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ACOSA Awards and Current Recipients

We are pleased to announce our 2021 ACOSA Awards recipients!

The awardees represent meritorious contributions to macro practice, including researchers & practitioners, across various settings and career stages.

Many thanks to the awards committee: Deborah Adams, Julie Birkenmaier, Stephen Burghardt, Lorraine Gutiérrez, Meg S. Paceley, Mary L. Ohmer, Catalina Tang Yan, and our committee co-chairs: Samantha Teixeira, Amy Krings, and Cheryl Hyde!



Career Achievement Award

This award honors the lifetime contribution of a person in the field who has made major contributions to the conceptual definition of community practice, the empirical knowledge base of the discipline, and significant development of practice methods.


Recipient: Anna Maria Santiago, Michigan State University
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
Professor of Community Practice
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Community Practice


Nominators: Dr. Richard J. Smith and Dr. Lorraine M. Gutiérrez

Dr. Santiago is a very active scholar whose work focuses on extremely significant and emerging topics and issues in community studies and practice. Her scholarship is concerned broadly with conditions in urban communities and the ways in which social policies can impact opportunities, risks, and the social structure within them. This has been a central concern within our field for over a century, and it continues to be a priority as economic changes and dislocations have significant impacts on vulnerable populations.

Dr. Santiago is an internationally recognized expert in the health disparities of Latinx and African American youth. Her body of research has contributed to a literature that shows how neighborhood characteristics can shape health outcomes, and these relationships change depending on the race and ethnicity of the person in question. Her research has also contributed to the literature on financial capability. The Denver Housing Study has demonstrated how public institutions can invest in affordable housing residents to achieve economic mobility in terms of better jobs and homeownership.

Dr. Santiago's co-editorship of the Journal of Community Practice for two consecutive terms, demonstrates her leadership and service to our field and commitment to community practice.



Emerging Scholar Award

This award honors the contribution of a person in the field who has demonstrated outstanding scholarly potential in an area of community practice.


Recipient: Sophia P. Sarantakos, University of Denver
Assistant Professor


Nominators: Dr. Matt Epperson and Dr. Shannon M. Silva


Dr. Sarantakos’ work analyzes mechanisms to reduce the size, scope, and power of the prison industrial complex. In particular, it examines liberatory pathways for social movements and the social work profession. In order to bring social work scholarship to bear on the most pressing social issues of our time, it is increasingly essential for the social work scholar to deftly translate theory and evidence for public action and for professional practice – particularly practice in communities and grassroots organizations and practice in (or perhaps against) state systems. In just a short amount of time, Dr. Sarantakos has demonstrated a commitment to driving forward scholarship on an area of critical importance to our professional evolution.



Doctoral Student Award

This award honors a current doctoral student who is doing meritorious scholarship in the field of community practice.

We had so many standout doctoral students nominated this year that we selected three awardees for our Doctoral Student Award!

Recipient: Kristen Brock-Petroshius, University of California, Los Angeles

Nominators: Dr. Laura Wray-Lake & Dr. Laura Abrams

Ms. Brock-Petroshius is passionate about doing research with applied and policy relevant implications, particularly for community organizers. As a secondary study aim, she proposes that her field experiment designed to influence carceral attitudes may also reduce racial prejudices.

All of her scholarship is theoretically and empirically sophisticated, while at the same time directly aimed to translate to community practice of reducing racism and related policy attitudes. Ms. Brock-Petroshius has developed considerable expertise in qualitative and quantitative methods through her coursework, and has positioned herself as an interdisciplinary scholar through training in politics, policy, psychology, and social work. As a doctoral student, she is a phenomenal writer and thinker.



Recipient: Josal Diebold, University at Buffalo
PhD Candidate , Graduate Assistant


Nominators: Dr. Annette Semanchin Jones & Dr. Diane E. Elze

Ms. Diebold is dedicated to research as praxis, ensuring that her scholarly work is connected to action and the people doing the on-the-ground organizing. She also understands her research endeavors, particularly with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), to be about dismantling white supremacy and moving white communities toward racial justice and their mutual interest. Moreover, she sees this research, and organizing, as accountable to and a part of the larger multiracial movement led by Black activists and scholars, and other communities of color.

Through her efforts, Ms. Diebold provides an excellent example of how to harness the tools of research and evaluation to strengthen and propel organizing and movement work forward, and she is demonstrating ways that white organizers hold themselves accountable to BIPOC communities.

As a doctoral student, Josie Diebold is already an outstanding scholar whose research is fully grounded in her organizing experience and commitment to dismantling white supremacy. She skillfully engages with community partners to research pressing questions, and to strengthen overall efforts to work towards racial justice.



Recipient: Greer A. Hamilton, Boston University
Doctoral Candidate
NIDA Supplement Candidate & Research Assistant for HEALing Communities Study, Massachusetts
Research Assistant for the BU Diversity & Inclusion Process Evaluation
Co-Chair (2021-2023), Sociology and Social Welfare Division, SSSP
Membership and Outreach Committee: Student Representative (2021-2024), SSSP
Doctoral Student Committee Member, SSWR


Nominators:
Dr. Linda Sprague Martinez, Dr. Melvin Delgado, Deborah Chassler, and
Catalina Tang Yan.


Ms. Hamilton has distinguished herself as an exceptional leader and scholar throughout her community engagement, teaching, and scholarship. She has multiple teaching and service appointments that speak for her unwavering commitment to social work education and practice. Moreover, Ms. Hamilton’s outstanding leadership engaging in collaborative work in academic and community-based settings represent an embodiment of authentic community engaged research. Additionally, she has provided significant support with the conceptualization and writing of academic manuscripts by training and challenging colleagues. Her enthusiasm, maturity, and professionalism in research projects demonstrate her remarkable ability to manage multiple competing priorities.

Through the use of innovative and dialectic arts-based methods, Greer transcends substantial dissemination of knowledge by increasing accessibility of research findings to wider audiences. In addition to contributing to relevant community-based scholarship through an equity and justice lens, Ms. Hamilton has engaged in creative and collaborative arts-based dissemination forms including puppetry to disseminate her scholarly work to multiple audiences.




Outstanding Practitioner Award

This award recognizes a practitioner who has made a significant contribution to a community in an innovative and impactful way.

Recipient: Alexis Tsoukalas, Florida Policy Institute
Policy Analyst
Ph.D. Student in Public Affairs (Social Work), University of Central Florida
Economic Stability Fellow, Central Florida Foundation THRIVE


Nominators: Dr. Shalay Jackson, Jim Akin, and Mark Homan.

Ms. Tsoukalas is a specialist in policy practice, which she combines with social action and community-engagement to bring about positive change. She has also contributed extensively to racial justice through her work with the NASW immigration task force, through working to include diverse communities in the policy process, and through her engagement with students on a wide range of social issues.

A rising star in both social work and public administration, Ms. Tsoukalas’ work is an exemplary model of the interprofessional practice that is so vital to macro social work.




Outstanding Student Award

This award honors a BSW or MSW student who is doing outstanding community practice.


Recipient: Richie Torres, Boston College

Nominators: Dr. Cal Halvorsen & Janine A. Solomon.

Mr. Torres is proactive, persistent, and creative—key qualities that will make him an outstanding macro-level social worker. To pay his tuition while building his clinical skills and knowledge of human services systems, he works full time with children with autism. And to build his advocacy, policy, and communication skills, he sought two unique roles in the field of social work: First, he interned for a consulting and governmental affairs firm, and now, he is interning for a statewide children’s advocacy organization. He hit the ground running in this role, testifying this past July before the Massachusetts Joint Committee of Education in support of a law to increase equitable access to high-quality vocational schools—after just one month in his internship!

Mr. Torres' work is highly responsive to our community’s—and our country’s—urgent needs. As a student who aims to make positive changes in the programs and policies that shape the lives and educational opportunities for immigrants and people of color, Richie has already made a tremendous difference.



The Marie O. Weil Outstanding Scholarship Award

This award recognizes outstanding scholarship published in the Journal of Community Practice during the previous volume year. Authors are selected for their contribution to the field, scholarly approach, and/or promotion of macro practice values. Taylor and Francis, the journal publisher, co-sponsors this award.

The best article in the Journal of Community Practice for Volume 28 (2020) was awarded to: Laurie A. Walker, University of Montana; Kimberly McKeehan, Tribal Council, Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Indians of Montana; and Laura J. Folkwein, University Congregational Church, Missoula for their meritorious contribution:

Walker, L. A., McKeehan, K., & Folkwein, L. J. (2020). Responding to displacement: Lessons for neighborhood development in Indigenous contexts. Journal of Community Practice, 28(4), 391-402. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705422.2020.1838683
(Click on DOI for FREE Access to Article)

In addition, two articles were selected for honorable mention:


"Banking on community: The use of time banking as an innovative community practice teaching strategy" – Rebecca A. Matthew

"Sense of community belonging: Exploring the impact of housing quality, affordability, and safety among renter households" – Catherine Leviten-Reid, Rebecca Matthew, and Leslie Wardley