Karen Sames, OTD, MBA, OTR/L, FAOTA will receive the 2018 Lindy Boggs Award at the national American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference. Sames is the Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy (MAOT) Program Director and an Associate Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (OSOT) at St. Kate's.
Since 1982, the Lindy Boggs Award has recognized occupational therapists who have significantly helped occupational therapy in the political realm.
Sames was nominated nominated by Cathy Brennan '70, who in 2013 received the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding advocacy of occupational therapy in Minnesota.
“Dr. Sames has a long and impressive 30-year history of contributions in the political arena forwarding the profession of occupational therapy,” wrote Brennan, in her nomination letter. “Her dedicated service has increased recognition of occupational therapy within state and federal legislation, regulations and policies."
Her significant contributions began in 1987 when she became legislative chair for the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA). Since then, she has continued to serve in many advocacy roles for MOTA, including Government Affairs Division Chair (1988-89), Government Affairs Committee Chair (2011 to present), VP of Advocacy-MOTA Board (2008 to 2010). During her career, she also served as MOTA president three different terms.
She also helped to develop MOTA's OT Day at the Capitol in 2015 — and has successfully lead the effort each year since. "Over 200 students, educators and practitioners meet annually with their respective legislators preparing and empowering them to discuss upcoming legislative session issues impacting OT," adds Brennan. Sames joined St. Kate's in 1995, primarily teaching content related to foundational knowledge of occupational science and occupational therapy, management of occupational therapy services, entrepreneurship, theoretical basis of occupational therapy, and political influences on occupational therapy practice.
Sames has also been an active member of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Minnesota Provider Coalition since 2009.
Advocating for the profession of occupational therapy through her leadership of the Government Affairs Committee of the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association, Sames takes an active role. She serves in the American Occupational Therapy Association, currently on the Nominations Committee, as Vice-Chair of the Affiliated State Association Presidents.
Fellow professor in the occupational therapy department Kristine Haertl spoke highly of Sames' work ethic and OT advocacy.
"Karen has worked tirelessly over the years to affect political policy," said Haertl. Sames was not only involved in forming the Occupational Therapy for the Advancement of Minnesota Mental Health Services group (OTAMMHS), but "has consistently worked with the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) as well as sought to be involved in the Federal efforts to develop Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers sites."
Sames collaborations in efforts to meet the mental health needs of those with serious mental illness show her devotion to the practice. She also authored the text Documenting Occupational Therapy Practice, and is a frequent presenter at local, state, and national venues.