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A Man of Action for Occupational Therapy

Stacy Wilson is an OTR from North Carolina who works to advance inclusive and equitable care for individuals from marginalized backgrounds.

Stacy Wilson, MS, OTR/L

Manager of Acute Rehab Services, WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Cary and North Campuses

Location: North Carolina

Certified in 2010

2023 NBCOT Impact Award Winner

Diversifying the OT Profession

Stacy is an OTR from North Carolina who has been creating opportunities to make OT more accessible for individuals of diverse backgrounds. As a Black male therapist, he is aware of the unconscious biases that pervade our health care system and society. He also believes in the importance of having a diverse group of OT professionals to meet the needs of a diverse society. Through various initiatives, education, and mentorship, Stacy aims to expand the profession of OT to be more inclusive for practitioners and clients.

Most notably, Stacy is a cofounder of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD), which formed in 2014. COTAD is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering OT leaders to engage in practices that increase justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, antiracism, and anti-oppression. It also aims to increase the ability of OT practitioners to effectively serve an increasingly diverse population. Stacy currently serves as the treasurer on the organization’s board of directors.

After cofounding COTAD, Stacy observed that there was still a lack of opportunities for Black male OTs and OTAs to feel supported and connected to the profession. He recognized the power of peer mentorship, which could be valuable in elevating the voices of individuals who are not often heard. As a result, Stacy created and delivered a workshop about the experience of Black male OT professionals and offered strategies and actionable ideas for people to get involved. This led to the development of an online forum now called the Black-Male Registered Occupational Therapy Healthcare Professionals Assistants and Students (B.R.O.T.H.A.S.). The B.R.O.T.H.A.S. group provides a platform for Black male OT practitioners and students to connect, mentor each other, and highlight the work and voices of Black male OT professionals through continuing education events.

“As a young man first entering the profession of occupational therapy, I found myself seeking guidance. Consciously, I was looking for someone to mentor me professionally in my practice, but subconsciously I was searching for someone who could relate to me and help me navigate the feelings of cultural isolation associated with being within the five percent of African American occupational therapists. Stacy Wilson did more than just guide me, he filled the void. Recognizing my capabilities, empowering my strengths, he showed me that I was more than a percentage, but a beacon for others like me.”

Jabari Hoyte, OTD, OTR/L

Championing Future Generations

Stacy is passionate about investing in and increasing recruitment and retention of diverse students to the OT profession. Two years after graduating from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in OT, Stacy returned to his alma mater with the mission to create more opportunities for people of color to enroll in OT higher education. As a result of his advocacy, in 2012, Stacy developed the Increasing Diversity in Occupational Therapy Scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill. This scholarship provides financial support to OT students who commit to spreading awareness of the OT field to underrepresented groups, and it still exists today. This initiative helps to promote OT to primary and secondary school students, putting college—and a career in OT—within reach.

In addition to the scholarship, Stacy’s commitment to diversifying the profession is demonstrated in efforts such as offering college students opportunities to shadow OT practitioners and providing current OT students with mentorship.

“[Stacy's] passion for creating pathways for diversity and equity in the field was translated into actual solutions that have made both educational and economic impacts.”

Adam Pearson, OTD, OTR/L

Peter & Paul Community Services

Sharing His Knowledge

In Stacy’s clinical role, he develops and leads continuing education for his colleagues, with a focus on developing empathy and cultural humility skill sets to support the delivery of quality patient care. He is also currently a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council at WakeMed Health and Hospitals.

Stacy with a colleague from work
Stacy with a colleague at work

In addition to his impressive involvement with multiple initiatives, Stacy has given multiple presentations about diversity and OT at state and national conferences. He is also the first author of two articles that outline OT’s commitment to inclusion and strategies to move the field forward: “Occupational Therapy’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (American Journal of Occupational Therapy) and “Diversity in the Workforce: Perspectives From Emerging Leaders” (OT Practice).

Stacy’s involvement locally and nationally to promote greater diversity and inclusion has had an influential and positive impact on the OT profession.

“Stacy’s impact on the field of OT is expansive. He has been behind so many important initiatives that will continue to increase diversity, promote inclusion and advance equity in the field for generations to come.”

Catherine Hoyt, PhD, OTD, OTR/L

Award Nominator

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