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The Delaware Occupational Therapy Association (DOTA) began with a group of occupational therapists starting to meet in the 1960s to share ideas, discuss occupational therapy as a profession, and to discuss where occupational therapists could be utilized as well as how to promote the profession of occupational therapy. There were less than 20 therapists in the state of Delaware at that time. The first official Delaware Occupational Therapy Association (DOTA) meeting on record occurred on October 1, 1973. It was held at the Eugene Du Pont Memorial Hospital. It was at this time that DOTA became affiliated with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Gail Lloyd was secretary and Kathryn Castello was elected as treasurer. Officers included Marie Radkevich and Arlene Finnochiaro. Naomi Goldstein was DOTA’s first president. Margaret Moore was the first AOTA representative. DOTA’s intentions to be affiliated with AOTA necessitated passing the bylaws. It was from this point on that DOTA and its board worked to promote the profession and insure continuing education for its members. Mae Hightower Vandamm was a Delaware occupational therapist who was president of AOTA in the late 70's early 80's and she was able to support bringing several AOTA activities to Delaware.


It was in 1985 that the DOTA board and its associates with Rebecca Austil as their president were able to successfully become incorporated. In addition, the DOTA board successfully supported house bill 164 through extensive lobbying and advocacy. The bill was sponsored by Philip Buckwalter, signed in July of 1986 by Governor Michael Castle. The Initial Delaware occupation therapy board was appointed in April of 1986. Arlene Finocchiaro was the first chairperson of the licensure board. Gail Lloyd, Mary Ellen Jornlin and Martha Marsey were instrumental in advocating for this bill and getting licensure for therapists in Delaware.Martha Marsey received the first license in Delaware, her license number was 1.Through efforts by DOTA In 1985, Governor Michael N. Castle proclaimed the week of April 14ththrough the 20thas Occupational Therapy Awareness Week in the state of Delaware. Citizens were urged to be aware of the achievements and contributions of Occupational Therapy to the well- being and health of the community.


A DOTA scholarship was developed around this time for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants enrolled in an accredited program. DOTA was instrumental in bringing an occupational therapy assistant program to Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. The first chair person was Ann Lawton. The first students sat for their exam in January of 1993. The two year accreditation process was initiated by Jan Gorecki in January, 1996 on the Wilmingtoncampus and the program was accredited in April, 1998.


DOTA received awards from AOTA for representation of the highest percentage of voter participation in the AOTA annual elections in the years 1980, 1989, 1995, and the year 2001. DOTA continues to advocate for the profession and was one of over 22 states represented at the 2012 annual Capitol Hill Day event. There were over 500 therapists and students at this event and it was the biggest turnout in the history of this event. Therapists meet with state representatives and or their staff to advocate for the profession of occupational therapy at Capitol Hill yearly. DOTA will continue to be a leader and model in the occupational therapy community.


This is an exciting time to be an OT/OTA and an especially exciting time to be an OT/OTA in Delaware and to be part of DOTA. Delaware's Governor Jack Markell has been named chair of the National Governors Association. He announced his initiative to focus on employing people with disabilities. DOTA has the opportunity to support the governor with disabilities awareness.


24/7 Wall St, September 3rd 2012, listed occupational therapy as one of the top10 best paying jobs of the future. DOTA will continue to advocate for the profession, increase public awareness, and find new areas where occupational therapists can be best utilized with our extensive knowledge.

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