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Home 9 About ISTSS 9 Leadership 9 Awards Committee

Awards Committee

ISTSS has established a number of awards that are given annually to recognize outstanding achievements by groups or individuals in research, practice, and advocacy related to trauma and traumatic stress. Current awards given by the Society are

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Outstanding Service Award
  • Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award
  • Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement
  • Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence
  • Public Advocacy Award
  • Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma Study 

The primary responsibility of the Awards Committee is to solicit nominations for ISTSS awards, consider candidates in light of established award criteria, and recommend a final candidate for each award for Board approval.

In addition, the Awards Committee reviews any proposal for a new award to be established by ISTSS, and makes a recommendation to the Board regarding approval or disapproval. 

The Awards committee works to support all the strategic goals of ISTSS, its main focus is Goal 6 - Organisational Excellence.

Composition & Designated Chair or Members: 
The Committee Chair is appointed by the President, for a two year, renewable term. The Chair reports to a member of the Executive Committee as designated by the President.

The committee consists of the Chair and two to four additional members. All committee members must be members in good standing of ISTSS. Awards Committee members (other than the Chair) may not be current elected or ex-officio Board members. When possible, committee members should be senior specialists within their field, come from different institutions and represent diverse professional approaches.

Authority (including limitations):
The committee has the authority to:

  • recommend award recipients to the Board based on criteria established in ISTSS’ written  award guidelines 
  • recommend revisions to the number, description, eligibility, criteria and benefits of the awards to the Board  
  • recommend that a specific award not be given in a particular year if no suitable candidate has been nominated


  • Award candidates cannot include voting Board members, 
  • The committee cannot change the number, description, eligibility, criteria and benefits for the awards without approval. 

Society Policies Impacting Function: 
Board Motions:
11/04/14: Board Action: Exec Cmte and Awards Committee to create methodology to implement the new award criterion.
11/12/08: Approve non-elected Board members to be eligible to receive ISTSS Society awards.
11/12/08: The Awards Committee will be comprised of non-Board members (elected or ex-officio) and have a Board member who is a non-voting liaison.
4/6/86:  The Awards Committee formulate a proposal for consideration by the Board of Directors
that clarifies the awards process as early as possible.

Interactions with other committees:  The Committee does not routinely interact with other committees, but may consider recommendations from SIGs or other groups regarding awards or award criteria.


  • Produce recommendations for award recipients to the Board (via the Executive Committee) in a timely manner so that awards can be made at the Annual Meeting. 
  • Provide information about the selected recipients to ISTSS headquarters for inclusion in the Award presentation script. 

Staff resources available (from Sherwood scope of work):

  • Develop schedule
  • Prepare Web site Call for Award Nominations
  • Prepare broadcast e-mails regarding Call for Award Nominations (3)
  • Coordinate process with Awards Committee Chair
  • Coordinate scheduling of full Committee conference calls as requested by the Committee Chair
  • Answer questions regarding awards from members either from e-mails or phone calls
  • Create and distribute call for nominations (newsletter, web site, broadcast email, social media)
  • Order plaques, certificates and gifts as appropriate
  • Contact winners and invite them to awards presentation. Collect biographical information and photos
  • Maintain tracking of hotel accommodations
  • Write award presentation script and create a multitude of presentation slides
  • Conduct rehearsals of presentations
  • Publicize award winners (newsletter, web site, broadcast email, social media)
  • Prepare list of winners to be uploaded on the Web site after the meeting

Financial and other resources available: 
Award recipients generally receive one night’s hotel stay and complimentary annual conference registration as well as an award plaque.
Costs associated with certain awards are covered by endowment or funds provided for this purpose. For example, the Dart Center has reimbursed ISTSS for the costs associated with the Frank Ochberg Award.

Processes/procedures:  Meetings
The Awards Committee reviews the nominations and has discussions via email and/or conference call(s) to select the award winners on an annual basis.

Selection Process

  • Nominations are reviewed by Committee on the basis of award-specific criteria for excellence.
  • Names of award candidates and content of Committee deliberations are confidential. The Committee utilizes conference calls and e-mail correspondence to confer.
  • Final award candidates are recommended by the Committee for approval by the ISTSS Board.

Miscellaneous Guidelines, Procedures and Policy: 
(Established by Jos Weerts and the 2003 Awards Committee.)
In selecting the nominees, the Committee will look for a broad geographical representation, as well as a representation based on gender and on professional fields and disciplines.
The chair of the Awards Nominations Committee will have an ongoing communication with their appointed liaison to the Executive Committee.
All award nominations are forwarded to the chair, who collates the relevant documents for each candidate.
The chair then distributes this information to the committee members for their preliminary advice, comments and opinions on the nominated candidate(s).
The chair may seek additional advice from senior ISTSS members and officers, as well as from other experts in the field.
The chair collates information from committee members and other advisors, adds his/her own opinions and comments, and circulates this information to the members of the committee.
The committee members then review this information and communicate their proposed ranking, with appropriate justification, to the chair. 
Active, reciprocal communication within the committee is most important. Synergy between its members is needed to achieve considered and comprehensive advice on the nominations to the [Board].
All correspondence and discussions regarding the awards process are to be treated in absolute confidence. Under no circumstances should committee members discuss the nominations with any other person without the express permission of the chair.

Notification of Winners

  • The committee should provide the Executive Committee with the list of recommended award recipients no later than June 15.
  • The Board should act to determine final award recipients by August 1.
  • ISTSS Staff, on behalf of the President, notify the winners via telephone, fax or e-mail. ISTSS headquarters will work with award recipients regarding attendance at the award presentation at the Annual Meeting and related logistical arrangements.    

The Committee chair should provide Headquarters a brief introduction for each recipient that can be inserted into the awards script along with the one-page statement summarizing the major achievements of the recipient along with their summarized curriculum vitae.  

Award Plaques: Headquarters will order award plaques for presentation at the Annual Meeting.

Award Presentation: The awards are presented at the ISTSS Annual Meeting. The ISTSS President makes the presentation from a script prepared by ISTSS headquarters in conjunction with the Awards Committee Chair.

Award Criteria

For all awards:
The candidate demonstrates integrity in professional activities, including research, clinical practice, and advocacy.

Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is the highest honor given by ISTSS.  It is awarded to the individual who has made the greatest lifetime contributions to the field of PTSD.

  • Candidates will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Outstanding overall achievement in clinical practice, research, strategy and/or policy
  • Seniority within an academic, clinical, or organisational structure
  • Consistency of contributions to the field over an extended period of time (at least 10 years)
  • Evidence of major influence in the field such as responsibility for changes to clinical and/or research practice, implementation of innovative policy/procedures, and extensive publication record

Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award
This award recognizes excellence in traumatic stress service or research by an individual who has completed his or her training within the last five years.

Candidates will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Promising, interesting work, as a young professional in clinical practice and/or research
  • One or more groundbreaking publications
  • Evidence of on-going commitment to the field of traumatic stress

Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement
This award is given to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution to research in the PTSD field.

Candidates will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Publications in influential, high ranking journals
  • Guidance to young professionals
  • Creativity in ideas/content and in methodology: (i.e., the candidate’s research should have made a significant contribution to knowledge and/or clinical practice in the field of traumatic stress)
  • Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence
  • This award is given to a clinician or group of clinicians in direct service to traumatized individuals. This written and/or verbal communication to the field must exemplify the work of Sarah Haley.

Candidates will be judged on clinical excellence in the spirit of Sarah Haley:

  • Good reputation as a clinician over a significant period
  • Advocacy as demonstrated by, for example, public and media appearances, consultancy to large organizations on issues of policy, or advice and training for clinicians
  • Dissemination of clinical excellence through, for example, publications and regular training initiatives
  • Public Advocacy Award
  • This award is given for outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma.

Candidates will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Outstanding and fundamental contributions to advancing social understanding of trauma
  • Evidence of influencing public opinion towards a better understanding of trauma
  • Documented achievements in gaining societal and political support for specific projects and campaigns in this area
  • A commitment to the cause of furthering the understanding of and support for trauma of at least five years.

Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma Study
This award is to recognize significant contributions by clinicians and researchers on the relationship of media and trauma. (This award was established at the 2003 Annual Meeting)  The following establishes the process for funding the award from the October 29, 2003 Board of Directors Meeting Minutes.  This award was extended for another five years, per the Board of Directors Meeting Minutes of November 11-12, 2008.

Creation of New Award
“On behalf of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Dr. Newman proposed that ISTSS create a new annual award to recognize significant contributions by clinicians and researchers on the relationship of media and trauma. The award would be known as the Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma Study, in recognition of Dr. Ochberg’s unique role in creating and sustaining this crucial and rapidly evolving field. 

The Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma Study would constitute professional peer recognition in the traumatic stress studies field, and would be a project of ISTSS rather than the Dart Center. To support the award, the Dart Center is prepared to underwrite the cost, beginning with an initial five-year commitment. At the end of the five years, both ISTSS and the Dart Center would evaluate the success of this award and decided whether each partner is interested in continuing the award.” The motion passed to create this new award and another motion was made at the November 12, 2008 Board meeting to extend the award for another five years.

Award Recipients Benefits (Lifetime Achievement Award, Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award, Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement, Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence, Public Advocacy Award, Frank Ochberg Award for Media and Trauma)

  • Complimentary meeting registration (This does not include Pre / Post Meeting Institutes)
  • One complimentary night of lodging – Room and Tax ONLY (Recipients are responsible for their own travel and hotel arrangements.)
  • An announcement of the award will appear in the issue of ISTSS Traumatic StressPoints immediately following the Annual Meeting and will be posted on the ISTSS Web site.
  • An article outlining the recipient’s accomplishments will be featured in an upcoming issue of ISTSS Traumatic StressPoints.
  • Each recipient will be presented with a plaque in recognition of the award. 


Michele Bedard-Gilligan - Co-Chair
Rachel Hiller - Co-Chair
Diane Elmore Borbon - Staff Person