2014 Minnesota Psychological Association’s Annual Convention Award Winners

Award:  Susan T. Rydell Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award
Winner:  Bruce Bobbitt, Ph.D., L.P.

Bruce Bobbitt, Ph.D., L.P. is this year’s recipient of the Susan T. Rydell Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award.  The Susan T. Rydell Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award recognizes an MPA member who has made distinguished contributions to the field and discipline of psychology in the State of Minnesota. Dr. Bobbitt received his Ph.D. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota.  He is currently employed as the Vice President of Quality Management and Improvement for Optum Behavioral Health Solutions.  Dr. Bobbitt has served the Minnesota Psychological Association in countless ways over many years.  He served as a member of MPA’s Governing Council for 14 years, and as treasurer for 5 years.  Dr. Bobbitt served as MPA’s representative to the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives from 1990 to 1995.  Dr. Bobbitt frequently provided presentations to MPA members at its annual convention and in other education venues.  Dr. Bobbitt played a key role in the discussion leading to changes in the academic preparation for licensure as a psychologist in Minnesota.  This was a long, contentious discussion that was resolved in large measure through his work.  Dr. Bobbitt was awarded the Karl F. Heiser Presidential Award for Advocacy on Behalf of Professional Psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA) for his leadership.

Nationally, Dr. Bobbitt has also made significant contributions.  He has served as a consulting editor for the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice from 1994-2006 and 2012 to the present.  He served on the Behavioral Health Advisory Panel for the National Committee for Quality Assurance from 2003-2007 and currently started serving again in 2012 to present.  He was an invited participant and discussant for APA’s Practice Summit held in April 2009 in San Antonio, Texas.  Dr. Bobbitt has also been an invited workshop and plenary speaker for the AOA State Leadership Conference.  He has authored a number of articles on psychology policy, especially quality improvement, in peer reviewed journals.  Dr. Bobbitt has been a frequent invited speaker for state and national groups regarding quality, health reform, and the emergence of new payment models in psychology.  In addition, Dr. Bobbitt has served his community in a number of volunteer capacities.  He served on the Board of Directors for Walk-In Counseling center from 2000-2011 and acted as Board Chair from 2005-2011. Dr. Bobbitt also served on the Board of Directors of the Budget for Runaway Youth from 1986-1992 and led as Board Chair from 1990-1991.  Beyond his many distinguished achievements in the service of psychology, Dr. Bobbitt is a personal champion for psychology in Minnesota, holding high standards for MPA and its members. 

Award:  Donald G. Paterson Undergraduate Award in Psychology
Winner: Angela M. Kurth, University of St. Thomas 

From Left to Right: Angela M. Kurth and CJ Swanlund

The Donald G. Paterson Award is given to an outstanding college senior planning a career in psychology, and the purpose of this $350 award is to recognize and encourage high achievement in psychology at the undergraduate level.  This year’s recipient is Angela M. Kurth who is a senior from the University of Saint Thomas. Not only has Angela demonstrated academic success in psychology and other facets of her undergraduate education, she has also consistently been the recipient of honors, awards, and scholarships.  For the writing portion of her nomination, it was apparent that Angela was already writing at the graduate level, as she investigated the role that siblings played in the development of Theory of Mind in children.  Angela has presented her independent research on a measure of friendship quality at an undergraduate research conference, and she has presented collaborative research on moral development at two professional international conferences.  One of her professors expressed that, “Angie has become an outstanding leader among her peers, working as one of the few Educational Assistants in our Psychology Department and being an amazingly competent and mature research mentor for Dr. Bock’s junior undergraduate research assistants.” She is a model student in all ways and will continue to be so as she transitions to graduate school at the University of Notre Dame where she received an impressive scholarship and assistantship to study developmental psychology.

Award:  Diversity in Leadership Award
Winner:  Rosa E. Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P.

From Left to Right: Rosa E. Garcia-Peltoniemi and Beryl Wingate

Rosa E. Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P. is this year’s recipient of the Diversity in Leadership Award.  Dr. Garcia-Peltoniemi has worked at the Center for Victims of Torture since 1987.  Her clinical and research background is in cross-cultural assessment and intervention with survivors of political trauma. She has lectured extensively on refugee mental health topics and has served as a consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health’s Refugee Program.  She has also served on the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and charter member of Division 56, Trauma Psychology. Dr. Garcia-Peltoniemi obtained a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota and is licensed by the Minnesota Board of Psychology as a Licensed Psychologist. Dr. Garcia-Peltoniemi served as the Director of Client Services at the Center for Victims of Torture in Minnesota from 1991 until September 2006 when she was named Senior Consulting Clinician.

Award:  Distinguished Elders Award
Winners:  Joel Hetler, Ph.D., L.P., Jim Ayers, Ph.D., L.P. and Steve Vincent, Ph.D., L.P.

From Left to Right: Joel Hetler and Bibi Neumann

Joel Hetler, Ph.D., L.P.is one of three recipients of the Distinguished Elders Award.  Dr. Hetler received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1976.  He worked for Ramsey County Human Services for almost 30 years, serving as their first Children’s Mental Health Manager.  He has been influential in developing public policies and services for children’s mental health case management, crisis, early intervention and school based mental health.  He is particularly proud of his leadership in the development of children’s mobile crisis teams and multi-cultural mental health services and supports.  As Ramsey County became increasingly diverse, he made it a priority to bring leaders and providers of color to the table to help create a system of care that could meet the needs of their communities.  Since 2007, Dr. Hetler has been at the University of Minnesota.  He is currently on the research faculty at the Department of Psychiatry and serves as the Community Network Director for the Center for Personalized Prevention Research.  While at the U, he helped found the Cultural Providers Network, bridging the gap between behavioral science and community practice for children and families of color.  Dr. Hetler’s current research focuses on developing executive functioning skills as a way of reducing risk for conduct disorder.  Dr. Hetler reports that being a part-timer at the U is the ultimate “retirement” job.  “I get to stay involved in cutting edge work in children’s mental health without having to come in to the office every day!”

From Left to Right: Gary Schoener accepting for Jim Ayers and Bibi Neumann

Jim Ayers, Ph.D., L.P. is the second recipient of the Distinguished Elders Award.  Dr. Ayers received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1976.  Dr. Ayers began using videotape as a faculty member in Health Psychology in Psychiatry and Public Health at the University of Minnesota Hospital. He wanted to understand therapy, counseling, and how people help each other. He wanted to actually see the healing process itself as it unfolded face-to-face, and to this end he began working on instrumentation to observe face-to-face interactions. He used this technology for a few years at United Hospital in St. Paul, until he began working a dozen years with convicted sexual offenders at Alpha Human Services. When Dr. Ayers began working as Clinic Director at the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis in 1988, he believed he had found his dream job.  At Walk-In everyone came by choice, the clients, the counselors, the supervisors and team receptionists. Everyone wanted to do good, unencumbered by fees, appointments, or administrative red tape. He became convinced that when a human being is struggling, for whatever reason, their primary need is to be able to talk face-to-face with another informed human being. The barriers to doing that, however, are many as people are marginalized because of race, gender, criminal record, poverty, and education. While at Walk-In he expanded his clinical work with chemical dependency problems at the Salvation Army, Eden House, and the NetWork for Better Futures in north Minneapolis.  Rather than stopping, Dr. Ayers sees himself picking up new steam as a psychologist as he has co-founded UfaceMe, Inc. to provide relationship learning technology in this new digital age.

From Left to Right: Steven Vincent and Bibi Neumann

Steve Vincent, Ph.D., L.P.is the third recipient of the Distinguished Elders Award.  Dr. Vincent received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California in 1973.  Later that same year he began teaching in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  In the summer of 1977, Dr. Vincent and his family moved to St. Cloud Minnesota where he took the position of psychologist at St. Cloud Hospital, initially providing inpatient consultation and assessment services.  Quickly the role expanded to include outpatient psychotherapy.  Dr. Vincent was a one-person department, and therefore department head, and he quickly realized that more psychologists were needed.  Thus began a gradual growth in the psychology services of St. Cloud Hospital to their current status of 20 psychologists.  As the department grew, so did the opportunities, and Dr. Vincent led the development of an APA accredited internship at St. Cloud Hospital, which operated for approximately 10 years before financial pressures forced the hospital to close the internship.  In 1995, Dr. Vincent became Co-Director of Behavioral Health Services for St. Cloud Hospital, with responsibility for all behavioral health services, both inpatient and outpatient and including both mental health and substance abuse services.  Those services continued to grow to include adult and adolescent inpatient services; child, adolescent and adult partial hospitalization programs; and both general and specialty outpatient clinics.  In 1996, the Behavioral Health Services began recruiting psychiatry providers as well, now employing a dozen psychiatrists and seven advanced practice nurses.  Dr. Vincent is proud of the collegial relationship that developed and has continued among the mental health professions at St. Cloud Hospital.  Dr. Vincent was elected to the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association Section on Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services, and served a three-year term from 2010 to 2012, inclusive.  During that time, he also led the development of the Behavioral Health Task Force of the Minnesota Hospital Association, serving as its founding chair.  Dr. Vincent has also served as legislative chair for MPA for nine years, and has served two terms on MPA’s Governing Council—a total of six years.  Dr. Vincent retired as Director of Behavioral Health in July 2013.  Dr. Vincent is currently serving as President of MPA this year.

Award:  Community Involvement Award
Winner:  Walk-In Counseling Center

The Walk-In Counseling Center is this year’s recipient of the Community Involvement Award.  The Walk-In Counseling Center is a nonprofit that was founded in 1969 by a group of young psychologists called Psychologists for Social Action in order to address the unmet need for accessible mental health services, especially for youth and young adults, in the Twin Cities.  Their mission was then and still is to provide free, easily accessible mental health counseling to people with urgent needs and few, if any, service options. Walk-In is, to their knowledge, the only mental health clinic in the nation whose services are provided entirely by volunteers.   For the past 45 years, their free mental health counseling services have been provided entirely by volunteers working in teams comprised of team consultants, counselors and receptionists. Each year approximately 165 people volunteer with Walk-In.  In 2013, 164 volunteers provided 13,894 hours of service, valued at an estimated $826,595.  In a given year, approximately 50% (80+) of their volunteers are degreed psychologists (Ph.D.s, Psy.D.s and M.A.s) or advanced psychology graduate students.  Over the past 45 years, hundreds of psychologists have volunteered with this organization.  Volunteers, including psychologists, are the heart and soul of Walk-In Counseling Center.

Award:  Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award
Winner:  Beehive PR

From Left to Right: Jay McNamara, Lisa Hannum (President and CEO), Nicki Gibbs (VP Strategy), and Jennifer Pollard.

Since 1999, Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards have been presented to organizations by state, provincial and territorial psychological associations throughout the U.S. and Canada with support from the American Psychological Association.  The Minnesota Psychological Association has been a leader in the APA effort to recognize and promote psychologically healthy work environments.  The APA award program highlights a variety of workplaces, large and small, profit and non-profit, in diverse geographical settings.  Applicants are evaluated on their efforts in the following five areas:  Employee Involvement, Work-Life Balance, Employee Growth and Development, Health and Safety, Employee Recognition.  The Beehive PR is this year’s recipient of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.  Lisa Hannum, President and CEO, was present to accept the award.  Headquartered in St. Paul, Beehive PR is a strategic communications agency that knows a positive, inspired environment is foundational to doing positively brilliant work. In fact, that commitment is part of the Beehive vision: Be a game-changing partner and an energizing, wholehearted workplace. Beehive lives its vision every day with flexible work hours, generous PTO, and considerable internal support. Beehive PR’s commitment to Employee Growth and Development is especially impressive, with personal as well as professional weekly goals written out on a white board visible to all.  Their Spiral Up program includes self-development activities and a company-created checklist and journaling system to monitor progress.  In-house workout facilities and meditation room contribute to employee Health and Safety.

Award:  American Psychological Association State Legislator of the Year Award
Winner:  Senator Julie Rosen

Senator’s Standing Ovation

Senator Julie Rosen is this year’s recipient of the American Psychological Association State Legislator of the Year Award.  Julie A. Rosen is a member of the Minnesota Senate.  As a member of the Republican Party, she represents District 23, which includes all or portions of Blue Earth, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Waseca and Watonwan counties in the southern part of the state.  Originally from Colorado, Senator Rosen graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University.  She worked as a marketing representative for Elanco and American Hoechst Chemical Company prior to being elected to the legislature.  In 2005, she was honored as the first female to receive the Alumni of the Year award from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University.  As a first term senator, Senator Rosen earned the distinction of being a leading authority on methamphetamine and other drug-related issues.  She organized the Minnesota Meth Task Force and, under her direction and leadership, developed and passed the groundbreaking meth legislation in the nation.  She continues to work passionately towards fighting drug use among children and adults.  She is widely regarded as a strong voice for rural Minnesota, and she is also active in seeking improvements in health care, working towards finding a more affordable and beneficial delivery system that provides the people of Minnesota with better health care benefits.  During the 2013 legislative session, Senator Rosen authored and led the passage of a bill that enables licensed psychologists to be paid by Minnesota Health Care Programs for providing consultation to primary care providers.  MPA sought passage of this legislation for more than five years, and it was finally achieved with the authorship, leadership, support and guidance of Senator Rosen.  Every plan put forward in our nation for improvement of health care includes the notion of integrating mental health care with primary and specialty medical care.  The legislation passed with Senator Rosen’s leadership makes such integration both more possible and more likely.

Award:  Award for the Outstanding Teaching of Psychology in Community/Two-Year Colleges
Winner:  Jessie Breyer, Psy.D.

From Left to Right: Jack Rossmann and Jessie Breyer, Psy.D.


Jessie Breyer, Psy.D. is this year’s recipient of the Award for the Outstanding Teaching of Psychology in Community/Two-Year Colleges. Jessie received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota and completed both her Master’s and Psy D. degrees at the University of St. Thomas in Counseling Psychology.  She was an adjunct faculty member at North Hennepin Community College for two years and is in her third year of teaching full-time at Century College. She teaches a wide variety of courses including General Psychology, lifespan developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, adulthood, aging and death, and brain, mind and behavior.  In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she has worked in several therapeutic settings including: the Center for Counseling and Legal Services in Minneapolis, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, the Hennepin County Medical Center, and the Carver County Mental Health Center. For eight years, she was a clinical interviewer and psychological assessment coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota.   She has been the author or co-author of eight articles and has given 12 conference presentations. From 2008-2010, she chaired the MPA Student Division.

Jessie’s nominating letter came from the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Century who had observed her classes.  She indicated that “Jessie treats all students with equity, compassion, and respect, and she takes them from where they are to where they need to be.  She endeavors to transform the lives of her students every day.”  One student commented “(Dr. Breyer) has a unique capacity to maintain the utmost of professionalism while displaying genuine warmth, making her very approachable and easy to talk to.  I am deeply grateful to have had the experience of being (one of her students).”  A second student stated, “Every time I see her, she has a huge smile on her face, acknowledges me and always asks if she can help me with anything.  …….She expects a lot from her students and provides plenty of work to keep her students engaged.”  And a third student said, “By putting complex concepts into simple descriptions, referring us to websites with more information, and handing out weekly note packets, she makes psychology shockingly easy to learn…… Because of Dr. Breyer’s intriguing and clear teaching style, and her passion for psychology, I have decided to pursue a career in that field.”

Award:  The Walter D. Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award
Winner: Tom Brothen, Ph.D.

From Left to Right: Jack Rossmann and Tom Brothen

Tom Brothen, Ph.D. is this year’s recipient of the Walter D. Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award.  Dr. Brothen completed his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in psychology at the University of Minnesota.  While in graduate school in 1971, he began teaching Introductory Psychology in the University’s General College and in 2006, his appointment was shifted to the Department of Psychology.  Some back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that he has been teaching the introductory psychology course for more than 40 years.  And throughout these years, his approach to teaching has been highly innovative.  He introduced online technology in 1974, well before the internet came into common use.  In 1989, Tom created the first computer classrooms at the University of Minnesota and in 1995, his Introductory Psychology course became the first online course to be offered by the University’s College of Liberal Arts.  Since 2006, he has been the faculty director of the Introduction to Psychology course at the University, which means he works with about 2,400 students each year, and he has added a number of creative approaches to this course.  During the past 20 years, he has served on panels for Educom, APA, and the National Science Foundation to discuss his work on digitizing the teaching of psychology.  His excellence in the classroom has been recognized by his receipt of the University’s Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education and his selection for membership in the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.  He has published more than 80 journal articles, and most of them are on the teaching of psychology.  A senior at the University commented that “Professor Brothen is an extraordinary teacher and an inspiring advisor.  He hopes to deepen students’ understanding of the lecture material and improve their exam performance by using new technology effectively.” A second student stated that “Dr. Brothen has a wonderful rapport with his students.  Undergraduate students are his priority.  The opportunity to do research with him has developed my aspiration to become a researcher in psychology.”

Award:  Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty in Psychology
Winner:  John Romano, Ph.D.

From Left to Right: Jack Rossmann and John Romano


John Romano, Ph.D. is this year’s recipient of the Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty in Psychology.  John did his undergraduate work in mathematics at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, received a Master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and completed his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Arizona State in 1976.  He joined the University of Minnesota faculty the following year where he first served in the General College and in 1988 moved to his current position as a Professor of Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology in the College of Education and Human Development.  John has had 30 Ph.D. advisees, receives excellent teaching evaluations from his students, is a Fellow of two divisions of the American Psychological Association, and has received awards for his research and mentoring from APA and the American Counseling Association. He is the author of more than 70 journal articles, and his most recent book on “Prevention Psychology” will be published by APA Press this year.

Letters of support were received from three of John’s former Ph.D. students.  The first of these, now a faculty member in Thailand, stated “Professor Romano always demonstrates the following values: integrity, outstanding teaching and service, scholarly research and collaboration, equity and social justice, and a diversity of ideas.”  A second advisee, now a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, said, “Throughout my years of doctoral study, he offered his unwavering guidance and support and was a mentor whom I admired and emulated.  His meticulous comments led to a dissertation that was immeasurably better than the initial drafts.”  And a third advisee is now the director of the Psy.D. program at Springfield College in Massachusetts.  She commented: “John’s confidence in me inspired me to work harder than I had ever before to write something I could truly be proud to submit, and that was ultimately accepted.  He has never failed to support me, encourage me and assist me when I reached a juncture in the road.   He is an amazingly gifted mentor and a truly outstanding teacher, scholar, and human being.”

Award Winners

From Left to Right: Angela M. Kurth, Jessie Breyer, Rosa E. Garcia-Peltoniemi, Nadine Kaslow (APA President), Senator Julie Rosen, Joel Hetler, Tom Brothen, Bruce Bobbitt, John Buck, Maria Scheidegger, John Romano

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