Occupational Therapy Association of Californa

2019-2020 OTAC Board of Directors Candidates’ Statements

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President-elect Candidate

Bryant Edwards

NAME: Bryant Edwards, OTD, MA, OTR/L, MPH

My volunteer work with OTAC the past 9 years (Co-chair-Professional Development & Leadership Committee, Secretary, Vice President) and my work as an Occupational Therapy Manager has provided me the opportunity to work with and learn from a variety of professionals, and to develop leadership skills to serve our profession.

One of my favorite parts of being an OT is connecting with my OT and OTA colleagues throughout the state, hearing about the amazing work they are doing, learning from their successes, and being inspired by their accomplishments. My primary goal is to continue to collaborate with our members to enhance our profession’s impact, while supporting our members in their professional endeavors.

This past year, I was privileged to lead OTAC’s Strategic Planning process, and I am excited about the thematic goals that we will be implementing to drive the Association and our profession forward over the next three years. These strategic goals require us to work to support activities and address challenges that are specific to each region. My goal is to ensure that OT is an accessible and sought after service for all Californians, individuals and communities, who aim to lead happier, more fulfilled lives.

I am fortunate to have had several experiences which shaped my growth as a professional. I truly believe my most profound learning has come through discussions with the members of this association. The opportunity to interact with practitioners and students across the state, coupled with my work with our Board and committee chairs, has provided me such diverse perspectives. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned, and the skills I have acquired. I see OTAC as a key driving force within our state to continue to progress our profession. Thank you in advance for trusting me to lead OTAC forward.

Vice President Candidate

Jerilyn "Gigi" Smith

NAME: Jerilyn (Gigi) Smith, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


                    • Secretary (2017-2019), Co-Chair-Student Leadership Committee (2011-2017), Chair-Government Affairs Committee (2005-2010), Chair-Nomination Committee (2006), Executive Committee Member (2003-2005), Chapter Director (2000-2005).
                    • International Studies Faculty Led Program leader promoting occupational therapy in Vietnam.
                    • Work on departmental and university committees as an Associate Professor at SJSU has afforded me many leadership development opportunities.

I have highly valued the importance of being involved and active in my professional organizations since my days as a student at San Jose State University. As a member of both OTAC and AOTA for more than 30 years, I recognize and appreciate the value of actively participating in these esteemed organizations. I have worked in many different leadership roles for OTAC including the most recent as Secretary, and in doing so, I have had the opportunity to further build leadership skills and to have a better understanding of the organization and what is meaningful to the membership.

I would like to continue to contribute to our profession by serving on the OTAC Board of Directors in the Vice President position. I am dedicated to working collaboratively towards the mission of OTAC to serve, promote, and support the profession of occupational therapy and its practitioners. In this role, I look forward to working closely with the Committee Chairs and other volunteer leaders as they carry out the vital work of the organization. I will also support and actively promote the positive trajectory of student involvement in our organization and work to promote the development of leadership opportunities for these future leaders as they transition from student to clinician.

Treasurer Candidate

Lisa Hiestand

NAME: Lisa Hiestand, OTD, MS, OTR/L

I have served in several positions in OTAC including Treasurer-Elect 2009, Treasurer 2010-2012, Conference Committee Chair 2016 and 2017, Treasurer-Elect 2017, and Treasurer 2018-current. I also serve as the Co-chair for the OT Practice Issues Forum 2007-2019.


I have had the privilege of serving in multiple capacities as an OTAC volunteer leader including being a regional director, conference chair, and treasurer. I am running for a second term for treasurer as I appreciate the opportunity to serve, support, and promote OTAC and its members. The treasurer has a critical role to provide oversight for the organization including the development of the annual budget and ensuring that fiduciary responsibilities are met. These fiduciary responsibilities include the incorporation of ethical and sound management of financial policies, as well as the allocation and utilization of resources. My goals include ensuring financial stewardship in the organization, continuing to assist in meeting the needs of our members, and sustaining OTAC as an ethically sound and fiscally responsible organization.

Secretary Candidate

Heather Javaherian

NAME: Heather Javaherian, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA


I have served in a variety of leadership activities that have given me the skills to serve OTAC as secretary. As a program director I have strong organizational skills and oversee meetings and minutes while working closely with faculty. I also serve as secretary for a non-profit, Roots Down, Inc.


I am excited for the opportunity to serve as secretary for OTAC. My strong organizational skills and time management skills will be an asset to support the board members in fulfilling their roles and vision. I will do my best to support the board of OTAC through keeping minutes of the meetings, maintaining documentation, completing membership roll, and managing organizational documents that fall within the scope of this
position. I will strive to represent our members as I vote on decisions ensuring they are made in the best
interest of our clinicians, educators, students, and the profession as a whole.

Region 1 Director Candidate

Susan MacDermott

NAME: Susan MacDermott, OTD, OTR/L

OTAC Region 1 Director (August, 2018-Present); OTAC Advisory Council (2015-2016); Member-AOTA Ad Hoc Committee on Case Management (2015-2016); Hosted OTAC Region 1 events: Meet and Mingle (2015); “What OT Practitioners Need to Know about the Impact of Addiction, Prescription and Nonprescription” (2016); Legislative Updates from OT Leaders (2014)


My goals in continuing my service as the Region 1 Director would be to enhance advocacy for occupational therapy and promote the value of lifelong learning. In my brief tenure as Region 1 Director I have been impressed by the level of commitment, passion, and leadership this organization provides. I was involved in the creation of the strategic plan and am excited to see this executed. This position has also allowed me to talk with a variety of OTs, OTAs, and students that I may not have otherwise met. These conversations are important to me and I respectfully listen to their concerns and advocate for avenues where OTAC can be of assistance.

As a therapist I have discovered a passion for promoting OT in emerging practice settings (community mental health and wellness settings). I am well used to advocating for the distinct value of OT. Also, as a current Doctoral Coordinator at the University of St. Augustine I am invested in guiding student capstone projects that will push OT beyond traditional roles to enhance leadership, advocacy, and program development skills.

Lastly, I would like to serve as a bridge between practice and academia and particularly focus on the needs of students and new practitioners. We all value our profession and the clients we serve. I hope to facilitate events and learning opportunities which enhance service to our profession in many forms.

Region 3 Director-elect Candidate

Lauren Heflin

NAME: Lauren Heflin, MA, OTR/L


I have served as a volunteer leader with OTAC for five years as chair of the Membership Committee. Since moving to Monterey in 2017, I have helped plan “meet & mingle” networking events for local OTs, OTAC PAC hockey night, and a continuing education event on home modification and DME.

Being a volunteer leader with OTAC has been a great professional experience for me and has helped me grow in many ways. I would like to continue to have the opportunity to serve as a volunteer leader through OTAC as the Region 3 director elect.

In this role I would complete my duties as a member of the board and help to ensure OTAC runs smoothly and with the OT practitioners’ best interest at heart. I would ensure OTs from my region are heard and do my best to represent their interests. I would do this by responding to member questions, or concerns, via email or phone and holding regular town hall meetings.

The most important area I would like to focus my time, if elected, is on building more connections between OT professionals in the area. Learning from other therapists is extremely valuable. I have found networking and smaller continuing education events to be a great way for local OTs to build these learning, or mentor, relationships face to face. I would help assemble local teams across the region that could plan “meet & mingle” events, because OTs and OTAs are the most fun!

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to meet you at an OTAC event one day!

Region 4 Director (2nd term) or Region 4 Director-elect Candidate

You will vote for just one

Erin Dolin

NAME: Erin Dolin, EdD, OTR/L

POSITION: Region 4 Director


In my 19 years as an Occupational Therapist, I have worked in a variety of settings including and currently in school-based practice. I hold a Doctorate in educational leadership and as the current Region 4 director I am passionate about increasing awareness of OT and efficacy of practice.


An organization is defined by its culture and its membership. Growing membership and cultivating a climate of connected members is critical to organizational success. Building
connected membership is grounded in professional
development and growing the general understanding of the
value of the organization and benefits of membership. If
re-elected, my focus for our OTAC region is to grow and
develop our active membership and engage members with
professional development opportunities. I am working to bring
professional development opportunities to Region 4. My
personal experience with OTAC has expanded my
understanding of the value that our organization provides. Strengthening awareness, understanding and participation in our Region is foundational for continued success of OTAC.

There is great power in numbers and it’s important for an
organization to have people willing to participate and share their thoughts. We must be aware of the value that
membership brings and find benefit to give our time to an
organization. My goal as region director would be to
increase connectedness and awareness for the value of
membership. Providing an emphasis on awareness to the
benefits of OTAC membership and providing professional
development opportunities are foundational and priority. My goals would continue to focus on these areas with emphasis on bringing people together for our common professional purpose. As professionals, we can serve our clients better if we are connected and grounded in our professional roots and in current research. I look forward to continuing to serve in the role of Regional Director for Region 4.

Casey Rusko

NAME: Casey Rusko, OTR/L

POSITION: Region 4 Director-elect


I currently organize, schedule, and mentor Occupation Therapists in my acute care department. Furthermore, I held the position of Bylaws Chairperson at my Student Occupational Therapy Association at the University of St. Augustine. While serving as Bylaws Chairperson, I assisted in drafting amendments to reflect current demands of the association.


As a member of the Occupational Therapy Association of
California, I feel OTAC is an essential organization to promote and protect the field of Occupational Therapy. OTAC provides a network for therapists to connect, collaborate, and support each other across the state. My goal as Region 4 Director will be facilitating these ideals within the region to promote the OTAC ideals, as well as to promote OTAC membership within my region. As Region 4 Director, I will work towards connecting and collaborating with OTs in my region to ensure they feel supported and their concerns are addressed, work
towards Region 4 hosting a symposium or other continuing education event with OTAC’s endorsement, and I will work with soon-to-be OTR and OTA programs to ensure students understand the value of becoming and maintaining OTAC membership. In order to promote connection and collaboration between OT practitioners and OTAC I will facilitate meetings with OTs across my region either in person or online to foster OTAC connections with practitioners. Region 4 is the center of the state and is the only region, which borders all others;
therefore it is the ideal location to host an OTAC event. Not only is Region 4 the center of the state, it is home to 2 up-and-coming OTA programs and 1 OTR program and 1 of the 5 largest cities in California. In order to ensure OTAC
membership in the future, I will speak to incoming students at the new OTA and OTR programs within my region.