in their campus or community. Applications must include:

  • Applicant's name, credentials, & email
  • Chapter name, credentials, & email
  • Faculty mentor's name & email
  • Nominee occupational therapy program affiliation
  • Brief statement describing how the Chapter's programming and members have increased awareness of diversity issues and occupational therapy and had a meaningful impact on individuals, communities, or populations (300 words or fewer)

Annual Keynote Speaker

This individual is selected and invited by the COTAD Board to speak at our annual Breakfast and/or COTAD Live! virtual event because of their outstanding efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion with their students and/or the profession of Occupational Therapy. See list below for previous keynote speakers.

Student Travel & Conference Sponsorship

COTAD provides travel awards and sponsorship for student members to attend AOTA Conferences or other events to enhance their professional development, provide service to the organization, and further our organization's mission. Amount and timeline for award varies based on conference location and awardee responsibilities.

New Practitioner Impact & Action Award

This award will be granted to an entry-level occupational therapy practitioner (up to three years of experience) who is invested in developing professional leadership skills and taking action to further justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in their community or workplace. The recipient will receive $750.00 total, with an initial payment of $500 by June 1, 2021 and the remaining $250 disbursed upon completion of required presentation. APPLICATION DEADLINE: Extended to April 9, 2021 ____________________________________________________________________

  1. COTAD member in good standing (student members are ineligible)
  2. Earned NBCOT certification or other recognized occupational therapy credentials within three (3) years prior to submission of application
  1. Resume/CV
  2. Scanned copy of NBCOT Certification and OT license number
  3. One (1) letter of recommendation from an individual within a professional context who can provide information about the applicant's character and commitment to action on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in occupational therapy
  4. Completed online application form.
  1. Complete online application form.
  2. Send ONE PDF FILE to that includes resume/CV, NBCOT verification, OT license number, and letter of recommendation
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The award recipient must agree to the following terms in order to receive full disbursement of award funds:
  1. Engage in mentoring with COTAD leader for 12 months
  2. Collect and evaluate data to monitor intervention efficacy and track outcomes
  3. Share the results of their work (via video or live presentation) during COTAD Breakfast or COTAD Live! online event in 2022

2021 Awardees


Excellence in Mentorship Award

La’Shandra “Elle” Holmes-Russell, MSOT, OTR/L, LVT, CEIM, CYT


New Practitioner Impact and Action Award

Mario Millsap, MSOT

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COTAD Chapter of the Year Award

Gator COTAD Chapter at University of Florida


Outstanding Faculty Award

Dr. Amy Burton, OTD, OTR/L


New Practitioner Impact and Action Award

Gabriella P. Vasquez, MS, OTR/L


2021       Jaime Muñoz, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
                      Department Chair and Associate Professor
                      Duquesne University
2020       Varleisha Gibbs, PhD, OTD, OTR/L
                      Scientific Programs Officer
                      American Occupational Therapy Foundation
2019        Michael Iwama, PhD, MSc, BScOT, BScHP
                      Dean and Professor, School of Health And Rehabilitation Sciences
                      MGH Institute of Health Professions
2018        Lenin Grajo, PhD, EdM, OTR
                      Director Post-Professional OTD, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
                      Columbia University
2017        Felicia Banks, PhD, FAOTA
                       Chairperson, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy
                         Howard University
2016        Yolanda Suarez Balcazar, PhD
                       Professor, Department Head, Occupational Therapy
                         University of Illinois, Chicago
2015        Patrick Bloom MS, OTR/L 
                       AOTA Board of Directors