Dr. Lela Llorens earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University; a Master of Arts degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Walden University; and a Certificate in Gerontology from San Jose State University.
Dr. Llorens’ professional career has covered over fifty years. Her positions have included experience as a clinician, researcher, writer, editor, consultant, teacher, and administrator. In addition to the Professor Emerita assignation by San Jose State, Dr. Llorens is a Core Faculty Emerita of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center. Academic positions held by Dr. Llorens include Professor, Chair and Graduate Coordinator in the Departments of Occupational Therapy at San Jose State and the University of Florida and Adjunct Faculty of the University of Southern California. For three years prior to retirement from San Jose State, Dr. Llorens served as Associate Academic Vice President for Faculty Affairs. Dr. Llorens’ clinical practice experience includes Consultant on the Comprehensive Child Care Project in San Francisco, Head of Occupational Therapy at the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit which included teaching at Wayne State University, staff therapist at Northville State and Wayne County General Hospitals in Michigan. She also held a seat on the Editorial Board of the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Journal.
Dr. Llorens has contributed extensively to the published literature in Occupational Therapy; also in Allied Health and Gerontology. Her work spans the life cycle. The most enduring work emanated from her Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture, “Facilitating Growth and Development: The Promise of Occupational Therapy”. This work has been expanded and published in a book by Dr. Lynne La Corte entitled, New and Expanded Neuropsychosocial Concepts Complementary to Llorens’ Developmental Theory. Dr. Llorens’ work on occupational adaptation significantly influenced the development of the Occupational Therapy doctoral degree program at Texas Woman’s University. The Blagg-Huey Library at Texas Woman’s University is also the Archival Depository for her professional papers and personal artifacts.
Dr. Llorens’ service to the profession includes numerous professional presentations and consultations as faculty, workshop presenter, visiting/distinguished lecturer, visiting scientist, keynote speaker, discussant, moderator, and/or facilitator. She served as Project Director and/or Evaluator on several Rehabilitation, Health and Human Services, and Administration on Aging grants. In addition, she served on 8 doctoral and 125 master’s degree committees for students in occupational therapy and allied health fields. In retirement, Dr. Llorens has continued to mentor younger colleagues.
Dr. Llorens has received numerous honors. Occupational Therapy awards include: the Award of Merit, the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship, and the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the Certificate of Appreciation, the A. Jean Ayres Award, the AOTF Meritorious Service Award from the American Occupational Therapy Foundation and the AOTF Lela Llorens Fellowship Endowment; The California Foundation of Occupational Therapy Lectureship and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Occupational Therapy Association of California; the Wilma West Lectureship from the University of Southern California, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy; the Fanny B. Vanderkooi Lectureship from Texas Woman’s University; the Sadie Philcox Lectureship, University of Queensland, Department of Occupational Therapy, Brisbane, Australia; and the AOTA and AOTF President’s Commendation in honor of Wilma L. West.
The University of Texas Medical Branch Occupational Therapy Class of 1976 was dedicated as the Lela A. Llorens Class in honor of “Outstanding Contributions to the Profession”. Dr. Llorens was inducted into Pi Theta Epsilon, the Occupational Therapy Honor Fraternity, as an honorary member at Wayne State University and honored by students at the University of Southern California with their chapter insignia, as well. She was inducted into Eta Rho Pi Health Professions Honor Society at the University of Florida and into Golden Key National and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternities at San Jose State University. The Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) and the California Occupational Therapy Associations have awarded Honorary Lifetime Memberships to Dr. Llorens. The FOTA also created a Research Fund in her name. Community Awards include: Tribute to Women In Industry by the YWCA and San Jose Mercury News, San Jose; Woman of Distinction, Soroptomist International, Inc, Santa Clara Chapter, San Jose; Certificate of Merit, Michigan State Senate; Appreciation Award, Black Occupational Therapy Caucus, Detroit, Michigan; and Headliner Award, Women of Wayne Alumni, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; “Westsiders Icon”, Detroit, Michigan, and election to the Wall of Distinction by the Office of Minority Student Services at Western Michigan University. At the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of The American Occupational Therapy Association, Dr. Llorens was honored as one of the riders on the 2017 Rose Parade Float.
Upon graduation from WMU, Dr. Llorens (Lela Williams) received the Marion R. Spear Award in Occupational Therapy. As an alumna, Dr. Llorens was honored by Western Michigan University with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987 and the Western Michigan University Foundation has created the Lela Williams Llorens Leadership Award which will support promising students for leadership in the profession of Occupational Therapy.
Once truly retired, Dr. Llorens has enjoyed serving in the community with particular attention to her position as Vice-President of The Friends of the Murrieta Library and in participation in leisure activities in a Writing Group, an Exercise Class and a Book Club at the Murrieta Senior Center.
In December, 2017, Dr. Llorens moved to Hemet, California to live at The Village Retirement Center. The Village Community is a Life Care Community. The campus included a Health Care Center which housed both Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Services. There, she continued her Community Service as the Chairperson of the Health Care Center and Resident Services Committee.