Congratulations to our 2020 Winners

It is our great pleasure to award Ashley Steigerwald, our current Website Coordinator with the NJOTA President's Award!  Ashley has gone above and beyond this year in making sure that our website is current with COVID resources.  She has also scheduled and sent all timely communications that have kept our members informed.  Without Ashley’s commitment and hard work, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do!  Thank you Ashley!

It is our great pleasure to award  Kristen Neville, Manager, State Affairs at the American Occupational Therapy Association, with the NJOTA President's Award! Kristen is a valued partner in our state advocacy efforts.  Kristen keeps NJOTA informed about policy developments in the state that could impact OT practice in NJ.  She actively supports our Legislative Chairs, President, and Political Consultant with the knowledge and resources we need to advocate for OT and access to care.  Thank you again Kristen for all of your support!

It is our great pleasure to award Karen Kowalski with the NJOTA Award of Merit for 2020!

At Karen Kowalski’s core, whether personal or professional, she is an occupational therapist while currently serving as the Director of Adult Services at The Arc of Somerset County. 

Let us share with you why Karen is so deserving of this award by sharing the nomination letter we received for her! 

“The group got to know Karen when she began practicing at PG Chambers School where she quickly showed her leadership skills in organizing and providing occupational therapy fieldwork education.  Karen supervised many students herself and provided mentorship to others to sustain an active fieldwork education program at this facility. 

 Karen’s next career move was the founding Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the Rutgers Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.  In this role, Karen created new clinical relationships and secured innovative fieldwork experiences for the students.  Karen was instrumental in including clinical sites in the program curriculum, guest lecturing in the classroom and career fairs.  Ms. Kowalski integrated this academic position, immediately and sustainably, making an impact at the student, university, state and national level.  One of Karen’s many strengths was collaborating and integrating the OTA and OT student together in fieldwork, projects and professional presentations, long before Intra-professional education was an accreditation directive. 

Karen is now the Director of Adult Services for the Arc of Somerset County.  She has created an active and safe social environment for individuals who receive services at the Arc adult locations.  During the pandemic, Karen has adapted her programs in creative ways to ensure the adults stay engaged and connected.  Kate Colucci has collaborated with Karen in her role at the Arc by providing horticultural therapy and she has been instrumental in this program’s success.  Recently, they collaborated to submit a manuscript to OT Practice on the gardening program. 

Additionally, I have been fortunate to have a “front row seat” at her continued leadership as director at the ARC during COVID-19.  Karen led the adult programming by adapting from in person to virtual treatment modes.    Karen coordinates supervision of OT and OTA students in her program.  She continues to supervise students in an innovative manner despite the pandemic.  On a weekly basis, Karen develops a full program calendar of events that is creative, offers a variety of topics, guest lecturers and interests that allows her consumers and families to stay connected, safe and meet their individual needs.  While observing her programming, Karen is a natural at making each consumer or caregiver feel recognized, provides them opportunity to share and connect with each other.    Karen has integrated our students into this dynamic, innovative programming for both the adult and pediatric I/DD population.   My students have learned and grown in all aspects of their fieldwork, meeting all standards required by accreditation. The students express that they find this fieldwork enriching, challenging and progressive and highly recommend this site for future classmates. 

Karen is one of the most upbeat, positive occupational therapists professional that I am fortunate to know.  It is with high regard that I nominate Karen Kowalski for the Award of Merit-OT.” 

Congratulations to all of our winners!!



Nominate an outstanding OT, OTA or individual who supports the OT profession with an NJOTA Award at the NJOTA Annual Conference in October. Nominations and all accompanying documents are due by September 18, 2020.


Please read the following descriptions for each award and click the corresponding link to download the nomination form and a list of necessary documents to attach with the submission.

Emerging Leadership Award

To recognize an occupational therapy student or an early practitioner (less than three years of practice) who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in occupational therapy at the local, organizational, state, or national levels.

Award of Merit

To recognize two occupational therapy practitioners, one OT and one OTA, who have made a notable contribution to the profession in one or more specific areas of occupational therapy practice. 

Certificate of Appreciation

To recognize a person, group, or organization who has benefited the profession and/or NJOTA.

Service Award

Given at the discretion of the NJOTA Board to an individual for sustained service in an elected or appointed position locally, statewide, or nationally.  

President's Award 

Given at the discretion of the NJOTA Board President for a deserving individual in the occupational therapy field.


If you have any questions please email Karen: [email protected]