Each year since 2002, the ISTSS Public Advocacy Award has recognized an individual or individuals who have made outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma. The recipients of this award exemplify the dedication and impact of ISTSS members and others who advocate for the voices of people affected by trauma.
Lisa Bernhardt, MPP, was awarded the 2011 ISTSS
Public Advocacy Award. As a senior public policy professional in
the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS), Ms. Bernhardt has dedicated many years of her professional life
to advancing services for those most in need, changing the lives of
traumatized children and families.
Ms. Bernhardt received her training at Georgetown University, in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she received a B.S. in Foreign Service, with a concentration in International Economics, graduating Magna cum laude. She also earned a Masters of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Since 2001, Ms. Bernhardt has served as senior professional staff providing oversight for the U.S. Government programs relating to substance abuse and mental health, health services research, bioterrorism, and emergency preparedness. She regularly provides key assistance to the Committee Chairman and Staff Director on policy and funding questions, and often meets with U.S. Government officials, grantees, advocates, and stakeholders to responsibly determine the priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Back to top
Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD received the 2010 ISTSS
Public Advocacy Award. Dr. Silver is Professor of Psychology and Social
Behavior in the School of Social Ecology (as well as a Professor of
Medicine) at the University of California, Irvine. She has been at UCI
since 1989, where she has been actively involved in research, teaching,
mentoring and administration. In recent years, she has become
increasingly involved in and committed to bringing social and behavioral
science theory and research into practice at the highest levels of
government. In 2007, she received the American Psychological
Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological
Dr. Silver’s academic area of expertise is on the psychological, physical and social impact of traumatic life experiences, including personal losses as well as larger collective events such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other community traumas. For over 30 years, she has conducted methodologically rigorous theory-driven research on coping with stressful life events and has published widely on this topic. Her work is interdisciplinary, drawing primarily from clinical, social, and health psychology, as well as from related disciplines such as psychiatry, personality and developmental psychology, sociology, communications, political science and medicine. She addresses individual, social and societal factors that facilitate successful adjustment to stressful life events and explores the long-term physical, cognitive, emotional, and social effects of traumatic experiences. Her research seeks to identify predictors of individual and community resilience, as well as collective and individual response to disaster. Her recent NSF-funded interdisciplinary research examined the political impact of the ongoing psychological response to the threat of terrorism.
ISTSS presented Matthew Friedman, MD, PhD, with the 2009 Public Advocacy Award at the 25th Silver Anniversary Annual Meeting in November 2009. As an international expert in trauma, psychiatry, and pharmacology, Dr. Friedman has devoted his career to advancing the understanding of traumatic stress and improving the lives of individuals who experience trauma. With deep personal and professional commitment, Dr. Friedman has generously shared his own scientific and medical expertise to help decision-makers throughout the world understand what trauma survivors need. Since 1988, Dr. Friedman has been a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Dartmouth Medical School. During this same period, Dr. Friedman has served as the executive director at the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) of the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA).
Dr. Friedman has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of trauma policy. He has published nearly 20 books and monographs that focus not just on research and clinical issues, but also on critically important public policy concerns. As one example, After the War Zone, his most recent book (coauthored with Laurie Sloane), is based on his work with the Vermont National Guard, advocating for a close national partnership between veterans, their families, and community, and top leadership, including the Governor, Adjutant General, U.S. congressional representatives, and the VA. This work was written for military troops and their families and economically priced, at Dr. Friedman's insistence, to increase accessibility.
His work has addressed many trauma types, including combat, natural disasters, terrorism, bioterrorism, pandemic flu and domestic violence.
Ellen T. Gerrity, PhD, of Duke University, was awarded the 2008 ISTSS Public Advocacy Award. The award recognizes an individual whose work contributes significantly to advancing social understanding of trauma, advancing the provision of service to trauma victims, or the development of legislation that benefits trauma victims.
Ellen serves as Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor for the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS), which coordinates the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).The NCTSN includes over 75 funded and affiliated treatment centers and community-based organizations which support children and families who are exposed to trauma and violence. She serves on the Executive Committee providing guidance and direction on policy, coalition building, public awareness. As NCCTS associate director and executive committee member, her duties include serving as executive sponsor or co-sponsor for several NCCTS functional units, including the NCTSN Advisory Board, the National Resource Center, the Monitoring and Evaluation Team, the Policy Core, the Cultural Competence Workgroup, the Consumer/Family Workgroup, and the Refugee Workgroup, and representing the NCCTS with numerous external partners, including the National Child and Adolescent Mental Health Coalition, the National Quality Caregiver Coalition, and the National Child Abuse Coalition.
As senior policy advisor, her responsibilities include working with SAMHSA staff, the Executive Committee, the NCCTS National Resource Center, and the Policy Core Director and Committee members, to fulfill the policy mission of the NCCTS and the transformation goals of the New Freedom Commission by developing informational resources and policy briefings on key child trauma issues in partnership with policymakers and key stakeholders including family and consumer organizations.
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski received the 2007 ISTSS Public Advocacy Award. As a social worker, activist, author, teacher, and policymaker, Senator Barbara J. Mikulski has dedicated her personal and professional life to assisting individuals and communities in need. She has been a champion for the health, safety and prosperity of individuals across the lifespan and is an extraordinarily deserving candidate for this prestigious honor.
Senator Mikulski began her career as a social worker in Baltimore, Maryland, where she worked to make a difference in her community by assisting some of society's most vulnerable subgroups, including at-risk children and the elderly. In 1977, Senator Mikulski was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she served the 3rd District of Maryland for 10 years. In 1987, Senator Mikulski was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. As the most senior female member of the Senate, Senator Mikulski now serves as the "Dean of the Women Senators." Senator Mikulski serves on several influential committees of importance on science and health issues. As a member of the Appropriations Committee and as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Senator Mikulski is responsible for spearheading the allocation of federal funds to numerous government agencies, departments, and organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Senator Mikulski has been an active and committed cosponsor of critical legislation focused on both preventing violence and abuse and assisting survivors with their health and trauma recovery needs. Specifically, she has supported legislation to combat violence against women and provide services to survivors of such violence; to protect individuals from human trafficking; to examine the response to Hurricane Katrina and improve future emergency response efforts; to protect vulnerable populations, especially women and children, affected by humanitarian emergencies; to improve programs for the identification and treatment of post-deployment mental health conditions, including PTSD, in veterans and service members; to expand and enhance health care, mental health, transition, and disability benefits for veterans; to assist military service members with the transition to receipt of veterans health care benefits; to protect citizens and communities from violent crimes; and to expand and improve gang prevention programs.
Senator Mikulski has worked diligently to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. She has put her experience into action to make a difference in the lives of others. A true trailblazer, Senator Mikulski is an inspirational and extraordinary recipient of the ISTSS Public Advocacy Award.
Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, received the ISTSS Public Advocacy Award at the November 2006 ISTSS Annual Meeting awards ceremony. The award is given for outstanding contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma. Shay is widely regarded throughout the field as a passionate advocate for veterans and others exposed to traumatic stress.
Shay used his years of experience as a clinician with the Veterans Administration as the basis behind such noted books as "Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character" and "Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming." "Achilles in Vietnam" was named to the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program for "All Hands" in 1997.
After receiving his B.A. from Harvard College in 1963, Shay earned an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 and 1972, respectively. After stints holding positions at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, among others, Shay began serving at the Veterans Administration in Boston in 1987.
For years, Shay has been influential within the U.S. military, raising awareness of traumatic stress and related issues. He has also gained audiences with leading policy makers including Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Max Cleland.
Dr. Shay has also extended his advocacy to journalists, collaborating with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Military Reporters and Editors and Investigative Reporters and Editors to educate a generation of war reporters in trauma prevention and management.
"Jonathan Shay is a public intellectual in the best sense: He bears witness for the veterans with whom he has worked, and tirelessly presents their experience as central to the future of American civil society," said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, in nominating Shay. "I can think of no more fitting recipient of the Public Advocacy Award."Back to top
Anne DePrince, PhD received the 2005 ISTSS Public Advocacy Award at the November 2005 ISTSS Annual Meeting awards ceremony. Dr. DePrince has focused her work on the dissemination of knowledge about trauma to the community. Dr. DePrince received her BA from Duke University, and her MS and PhD from the University of Oregon, where she worked with Dr. Jennifer Freyd. She did her internship at the University of Washington Medical Center. In 2005, she was Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver.
In addition to her publications, which are focused on memory issues in childhood trauma, and an NIMH grant on the development of a trauma appraisal questionnaire, Dr. DePrince has been funded to study "Returning Trauma Research to Our Community," which included presenting research results to the community participants and agencies involved, and providing research consultation to them. She has developed public education programs, programs about relationships with the press, and referral services in a prior position, and has provided extensive community service and consultation in areas including rape and sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and empowerment for women. In Denver, she works with the Child Advocacy Council of the Colorado Coalition against Domestic Violence, the Denver Center for Crime Victims, and Denver Children&'s Advocacy Center.
Beth Hudnall Stamm, PhD, received the ISTSS Public Advocacy Award in November at the 2004 ISTSS annual meeting awards ceremony. This award is given for outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma. Stamm is widely known in her field, nationally and internationally, for her contributions as an educator, researcher and a leader in public advocacy.
Stamm has been the principal investigator for more than 30 studies in traumatic stress totaling more than $16 million dollars, and maintains international databases in trauma--much of which focuses on secondary traumatic stress. Her measure, the Professional Quality of Life Scale: The Compassion Fatigue & Satisfaction Scale, V3, is the most commonly used measure of secondary trauma worldwide.
She worked in Indonesia for three years helping to develop traumatic stress programs. Her work in South Africa, which originated with the Programme for Survivors of Violence, has spanned a decade. Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, she helped state and federal government organize Web resources to respond to the trauma.
Stamm was one of the first visionaries of technology utilization in traumatic stress. Her aggressive advocacy role through national and international committees and organizations led to telehealth "spin-offs."
Her book, Measurement of Stress, Trauma and Adaptation, was the first text devoted to measuring traumatic stress. She was one of the first researchers to recognize the long-term traumatic impact of war and forced relocation among indigenous peoples worldwide.
In that capacity, she founded the project, Community Revitalization & Healing of Cultural Trauma in Indigenous Peoples, which links the knowledge of Western-trained health professionals and historians with that of traditional healers to strengthen indigenous communities caught in the gap between traditional and Western culture. Her latest book, Rural Behavioral Health Care: An Interdisciplinary Guide, illustrates her deep insights on public and federal policy issues underlying the life of the rural population.
ISTSS rarely presents an award to an incumbent politician, but because of his extraordinary record of achievement in the field of traumatic stress studies, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, received the 2003 Public Advocacy Award, given for outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma.
Harkin has been an advocate of traumatic stress studies since the late 1960s. He has a longtime record of public service and advocacy on behalf of veterans, the disabled and the mentally ill, with extraordinary leadership on behalf of survivors of trauma.
In 1969, as a staff member accompanying a congressional delegation to South Vietnam, Harkin revealed to the world the inhuman conditions inside a South Vietnamese prison camp. As a result of his photographs and detailed account of the infamous "tiger cages," hundreds of tortured political prisoners were released.
From his position on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds veteran programs, Harkin has worked to increase funding and quality care at U.S. VA hospitals. Aware that many VA hospitals have budgets too small for the needs of America's veterans, he has fought consistently for legislation to ensure that veterans get proper health care, financial support and the recognition they have earned, including access to appropriate treatment for combat-related PTSD.
For many years, Harkin has been a champion for people with disabilities and has been a leader on disability policy. Harkin was co-author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects the civil rights of more than 57 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities. In addition, Harkin has written a number of other laws to increase the independence of Americans with disabilities. He helped write legislation reforming education for children with disabilities, with a special emphasis on early intervention. This legislation has paved the way for recent congressional mandates expanding treatment and services for traumatized children in the United States.
Harkin has shown extraordinary leadership in support of trauma services, particularly on behalf of children who are exposed to abuse, neglect, violence, war, terrorism and other forms of trauma. He supports doubling the NIH research budget, with a special interest in mental health, cancer and women's health, and he is an advocate on behalf of fair insurance coverage for those with mental illness. As co-chair of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, Harkin has successfully pushed legislation to bring health professionals to small towns and rural areas.
Harkin's humanitarian outreach is apparent in the many public services he has advocated. In fact, it was a previous commitment to meet with a group of people who work for peace in the world that kept him from attending the ISTSS Awards Ceremony in November. Instead of a personal acceptance speech, a special video prepared by the senator's office was presented to the audience.
More than any specific achievement, Sen. Harkin's enduring spirit and commitment in the face of difficult challenges singled him out as an outstanding recipient of the 2003 ISTSS Public Advocacy Award. Through his many efforts, there is a greater understanding of trauma and its effects on those who face extraordinary challenges in all areas of life.
ISTSS presented its first Public Advocacy Award at the awards ceremony held at the 2002 annual meeting in Baltimore. The recipients of this award for outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma were William W. Harris, PhD, and his son, David B. Harris, MSEd.
The society honored Bill Harris and David Harris for their recent and ongoing pivotal role in shaping and enacting the legislation that authorized and funded the United States Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. This initiative, initially funded with an appropriation of $10 million--$30 million per year for the past two years--has resulted in the creation of a national network of 38 centers focusing on child traumatic stress. The network includes a national center, seven treatment development centers and 30 community service centers. It is a great achievement in the advocacy of treatment for traumatized children and prevention, and already has transformed the approach to trauma practice with children and adolescents and is expected to continue.
David and Bill were partners in achieving the child trauma network through public advocacy. To accomplish this, they used their public policy expertise and their network of friends and colleagues in the U.S. Congress, as well as in the highest levels of the administration, to focus attention on the needs of children exposed to trauma. They expended personal resources, invested their intellectual and personal relationship capital and maintained a remarkable clarity throughout about the goal of protecting children from violence, whether it is due to intrafamilial aggression or to terrorism.
In 1981 Bill Harris founded and continues to head KidsPac, a political action committee dedicated to the application of sound public policies for poor children from birth to age 6, and their families. In 1984 he founded and continues to serve as chairman of the Children's Research and Education Institute. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Child Development Community Policing Program in conjunction with the Yale Child Study Center.
Bill has served on numerous not-for-profit boards and advisory committees, including the Urban League, Wesleyan University, the State Legislative Leaders Foundation's Children's Program Steering Committee and the National Science Foundation's Review Panel of the Public Understanding of Science Program. He has received several awards for his work on behalf of children, including the Advocacy Award, Division of Child, Youth and Family Services, from the American Psychological Association; the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics; the Leadership Award for Public Service from Zero to Three; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Wesleyan University.
David Harris taught kindergarten in New York City's public and private schools before leaving to pursue improved policies for children and families, joining the Children's Research and Education Institute as president, as well as working with Bill on Kids Project and KidsPac. He then enrolled in the Columbia University School of Social Work as a doctoral student in social policy and currently is writing his dissertation on tax credits for low-income families. David also serves as co-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and Secretary of Manhattan's Community Board 7, which represents more than 200,000 people in New York City's Upper West Side.
Few have achieved what Bill Harris and David Harris have accomplished in their advocacy for the needs of traumatized children. They have eloquently persuaded legislators and high political executives to fund a systematic agenda to address the needs of children exposed to violence.