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Occupational Therapy Educator, Advocate, & Clinician Scholar

Dr. Cristina Reyes Smith obtained a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in 2010 and obtained her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2006. She has been promoting health and wellness for over 15 years through collaboration with community organizations, coordination of programs and events, and individualized and group-based therapeutic services. She has received numerous awards for her leadership and service to the community and serves in multiple professional leadership roles at the local, state, and national level.  She has delivered multiple Keynote presentations for state associations and other venues, authored and co-authored multiple book chapters and journal articles, and been featured in multiple national podcasts.


Dr. Smith is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and was recognized in 2023 for "Transformational Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."  She previously served on the AOTA Board of Directors, served as the Secretary of the South Carolina Occupational Therapy Association, and served two terms as SC State Representative to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Representative Assembly.  She was a participant in the 2012 AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program.

Dr. Smith has received multiple awards and service commendations for contributions to the community including the 2018 College of Health Professions Faculty Scholar of the Year Award, 2013 Emily L. Moore and J. Herman Blake CARE Fund Award for Pioneer Volunteer Faculty Leaders in the CARES Therapy Clinic, 2006 Alicia Balkcum Outstanding Student Award for Occupational Therapy, 2006 College of Health Professions Alumni Association Award, 2005 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Award, and 2004 Circulo Hispano-Americano de Charleston Scholarship Award.  She was named in the Top 50 Women Leaders of South Carolina by Women We Admire in 2022.


Dr. Smith founded and served as Business Development Coordinastor for a pediatric occupational and physical therapy agency for almost 10 years.  This agency known as Vida Bella Services, LLC developed a strong reputation in the community with a team of OT, OTA, PT, and PTA staff known for providing quality customer service; promoting work-life balance for staff; and providing access to quality care for underserved communities (particularly with lower income, language access barriers, and/or in rural communities).  Inclusive special events were regularly offered for the community to support families of children and youth with disabilities and special needs.  A variety of community programs were offered including art-based groups, music and movement based groups, handwriting groups, sensory-based groups, yoga groups, caregiver education programs, and more.  A clinic was established from 2016 to 2020, and services were provided to the Greater Charleston and surrounding communities.  The X.H. Healthcare Leadership for Under-served Communities travel scholarship was created and awarded annually for OT and OTA students.  Numerous OTA, MSOT, and OTD practitioners and students were trained for clinical fieldwork, capstone projects, and service learning initiatives. 

Dr. Smith founded and served as inaugural President of the Alliance for Hispanic Health at MUSC. In this role, she facilitated the organization as it conducted conversational and Medical Spanish classes, provided Spanish Interpreters at community health functions, hosted Medical Interpreter workshops, and coordinated fundraising efforts to benefit underserved communities. She also served as the first MUSC Student Representative to the National Hispanic Medical Association Annual Conference.  She has led a mission team to Guatemala and volunteered in several Central American countries.  She coordinated the implementation of an organizational cultural competence plan at a local free medical clinic and served as a volunteer Medical Spanish Interpreter and Translator.

Dr. Smith is an ally for sexual and gender minorities, religious minorities, and individuals with disabilities.  She has coordinated programming and initiatives at her university to specifically address the healthcare needs of these groups through an annual Culturally Sensitive Care Workshop and other venues.  Dr. Smith’s training and education in healthcare disparities and cultural competence have included compassionate and inclusive interactions with people of diverse backgrounds, as well as participation in academic programs such as the MUSC Presidential Scholars program (an interdisciplinary program focused on scholarly approaches to addressing healthcare disparities), the interdisciplinary “Cultural Competence and Humility Course” at TJU, and an interdisciplinary elective on Global Health at MUSC.

Dr. Smith has presented academic and professional presentations at local and national events on topics such as:

Autism Treatment Approaches Using Modern Technology, Childhood Development and Milestones, Cultural Competence in Clinical Practice, Dance-Based Health and Wellness, Data-Driven DEI, Diversity in the Workforce, Disability Studies, Holistic Admissions, Leadership, and Spanish and Sign Language for OT Practice. She currently volunteers as a supervisor with the free, student-run MUSC CARES Clinic in downtown Charleston and volunteers as an Assistant Softball Coach for local youth. She and her husband Bryan reside with their children Solomon, Aidan, and Elena near Charleston, SC. She enjoys spending time with family, gardening, playing piano, outdoor recreation (i.e. hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, skiing/snowboarding), and all things "dance."


After an incredible journey of three years with unexpected challenges and amazing advances, I attended my last AOTA Board of Directors meeting in June 2023.  Thank you to everyone who provided support to myself and the Association since being elected in January 2020. It has been a profound honor and pleasure to serve our profession and communities alongside other volunteer leaders and AOTA Staff.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds and what we are able to accomplish as we continue moving forward together.



I am pleased to report that I was sworn in for the Board of Directors of the American Occupational Therapy Association on Friday, June 12, 2020.  Thank you so much to everyone who voted and to those who supported my nomination!  I am excited to begin working with the Board and AOTA Staff on July 1, 2020.

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