FOTA19 Awards & Recognition Nomination 

FOTA encourages you to recognize individuals that have made outstanding contributions to the occupational therapy profession in Florida. Awards will be presented at the FOTA Annual Membership Meeting to be held during the FOTA annual conference. Application for nominations will be accepted only via submission of the award nomination form.


Past FOTA Awards Winners:    2018 | 2017 |  2016  2015 | 2014 


Louise Sampson FOTA19

Louise Samson Leadership Award 

Brent Cheyne OTD, OTR/L
FOTA Past President

Brent has been a dynamic and recognized face of FOTA for many years, starting in his role as web master ending with his service as President. He pursued his dream of developing a leadership development program for FOTA members, and it has grown from a one-day course with twenty participants to a multi-city event working with over 40 participants statewide. Brent served FOTA in many roles while himself transitioning from academia to a school-based practitioner. In this new role, he sought out the expertise of seasoned therapists and attended numerous continuing education sessions at the state and national levels in order to better serve the students he worked with.

Brent’s technology wizardry served him as he moved FOTA forward in the electronic world as web master and his vision for how FOTA could archive research and other materials for members to access on demand. FOTA can thank Brent for his vision and dedication in this realm. As president, 

Brent gave countless hours of service to its members and volunteers always jumping in to answer a question or work closely with a committee from Government Affairs to Members Concerns. He attended Hill Days to represent us and supported each committee to work independently towards the betterment of the Organization.   Congratulations from all of us at FOTA!

FOT19 Award winnerFOTA Award of Recognition

Yvette Elias OT/L, CKTP, CHT

Yvette Elias is a rehab clinical specialist and CHT at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. She has served 27 years as an Occupational Therapist across some of Miami’s leading hospitals. Throughout her career she has worked with adults and children in all areas of OT. She focuses currently on congenital UE conditions and orthopedic injuries, with advanced work in the area of Brachial Plexus Injuries. Over the past few years, she has joined alongside a team, of local surgeons and colleagues, to advance the specialization of care in Brachial Plexus patients, with her knowledge in rehabilitation. This year alone, she has collaborated to be featured in the latest pediatric UE orthosis textbook, she has presented her work in Milan, has become certified in aquatic therapy, and was featured on a Facebook live event educating and advocating for OT in Brachial Plexus injuries- all while managing a full caseload and developing a team of young aspiring hand therapists across outpatient center branches of the hospital. Later this year, she will be going to Washington, DC as a lecturer on the rehabilitation of the Brachial Plexus in the annual Lorna Ramos Conference. She is advocating daily for her profession within the hospital, and is currently spearheading a project to form hospital wide protocols for awareness and education purposes.

Finally, she has taken on the role of mentoring me, a third-year graduate, allowing me open access to her clinical space, books, knowledge, and life. It is my honor to celebrate an OT who is showing me and others what it means to be committed to a life-long career of leading, educating, and advocating for our profession.

FOTA Award of RecognitionFOTA19 Award Winner

Kelli Casto COTA/L, Saving Our Seniors

Kelli Casto has been an occupational therapy assistant for nearly 10 years. She graduated from State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. In the last 3 ½ years Ms. Casto has been a champion in her Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL community fighting to help seniors in the community. Kelli came to find that many seniors she worked with in her community while working with them as an occupational therapy assistant lacked durable medical equipment (DME) in their homes due to a lack of funds. With that in mind she started her own non-profit organization called Saving Our Seniors, which collects light used DME and/or donations and provides the equipment to those in need. She has even partnered with other organizations to provide other services such as meals for seniors. 

Kelli’s determination and empathy for seniors in her community is truly something to marvel at. Additionally, her passion in being an occupational therapy assistant shines through as well. Time and time again she has promoted the field of occupational therapy when advocating for Saving Our Seniors. Kelli was even recognized as a game changer in her community this year by Tampa Bay action news.

Saving Our Seniors Website

2018 Video  


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