Reflections on 25 Years with MTF

Posted:Wednesday, December 13, 2023

By Gini Ohlson, MTF Executive Director

It is surreal that I am celebrating my 25th anniversary as initially the Director of what was then called the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Foundation (when I started), and  what has evolved into my serving as the Executive Director of what is now the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF).

The AMTA established the Foundation in 1990 to help bring the value of massage therapy research, education and community service forward within the massage therapy profession. As our Sustaining Benefactor, the AMTA has always supported MTF’s growth and evolution. MTF has expanded to serve the profession in many ways across the globe with a distinct Board of Trustees and staff as well as an innovative, independent spirit.

MTF has spearheaded so many endeavors and ground breaking ideas for our profession; ones that we hope will live on for many, many years more.

The Trustees making up the Foundation’s Board over these years have been ahead of the game with their ideas and vision for the MTF’s future. Some of our largest contributions to the profession provided a framework for the profession to grow into, creating new avenues for exploration, service, and learning beyond what was otherwise accessible at the time.

A few examples: this year marks the 10th Anniversary of MTF’s International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (IJTMB). IJTMB puts the latest research on massage into the hands of practitioners free of charge, while also providing a venue for MT researchers and practitioners to share knowledge. Our Research Curriculum Kit for MT schools also blazed trails, evolving into a myriad of other research resources for schools. MTF’s vision to connect practitioners directly with researchers led to our receipt of a 2005 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health grant for our Highlighting Research in Massage Therapy Conference—the first NIH award granted to a massage therapy entity. This conference continues to live on as the International Massage Therapy Research Conference, with seven events having been held total. Lastly, MassageNet, a practice-based research network for MTs (funded initially as a 2009 MTF grant to National University of Health Sciences and re-launched as an MTF-run program last year), promises to make a great impact on the future of the profession by fostering collaboration and community, and deepening our collective knowledge.

Additionally, I am proud of the amazing research and community service projects MTF funds every year, which make a direct impact on the lives and health of many and directly contribute to a better profession for the 300,000+ massage therapists in the U.S. and those practicing across the world. I am excited about our international partnerships with both the Registered Massage Therapists of British Columbia (our partner in funding IJTMB), and, most recently, with the Canadian Massage Therapy Association, and the possibilities for expanding the Foundation’s reach through connecting with other global partners who share our vision.

The MTF’s mission and the people I’ve worked with over the years to continue to further the mission are why I’ve stayed for so long. For an organization with a small budget, small staff, and small group of volunteers we continue to do some really BIG things and we want to do even more.  We can only continue our current work and expand our reach with further financial support from those who believe in our work and the impact its making. My hope is that if you do believe in our work and haven’t yet given to us financially this year that you consider making a donation to help ensure our work continues to grow and thrive like it has over the last 33 years. Your support truly makes a difference! Happy Holidays and best wishes for healthy and prosperous 2024!