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Editorial  |   November 2013
From Heartfelt Leadership to Compassionate Care
Author Affiliations
  • Virginia C. Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA, is President, American Occupational Therapy Association, and Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Technology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201; stoffelv@uwm.edu
Article Information
Centennial Vision / Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues / Inaugural Presidential Address, 2013
Editorial   |   November 2013
From Heartfelt Leadership to Compassionate Care
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2013, Vol. 67, 633-640. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.676001
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2013, Vol. 67, 633-640. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.676001
Virginia C. Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA
Virginia C. Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA
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I am honored and humbled to stand before you as the 29th President of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). I accept this torch from President Florence Clark and want you to know that I share her passion and commitment to serve you with arete, a Greek word meaning excellence, which was the theme of Dr. Clark’s 2011 Presidential Address (Clark, 2011).
I’ve been an occupational therapy practitioner for one-third of our profession’s history, and yet I’ve seen our profession grow and change in ways that no one could have dreamed of. Many of us remember the days when most of our friends, family, and even clients didn’t really know what an occupational therapist was. Today when I say that I’m an occupational therapist, people nod and often share a story about someone close to them who received occupational therapy services.
For example, our AOTA leadership team recently met with the Autism Speaks organization, and their vice president told us that his son received occupational therapy for fine motor control. Dr. Clark spoke up and shared the metaphor that our services can be compared to teaching someone to ski. Motor control is part of that, but there are many other skills that have to be taught, and it is hoped they might lead to engagement in meaningful occupations. This example resonated with him, and he noted that his son started coloring with the occupational therapist in grade school and as a young adult is now an artist who has sold a number of his creations.
Aligning Our Work With the AOTA Centennial Vision
But the increased awareness of our profession is not the only change we’ve seen. In accordance with our Centennial Vision (AOTA, 2007), we are more widely recognized by other health professions and the public. The number of mentions that occupational therapy receives in the media has increased tremendously. And we’re also being science driven and evidence based. We have practice guidelines that are grounded in the evidence.
I assume your elected presidency at an important juncture in our history. Because of our collective efforts, AOTA has achieved so much toward reaching our Centennial Vision. We need to remain focused on maintaining the momentum and “leaning in” to fully realize its promise.
My immediate predecessors, Presidents Baum, Moyers, and Clark, have brought us far. Through their leadership, vision, and actions they have brought us closer to the Centennial Vision, emphasizing diversity, leadership, and evidence-based practice (Baum, 2006; Clark, 2013; Moyers, 2007).
Building Capacity as a Heartfelt Leader Who Delivers Compassionate Care
I come from a large family. How large, you ask? We could field an entire baseball team with all of my brothers and sisters. There are nine of us in total, and many of them are here today! As I was thinking of how vital my family was to my development both as a person and as a practitioner, it occurred to me that I’ve always had some form of supportive family around me. Whether it was my family of origin, the family that I created with my husband Bob and our three sons—now expanding with Alison, Lydia, and a soon-to-join-us grandchild—or my family of occupational therapy practitioners, each family has helped bring me to this point. They have encouraged me to be the leader that I am today, using heartfelt leadership and delivering compassionate care. To me, a heartfelt leader is someone who offers his or her authentic self, grounded in an emotional connection that engenders trust, commitment, and engagement.
I was so proud to have Azela Gohl-Giese, my professor at St. Kate’s, offer some introductory insights into my inaugural address on video. Azela likes to say, “When Ginny asks, it’s hard to say no.” I attribute that to the heartfelt part of my relationships. Compassionate care reflects our profession’s person-centered values—we act on behalf of the interests of those we serve.
The qualities of heartfelt leadership and compassionate care are our greatest strengths as occupational therapy practitioners, and we need to tap into these deep-rooted strengths as we move ever closer to the Centennial Vision. But how do we do that?
Some of you know that I have been a student of leadership and service for the past decade, having completed my doctorate in leadership for the advancement of learning and service in 2007. As an engaged member of AOTA since my first month in occupational therapy school at St. Kate’s, I attended my first AOTA Conference in 1975 in what ended up being my hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, I carefully listened and watched our then AOTA President Jerry Johnson as she presided over a major updating of our governance structure, working to engage members and strengthen our relevance as a profession. And since 1975, I have attended 37 presidential addresses. Yes, I did miss one! I never really imagined standing before you remembering the voices and presence of all 13 presidents who have led since I became an AOTA member.
These experiences have taught me a few things about leadership. The first is that leadership is a process of influence. Organizations are healthier when leaders influence others to take action. Relationship building is required for leadership. Our elected AOTA presidents have relationships in all corners of the profession. Without these relationships, it would be hard to build the credibility to lead. Most important, leaders help the rank-and-file members of organizations achieve what is important to them.
We didn’t come up with the Centennial Vision because a few AOTA board members and officers got into a room and whipped it up. We created it with our members, by providing the opportunity for extensive input and vigorous discussion. AOTA elected leaders helped the members achieve what was important to them—establishing a vision for our profession as we approach our Centennial Jubilee celebration in 2017 (AOTA, 2007).
I want to give you my personal vision, but first, let’s pause here for a moment to reflect on how each of us as leaders can contribute to the kind of healing that is needed for all those whose lives were touched by the tragic events associated with the 2013 Boston Marathon just days ago. The speaker for the 2013 American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) Breakfast with a Scholar, Rear Admiral Marty Evans, U.S. Navy (Ret.), suggested to us that occupational therapy practitioners could play an important role by participating in promoting personal and family disaster planning, tapping into neighborhood connections, and supporting community events that promote healing and connectedness as first steps in joining with others at the leadership table.
Envisioning Every Member a Leader
My personal vision includes each of you as a potential leader. My charge to you is to use your heartfelt leadership and your personal power to influence other professionals, your organizations, and your community on behalf of the clients whom you serve with such compassion.
We need you at the many leadership tables that are already established. We need you at emerging tables in your workplace and in your community. We need you to assert our collective power to shape policy, programs, and access to occupational therapy services. Power and confidence play a role in ensuring that occupational therapy leaders are at the table when decisions are being made about policy and payment, about how consumers access services, and about what evidence is most relevant to meeting client needs (Clark, 2010b).
Scientists and third-party payers work together to set policy. How do we do this? We stand up for ourselves every day. We listen to what the top leaders in our hospital or facility or school are talking about. We learn all we can about how health care is changing. We push for good, quality, authentic occupational therapy that is based on evidence and that we know from our professional judgment to be effective. We go into our communities. We push for occupational therapy in school board meetings, in senior centers, at homeless shelters, with big employers in our town or city, with our friends and family, and with our members of Congress, state legislators, governors, and senators. The opportunities are there.
We must just lift our eyes to see the openings in health care, in schools, in early intervention, in mental health, in the military, and in industry, from day care centers to accountable care organizations; from playgrounds to construction sites; from homes to streets and walkways; and from state agencies to Washington, DC. No one will lead for occupational therapy unless you lead for occupational therapy. And I believe you can do it.
No one will fight for full rehabilitation, habilitation, and mental health benefits as states design their new insurance plans unless you do. No one will ensure that children with autism and older adults with Alzheimer’s get the occupational therapy they need to live life to its fullest unless you do.
And no one will fight for you to be happy in your work, to feel fulfilled, and to work at your highest capacity to meet society’s occupational needs unless you do.
Go for It!
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111–148)  provides us with a renewed opportunity to demonstrate the value of our services to clients who need to develop or retain functional skills. In part because of AOTA’s advocacy in Congress, habilitation and rehabilitation are specifically mentioned in the law. AOTA has been working diligently along with state occupational therapy associations to implement these reforms.
In the coming years, you will be able to provide these services to clients who have previously not had access to occupational therapy. We must be ready, and we must advocate to lay the groundwork to be sure that there is robust benefit and that occupational therapy is at the core. We must work with our colleagues in physical therapy and speech–language pathology to define this benefit through our advocacy efforts with policymakers and consumers.
It is up to us, both as an association and as individual practitioners, to provide services in this area. We must continue the research that is needed to illustrate the outcomes that occupational therapy can have in habilitation.
We must also shape and define how consumers access habilitative services. Our practitioners who serve children in schools are the perfect example of this. They have the opportunity to educate parents of students they work with so that they can access occupational therapy services through private insurance. We should all look for similar examples and educate our clients and communities in how to access our services.
We need your leadership to lend our voice to ensure that we are widely recognized. Obviously, we all work in professional settings that can help our recognition. But it’s more than that. Whatever our community involvement might be, we should always identify ourselves as occupational therapy practitioners. For example, I serve on a local outreach group at my church. We run programs serving the homeless, and I try to make sure that an occupational therapy perspective is included in the services we offer.
Another great example comes from the work of Terry Olivas-de la O, an occupational therapy assistant who founded Family Success by Design, Inc., to connect community volunteers with schools, organizations, and hospitals to design antibullying empowerment and self-sufficiency peer-run groups and clubs. Their slogan, “Don’t Fight, Hug Tight,” has generated interest from radio, television, global podcasts, and the film industry. Terry and her daughter, Infinie, who hopes to be an occupational therapist one day, work with diverse young men and women to carry their antibullying message.
Collaborating to Build Our Science and Evidence
We need your leadership to ensure that we grow and expand the science-driven base of our profession. Today, our association partners extensively with the AOTF to advance our science, a history that has been strengthened across time by Past Presidents Hightower-Van Damm, Baum, Bing, Gilfoyle, and Grady. In fact, Gilfoyle stated in 1986, “For the profession’s tomorrow, we must allocate $1 million for research activities today” (p. 594). Just think what $1 million would mean adjusted for inflation today! Gilfoyle’s vision for the partnership between AOTA and AOTF was to develop a strong revenue base for three activities: first, helping practitioners apply research to practice; second, having AOTA and AOTF build relationships with colleges and universities to promote research and scholarly activities; and third, to provide resources to scientist members to carry out research activities needed for the profession.
Under the active leadership of my predecessor, Florence Clark, these efforts continue to be emphasized in 2013 and are a current focus of AOTA’s collaborative efforts with AOTF. The scientific base of the profession has grown significantly as efforts to train faculty at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels, initiated 20–30 years ago, have begun paying off. In 2012, four premier research universities—the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, and Thomas Jefferson University—cosponsored the first annual OT Summit of Scholars, an event that occurred again in May 2013. Their stated goals were, first, to bring scientists and researchers together to share their work, develop networks, and formulate ideas to advance the field of occupational therapy; second, to further science and research that address occupation, participation, and health and build knowledge that supports everyday life; and third, to mentor young scientists.
AOTA and AOTF staff and leaders participate at the OT Summit of Scholars event as collaborators, especially deepening the appreciation of the links between science and evidence and the role these two organizations play in promoting and generating the high-priority research needed for the profession.
As we heard in the welcome remarks from Dr. Clark yesterday, AOTA and AOTF are now collaborating on a brand new initiative to establish grants for intervention research, with initial emphasis on research in autism spectrum disorders and health problems of aging. So remember, help us fund this important research and make a tax-deductible gift! Look in the lobby outside the convention hall for the foundation booth and make your donation today.
We need your leadership to ensure that we are an evidence-based profession. We need every member to actively seek out and use evidence as we design our programs and explain our interventions.
Advocating Through Leadership and Evidence
A prime example of explaining and defending our therapies with evidence happened right here in California recently. The California Department of Insurance reached out to AOTA seeking help in crafting arguments to support an emergency regulation that would interpret California’s Mental Health Parity Act to mandate that all medically necessary treatment for autism and other conditions be covered.
Certain major insurers were imposing combined 12- and 20-visit limits on speech and occupational therapy. The insurers tried to say that the limits satisfied parity because they applied to physical and mental conditions. The California Department of Insurance wanted to issue an emergency regulation to stop the limits because imminent, serious, and irreparable harm would come to the public if the ordinary regulatory timelines were followed.
AOTA responded with a letter and supporting evidence from systematic reviews sponsored by AOTA, additional published scientific literature, and AOTA’s Practice Guideline that occupational therapy should be a component of medically necessary services for people with autism spectrum disorders. As a result, the emergency ruling came down just last month, and the insurance payers can no longer impose their arbitrary limits (California Department of Insurance, n.d.).
Strengthening the Evidence in Our Practice and Collaborations
This is one of the Centennial Vision priorities that needs the strongest magnetic force around it so that all members, from students to highly experienced practitioners, work together to continually scan the literature for best practices, elicit input from consumers who give us an important kind of socially validated evidence, and create dynamic communities of practice. Although we have excellent models from other parts of the global occupational therapy community in which communities of practice play a vibrant role in professional development creating a culture in support of evidence, this priority is where we need “every member a leader” to be alive.
These communities of practice are vital to our success, and we can all help build them through use of AOTA tools such as OTConnections (http://otconnections.aota.org/) and AOTA Special Interest Section communities to join researchers, educators, students, and practitioners and reach out for partnerships with our clients and their families to enrich one another and advance the science of a given community of practice.
Another example is the possible formation of an Academy of Practice for Occupational Therapy through the National Academies of Practice, where interprofessional collaboration is the name of the game and each academy has researchers, educators, and practitioners bound together by their individual profession.
Building Global Links and a Diverse Workforce
We need your leadership to ensure that we are globally connected, which is especially important as we consider all that we can learn through interaction with our international occupational therapy colleagues. We all heard Dr. Clark emphasize this in her Presidential Address yesterday when she said that interacting with our colleagues around the world can be as simple as following them on Twitter or as complex as her collaboration with Dr. Gail Mountain at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.
Being globally connected doesn’t have to occur across oceans, either. Just 2 weeks ago, we learned that our counterparts in the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists are going to bring the legendary CarFit program into Canada. We can both import and export our science.
Across the United States, our occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant academic education programs play an important role in preparing future practitioners to access and apply models from other parts of the world to inform practice, expose students to service learning programs in other parts of the world, and join international efforts with the World Federation of Occupational Therapy and the World Health Organization.
And as Dr. Clark mentioned yesterday, among the newest AOTA membership benefits in 2012 is online access through the AOTA American Journal of Occupational Therapy portal to the Canadian and British occupational therapy journals. Expansion of this program is one way to promote greater access to best practices globally.
We need your leadership to attract a diverse workforce who can be culturally competent and multilingual so as to meet the needs of a wide variety of populations. Educational programs for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are often at the front line of recruiting a diverse applicant pool, but each of you, especially if you reach out as a heartfelt leader, plays an important role in welcoming students with diverse backgrounds to our profession.
Serving as a Consistent Force to Meet Society’s Occupational Needs
And finally we need your leadership to creatively discover and develop models to meet society’s occupational needs. Sandy Ceranski is another great example of an occupational therapist who meets the needs of older adults living in their homes in urban communities. Sandy has dedicated herself to learning evidence-based approaches such as Chronic Disease Self-Management, Stepping On, and Matter of Balance so that she can work with small groups of older adults interested in being fully engaged in improving their safety, quality of life, and health status while preventing premature decline in performance of everyday life activities. Sandy claims that by being a heartfelt leader, she facilitates peer-to-peer interactions that last long beyond her interventions.
Learning About Heartfelt, Servant Leadership
Because we are in our 96th year as the professional association for occupational therapy in the United States, we must extend our leadership community to include all occupational therapy practitioners, students, researchers, educators, and managers. We must embrace the belief that every member is a leader.
Let’s discuss some ways that one might effectively lead as we continue to delve into our journey from heartfelt leadership to compassionate care.
As I have studied and carefully observed various styles of leadership, I believe that leaders who lead with compassion and authenticity embody heartfelt leadership. What do I mean by heartfelt leadership?
In Kevin Cashman’s (2008)  book Leadership From the Inside Out, he engages readers to explore their own leadership journey. I believe that heartfelt leadership is a journey that begins with a clear picture of oneself and extends that heightened self-awareness to a deep awareness of others, and ultimately to organizations. Cashman suggested that authenticity is a characteristic of sustainable leadership that requires openness and being vulnerable. “By acknowledging our own vulnerabilities and appreciating our whole selves, we can truly be compassionate to others” (p. x).
Being a heartfelt leader means sharing one’s inner strengths, which likely grew from life challenges; aspiring to contribute to the greatest possible good; and finding ways to build relationships that further strengthen others and the organizations they serve. These attributes correspond with Stanford-Blair and Dickmann’s (2005)  Model of Coherent Leadership—that is, that leaders emerge when they overcome major life challenges.
I’ve got a very personal example of overcoming such challenges. One early life challenge that I faced, with the close support of my family, especially my sister Betsy, occurred when I was in eighth grade and Betsy was a sophomore in high school. Our mom was dying from cancer. I’m blessed with six sisters and two brothers, and Betsy and I were called to action as the two oldest at home to run the household and look over our younger brother and sister while our mom was hospitalized at a downtown Chicago hospital for the last 5 months of her life. The contributions of people such as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who promoted open discussion around death and dying, and the full support of palliative and hospice care were not yet in place. Being younger than 16 meant that we couldn’t go visit Mom, nor were we given end-of-life education that might have helped us to know what might come next. Despite those challenges, Betsy and I cooked, baked, cleaned, and had extended family and neighbors who watched out for us and delivered us fresh apple pies each week; we kept up with our studies, otherwise flourishing despite mounting challenges.
Winning an award in the science fair, serving in student leadership roles, getting confirmed, and finding occupational therapy as a future profession were all highlights of my eighth-grade life. The lessons I learned that year and since have included work hard, watch out for each other, reach out when you need help and reciprocate when others need your help, make time to celebrate, and turn every challenge into an opportunity. These lessons allowed me to discover my strengths, be aware of the strengths of those around me, and cultivate the strengths in our family and community. These early experiences allowed me to acknowledge my own vulnerabilities and talents, building authenticity and compassion. They shaped my leadership toward connecting with others, teamwork, collaboration, and listening carefully. These life experiences allowed me to develop resilience and moved me to count my blessings and maintain an attitude of optimism, confidence, and self-efficacy.
Heartfelt leadership involves leading by character. Cashman (2008)  contrasted leading by character with leading by coping. I think that heartfelt leaders lead primarily by character, where the result of their leadership is transformation, as opposed to reaction; where their actions multiply energy as opposed to spending energy; and where they are guided by authenticity, purpose, and openness, balancing concerns, offering a peaceful presence, and showing agility and resilience. Leading by coping, Cashman suggested, is guided by the leader’s need for image and recognition, safety and security, control, concern for self, an uneasy presence, and resistance to change. Given these descriptors, it is easy to see why leading by character fits the heartfelt leader whose concern is grounded in a deep appreciation for others and a clarity of purpose to do the greatest possible good. Our past AOTA President Penny Moyers is a prime example of this.
Penny assumed the AOTA presidency during our country’s economic downturn. Our association had fewer resources and mounting costs. We had to make some tough decisions to preserve the financial health of our association. And yet while she led us through these tough choices, she asked our members to step up and be more engaged. As a result, over the past decade our membership has responded to her call for engagement and has participated in growing numbers in leadership positions and leadership development programs. Today the fiscal health of our association is strong, and we continue to fund our Centennial Vision priorities.
Heartfelt leaders could also be called servant-leaders, a term coined by Robert K. Greenleaf (1977)  in his book Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead” (p. 27). Greenleaf is recognized as an international thought leader who advocated for “a better society, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people” (Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, n.d., para. 2).
Servant leadership has at its core teamwork and community, involves others in decision making, is strongly grounded in ethical and caring behavior, and works to enhance the personal growth of people while improving the caring and quality of institutions. This kind of leadership is what I have experienced and tried to emulate in the 38 years since I joined AOTA and became an active member and leader. Yet I’m no different than any of you. Yes, we all have different strengths as occupational therapy practitioners. But each one of us has the capacity to build these leadership qualities.
Another related leadership term is mindful leadership, defined by Dickmann and Stanford-Blair (2009)  as “the process of engaging and nurturing the capacity of others, the system and themselves to achieve a shared purpose of value” (p. 211). Mindful leaders, on one hand, promote physical and mental well-being, social interaction and inclusiveness, and a common vision; provide direct and rich access to meaningful information; promote novelty and challenge to develop capacities; and promote metacognition and reflection.
On the other hand, mindless leaders promote physical and mental stress and decline, encourage isolation and exclusivity, allow confusion about vision and purpose, offer limited and passive access to information, permit redundancy and complacency, and discourage reflection (Dickmann & Stanford-Blair, 2009). I am sure that we have all experienced settings in which we have worked alongside of mindful leaders as well as mindless leaders. One evokes excitement and a longing for engagement in me; the other leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth, a sense of impotency, and a longing to run away from that leader as fast as I can.
As your AOTA President, I will embrace the core aspects of what it means to be a heartfelt leader: to be authentic, leading with my eyes, ears, heart, mind, and soul open, and to lead with character as we continue to transform our association toward realizing our Centennial Vision, toward a larger and more engaged AOTA membership, and toward building energy so that we can truly meet society’s occupational needs.
I will be a servant leader who builds community within the profession and with all those with whom we need to connect outside of our profession who share our vision for promoting a life of meaning and participation, fully embracing our brand, “Living life to its fullest.” Last, I will be a heartfelt leader through the practice of mindful leadership strategies by promoting well-being, building inclusive social capital, keeping a high-definition focus on our common vision, and encouraging reflection.
Defining Compassionate Care
But we can’t forget about compassionate care. Compassionate care became part of our 2013 AOTA Conference theme and my inaugural address because I had just come across some of the scholarly work of William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, the psychologists who research, write, and train professionals of all types related to motivational interviewing. In their recent third edition of Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change,Miller and Rollnick (2013)  updated the model regarding the underlying spirit of motivational interviewing to include the concept of compassion as a primary element. They said, “To be compassionate is to actively promote the other’s welfare, to give priority to the other’s needs” (p. 20). This compassion is the essence of our work as occupational therapy practitioners.
We combine compassion with a collaborative approach to working with a person and a deep acceptance of what the client brings to the therapeutic relationship, characterized by respect, accurate empathy, honoring the person’s autonomy, offering affirmation, and a strengths-focused premise that the therapist’s job is to evoke the skills that the person has to meet his or her challenging needs. “To work with a spirit of compassion is to have your heart in the right place so that the trust you engender will be deserved” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p. 20).
Last Christmas, the Washington Post ran an amazing story about one of our Army occupational therapists (Ruane, 2012), Captain Erik Johnson, who currently serves at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Captain Johnson developed a unique bond with one of his clients, Sergeant Monte Bernardo, who lost both his legs and his left arm in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Over the course of Sergeant Bernardo’s therapy, Captain Johnson used a mix of toughness and, yes, compassionate care to help Bernardo return to doing extraordinary things. And now they share an unbreakable bond. This bond is the epitome of compassionate care.
So by adding heartfelt leadership to compassionate care, I believe we do as leaders exactly what we demand of ourselves as practitioners. Perhaps that is also why I see leadership as something that applies to us all: “Every member is a leader.”
As we look forward to 2017 when we celebrate our Centennial Jubilee, we recognize that occupational therapy has been viewed in high definition as powerful and widely recognized and ultimately as receiving credibility through science and evidence (Clark, 2010a). And now, as Dr. Clark outlined in her Presidential Address yesterday (Clark, 2013), occupational therapy is being “viewed from above” with connectivity and diversity. When we build occupational therapy with high definition, evidence, connectivity, and diversity, adding heartfelt leadership and compassionate care provides us with the best possible venue to meet society’s occupational needs.
Engaging in Self-Care and Social Support to Sustain Leadership Across Time
As leaders who move forward to act on behalf of the people we serve, with heartfelt leadership and compassion, please remember that, first, a leader needs to act in recognition of his or her own needs. As a leader, you must remember to engage in those occupations that restore you to your best! Stanford-Blair and Dickmann (2005)  reminded us to engage in these sustainable leadership lessons:
  • Stay fit for life.

  • Develop a trusted inner circle.

  • Build mental toughness.

  • Ensure mental stimulation.

  • Ensure time and space for reflection and diversion.

  • Receive energy from accomplishing a greater purpose.

  • Find inspiration from a connection to the larger whole.

As I close this address, please join me in acknowledging those who have been instrumental in helping me develop my capacity as a leader in occupational therapy. First and foremost, I thank my husband, Bob Stoffel, who has been at my side for more than 36 years as a husband, father, and partner in life, and our three sons, Brian, Eric, and Adam, who never questioned why Mom might be online or on the phone or traveling afar as they grew up.
As I stated earlier, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many families over the course of my life, both personal and professional. The relationships are too many to name, but I thank each of you for helping me be the servant leader that I have become. I can’t go home without calling out my University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee colleagues and students because I couldn’t be accepting this role without their full support.
We have a large professional family here today. I’d like to encourage each one of you to lean on your professional family in your development as an occupational therapy practitioner. You can use the resources of your association and your colleagues to grow in ways you never imagined.
And as that growth takes place, each one of us will find the capacity to be a heartfelt leader who delivers occupational therapy services in a compassionate manner.
Thank you!
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Virginia C. Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA
Virginia C. Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA
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