Despite all of the challenges that this year has brought, COTAD has found ways to adapt and continue to grow as an organization. We were humbled to welcome hundreds of people to our COTAD-ED Virtual Lunch and 6th Annual Breakfast and Awards ceremony for COTAD Live! featuring our keynote speaker Dr. Varleisha Gibbs, PhD, OTD, OTR/L when we were unable to be together in Boston.
I am excited to share that COTAD has found innovative ways to launch multiple new and exciting initiatives to support our student body and workforce this year. During the spring, we hosted two virtual COTAD Conversations on multiple platforms focused on racism, representation and responsiveness in OT and exploring gender, gender expression, and occupation. With the worldwide focus on systemic racism this summer, we launched our COTAD IGNITE! Series to provide a platform and opportunity to have discussions about discrimination, racism and how we can create active, positive change. To date, we have welcomed over 1500 attendees to 6 discussions. We hope that you will join us as we continue to IGNITE with COTAD-ED and in our Series III focused on LGTBQIA+ issues. During the summer we launched the COTAD Book+ club, which is offers an opportunity for all those interested to engage in a monthly discussion based on books, movies, podcasts and other media on topics related to healthcare, racism and discrimination. This year we also rolled out a new membership option to expand our reach. As a COTAD member you will receive discounts and a monthly email update about upcoming events, among other membership perks. For more information about any of these exciting opportunities, please visit our website or YouTube channel.
In addition to these new COTAD efforts, our established programs continue to thrive. The COTAD Chapters program now has students participating at 85 different universities and occupational therapy education programs and continues to grow every day. We are so proud of the incredible work that each Chapter is doing to facilitate difficult conversations, promote equity and inclusion, and advance the field of occupational therapy! To learn more about the COTAD Chapter of the Year or how to get involved, visit the COTAD Chapters page on our website. Additionally, the Minority Mentorship Program (MMP) has grown exponentially in the past year and currently has over 100 active dyads. The program structure recently changed to include Fall and Spring cohorts in order to promote a more inclusive, effective approach to supporting both the mentors and mentees. Mentors continue to report that they are enjoying the program, learning a lot, and feel that it is very rewarding. Mentees describe how valuable the connection has been in establishing themselves in the occupational therapy community and building confidence as a professional. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, COTAD’s leadership has continued to excel and have an impact beyond our organization. We have expanded our efforts to include research and a focus on publishing. Three members of our Executive Board co-authored the AOTA Official Document titled Occupational Therapy’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which was published in the 74th issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy and is available here. Dr. Cristina Reyes Smith, one of the co-founders of COTAD, was elected to the AOTA Board of Directors and we have 2 Executive Board members (Dr. Anvarizadeh and Dr. Lancaster) who are currently serving on the AOTA Representative Assembly. Our Board members are continuously building their leadership skills and taking on new roles and opportunities to lead our profession into the future.
With the eventful year we have had, we want to take a moment to reflect on those that have been affected by COVID-19 and hurt by the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others who have been victim to the racism that plagues our criminal justice system. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you.
If you are interested in becoming more involved with COTAD, please consider becoming a member or volunteer, following COTAD on social media, sharing a job posting, making a tax-deductible donation, or sending us a message.
Catherine R. Hoyt, PhD, OTD, OTR/L
Co-Founder & Chair, Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity