Special Events and Webinars

Equity in Research Webinar Series

Our 4-part webinar series brought to you by our Standing for Research, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (STRIDE) Committee. 

Next Up in the Equity in Research Series:

Funded! Now What? Ensuring Governance and Expectations are Clear When Conducting Community-Engaged Research

Thursday, October 20, 2022, 6:00-7:30pm EST

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the purpose of a shared governance document in community-engaged research.
  • Describe elements of shared governance that impact trust, respect, communication, and research outcomes from funded examples.
  • Articulate strategies for overcoming common challenges that can be prevented with thoughtful planning in community-engaged research through case discussion. 

Session Leader:
Teal BenevidesTeal W. Benevides, PhD, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Associate Professor in the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Augusta University Teal Benevides is an occupational therapist, researcher, wife, and mother. Dr. Benevides is committed to fostering access to services and supports for individuals on the autism spectrum, and working to achieve better health outcomes and participation in meaningful life activities in alignment with priorities identified by autistic people. Dr. Benevides has received funding from agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). In her current work, Dr. Benevides aims to address the most pressing medical and mental health priorities faced by the autism community in collaboration with autistic partners..



Meet Our Panelists: 
6 panelist pictures

Ariel Schwartz, PhD, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA
Ariel Schwartz is committed to advancing knowledge about the use of inclusive/participatory research approaches with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Throughout all of her research, she partners with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Her research is focused on participation and wellness for transition age youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Her currently funded projects address training for peer mentors with intellectual/developmental disabilities and the development of an accessible research ethics training that will support individuals with disabilities to take on a range of research roles.
Jenny Martínez, OTD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Thomas Jefferson University 
Dr. Jenny Martínez is Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Martínez’ expertise centers on bridging the gap between science, policy and practice with the goal of improving quality of care and diminishing systemic health disparities. Specifically, she is interested in stakeholder engagement, population-based approaches, as well as culturally sensitive care for older adults and historically marginalized communities. Presently, she is co-investigator and stakeholder engagement expert for a PCORI-funded large pragmatic trial investigating care approaches for nursing home residents with dementia.
Jacob Myers
Jacob Myers lives in Massachusetts and works at Whole Foods. He has been involved in research for 10 years at Boston University and MGH Institute of Health Professions. He is an EPIC Service Leader for the Boston Chapter of Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC). In this role, he gives back to his community, advocates for disability rights, and helps lead other young adults with disabilities in community service projects.
Bonnie Perry, PhD
Bonnie Perry has lived experience caring for a mother with dementia. As part of her care approach, Bonnie provided activities, engagement, stimulation, and personal attention for every stage of her mother’s dementia to help her have the best quality of life possible. Bonnie hopes to help others with dementia have a more engaged and quality life, optimized care without drugs, and a better understanding of their needs.
Stephen Shore, EdD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Adelphi University
Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonspeaking until 4, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a full time professor at Adelphi University and adjunct at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, focusing on aligning best practice in supporting autistic people to lead fulfilling and productive lives. Stephen is an internationally renowned educator, consultant and author on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, and self-advocacy.
Shari Jager-Hyman, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine
Dr. Shari Jager-Hyman is a licensed clinical psychologist and studies the development and implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs) for suicide prevention, with a particular focus on high-risk groups, including individuals on the autism spectrum. She is currently an MPI on two NIMH R21 projects and a PCORI comparative effectiveness trial, all focused on improving suicide prevention services across health care settings. She is also a Co-Investigator on the NIMH-funded Penn INSPIRE Center and other projects supported by NIMH and the VA. She served as a suicide prevention programmatic consultant for the VA Office of Research Development and has trained clinicians across the country in EBPs for suicide prevention.

Evaluating Equity and Effectiveness of Community Engagement 

Thursday,  November 10, 2022, 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST

More details about the rest of the series coming soon!


Archived: Developing the Research Proposal: Process and Ethics to Promote Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Thursday, September 22, 2022, 7:00- 8:30p.m. EST
One of a 4-part series brought to you by our Standing for Research, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (STRIDE) Committee. This interactive webinar will include presentations from our moderator and panelists with an opportunity for attendees to participate in small-group breakout discussions, with final recap and Q&A.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify approaches to various research proposal processes & ethical considerations to promote Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
  • Describe case examples of research proposal processes & ethical considerations which promote Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
  • Apply strategies to integrate Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity into current and/or future research proposal aims, objectives, and outcomes

Cristina Reyes Smith, OTD, OTR/L
- Associate Professor and Director of Admissions, Division of Occupational Therapy, College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina College of Health Professions
Erna Imperatore Blanche, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA- Clinical Professor of Occupational Therapy, Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California
Lenin C. Grajo, PhD, EdM, OTR/L- Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Psychiatry (PEFA); Director, Division of Professional Education; Associate Director, Program in Occupational Therapy and Associate Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Ivy R. Tillman, MS, CCRC, CIP- Director of Research Operations, Mayo Clinic

Speaker Bios:

Cristina Reyes Smith, OTD, OTR/L (Moderator)
Dr. Cristina Reyes Smith is an Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina.  Dr. Smith serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Occupational Therapy Education (JOTE).  She is a Co-Founder of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD).  She has presented and published on topics such as holistic admissions, culturally sensitive care, and addressing health disparities.

Erna Blanche PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA 
Dr. Erna Imperatore Blanche is an expert in pediatric occupational therapy and interventions based on occupational science. Dr. Blanche has lectured internationally in more than 20 countries.  Dr. Blanche’s research interests are in the areas of play, clinical evaluation of children with developmental disabilities including autism, and the relationship between sensory processing and lifestyle choices.

Lenin C. Grajo, PhD, EdM, OTR/L
Dr. Lenin C. Grajo is the Director of the Division of Professional Education and Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  An immigrant from the Philippines, he has presented on using a Justice Framework in Occupational Therapy practice and research and a champion of advancing anti-racism, justice, and DEI practices and principles in health care education.

Ivy R. Tillman, M.S.
Ivy Tillman is Director of Research Operations at Mayo Clinic. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and French from Clemson University, a Master of Science in Health Care Management from Troy University and is currently pursuing her EdD in Educational Innovation at Augusta University. Ivy has been involved with human research protections for 17 years and is passionate about research participants' perspectives and justice in human research.

Archived: Equity in Research- Setting the Stage for Ethical Collaboration Webinar

Aired Online | July 21, 2022, 6:00-7:30 p.m. EST
One of a 4-part series brought to you by our Standing for Research, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (STRIDE) Committee. This interactive webinar will include presentations from our moderator and panelists with an opportunity for attendees to participate in small-group breakout discussions, with final recap and Q&A.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe models for collaborative research approaches
  • Discuss fundamental concepts for equity in research
  • Identify ethical considerations for promoting equity in research
  • Examples of collaborative community partnerships in research

Douglene Jackson, PhD, OTR/L, LMT, ATP, BCTS, FAOTA, AOTF Board Treasurer, CEO, GIFTS Institute, LLC
Khalilah Johnson, MS, PhD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Barbara L. Kornblau, JD, OTR/L, FAOTA, DASPE, CCM, CDMS, CPE, Program Director and Professor, Idaho State University
Zack Marshall, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, McGill University

Resources submitted by 7/21/22 webinar participants. Recording link was sent via email to registrants 7/26/22.

Past Events

2022 Research Excellence Symposium

2022 Research Excellence Symposium


April 2022 
Presentations from 2022 Academy of Research Inductees and Early Career & Mid-Career Awardees.







WISH Grant Writing Workshop

Workshop in Implementation Science and Health Services: Advancing Grant Writing Skills for Rehabilitation Researchers

Washington, DC | May 18-20, 2022

CoHSTAR, LeaRRn, and AOTF invites rehabilitation researchers with an interest in implementation science and/or health services research to submit an application to participate in our Intensive Workshop. Following 6 successful years of CoHSTAR’s intensive grant writing workshops for physical therapists, WISH expands the format and content of prior workshops and opens the eligibility to rehabilitation researchers from any profession.

Registration is complimentary. Plus, a select number of travel awards are available for:

  • Junior Faculty or Trainees
  • Researchers who self-identify as being from a population underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce, based on the NIH description.

Workshop Tracks:
1) Implementation science
2) Health services research

Participants in each track will be assigned to mentored pods to discuss and critique draft research proposals.

Application Submission Deadline: January 15, 2022
Notification of Acceptance: February 15, 2022

Occupational Therapy Across the SCI Lifespan 

Available On Demand (Originally aired Sept. 29, 2021, 3 p.m. ET)

This webinar is FREE to attend. Live captioning will be available and recording link will be sent to all registrants. (Not eligible for CEs)

Nurse Linda hosts two occupational therapists in this joint presentation between the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation to observe Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month in September.

  • Coaching Care Partners of Children with SCI-  Mary Jane Mulcahey Ph.D., OTR/L, CHC, CLP, FASIA, AOTF Board Chair 
  • Exercise, Physical Activity, and Adapted Sports for Persons with an SCI- Kerri Morgan, Ph.D., OTR/L, AOTF Board Trustee


AOTF Event


Authentic Stakeholder Participation in Research

Available On Demand (Originally aired live June 22, 2021)

Join AOTF for an enlightening discussion on the meaningful roles, positive impacts and improved outcomes of stakeholder engagement in research. Our four panelists will share their unique stories as stakeholders; exploring the practices, opportunities, barriers and benefits of stakeholder participation in, and throughout the research process, all with an aim to improve the delivery of care. This will be a virtual event with a live Q&A following the speakers. The Zoom link will be emailed directly to registrants. 

Please consider making a donation at checkout to support OT research.

All proceeds from the live event supported the AOTF Intervention Research Grant (IRG) program. The IRG is a unique, seed-funding opportunity for OT, providing vital financial resources for the collection of pilot data and building proof of concept. Your support today will help address one of the critical gaps that exist in OT research, early-stage funding.

As a philanthropic gift to AOTF, your ticket may be tax-deductible to the extent of the law. See Online Giving Privacy Policy and State Non-Profit Disclosures.


Dr. Stephen Shore is a full professor at Adelphi University and adjunct at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, focusing on aligning best practice in supporting autistic people to lead fulfilling and productive lives. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is an internationally renowned educator, consultant and author on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, and self-advocacy. He is a current board member of Autism Speaks, the Organization for Autism Research, and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation.

Anna Perng is a disabled Asian American advocate, founder of the Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project, and was President Obama's designee to the White House Interagency Council on Women and Girls. Anna works to help teach families in the Greater Philadelphia area about their civil rights and empower them to advocate for change. She is also a parent to two wonderful children with multiple disabilities. She is currently leading the Philadelphia COVID-19 Health Equity Coalition to connect health providers and diverse communities to promote vaccine equity.

Pamela Quinn is a professional dancer, choreographer and founder of the PD Movement Lab, an innovative educational tool designing new approaches to the many day-to-day physical challenges faced by people with Parkinson's and allowing PwPs to rediscover mobility and greater physical freedom. Pamela’s most notable engagements include CBS Evening News, teaching and speaking at four World Parkinson Congresses, presenting at Japan’s 2nd Parkinson Congress, choreographing for the WPC 2019 opening night ceremony, being featured in Jon Palfreman’s book Brainstorms, and coaching Christopher Walken for his role in the movie A Late Quartet.

Dr. Kimberly Anderson-Erisman is a Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine, Director of the Northeast Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System of Care, and the inaugural President of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium. Kimberly has lived with a cervical spinal cord injury for 32 years. Her research focuses on translational investigations and bridging the gap between basic science, clinical science, and the public community living with spinal cord injury.


MulchaheyDr. Mary Jane Mulcahey is the current Chair of the AOTF Board of Trustees, a Professor of Occupational Therapy and Director of the Center for Outcomes and measurement in Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA. She has over 30 years of experience as a practitioner, educator and researcher, and is a certified health coach, competent coach and life care planner. Her primary area of research is on the development, validation and utilization of new and existing outcome measures of impairment, physical function, activity, and participation for children, youth and adults with spinal cord injury (SCI), and other chronic conditions. Dr. Mulcahey is past-president of the American Spinal Injury Association (2015-2017) and past-vice president of the Pediatric Spine Foundation (2015-2020) current chair of the Board of Governance of the Steel Assembly for Pediatric SCI\D, associate editor for Topics in SCI Rehabilitation, and editorial board member of Spinal Cord and the Physical Therapy Journal. Dr. Mulcahey is a member of the AOTF Academy of Research.

2 Contact Hours have been approved for this event by: NBCOT, AOTA

Learning Outcomes:

1. What does “authentic” participation mean? How can the process to engage stakeholders be improved to be more inclusive, diverse and equitable for stakeholders?
2. What are the barriers that researchers, clinicians and clients have to participating in research? How can these challenges be addressed, mitigated or solved?
3. How will stakeholder participation impact building new evidence for OT and how can the inclusion of stakeholders elevate OT practice to improve the delivery of care?

For more information about AOTF, questions about this event, or if you wish to make a gift in support of OT research, please contact Lawrence Liff at lliff@aotf.org.

2021 Research Excellence Symposium

Presentations from 2021 Academy of Research Inductees and Early Career & Mid-Career Awardees.

Research Excellence Speakers

(As pictured above L to R)


  • Kathleen Doyle Lyons, ScD, OTR/L, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire
    Optimizing Activity Engagement After Cancer Treatment
  • Shawn C. Roll, PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA, FAIUM, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
    Enhancing Worker Health Through Multi-Level, Transdisciplinary Research


  • Chih-Ying "Cynthia" Li, PhD, OTR/L, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
    My Research and Career Journey... Thus Far!


  • Jessica Kramer, PhD, OTR/L, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
    Participation of Youth & Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: What’s theory got to do with it?


AOTF Webinars 

Complimentary Webinar Series: Navigating Research During the COVID Pandemic

  • Lessons Learned from Front Line Occupational Therapists and Implications for Research
    Thursday, February 25, 11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. ET
    - Management of patients in acute care and rehab
    - New discoveries of research needs
    - New challenges of frontline workers in return-to-work, mental health and long term outcomes
    Raechel Flaherty, MS, OTR/L, Assistant Supervisor of Occupational Therapy, Bellevue Hospital Center 

    Pamela Roberts PhD, OTR/L, SCFES, FAOTA, CPHQ, FNAP, Executive Director to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Executive Director and Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Co-Director Division of Informatics, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Associate Director Clinical Informatics Fellowship, Cedars-Sinai
    Jamie Wilcox, OTD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy, Chan Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy ,Keck Medical Center of USC, University of Southern California 
    Charlene Woo, OTR/L, Staff Occupational Therapist, NYU Langone at Bellevue Hospital Center

    Mary Lawlor, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

  • Perspectives of PIs on Pivots and Challenges
    November 10, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
    Sook-Lei Liew, PhD, OTR/L, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
    Andrew Persch, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
    Elizabeth Pfeiffer, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, FAOTA, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
    Susan Stark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
    Moderator: Mary Lawlor, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
    View slides in order of presenters above


Blackkklansman movie poster

OT and Social Justice: Moving From Disparities to Equity in Health Care, Education, Economic Vitality and the Physical Environment

Should societies provide equal opportunities for all people, regardless of age or ability, to engage in meaningful occupations that allow them to develop their potential and participate in their communities?  How does access to health care, education and employment affect a person’s wellbeing and their very identity?

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation knows that occupational therapists are leaders that empower people, break down barriers and build inclusive environments. Occupational therapists are on the forefront of responding to inequities that impede fair treatment and prevent people from contributing to the decisions that impact their lives.

Occupational therapists are leaders in social justice!

Join us for a special screening of Spike Lee's award-winning movie, BLACKkKLANSMAN, followed by a critical dialogue featuring Detective Ron Stallworth, the police officer whose life was the inspiration for the movie, Dr. Joy Hammel, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Professor and Wade/Meyer Endowed Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy, Professor Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Leslie Jackson, DrOT, OT/L, FAOTA,  Assistant Professor & Program Coordinator at Chicago State University, and Dr. Varleisha Gibbs, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, Scientific Program Officer at the American Occupational Therapy Foundation.

November 8, 2019

Rush University, Armour Academic Center, Room 967, 600 S. Paulina St. Chicago, IL 606012

3 AOTA Contact Hours and 3 ILOTA CE Units have been approved for this event. 


Proceeds from this event will support the Lela Llorens and Christiansen/Jones scholarships at AOTF. Both of these scholarships support under-represented minorities in occupational therapy.  

This event is made possible with sponsorship support from Rush University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University. 

For more information about AOTF, questions about this event, or if you wish to make a gift in support of OT research, please contact Lawrence Liff at lliff@aotf.org.