Fred Sammons Volunteer Recognition Award


The Board of Trustees of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) recognizes volunteers who have demonstrated generous, selfless service to AOTF and the advancement of occupational science through achievements, accomplishments, or service. Established in 2017, the award is given in honor of Fred Sammons, PhD (Hon), OT, FAOTA, and his career-long commitment to volunteerism that helped support and advance the mission of AOTF.  The award includes an honorarium to cover travel, hotel, and registration costs for the AOTA Annual Conference where the award is presented. 





Fred Sammons Volunteer Recognition Award Recipients

2023 Bonita Kraft, retired occupational therapist practicing in behavioral health focusing on schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder and other personality disorders, Camarillo, California


2022 Charles H. Christiansen, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Charles ChristiansenCharles Christiansen is a consultant and business owner based in Rochester, MN. He is a former educator who served in senior leadership roles at The University of Minnesota, The University of Texas Medical Branch and The University of British Columbia. He remains active as a volunteer who serves on various non-profit boards. Dr. Christiansen is also an occupational therapy scholar who continues to conduct research and publish on topics related to understanding the health promoting characteristics of human occupation. Dr. Christiansen’s passion and leadership in occupational therapy was recognized by AOTA during its Centennial as one of the 100 leaders who influenced the first 100 years of the OT profession. He has held various volunteer leadership positions with AOTF, AOTA and the SSO:USA. He is a former CEO of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Upon his retirement in 2015, Dr. Christiansen and his wife, Dr. Beth Jones endowed a scholarship with the Foundation. In his retirement, Dr. Christiansen continued his service with AOTF as a volunteer on the Volunteer Development and Nominations Committee where he aided in the vetting process of new Board of Trustee members until 2021.

2021 Patricia Booth, MAT

Patricia BoothPatricia (Pat) Booth received her BA from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and her MAT from Radcliffe College/Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She worked at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) for 20 years in progressive areas of administrative responsibility and retired as Assistant Administrator of the hospital. During her time there she worked with many OTs, which is how she came to learn and love the practice. She is a strong advocate for both OT and evidence-based practice. Ms. Booth has served with distinction as a public Board Member OF AOTF from 2007 to 2011 and Secretary of the AOTF Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2015. Ms. Booth was the founding Chair of the AOTF Development Council and continued to serve as its chair from 2010 to 2015. In 2017, she became the Chair of the AOTF Audit Committee and continues in that role. Her insightful perspective as a public member contributed greatly to Board deliberations, Board development, governance, strategic planning, and decision making. Her knowledge and experience added greatly to discussions of 21st century health care possibilities involving occupational therapy.

2020 Nancy Snyder Lieftinck, MS, OTR/L, BCP, FAOTA

Nancy Snyder LNancy Snyder Lieftinck is an acknowledged leader in occupational therapy. She served the Foundation generously, completing two terms as President of AOTF from 1969 to 1976 and 1985 to 1989. Under her direction, the AOTF Board of Directors established the AOTF state scholarship program and hired the Foundation's first full-time Executive Director. The emphasis on scholarship and research was a hallmark outcome of her leadership that today continues to be the essential purpose and mission of the Foundation. Her role as President of AOTF provided an opportunity to strengthen the mission of its operations. This resulted in the critical need for a strong business model that enabled AOTF to evolve into the viable organization it is today. Nancy was inducted into the Roster of Fellows of AOTA in 1975 and received the Retired Educator’s Award in 2003. In addition to national service to AOTA and AOTF, Nancy has held offices in the Ohio Occupational Therapy Association and was a Board Member for Goodwill Industries of Central Ohio and president of the ECCO Family Health Center. She also holds the rare designation of Honorary Life Membership of the AOTF Board of Trustees.


2019   Ruth Ann Watkins, MBA, OTR, FAOTA



Ruth Ann Watkins became a member of the AOTF Board of Trustees in 1998. She served as treasurer of the Board from 2001-2003. In 2003 she was elected president and served until 2009. During her tenure, AOTF more fully recognized the need to expand and strengthen the research that substantiates OT practice. To that end she worked with AOTA to establish the joint research advisory panel and prioritized actions that led to AOTF’s current strong focus on advancing occupational science.  Following her presidency, she served on the AOTF Awards & Recognition Committee since 2012, was chair of the development council since 2010 and continues to serve on that committee. She was Co-Chair of the Council since 2016. She has contributed considerably to enhancing the philanthropic success of the Foundation. 

AOTF Chair Mary Lawlor (left) presented the Fred Sammons Award to Ruth Ann Watkins (right) at the March 2019 Board of Trustees meeting.


2018  Donald F. Lang (posthumously)

Donald LangDonald Lang served on the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Board of Directors as a public member for 13 years (1994–2007). He served two terms as Secretary (2000–2007), was a Chair of the Nominating Committee, and a member of the Investment Advisory Committee. He was the founding Chair of the Corporate Leadership Development Committee where he broadened the scope and impact of the Foundation’s alliances within the corporate and business community. In recognition of his dedicated and exemplary service to the Foundation and its mission, then AOTF President Ruth Ann Watkins nominated Mr. Lang to become an Honorary Life Member of the AOTF Board of Trustees and he was conferred this distinction in 2008.

Mr. Lang continued to volunteer his time by serving on the Investment Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Audit Committee. Mr. Lang funded a scholarship in memory of his first wife, Susan Lang, in 2008. From 2009 to 2017, Mr. Lang was a generous annual sponsor and supporter of the AOTF Breakfast with a Scholar, held during the AOTA Annual Conference. He was a consistent and generous donor to the Foundation for over 25 years.

AOTF Chair Mary Lawlor presented the Fred Sammons Volunteer Recognition Award to Mr. Lang's widow, Cherylle Lang, and his daughter-in-law, Beverly Lang, at the March 2018 AOTF Board of Trustees meeting.


2017  Fred Sammons, PhD (Hon), OT, FAOTA

Fred SammonsAfter serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Mr. Sammons earned his occupational therapy degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. His first job was at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and in 1957, and he became its director of occupational therapy. In 1960, Mr. Sammons joined the staff of the amputee clinic at Northwestern University where he began designing and building devices in his basement to help people with disabilities. At first, he considered his inventions a hobby and the mail order business he started as something he did “on the side.” Demand for his inventions and devices grew, and due to a lot of hard work, an analytical mind, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a passion to help others, his start-up grew into a multimillion-dollar business called Sammons, Inc. The company later merged and continued to evolve as Sammons Preston, and is now a part of Patterson Medical, Inc. 

Mr. Sammons is a recipient of the Award of Merit, AOTA’s highest honor. He is an honorary lifetime member of the AOTF Board of Trustees and an active member of AMBUCS, as well as other non-profit organizations.  He holds an honorary doctorate in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University. His long-standing relationship with Western Michigan University has resulted in numerous examples of charitable support including: the Sammons Center for Innovation and Research in Occupation Based Technology; the Frederic W. Sammons Endowed Chair in Occupational Therapy; the Barbara A. Rider Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Occupational Therapy; the Fred Sammons AMBUCS Research Award; and the annual Barbara A. Rider Colloquium. The Fred Sammons Occupational Therapy & Assistive Technology Archives was established at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Mr. Sammons’ support of the Foundation has been generous, long standing, and diverse, including the Fred Sammons and Barbara Rider Endowed Scholarship of the Michigan Occupational Therapy Association, and the Fred Sammons Endowed Scholarship of the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association. With the establishment of the endowment for this new volunteer recognition award, Mr. Sammons becomes the first, and to date only, living million-dollar donor to the Foundation.