Elizabethtown College alumna Kristie Patten ’87 was named the recipient of the 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) prestigious Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award – recognized as the highest accolade in the occupational therapy profession.

Patten will be officially honored at the AOTA INSPIRE 2022 annual conference in April 2022. She will be speaking at the hybrid event, which is being offered in-person and live online in San Antonio, Texas. 

The Elenor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award is bestowed upon an occupational therapy practitioner who has made substantial and lasting contributions to the profession. Widely regarded as a pioneer in the field, she is being recognized for her critical work in “Strength-Based and Client-Directed Occupational Therapy Practice.” 

Patten currently serves as the Vice Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She received her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Etown and went on to earn a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Temple University.

Her scholarly contributions are significant as Patten has published 50 articles, shared information through more than 150 presentations, has been the principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI of 25 grants totaling nearly $17 million in funding from federal, state, city, and foundations, while her peer-reviewed papers have been cited over 1,300 times.

She is the principal investigator of one of the largest inclusion grant-funded programs for students with autism in the country, which serves over 1,600 students with autism in 54 K-12 schools and has been expanded both nationally and internationally.

Nominated for the award by her peers, they noted her focus on service to others as well as her role as a fierce representative and advocate for occupational therapy, stating: “Dr. Patten has had a distinct impact on occupational therapy students, clinicians, educators, and researchers, but most notably she has touched the lives of consumers, caregivers, and family members.”

Patten credits her experience at Etown for helping to shape her career approach.

“The core of what I learned at Etown was to think like a practitioner in service of others, not to fix them or be the expert but to learn from them and support them,” said Patten, who noted that when she graduated in 1987, most therapists operated from a medical model. “Etown’s OT program taught me to not only think critically but in service of others.

“This directly impacted me and how I questioned how the profession was serving those we treated. We were not the experts on disability, but rather disabled individuals were the experts on their experience and how best to provide services that would support their strengths. That foundation was laid at Etown.”

About the Elenor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award
This scholarly award was established as a memorial to Eleanor Clarke Slagle, one of the outstanding pioneers in the profession of occupational therapy.  The purpose is to honor a member of the Association who has substantially and innovatively contributed to the development of the body of knowledge of the profession through research, education, and/or clinical practice.