OTAO Creates Diversity Equity Inclusion Task Force
The Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon (OTAO) is acting on its statement made in early June regarding racial injustices and systemic racism that continue to permeate culture.
The Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon (OTAO) stands in solidarity with all people who are impacted by racial disparity, oppression, and bigotry. Recent events — the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor — have, once again, brought to light the intensity and depth of racism that permeates our communities and culture. We denounce all forms of hatred, violence and disrespect toward human beings. Our stance is consistent with AOTA’s statement on justice and racism, which can be found here.
The OTAO Board of Directors has taken further action and approved to create a Task Force on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion. We are committed to making changes individually as board members, at the association level and statewide. We are looking to partner with Oregon OT practitioners (OT/OTA) and students, volunteers, stakeholders and members to create positive and necessary change.
The OTAO Board of Directors thanks all those who completed our questionnaire by July 14th! We received a great amount of responses and will be announcing our chairpersons and task force shortly. Our plan is to have at least 2 Chairperson’s and 6-12 Task Force Members from diverse backgrounds and experiences to lead Oregon OT practitioners and students in creating change for equality. This opportunity is NOT limited to OTAO members and the work of the Task Force will be supported by the OTAO Board of Directors.
The ‘attached‘ document Proposal for OTAO Task Force, which received Board approval on June 30, 2020, specifies a comprehensive framework for the task force to complete its charge. Announcements regarding recruitment of task force co-chairs and members are forthcoming.
Task Force Chairpersons
Elizabeth (sometimes called Lizi) (she/her/hers) is a black, mixed-race, native (Cherokee), occupational therapist living in Portland, OR. She has led diversity taskforces at Pacific University and at Our House of Portland. Elizabeth developed one of the first Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) executive board positions in the nation that served to address concerns experienced by diverse students.
Elizabeth is the first in her nuclear and extended family to go to college, completing an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree. A few other constituencies Elizabeth hails from: LGBTQ+, cis-female, raised protestant/gentile (not currently practicing), raised working class – currently middle class, born/raised in the US, and English as a first language.
Elizabeth currently runs Holistic Community Therapy, a community-based private practice that seeks to support marginalized adults with cognitive impairment and mental health concerns in their homes and in the community.
Elizabeth is committed to protecting socio-economically and culturally vulnerable populations, through holistic service, with a strong emphasis on mental and spiritual well being. She believes OT to be a gateway of service for many who may slip through the cracks due to economic hardship and unjust societal exclusion. Her mission is to create, through practice, a world where all are included, respected and valued.
Ronnie is a graduate of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at Pacific University in Oregon, and currently works as a hand therapist at Armworks Hand Therapy. As a former paramedic, the field of Occupational Therapy has provided him the opportunity to be on the other end of the ambulance, where the true healing begins. He approaches healthcare from a holistic perspective, taking into account his patients’ physical, mental, and emotional needs as they work together throughout the therapeutic process.
His mission is to be part of a profession that plays to his core strengths and values—namely, kindness, respect, resilience, perseverance and teamwork. As an occupational therapist, his aim is to be not just a problem-solver and a healer, but also a muse and a guide.
Ronnie appreciates the variety of populations that occupational therapy serves. He has worked with a broad range of ages, conditions, settings and treatment approaches, from preschoolers with developmental challenges, to teenagers with histories of abuse and incarceration, to middle aged clients suffering from addiction and schizophrenia, to older adult clients coping with Parkinson’s Disease. These experiences have taught him that while occupational therapy offers a critical foundation of best practices and guiding principles, there is no one-size-fits all approach to treatment. Each patient brings his or her unique histories, challenges, and strengths to the table.
His Level 2B fieldwork at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFGH) in the Acute Psychiatry Unit was his most rewarding and challenging experience to date. He worked with adults of all ages who were suffering from behavioral health crises. One patient was admitted for attempting to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. After working with him for a week after his attempt, he was asked to rate his level of happiness on a scale of one to 10. His answer was a six. He explained that it was that high because of the interventions Ronnie and other OT’s provided. This is the power of occupational therapy.
His journey has given him a sense of purpose he spent too many years without. It has provided him with the reassurance of knowing he can serve as a role model to his children, and most importantly, the promise of waking up every day to do something meaningful that he loves.
Task Force Members
Juliet Paul Naone
We are looking for Chairperson’s and Task Force Members!
If you are interested in acting as chair of OTAO’s DEI Task Force or volunteering to be a part of the Task Force, please fill out our very quick questionnaire below by July 14, 2020 by 11:59 PM PST. The Task Force will be composed of approximately 6-12 members of diverse backgrounds and experiences. This opportunity is NOT limited to OTAO members. The work of the Task Force will be supported by OTAO Board of Directors.