Meet the Director

Duana Russell-Thomas, OTD, OTR/L

Duana Russell-Thomas, OTD, OTR/L, is an assistant professor of occupational therapy and medicine and the director of the Community Experiential Learning Center (CELC). The center serves the community’s needs by actively engaging in the health and well-being of St. Louis residents.

Russell-Thomas earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1992, her master’s degree in occupational therapy in 1997, and her post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy in 2016 from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her Master of Arts in professional studies from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis in 2021.

She has served as a lecturer and clinical specialist in chronic disease in the Program’s Community Practice since 2013. Before that, Russell-Thomas was the Community Practice manager from 2008-2013. Since 2010, she has led the Arthritis Center of Eastern Missouri, one of seven regional centers designed to offer arthritis-friendly physical activity and self-management programs. She is a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and Diabetes Self-Management master trainer and a Pain Self-Management Program leader. Russell-Thomas has practiced for 20 years in occupational therapy, and her clinical interests focus on chronic disease, health disparities and trauma-informed care.

Her leadership roles include serving as the president of the National Black Occupational Therapy Caucus since 2019 and her active participation in the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Missouri Black Occupational Therapy Caucus, Alive & Well Communities and FOCUS St. Louis for many years.

As CELC director, Russell-Thomas provides leadership, community outreach and program development and works collaboratively with faculty to design innovative educational experiences for students. She oversees the administration and operations of the center including community-led research, program evaluation and communications. Russell-Thomas is leading efforts to build and strengthen community connections and partnerships critical to the CELC’s success.


Duana Russell-Thomas, OTD, OTR/L
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine
CELC Director

Phone: (314) 286-1625
[email protected]