Dean Penelope Moyers

Penelope Moyers

Dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health

National leadership: President of the American Occupational Therapy Association
(AOTA), 2007–2010.

Ed.D., adult education, Ball State University; Master of Science, community development, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ken.; Bachelor of Science, occupational therapy, University of Missouri.

Clinical OT experience:
Worked with clients in a variety of practice settings, from state behavioral health programs to research universities, programs for people with substance-use disorders and upper extremity rehabilitation.

Academic career:
Taught occupational therapy at the University of Indianapolis for 18 years, rising from assistant professor to dean of the School of Occupational Therapy; then became chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Occupational Therapy.

Biggest accomplishment as AOTA president:
"It was critically important that occupational therapy — and rehabilitation in general — be included in any new legislation regarding healthcare reform. I spent a lot of time on the Hill meeting with senators, congressmen and women, and key committee chairs. We were successful in making sure occupational therapy was addressed in healthcare reform.

"Most legislators know about our work in physical rehabilitation, pediatrics and gerontology. But they were surprised that occupational therapists had such a big role in mental health practice. I worked hard lobbying for mental health parity legislation to make sure people with mental illness get their health needs met in parity with people with physical illness."

Inspiration to become an OT:
"When I was young, my grandmother had TB. Back then, people with the disease were sent to sanitariums for a very long time. While she was gone, we'd get these sad, sad letters from her. Then, all of a sudden, her letters got happier, more hopeful. We came to find out that she was starting to see an occupational therapist. I thought, 'Any profession that could help make my grandmother that happy is the profession for me.'"

Why the OTD matters:
"It allows practicing occupational therapists to advance to a level where they have more influence on how systems of care are delivered. OTDs are more apt to get into lobbying, advocacy, policy development around rehabilitation, and creation of new delivery models and practice innovations."

OT at St. Kate's:
"Our occupational therapy program is nationally known. We're one of the few universities that has all three levels of education: the associate, master's degree and doctorate. One is not more important than the other, but it's like the triple crown."

Why she chose St. Kate's:
"There's a strong connection to mission here at St. Catherine, a sense of purpose that's higher than educating people. That permeates everything we do."

OTD students and social justice:

"We educate OTDs to be community leaders. OTDs can be more instrumental in the redesign of the healthcare system so that it's all-inclusive. Being a leader is also about spending time helping out in your community — perhaps as a volunteer for a nonprofit or for your church — regardless of what you're doing for paid work."

Her role with the OTD:
"As dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, I want the program to have the resources to be successful. I want to be a guest faculty lecturer, and I want to continue my outreach in the community. Being dean keeps me very busy now, but that is my eventual goal."

Her community outreach:
"In Birmingham, I did a lot of volunteering with persons with HIV and AIDS. I am looking for ways to do that here. I really enjoy working with people who are generally underserved, knowing that I might have some impact on their daily life."