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Meet Our President Elect: Flo Hannes
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Meet NYSOTA President Elect, Flo Hannes

As August draws to a close, many of us find ourselves in the full swing of heading "back to school" - as students, as educators, as parents. Not so for Flo Hannes, MS, OTR, FAOTA, NYSOTA's newly elected President Elect. 

For the first time in her celebrated 40-year career as an OTA Educator, Flo will not be heading back to school this Fall. And in retirement, she finds herself busier and more involved in the profession of occupational therapy than ever before.

Flo took some time out to answer questions, and share with us her vision for NYSOTA.

Where are you on your occupational therapy career path?
I am transitioning to a new phase in my OT journey. After forty years as an OTA Educator, I did not begin a new academic semester. I spent my first "retired" day of the semester engaging my grandchildren in the "occupation" of Camp Mimi - what joy!

I feel gratitude for the opportunity for so many wonderful years of teaching and expanding our OTA Program. My OT journey now takes a new President Elect of NYSOTA.

Tell us about your new role as President Elect.
I am excited to connect my passion for, and commitment to, OT in the revitalization and rebuilding of our State Association. OT and occupation are at the core of my being - so no surprise that I would engage in supporting and promoting our profession by taking an active role as NYSOTA President Elect and Educational Liaison.

This year affords me the opportunity to be immersed in our membership association. I'll be traveling the state to visit with students, faculty and practitioners in order to enhance awareness of the vital role our State Association provides in the promotion and protection of our ability to practice.

The motto of our upcoming State Conference speaks to my vision for NYSOTA: Renew, Revive, Rebuild...There's nOThing we can't do!

Why OT?
At the urging of a family member, a Special Educator, I began exploring the world of OT when I was 13. The more I explored, the more I was drawn to my future career journey. Occupational Therapy offered everything I love doing in one very challenging and exciting career. Creativity, brainstorming, interpersonal interactions, problem solving, and most especially helping individuals with special needs to live their lives. My passion for OT was ignited 60 years ago, and has remained a bright glow in my life ever since.

Can you share a memorable, life-changing event?
My OT journey came to a cliff-hanging moment in 1967 when, oh so close to completing my academics, I failed a theory course in Pediatrics. I repeated the course, failed it once again, and was told by the Department Chair to choose a different career as I could not meet the standards of OT education.

My passion for OT could not, would not be squashed...I wanted to be an OT! And so, I dried my eyes, pulled myself together and went to see Ms. Frieda Behlen, the Chair of the NYU OT Program. After the most grueling interview of my entire life, Frieda granted me the opportunity to continue my OT journey. This experience, this pothole in my life journey, lead me to a glorious OT career that has spanned fifty years.

While repeating the Pediatrics course, I worked as an OT Aide in a State Institution for the Developmentally Disabled. This experience forged my commitment to working with the developmentally disabled population. My next memorable experience would be the 2015 opening of the SUNY Orange BRIDGES Program, a college-based certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in an "Institution of Higher Education." Truly a memorable moment in my life to welcome the first cohort to their first day of College!

What sorts of trends do you see in OT?
Concerns. The magnificent granite that is OT is being chipped away by so many other professions impinging on our practice areas. It is more imperative than ever that we form a strong advocacy association to protect the essential domains and scope of practice that is OT.

What was your reason for joining NYSOTA?
I joined NYSOTA early in my career and I have remained a member ever since. I strongly believe in the importance and value of membership associations, nationally and regionally.

As OT practitioners, we are essentially a cohort of professionals with a shared philosophy regardless of the practice areas we engage in. We are a cohort of OTs and need to advocate for our profession. A strong NYSOTA provides us with that opportunity.

What are the benefits of being a NYSOTA member?
There are a plethora of benefits to being a member of NYSOTA. The word ADVOCACY cannot be spoken enough. We need to advocate for our profession. We need to advocate for our roles within our profession. We need to advocate for our patients. We need to advocate ad infinitum.

Without NYSOTA as the platform for our advocacy, we would not have a strong legislative lobby and representation. A legislative representation that works to ensure we are holding our professional place in this ever-changing health care delivery market.

In addition to advocacy, there are the benefits of professional and collegial networking, and continuing education offerings. NYSOTA membership provides the support and connections so vital to many aspects of our professional lives.

What is your vision for NYSOTA's future?
My vision for NYSOTA is simple...yet complex. Increasing our membership to include ALL occupational therapy practitioners, OT/OTA students and educators in New York State. I'll be bringing this vision, with a glowing NYSOTA light, to a gathering in your area sometime soon.

Do you have a personal philosophy?
With personal passion and commitment, "there's nOThing we can't do."

What do you do when you aren't working?
Engaging in the occupation of grandparenting and the inherent joys it brings. Traveling, photography, collaging, kayaking and beach walking provide the balance in being me.

What quote do you live by?
Emily Dickinson's "I Dwell in Possibility" ... and I truly do!


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