For over 60 years, Nedra Gillette, MEd, OTR, ScD (Hon), FAOTA, has been dedicated to building occupational therapy's capacity to engage in, and benefit from, scientific inquiry. She created a firm foundation from which the profession continues to evolve its science and spawn future researchers, educators, and practitioners.
Wilma West nominated Ms. Gillette to be AOTF's first Director of Research in 1979. Ms. Gillette continued in that capacity until her retirement in 2006. Working with her Research Advisory Council and its Research Development Committee, she became the architect of AOTF's and the profession's research agenda. Together they created an extensive grants program, a network of colleagues to mentor the next generation of researchers, developed resources for faculty development and research, spearheaded the doctoral fellowship/dissertation research programs, assembled a network of researchers to create the clinical reasoning study, designed the process through which the Centers for Scholarship and and Research and the Center for Outcomes Research and education (CORE) were selected, instituted a series of grant writing workshops, and established the Academy of Research. She brought together occupational therapists from 13 countries for the International Conference on Evidence-based Practice and implemented three Gordon-style research conferences around the construct of habits as they affect behavior and health.
Ms. Gillette's career before AOTF included being the chief of OT at the US Naval Hospital in St. Albans, New York, Director of OT at the Hall Brooke Sanitarium in Connecticut, and teaching at the University of Illinois - Chicago, Columbia University, and St. Louis University. She has served in numerous boards and committees, published many papers, and has spoken at both OT and non-OT conferences.Ms. Gillette was awarded the AOTA Award of Merit in 2006 for her lifetime of service to occupational therapy and was named one of the 100 Influential People of Occupational Therapy by AOTA.
Ms. Gillette is currently enjoying her retirement as a Master Gardener, community volunteer, and grandmother and sees this fellowship as a way to continue to support the future of occupational therapy.