We had the good fortune of connecting with Bryant Edwards and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bryant, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I think one of the most important factors, for me, has been accepting that I will not have all the answers or make all the right decisions. So then, I make sure to learn from others, to seek feedback or mentorship, and try to integrate that into my decision-making. That’s not to say that I come in without perspective or opinion; but it does mean that I work to be open to having that perspective or opinion challenged and even changed. I’d like to think that through that openness, I have broadened my ways of thinking and doing, but I have also built the trust of others.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an occupational therapist, and I have been really active in our state association for the past decade or so. Occupational therapy is an awesome profession that not enough people know about or understand. So challenge #1 has been around advocating and promoting the profession. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work with people to engage in meaningful, health-promoting and functional activities. In some cases, people have experienced an injury or illness that has impacted their ability to perform or participate in those meaningful activities (or what we call “occupations”). In other cases, systems have created barriers and we work to help break down or navigate those barriers. The great thing about the profession is that we work in a variety of settings – from community mental health to school systems to the hospital to private practices. We work with babies, children, adults, older adults and groups/communities. It’s a really enriching profession. So in terms of my work as an occupational therapist, what I’m currently most proud of is serving as President of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, and helping the Association and the profession navigate the impact of the pandemic, and address diversity, equity and inclusion.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This city is full of so much! I’m a big fan of walking and wandering here in LA, so I think areas that are accessible by transit or walking would be high on the list. I also love showing people parts of the city through eating. So for a weeklong itinerary, one spot that I always like to take folks is to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert. It’s such a unique experience to sit outside, picnic, have some wine and soak in the ambiance. Downtown LA is a fun area to walk around, explore the restaurants and bars, see Grand Park or the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and just spend the day. Food-wise, there are endless options. One of my favorite spots from when I was a kid is Paco’s Tacos. They have fresh, hand-rolled tortillas that are amazing. Throw some nopales and salsa in one and chow down! I would also make sure to hit up Masa of Echo Park for some deep dish pizza. It’s ridiculously good! I’d be sure to check out the Arts District and some of the breweries there – Angel City and Arts District Breweries. And finally, we’d have to check out either a Dodgers game or an LA Football Club match. Dodger stadium and the Banc of California stadium are such beautiful venues for sport!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people I would give a Shout Out to. I owe the occupational therapy community and especially all of the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with through the Occupational Therapy Association of California a huge thanks! I also have received so much support and mentorship from my many colleagues at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. And then I’d absolutely have to give some Shout Outs to some folks who have been solid friends, confidants, mentors and champions for me. So Shout Outs to Teni, Jes, Arameh, Lisa, Kara and, of course, Luke.
Headshot by Oliver Baker