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This article is the first of a four-part series featuring the 2002 ISTSS award winners. Watch for the spring issue, which will feature the winners of the Robert S. Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor given by ISTSS. It is awarded to the individual who has made a great lifetime contribution to the field. Originally it was called the Pioneer Award, reflecting an important element of the award: It is designed for an individual who has made a significant difference—a person whose accomplishments and contributions have made the field what it is today.

Yael Danieli, PhD, the winner of the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award, exemplifies the highest criteria of this award. For more than three decades, she has relentlessly dedicated her time and resources, not just to the field of PTSD, but primarily, from a human and compassionate perspective, to those who have been afflicted by persecution, atrocities and other traumatizing events—the victims, the survivors and their protectors. There is hardly a dimension in the field where her immense influence is not identifiable, be it in research and theory, in clinical work, in teaching/training or in advocacy.

As a clinician, Danieli started the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children and the International Network of Survivors and Friends of Survivors of Holocaust and Genocide. In ongoing efforts, she has conducted extensive psychotherapeutic work with survivors and children of survivors on an individual, family, group and community basis. Earlier, through her work with these survivors, she learned of the pervasive reaction of society at large.

To describe this reaction, she later developed the pivotal concept of the “conspiracy of silence.” This was one of the main focuses of her research and theoretical work. Her studies on the origins of the conspiracy of silence and its aftermath resulted in two main bodies of work and literature: 1) countertransference and its amelioration and, by extension, bystander’s behavior; 2) the dialectical relationship between the aftermath of the Holocaust and the post-Holocaust conspiracy of silence. At a time when “survivor syndrome” was only a term, she described the heterogeneity she saw in her work, both lifelong and intergenerational, formulating various “posttrauma adaptational styles.” This aspect of her work culminated in 1998 with the publication of the International Handbook of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma. The concept of multigenerational transmission of trauma and its multilevel role as a determinant of the behavior of nations, communities, families and individuals is widely accepted internationally, due in large part to the impact of Danieli’s scholarly writings and teaching.

Applying the lessons from her work with survivors and children of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, most recently she has served as consultant to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Rwandan government on reparations for victims, and she leads ongoing projects in the former Yugoslavia.

Danieli’s past role in ISTSS was essential and continues to be so. She is one of the society’s founders and past presidents (1988–89), and she established its consultative status with the United Nations. Prior to that, she represented the World Federation for Mental Health at the UN, and served as vice chair of the Executive Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) associated with the UN Department of Public Information and chair of its Publications Committee. As a founding member of the WFMH Scientific Committee on the Mental Health Needs of Victims and its chair, she has been profoundly influential in developing, promoting, adapting and implementing all UN instruments relating to victims—most notably the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and the establishment of and the victims’ role in the International Criminal Court.

She has served as consultant to the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch and on the board of its International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council and the Executive Committee of the NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Also, she has served as consultant to UNICEF, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and various governments on trauma and victim/survivors’ rights and care. In the United States, she has consulted for the National Institute of Mental Health, Federal Bureau of Investigation and various media organizations, including the Associated Press and CNN.

Danieli edited, for and on behalf of the United Nations, three highly influential volumes: 1) International Responses to Traumatic Stress, which, for the first time treated UN and NGO contributions equally, thereby emphasizing the necessary partnership between them; 2) the UN book on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, examined from the victims’ standpoint; and 3) most recently, Sharing the Front Line and the Back Hills, highlighting the plight and the price paid by peacekeepers, humanitarian aid workers and the media in the midst of crisis.

Despite all of these activities, Danieli has never hesitated to devote her time and energy to the new generation of colleagues, the young professionals to whom she offers mentoring, guidance, training and supervision. This dedication to encouraging others resulted in her creating the Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award in the memory of her father, specifically to stimulate young members of the society in furthering their work.

In summary, Danieli has devoted her entire professional life, as well as much of her personal life, to improving the welfare of trauma survivors. This impressive record of sustained, innovative and important contributions provided worthy cause for ISTSS to present its highest professional honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to Yael Danieli.