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ABCT Champions

ABCT’s Champions of Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions

This award recognizes outstanding individuals who have shown exceptional dedication, influence, and social impact through the promotion of evidence-based psychological interventions, and who have thereby advanced the mission of ABCT.

Importantly, the goal of the award is to identify individuals who translate the impact of research into community health and well-being outside of the scope of their job requirements. Individuals who perform this function as part of their normal job (clinical or research) will not be considered for the award. Champions may not be members of ABCT at the time of their nomination.

Instructions for Potential Candidates

ABCT’s Champions of Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions

This award recognizes outstanding individuals who have shown exceptional dedication, influence, and social impact through the promotion of evidence-based psychological interventions, and who have thereby advanced the mission of ABCT. Importantly, the goal of the award is to identify individuals who translate the impact of research into community health and well-being beyond the scope of typical research and clinical job requirements. Nominations of state, city, and local community leaders and partners are strongly encouraged. Champions may not be members of ABCT at the time of their nomination.

Potential Candidates

Nominees should demonstrate the characteristics of champions, broadly construed, as recognized in the implementation science literature (see Knudsen, Gutner, & Chorpita, 2019, for examples relevant to ABCT: Champions are those individuals who support, facilitate, diffuse or implement the core assets of evidence-based interventions. Champions’ efforts expand the scope and impact of evidence-based interventions beyond the reach of researchers alone. They are “change agents”: they differentiate themselves from others by their visionary quality, enthusiasm, and willingness to risk their reputation for change. Ideal candidates should have demonstrated the following: (1) How the individual has recognized the potential application and impact of evidence-based psychological interventions; (2) How the individual has gone beyond their formal job requirements within an organization to relentlessly promote innovation; and (3) How they actively lead positive social change.


Nominees will be reviewed in June and October by the Dissemination and Implementation and Stakeholder Engagement Committee (DISEC), and those meeting criteria will be forwarded to the ABCT Board of Directors for approval. Recipients will be notified by the ABCT President, and their names and photographs will be posted on the ABCT website, along with the rationale for their recognition. Each year’s champions will also be acknowledged at our annual awards ceremony at the ABCT Convention.

How to Nominate

Email your nomination to [email protected] (link to nomination form is below). Be sure to include “Champions Nomination” in the subject line. Once a nomination is received, an email will be sent from staff, copying the DISEC Chair. The nomination will be reviewed by DISEC, and if deemed appropriate for our program, will be forwarded to the ABCT Board of Directors for final approval. Once reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors, the nominee will be contacted directly by the President, followed up with an ABCT staff member for a final review of the copy to be posted on the ABCT website.

Nomination Form


Knudsen, K., Gutner, C., & Chorpita, B. F. (2019). Recognizing champions: Increasing the scope and impact of evidence-based therapies. the Behavior Therapist, 42, 4-8.

2019 Champions


Glenace Edwall, Ph.D., Psy.D., M.P.P., Director of Children’s Mental Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services (retired)

Dr. Edwall has worked tirelessly to evolve the division of Children’s Mental Health toward an expanded role in the healthcare system, through the introduction of evidence-based treatment and related quality initiatives. Dr. Edwall was instrumental in implementing an expansion of Medicaid benefits through new programing and championed a vision of available research-informed interventions for all children needing them.


T. Lindsey Burrell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Clinician and Supervisor, Feeding Program at the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Dr. Burrell provides clinical treatment to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including supervision and mentorship of trainees. She trains and supervises practicum students and interns in evidence-based interventions and actively works to improve existing interventions. For example, she is working on enhancing a feeding treatment for children with developmental and other disabilities. Her work includes revising protocols and developing a phone-based app and website to make the treatment easier to disseminate and more palatable for parents. She is involved in numerous projects to promote innovation and increase the impact of family-based interventions.


Lanalle Darden, MS.Ed., LMSW, Children, Adolescents and Families (CAF) Services Director, Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center

Ms. Darden has spearheaded a number of evidence-based practice initiatives at the Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center. Ms. Darden has a demonstrated history of advocacy and support, as well as active engagement with prominent researchers. She has gone above and beyond agreed-upon research involvement to problem solve implementation challenges, participate in trainings, use evidence generated from research to inform her decision making around changes in her own clinic. Her influence on providers and supervisors is clear in the caliber of their work, and their capacity to both adopt and implement new evidence-based practices.


Patricia Nygaard, Ph.D., Immediate Past Quality & Performance Manger, Children’s Mental Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Dr. Nygaard has served the Minnesota Department of Human Services in various roles for more than 15 years. During this time she has promoted the implementation of multiple evidence-based services across diverse levels of care ranging from school-based settings to residential services. She has been a strong and enduring advocate of measurement-based care and the use of evidence to improve the quality of children’s mental health service.

2018 Champions

Joshua_GordonJoshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of NIMH

Dr. Gordon’s own neuroscience research focuses on neural analysis and directly translates to furthering our understanding of schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders. He also oversees a research portfolio at NIMH that seeks to promote preventions, recovery, and cure of mental health disorders.


David_ChambersDavid Chambers, DPhil, Deputy Director for Implementation Science, Office of the Director in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Dr. Chambers has been an integral part of advancing the field of implementation science by fostering dissemination and implementation research within the NIH portfolio, funding opportunity announcements, training programs, research activities, dissemination platforms, and enhancement of partnerships and networks to integrate research, practice and policy. He has also published several seminal papers advancing the field of implementation science to enhance translation of research to practice.


Arthur_EvansArthur Evans, Jr., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President

Dr. Evans served as the commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Service for 12 years. In this role, he served as a champion of implementation and dissemination of evidence-based psychotherapies throughout the city of Philadelphia and improved health outcomes and increased the efficiency of the Philadelphia system.


Joseph_KennedyRep. Joseph Kennedy, III, J.D. (D, MA)

Congressman Kennedy has a record of working towards bipartisan, comprehensive mental health reform. He has been an advocate for systemic reform of the mental health system, proposing the Fair Care for Kids Act to facilitate mental health treatment for children on Medicaid (signed into law in 2016), and introducing the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act of 2015, to hold insurers accountable for providing adequate mental health benefits and increase transparency for consumers.


Sarah_HollingsworthSarah Hollingsworth Lisanby, M.D., Director, Division of Translational Research NIMH

Dr. Lisanby is one of the leading researchers in the area of neuromodulatory interventions for treating major depression. She has been an outstanding mentor to numerous investigators and as Director for the Division of Translational Research at NIMH, Dr. Lisanby has a major impact on the national research approach to mental illness.


Denny_PintelloDenise (Denny) Pintello, Ph.D., Chief of the Child and Adolescent Research Program, NIMH

Dr. Pintello previously oversaw the implementation of innovative scientific initiatives and special research dissemination projects, and currently supports implementation science research efforts within the NIMH portfolio. Prior to her time at NIH, she worked as a social worker and focused on child welfare, mental health, and substance abuse.


Jonathan_PurtleJonathan Purtle, DrPH and MPH, Assistant Professor, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University

Dr. Purtle is a leader in the field of dissemination research, and has developed strategies to effectively disseminate mental health evidence to state policymakers, as well as identifying ways to reduce health inequities in US cities.

Joel_SherrillJoel Sherrill, Chief of the Psychosocial Treatment Research Program at the NIMH, Director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH

Dr. Sherrill works to advance psychological research by identifying research priorities within intervention and services research. He regularly attends ABCT and consistently advises clinical researchers and supports investigator-initiated projects with targeted initiatives directed at specific populations or clinical practice questions to advance research on enhancing mental health care.


Pia_EscuderoPia Escudero, Director of the Los Angeles Unified School District School Mental Health

Ms. Escudero oversees more than 300 professionals (psychiatric social workers, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists) and provides local and national leadership to assist in the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of trauma-informed and trauma-specific services for children and families in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Mental Health. Ms. Escudero has also participated in the development of the California Mental Health Services Act and represented LAUSD, students, and school stakeholders in several local and state workgroups. She has also served as a champion for evidence-based mental health treatments in routine care in the Los Angeles community.


Bruce_CuthbertBruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., Directors, RDoC Unit, National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Cuthbert previously served as the Chief of NIMH’s Adult Psychopathology and Prevention Research branch, as the Director of the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development, and the acting director of NIMH. He has also spearheaded the Research Domain Criteria project (RDoC) which has had a major impact on the national research agenda. The primary goal of RDoC is to gain a better understanding of mental disorders by providing a new classification system that incorporates many levels of information (from genomics to self-report).


Beverly_PringleBeverly Pringle, Ph.D., Chief of the Global Mental Health Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Pringle oversees scientific leadership for the institute’s global research activities, monitors NIMH’s international grants and activities, and provides consultation to the global mental health research community. Her work has supported expansion of mental health services to the global community.


David_SommersDavid I. Sommers, Ph.D., ABPP, Scientific Review Officer, National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Sommers has been a tireless champion for interventions research as a Scientific Review Officer for NIMH for more than 18 years. He is deeply committed to facilitating the development, testing, and dissemination of evidence-based psychosocial interventions, thereby serving an instrumental role in improving mental health outcomes. Dr. Sommers is also a practicing clinical psychologist, delivering evidence-based care to those with mood and anxiety disorders.


Kim_EsperonKim Griffin Esperon, LCSW, Field Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District’s School Mental Health Department

Ms. Griffin Esperon provides administrative oversight to the LA Unified School District’s 15 mental health clinics and wellness centers, playing a critical role in strategic and operational management of implementation quality of student mental health services. Her 20 years of collaboration, leadership, and service have led to successful and efficient implementation of evidence-based interventions, affecting tens of thousands of students’ lives in one of the largest school districts in the country.


Mark_ChavezMark Chavez, Ph.D., Division of Translational Research, NIMH

For nearly two decades, Dr. Chavez has been committed to the training and career development of clinician-scientists at the graduate, postgraduate, and early-career levels at the National Institute of Mental Health. Through his diverse portfolio, he has played an integral role in the research funding, promotion, and success of many of the emerging leaders in psychology and psychiatry in the country. In addition, he conducts an intramural program of research on the etiology, core features, longitudinal course, and assessment of eating disorders.

About ABCT Awards

The ABCT Awards Program recognizes and salutes individuals for their contributions to the field of behavioral and cognitive therapy and the institutions that have helped to train many of these very people.

Career/Lifetime Achievement

Awarded to members of ABCT in good standing who have made significant contributions over a number of years to cognitive and/or behavior therapy.

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual for Clinical Activities

Awarded to members of ABCT in good standing who have provided significant contributions to clinical work in cognitive and/or behavioral modalities. (This award alternates with the Outstanding Researcher Award and the Outstanding Education/Training Award)

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual for Educational/Training Activities

Awarded to members of ABCT in good standing who have provided significant contributions toward educating and training behavior therapists. (This award alternates with the Outstanding Clinician Award and the Outstanding Researcher Award)

Sobell Innovative Addictions Research Award

Renowned addiction researchers Drs. Mark and Linda Sobell have generously sponsored the Sobell Innovative Addictions Research Award. This award will be given in alternate years to an ABCT member who has developed a novel and innovative (1) line of research or (2) assessment or analytic tool or method that advances the understanding and/or treatment of addictions. This award emphasizes behavioral and/or cognitive research or research methods that have yielded exceptional breakthroughs in knowledge.

Mid-Career Innovator

Eligible candidates are members of ABCT in good standing who are at the associate professor level or equivalent midcareer level, and who have made significant innovative contributions to clinical practice or research on cognitive and/or behavioral modalities. (This award alternates with the Outstanding Clinician Award, the Outstanding Education/Training Award, and the Outstanding Researcher Award).

Outstanding Mentor

Awarded to members of ABCT in good standing who have encouraged the clinical and/or academic and professional excellence of psychology graduate students, interns, postdocs, and/or residents. Outstanding mentors are considered those who have provided exceptional guidance to students through leadership, advisement and activities aimed at providing opportunities for professional development, networking and future growth. Appropriate nominators are current or past students of the mentor. (This Award Rotates with Outstanding Training Program Award)

Distinguished Friend to Behavior Therapy

Eligible candidates for this award should NOT be members of ABCT, but are individuals who have promoted the mission of cognitive and/or behavioral work outside of our organization.

Michael J. Kozak Critical Inquiry and Analytical Thinking Award

“Clarity of writing reflects clarity of thinking.” This statement reflects the overarching goal that Michael J. Kozak sought to achieve himself and that he vigorously encouraged others to reach as well. His penchant for critical inquiry cut across contexts: whether in providing cognitive-behavioral treatment itself, offering supervision of treatment, in scientific inquiry and writing, or in advising investigators about how to put their grant applications in the best possible position for success. Accordingly, recipients of this award should embody this same spirit in their own work. Awarded in alternate years

The Francis Cecil Sumner Excellence Award

The purpose of the award is to acknowledge and promote the excellence in research of an ABCT student or early career professional who is Black or Indigenous. This statement reflects the underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous scholars in academia along with the overarching goal of ABCT to support its student and early career professionals of color.

Champions Program

This award recognizes outstanding individuals who are not members of ABCT but who have shown exceptional dedication, influence, and social impact through the promotion of evidence-based interventions and who have thereby advanced the mission of ABCT.

Visit our Champions page for full details on how to nominate and for a full listing of champions

Student Dissertation Awards

  • Virginia A. Roswell Student Dissertation Award
  • Leonard Krasner Student Dissertation Award
  • John R. Z. Abela Student Dissertation Award

Each award will be given to one student based on his/her doctoral dissertation proposal. The research should be relevant to behavior therapy. Accompanying this honor will be a monetary award (see above) to be used in support of research (e.g., to pay participants, to purchase testing equipment) and/or to facilitate travel to the ABCT convention. Eligible candidates for this award should be student members who have already had their dissertation proposal approved and are investigating an area of direct relevance to behavior therapy, broadly defined. A student’s dissertation mentor may complete the nomination. Self-nominations are also accepted. Nominations must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the dissertation advisor.

Outstanding Service to ABCT

This award is presented to a person who has actively demonstrated exceptional dedication, persistence, excellence, and rigor regarding the association’s operation and activities.

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