Executive Board & Board Advisors



 President: Stephanie Johnson, OTR/L, PhD, MHS

Stephanie graduated from  from the Medical College of Georgia with her Master’s in Health Sciences in Occupational Therapy in 2008 and from Augusta University with her PhD in Applied Health Sciences in 2022.  She is an Associate Professor at Augusta University within the Department of Occupational therapy and has been in this role since 2015. Prior to that, Stephanie worked full time in outpatient services at AU Health, primarily working with adults with neurological and neurodegenerative diagnoses. Stephanie continues to provide OT services to clients with ALS within AU Health's ALS clinic.

Stephanie's research interests include ALS and Quality of life, as well as interprofessional education and care. She has spoken nationally and internationally for her work within ALS and quality of life, including in the Ukraine for their inaugural conference to facilitate bringing the profession of OT to Ukraine. Stephanie has previously served as GOTA Vice President, Treasurer and Education Liaison. She loves spending time with her family and being a wife and mom!

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Vice PresidentPatty Watford, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Patty graduated from Mississippi State University with her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education.  She taught elementary school and home schooled for 20 years before getting her master’s in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University.  After working full-time in skilled nursing facilities and part-time in assisted living facilities and home health care, Patty went back to school at Creighton University where she earned her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.  She has been a full-time assistant professor at Augusta University since 2019.  Patty’s passions include older adults and orthopedics and is interested in research associated with caregivers and interprofessional student activities.  She most enjoys her roles as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

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Secretary:  Jade Gross, OTD, OTR/L, CSLT

Jade graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Kansas and a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis. Her clinical work as an occupational therapist included treating adults and older adults with a focus on rehabilitation for general medical conditions, orthopedic conditions, neurological conditions, lymphedema, and breast cancer. Jade has taught in the Georgia State University OT Program since the inaugural class began in January of 2017. As a clinical assistant professor, Jade developed and taught many of the foundational occupational therapy courses, clinical occupational therapy courses, and the community-based practice course that features some community programming components including with the refugee population. In her current role as faculty, she aims to continue strengthening community partnerships with local non-profits that serve at-risk and marginalized groups.


Treasurer:  Amy Shaffer, Ed.D, COTA/L

Amy graduated from the OTA program at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga and earned her Education Doctorate from Valdosta State University in 2019. Before finding occupational therapy, Amy used her undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management in positions with payroll, benefits administration, and employee onboarding. Her early OTA years were spent in a variety of adult rehab settings. She also dabbled a bit in outpatient pediatrics. She joined the then-new OTA Program at Chattahoochee Technical College in 2012 as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and became the Program Director there in 2018. To visit and learn from other OT and OTA educators, Amy serves on the Roster of Accreditation Evaluators for ACOTE. She co-edited the fifth edition of the textbook Occupational Therapy with Older Adults: Strategies for the OTA (5th ed).  Amy serves GOTA as a conference reviewer and as a member of the Awards and Recognitions Committee. She also enjoys passionately advocating for the role of the OTA. Currently, that advocacy is focused on recognition of the OTA as a vital team member with Children’s Intervention Services within Georgia Medicaid. 



 Representative to the Georgia Licensing Board:  Maria Irma Alvarado, Ph.D, OTR/L

Dr. Alvarado is a Professor, Brenau University, School of Occupational Therapy. She co-owns Essential Therapy Services, Inc. in Cumming and Lula, Georgia. Her past and present teaching experience includes: Institute on Human Development and Disability, University of Georgia, Athens Cultural Competence and is a resource on sensory integration and international study. Her research interests include the health and well-being of children and families, Latino families, childhood disability, early intervention, and sensory processing abilities in children. Her community experience is dedicated to increasing awareness of issues affecting families and their children with disability and networking between parents, professionals, and friends of children with disability. As a professional in this regard; she views her role as one who facilitates the capacity of families to nurture the abilities of their children with special needs to become participating members of society. Irma loves travel, nature, hunting and fishing, and gardening; she is also a member of the Cumming Garden Club. Dr. Alvarado has served GOTA as a research liaison; as Vice President; and on various other committees. She is also bilingual in Spanish.

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Jennifer Boyette (above)

Ruth Bourque (below)

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Conference Co-Chairs: Jennifer Boyette  & Ruth Bourque 

Committee Members: Pam Kearney, Kelsey Reeves, Patty Watford, Stephanie Johnson

Jennifer Boyette has a clinical background as an occupational therapist and Certified Hand Therapist with specialization in industrial injury prevention, high trauma upper extremity rehabilitation, and workers’ compensation program development. She received her undergraduate degree through the University of Houston and a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Texas Woman’s University in the Houston Medical Center. In 2007, she became a Certified Hand Therapist, completed a Doctorate in Health Care Administration in 2010, and became a Level III Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist in 2016. She has been an adjunct professor and thesis advisor with Brenau University since 2013. Jennifer was raised in Texas where she lived in Houston for many years, but now lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and 2 sons.

Ruth Bourque has a clinical background as an occupational therapist in pediatrics. She received her undergraduate degree at Spring Hill College and a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from the University of South Alabama in the Mobile, AL. She currently works in three different pediatric settings, outpatient clinic, inpatient hospital, and home health. She has focused her practice in feeding, eating, and swallowing. She currently volunteers her time with Feeding Matters and Airway Circle.  Ruth was raised in South Louisiana and always visits home for Mardi Gras, but currently lives in Savannah, GA. 


Regional Chair, Atlanta:  Kyle Oatis, OTR/L

Early in his career, a mentor once told Kyle that "our hands are essentially our connection to the world around us." This motivated Kyle to pursue a career focused on those who lost hand and arm function. 

Kyle currently works as hand and upper extremity specialist at an outpatient hand therapy clinic. In his masters program, Kyle was president of the program's inaugural class and acted as a founding member of their Student Occupational Therapy Association. Kyle completed the AOTA's Emerging Leaders Program. Kyle is pursuing an OTD at the University of St. Augustine. 


Regional Chair, East:  Pam Hartle

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Regional Chair, Middle:  Betsy McDaniel, BS, COTA

Betsy is currently serving as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at the Middle Georgia State College OTA program in Dublin, GA. When not at work, she enjoys camping and spending time with her 3 children.  Betsy has a passion for providing continuing education workshops to practitioners in rural areas of Middle GA, so if you have an interest in discussing possibilities, don’t hesitate to contact Betsy. 


Regional Chair, South:  This position is open. Interested? Email [email protected] for more information!



Regional Chairs, North:

Co-Chair:  Ben Keeling, OTR/L

Ben received his Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia and his Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University. He is currently working as a Pediatric Home Health therapist. Ben has a passion for interventions with an emphasis on social and community integration for children and young adults with mental health diagnoses and/or developmental disabilities.


Co-Chair: Jennifer Allison, OTD, OTR/L

Jennifer graduated from Brenau University OT in 2003 and has worked in the school system, private pediatrics, developmental disabilities, and community based mental health.  Jennifer has a passion for Mental Health, Sensory Processing, and most recently has been studying about aroma therapy.  Jennifer has served the GOTA Board on the Legislative Committee.


Communication Committee Chair:  Marissa Mirecki, MS, OTR/L

Marissa earned a Bachlelor's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College and her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University. Marissa joined the Shepherd Center as a spinal cord injury research fellow in 2018 where she completed training in translational research and continues to bring her passion for practice-based evidence to her role as an occupational therapist in the SCI program.

To address the common challenge occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants face in translating research from article to practice, Marissa introduced the Research Update to the Georgia Occupational Therapy Association Newsletter. Quarterly, Marissa covers newly published research relevant to occupational therapy.


Membership Chair and Journal Club Chair:  Kelsey Reeves Taylor, MHS, OTR/L (pictured)

Committee Members: Alexis Mallis, Mirage Sanders

Kelsey earned a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Augusta University. After graduating, she worked as a travel occupational therapist in a variety of settings all over the country before moving back to the Atlanta area. Kelsey now works at the Shepherd Center on a dual injury team specializing in patients with simultaneous brain and spinal cord injuries. She has a special interest in cultural sensitivity and fostering inclusive environments for the LGBTQ+ community. Kelsey’s passion for applying current research to everyday practice inspired her participation in GOTA’s Journal Club. In addition to coordinating the monthly Journal Club, Kelsey also assist with running the GOTA website, Youtube Channel, and social media accounts.



Regulatory and Reimbursement Committee: 

Committee Co-Chairs: Logan Stringfield, MHS, OTR/L and Emily Stringfield MHS, OTR/L (pictured)

Committee Members:  Jennifer Allison, Aileen DeoGracias

Tri Alliance Members:  Aileen, DeoGraciasNicole Walker

 Logan graduated from Cedarville University in 2019 with his undergraduate degree in Allied Health. He then moved back home and graduated with a Master's of Health Science in Occupational Therapy in 2022 from Augusta University. Logan now works full time in outpatient pediatrics in the Atlanta area and maintains a PRN position in acute care. Logan is passionate about networking and advocating for the profession on a state and national level. When he is not working Logan enjoys serving at his local church, cooking, attending all Gamecock sporting events, and spending time his wife Emily.

Emily is originally from Valdosta, GA where she attended Valdosta State University and majored in Health Sciences. She received her Master of Health Science in Occupational Therapy degree at Augusta University in 2022. She has been involved in research pertaining to international interprofessional education and care, which was presented at the AOTA and GOTA conferences. Emily now works full-time in the outpatient pediatrics setting plus a PRN job in the acute inpatient rehabilitation setting. Outside of work, Emily enjoys attending and serving at her church and exploring new places and restaurants with her husband. 


Research Committee Chair: Kay Graham

 Throughout her thirty plus years as an occupational therapist, Kay Graham has gravitated towards opportunities to mentor and teach across program areas and disciplines.  She has practiced as an occupational therapist for over thirty years with adults across the spectrum of care from acute, skilled nursing, acute rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, aquatic therapy to her current focus in community-based health promotion.

 She received her Certificate in Gerontology and her PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health from the University of Georgia.  She works actively to bring the areas of public health and medical care together in more effective partnerships and coordinated services in order to promote optimized aging in older adults.  Towards this end, she serves as an executive board member for the Georgia Gerontology Society, a member of Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory Fall Prevention Task Force, a founding member of the Northeast Georgia Fall Prevention Coalition, and member of the Interprofessional Education Committee at Brenau University. 

 She teaches the Kinesiology course series, the Adult/Older Adult course series, Health Education and Promotion, Qualitative Research Methods as well as supervises thesis groups and doctoral capstone students in the School of Occupational Therapy at Brenau University. Current research interests center around optimized aging while considering social determinants of health, fall prevention activities around follow-up, and promotion of health literacy/health management.  Current thesis groups include older adults living in affordable housing and their perceptions of managing health as well as exploring follow-up as an intervention after engagement in fall prevention activities.

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 Ethics Chairperson:  Sarah Shirley, OTD, OTR/L

 Sarah received her BS in Family and Child Development from Oklahoma State in 1994 and her BS in OT from Louisiana State University in 1996. She holds a Master of Divinity from Emory University and a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Temple University in 2010.  Sarah has practiced in school system and pediatric settings throughout her career.  She also has a passion for continuing education and provides workshops on professional reasoning. 
Please send your confidential concerns regarding ethics to Sarah: [email protected]

Georgia Occupational Therapy Association's
Community Coalition for Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity:
  • Dr. Frederica Kennedy, OTR/L, OTD, CAS
  • Adrianne Smiley, EdD, OTD, OTR/L

AOTA RA Rep (Non-Voting Advisor to the Board): Amy Todd

Contact Amy: [email protected].


Continuing Education Approval Chairperson:  Tamara Mills, PhD, OTR/L, ATP (pictured)

Committee Members: Mallory Rosche, Yi-An Chen

Tamara earned her BS in OT from Florida A & M in 1999.  She attained her Master’s in OT (2001) and her Doctorate in Rehab Science from University of Pittsburgh in 2004. Tamara holds a graduate certificate and a credential in Assistive Technology. She has practiced with adults and children, with a particular emphasis in seating and wheelchair skills. Tamara has worked in acute care, long-term care, home health, as well as working in the Georgia Cyber Academy.


Nominations & Recognitions Chair:  Suzanne Masino, MOT (pictured)

Committee Members; Amy Schaffer, Sharon Cosper

Suzanne formed the recruiting and consulting firm Staffing Innovations, Inc. in 2009. Staffing Innovations, Inc. is a professional recruiting and consulting firm specializing in the healthcare recruitment industry. Suzanne graduated from The Ohio State University as an Occupational Therapist in 1994. Her extensive background as an Occupational Therapist provided the insights and understanding of the healthcare industry and its recruiting and retention challenges.


OTA Liaison:  LaDonna Yvonne Nash , COTA/L

LaDonna graduated with an OTA degree from Middle Georgia College and she currently works for RehabCare.  LaDonna lives in Allenhurst, GA.

Please send your confidential concerns regarding OTA issues to: [email protected]


Education Liaison: Paige Muma, MOT, OTR/L

Paige received her occupational therapy degree from Georgia State University. After graduation, Paige moved to Asheville, NC where she worked in outpatient pediatrics and school-based practice before moving back to Atlanta in 2022. Paige now works for the Atlanta Speech School as the OT-PE teacher, adapting activities and individualizing instruction for students in their physical education class. In the evenings, Paige is currently working toward her Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation Science through the University of Oklahoma online. She is passionate about working with children and young adults with disabilities, with a particular interest in the transition from school to adulthood. Paige enjoys hiking, exploring restaurants around town, and spending time with her brother with Fragile X Syndrome.