Sharaya Hill, MEd, OTD/S ’24, at Ujima.

Our Community Partners

The CELC seeks to advance occupational therapy (OT) education through experiential learning opportunities that engage them with the community. We are situated in an area of St. Louis that has significant unmet health needs and marginalized community members. The CELC provides opportunities for students to work collaboratively with community members and form unique perspectives on client-centered care in an OT educational space.

In addition to clinical competency, the CELC team wants students to have cultural humility. People of racially and culturally diverse backgrounds often experience health disparities from health-care providers. The CELC uses these five pillars as its guiding principles: trauma-informed care; climate justice; justice, equity, diversity and inclusion; evidence-based practice; and promotion of civic responsibility. This system of care must include community partners so that every individual can engage in meaningful occupations in their environment.

The Program in Occupational Therapy has cultivated relationships with more than 100 community organizations in the St. Louis region. Through the CELC, we have the opportunity to strengthen those relationships by developing capacity and community-building strategies to enhance population health. Below are two examples of community partners who are actively collaborating with the CELC and our students.

Ujima STL

Food justice, environmental stewardship and youth empowerment are Ujima’s foundations. As a nonprofit, pay-what-you-can service provider, they provide equitable access to food, education, and employment to marginalized communities. Ujima cultivates community through food justice, environmental stewardship and youth empowerment. Nick Speed, founder and executive director, learned about OT through Sprout, a business accelerator, and knew that OT would be an integral design element of Ujima’s apprenticeship program. As a result, Sharaya Hill, MEd, OTD/S ’24, is currently serving as program coordinator for the apprenticeship program.

Northside Youth and Senior Service Center

Haley Kaplan, OTD/S ’24, has been working closely with the CELC team to establish a collaboration with Northside Youth and Senior Service Center (NSYSSC). Their mission aims to "serve youth and seniors in the St. Louis community, helping them to reach and retain their full potential and life goals." Meetings were held in August with NSYSSC, the CELC team and the WashU chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity to identify ways we can support their mission and help their clients engage in meaningful occupations and improve health outcomes.

Partner with Us

If your community organization is interested in learning more about partnering with the CELC, please contact Mario Millsap, MSOT, OTR/L, at


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

Phone: (314) 286-1625

Mario Millsap, MSOT, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist
CELC Coordinator

Phone: (314) 273-4392

Ranked as the Number Three OT Program in the Nation