Varleisha Gibbs has been an occupational therapist for 17 years. Leadership has been an integral part of her career and academic preparation. Dr. Gibbs is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Columbia University’s Programs in Occupational Therapy. In addition, she holds doctoral degrees from Thomas Jefferson University and Seton Hall University. With a PhD in Health Sciences Leadership from Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences, her preparation ignited an interest in research within the field of occupational therapy. Dr. Gibbs’ experience as a principal investigator, and research team member, allots her the skillset and drive needed to increase translational research and implementation science within the field of occupational therapy. As a tenured associate professor, she was actively involved in scholarship and sat on the IRB board at Wesley College for two years. As an instructor of Leadership and Scholarly Inquiry, and Research III courses, Dr. Gibbs has been a mentor for several students and colleagues in their thesis and doctoral dissertations at both Wesley College and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
Dr. Gibbs has been an advocate for research and support for funding through meetings with constituents and stakeholders from the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Delaware INBRE External Advisory Committee, National Institute of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the Longwood Foundation, Senate meetings to support Bioscience Center or Advance Technology grant funding, and HRSA grant training. Such efforts have led to over $1.2 million dollars in funding as a Principle Investigator or direct support for the academic programs in which she served as a director and chair.
Dr. Gibbs has published in peer-reviewed journals in addition to authoring two books. She presents nationally, and internationally, on evidence-based topics and promoting the role of occupational therapy. Her research presentations are currently leading to replication and implementation in the actual clinical setting. Furthermore, as a reviewer for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities and the Canadian Occupational Therapy Journal, Dr. Gibbs continues to provide a service to research community.
Lastly, Dr. Gibbs is the inaugural chair of Delaware’s first Master's of Occupational Therapy Program at Wesley College. In that position she leads, and mentors, future practitioners as well as faculty new to higher education. Such efforts resulted in the development of innovative and emerging practice initiatives to support role development for underutilized occupational therapy services. To this end, she has years of experience in program development, strategic planning, and assessment. Dr. Gibbs is excited to join the team at the American Occupational Therapy Foundation to continue her contribution to the field of occupational therapy.