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Meet the Founder

Letter from the Founder


Laura Kelly

Founder & CEO

Welcome to Empower Recreational Therapy. 

​Shepherd University was instrumental in fostering my leadership skills and promoting my personal growth as a future professional. I was a Division II student athlete and co-captain of the women's basketball team. I would describe my leadership style on and off the court as "leading by example." I tried to sprint with the point guards, bench press with the post players, but, most importantly, create a fun, team-oriented environment. My college basketball coach would comment that I possessed the intangibles. For me, it was not about the scoring; I was more of a facilitator who took great pride in knowing and playing to my teammates' strengths. These intangibles undoubtedly shaped me as a person and have contributed to my core qualities and approaches as a recreational therapist. Playing to the strengths of my clients is an essential component of creating an enjoyable, therapeutic program and instilling a true sense of empowerment. 

​Pursuing undergraduate studies in both Therapeutic Recreation and Fitness and Exercise Science equipped me as a dynamic professional. This fueled my pursuit of a Master's degree in Therapeutic Recreation to advance my professional development skills within management, research, and teaching. In fact, I was recently honored by the School of Health and Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with the " 2020 Emerging Leader" alumni award. 

​I have 10+ years in the aging industry serving in Recreational Therapy and Wellness Director roles. In that timeframe, I built successful recreational therapy programs in long term care, sub-acute rehab, and senior living community settings. I accomplished this by identifying client needs, proving outcomes, and strategically collaborating with interdisciplinary team members. Traditional activity programs, conventional therapies, and wellness programs that were established in these settings quickly realized the importance of adding recreational therapy as a complimentary, yet distinct, allied health service.

​As a recreation therapist, I understand that no single approach is the right one for every individual. My education, training in a range of modalities, and resources within the community afford me a giant toolbox of skills and creativity to find what works for YOU. I am resilient, caring, and passionate. Most of all, I do not put my clients in "boxes." It's not about age or diagnosis; it is about living the best life you can live.

Laura Kelly


M.S., Park & Recreation Management

Therapeutic Recreation

The University of N.C. at Greensboro, 2010

B.S., Recreation & Leisure Studies

Therapeutic Recreation 

Fitness and Exercise Science

Shepherd University, 2008

Training & Certifications

- Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (NCTRC, #56377)

- Montreal Cognitive Assessment 

- ATRA Dementia Practice Guidelines

- Ohio Health Delay the Disease: The #1 Parkinson's Exercise Program

- GSGA Adaptive Golf Coach

- Certified Pool Operator


- Held state and national board positions for professional membership organizations (GTRA & ATRA)

- Former Adjunct Instructor of Rec Therapy 

- Regional Corporate Consultant for a major skilled nursing provider

- State, regional, and national presenter:

  • Georgia Gerontology Society​

  • Southern Gerontology Society

  • International Council on Active Aging

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