Recognizing GCED Leadership

The success of TOTA and GCED rests with our colleagues who serve the membership, volunteering numerous hours to keep you informed of healthcare changes impacting our practice, creating educational and networking opportunities, and delivering benefits to support your professional development and growth.

This month, we are recognizing Eileen Garza, OTR, ATP/SMS, PhD, FAOTA for her numerous years of leadership and service to TOTA.

Whais your OT history? Where did you go to school? How many years have you practiced? What is/are your current practice area/s?  My OT history started with physical therapy.  I actually entered college as a physical therapy major and quickly decided it was not what I thought.  After about a year of searching alternatives, I discovered the profession of occupational therapy and immediately knew it was what I was looking for.  After doing lots of research on prerequisites, curriculum requirements and colleges, I completed my bachelors degree in Psychology and entered the MOT program at TWU. I later earned my PhD in OT also from TWU.   I began practice iadult rehabilitation, in and outpatient, including rotations in hand therapy, prosthetic training and general rehab.  After 6 years of working primarily in hands, I finally landed in the public schools.  I also do consulting in HCS programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.  My area of concentration is assistive technology.   In total, I have practiced 37 years.

 Why do you serve as a Virtual Meeting Satellite Leader for the GCED members and colleagues?  As a person who lives in an outlying area, I know it is difficult to get to the meetings in the medical center after working all day. Even OT practitioners who live and work in the medical center have a difficult time.  Taking advantage of the satellite meeting gives me and my colleagues access to the quality speakers that the district has provided through the years without the need to travel the 50 miles each way in traffic.  I value the professional contact that the virtual meeting affords.  It keeps me up to date with issues that impact practice.  The topics keep me up to date on areas of interest beyond my own practice areas .  I get to build relationships with other practitioners who attend the meeting.

 What professional or association issues, needs, concerns energize you and why? My husband and I are both committed to providing services to people who have difficulty accessing.  I am energized by anything that helps benefit the well-being of clients or communities.  In general, occupational therapy practitioners are focused on the “cup half full” philosophy, a positive approach to a challenge.  I love being able to see and then access potential.

Which OT practitioner/s do you admire and why?  My goodness, that is a hard one because the list is so long.  I can tell you that the why is always based on creative problem solving, willingness to engage in solutions, and positive leadership. We have many of these professionals in our OT and OTA population.  I have been blessed to serve on the local, state, national and international level with many of them in academia and practice and in the volunteer arena.

 What are your current areas of interest or study?  Right now my emphasis at work and in volunteer work is digital accessibility.  In this age of digital media many think that just because something is on a computer it is accessible.  In fact, barriers are created sometimes through the use of digital media.  I am trying to learn more about this and how to remedy the barrier for individuals with learning, physical and sensory impairments. 

 Any thoughts or comments you want to share with our members?  I have been a member of TOTA since I was a student (1980).  My volunteer work with TOTA has afforded me lots of opportunities for growth in areas such as organization and management, exposure to a wide variety of practice areas, connections to leaders in the profession,  and the ability to stay abreast of issues impacting our patients/clients and practice to name a few.  I value my membership very much and greatly appreciate the time and hard work of our TOTA district and state board and TOTA staff.  Texas has a strong organization and offers benefits that far exceed other states.  It is because of those who are willing to give their time.

Eileen, thank you for your leadership and service to the TOTA members and colleagues!