2015 Minnesota Psychological Association’s Annual Convention Award Winners

Award:  Susan T. Rydell Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award

Winner:  Trisha Stark, Ph.D., L.P., M.P.A.  

From left to right: Scott Palmer, Trisha Stark, and Scott Slattery

Trisha Stark, Ph.D., L.P., M.P.A., is this year’s recipient of the Susan T. Rydell Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award.  Dr. Stark was recognized by MPA for her considerable advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals most needing of psychological support by promoting the ongoing strength of our profession.  Recognizing that our own professional complacency does not serve clients well, Dr. Stark has, over the course of the past decade, dared to leave the comfort of our professional village, climb the next mountain on the horizon, and peek over the crest to glimpse what the future portends. A bellweather for psychology during a time of significant change, she has come back from these excursions with news we are not always ready (or don’t want) to hear.  Despite this, she has persisted in educating psychologists and forming collaborative partnerships across the state (e.g., Minnesota Mental Health Workforce Plan) – all to ensure that individuals relying on the availability of psychological services will be represented at the tables where policy and funding are decided.  Dr. Stark’s efforts epitomize the essence of this award.

Award:  Leadership in Diversity Award
Winner:  Jim Ayers, Ph.D., L.P.

From left to right: Willie Garrett, Jim Ayers, and Scott Palmer


Jim Ayers, Ph.D., L.P., is this year’s recipient of the Leadership in Diversity Award.  Dr. Ayers grew up in an all white community in eastern Wisconsin, all white church, Eagle Scout, camp counselor with many privileges he did not understand and appreciate. So by the time he was a 23-year-old seminarian in 1966, he realized he needed to learn about racial diversity not from books but first hand. The summer of 1966 in Chicago was a memorable time for Jim when he participated in civil rights actions led by Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson. There he witnessed not just large-scale fear and hatred but also the courage of many who enlightened him about how social injustice fosters mental illness. When he obtained his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology ten years later at the University of Minnesota, he began to combine his video production skills with psychology to focus on face-to-face human interaction as the core human experience in which we encounter diversity and understand or misunderstand each other. In his forty-year career he has found himself drawn to diversity of all kinds: 25 years as Clinic Director of the Walk-In Counseling Center where he supervised hundreds of counselors doing crisis intervention with underserved persons from all over the world; 12 years as an outpatient therapist for convicted sex offenders at Alpha Human services; 6 years at the Network for Better Futures, serving minorities disenfranchised because of criminal record, homelessness, and chemical dependency; 8 years at Eden House and the Salvation Army providing mental health services in treating chemically dependent men. These experiences have led him to start a company, UfaceME, Inc., and develop the UfaceME method where two people can identify, share, and better understand their separate viewpoints of one another. Presently Jim is applying this tool in chemical dependency treatment and youth mentoring with plans for worldwide application through smart phone technology. For Jim discovering diversity has meant coming alive to welcome the world.

Award:  Distinguished Elder in Psychology
Winner:  Robert Seybold, Ph.D., L.P.

From left to right: BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, Robert Seybold, and Scott Palmer

Robert Seybold, Ph.D., L.P., is one of three recipients of the Distinguished Elder Award.  Dr. Seybold completed his doctorate in Educational Psychology in 1980 from the Counseling & Student Personnel Psychology program at the University of Minnesota. During graduate school his association with University Counseling & Consulting Services at the University of Minnesota began as a practicum student, and he has remained a staff member in varying roles at UCCS since then. For the past 28 years, he has been in charge of the UCCS office on the St. Paul campus, providing personal, academic, and career counseling services to countless students and serving as a consultant to various campus departments. He supervised the counseling of over 100 graduate students. Dr. Seybold has frequently presented seminars and guest lectures ranging from freshman orientation classes to graduate student training at both the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. In addition to this work, he convened the University Community Response Team since 2002. This interdisciplinary group of campus professionals supports student groups affected by trauma occurring to members of their groups. He has presented at state and national conferences regarding his experiences with these interventions.

Award:  Distinguished Elder in Psychology
Winner:  Sigurd Hoppe, Ph.D., L.P.

Sigurd Hoppe, Ph.D., L.P., is the second recipient of the Distinguished Elder in Psychology award.  Dr. Hoppe migrated to the U.S. in 1941 with his family to escape Hitler Germany. His career in education and mental health has included working as a community organizer at a housing project on the south side of Chicago, teaching 4th grade at Haines Elementary School in Chinatown, working as a staff member for 10 years at the Lake Minnetonka Mental Health Center in Minnesota, and teaching at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He has been in private practice as a psychologist for 29 years. Current activities include being a “safe neutral” on the roster of the Minnesota State Supreme Court to help families resolve conflicts through a collaborative approach, being a member of the Collaborative Law Institute, and conducting men’s process groups with The Father/Son Project. Dr. Hoppe has impacted thousands of men, couples, and children in his career. He has mentored numerous interns over the years as a therapist and instructor, and some say he is one of the best whistlers and fiddle players in Minnesota.

Award:  Distinguished Elder in Psychology
Winner:  J. Bruce Overmier, Ph.D.

From left to right: BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, J. Bruce Overmier, and Scott Palmer

J. Bruce Overmier, Ph.D., is the third recipient of the Distinguished Elders Award.  Dr. Overmier is professor emeritus in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota.  He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Kenyon College, master’s degrees in psychology from Bowling Green University and the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.  His academic interests are in cognitive and biological psychology, conditioning, memory in animals and humans, stress, and behavioral neuroscience.  He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, has authored or co-authored many journal articles and books, and has served in leadership positions for national and international scientific organizations.  For the American Psychological Association, he has been on many committees and boards including the Board of Publications and Communications and the Board of Directors.  As a member of the Minnesota Psychological Association, he has served on the Donald G. Paterson Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award Committee, been a keynote speaker for the MPA Annual Convention, written for the Minnesota Psychologist, and been a recipient of the Susan T. Rydell Award for Outstanding Contribution to Psychology.

Award:  Walter D. Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award
Winner:  David C. Matz, Ph.D.

From left to right: Jack Rossman, David Matz, and Scott Palmer

David C. Matz, Ph.D., from Augsburg College, is the 2015 recipient of the Walter D. Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award.  Dr. Matz joined the Augsburg faculty in 2001 where he is now a Professor of Psychology.  He did his undergraduate work at Bemidji State University, has a master’s degree from North Dakota State University, and completed his Ph.D. at Texas A and M University.  In the letter of nomination, the chair of Dr. Matz’s department described him as the “go to” professor at Augsburg.  His courses are in high demand, and his student evaluations are outstanding.  Other faculty at Augsburg see him as an excellent person to provide helpful advice on how to improve their instructional skills.  At the national level, he and a co-author were recognized for their outstanding presentation at the 2015 National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology.  He is also co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant for the development of an eye-tracking laboratory at Augsburg that has “changed the landscape of research at the college.”  One of his students commented that, “Dr. Matz is a dedicated, inspirational professor who has become a role model for many students.” Another student stated that “Professor Matz is a phenomenal teacher,” and a third said “Dave is very passionate about what he teaches, and it shows in his always positive and excited attitude.”

Award:  Donald G. Paterson Undergraduate Award in Psychology
Winner:  Katherine A. Johanson

From left to right: CJ Swanlund, Katherine Johanson, and Scott Palmer

Katherine A. Johanson, a senior at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, is the recipient of the 2015 Donald G. Paterson Award. Not only has Katherine demonstrated academic success in pursuing double majors in psychology and gerontology, among other facets of her undergraduate education, she has also consistently been the recipient of honors, awards, and scholarships, including a prestigious award from the Minnesota Gerontological Society.  Katherine has presented independent research on social desirability and perfectionism at the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference, and is preparing to present collaborative research entitled “Memory Blocks in Auditory Word Fragment Completion” at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s 2015 Annual Conference.  Katherine has engaged in several volunteer and research opportunities aligned with her interests in geropsychology, and she currently volunteers as a research assistant at North Dakota State University studying cognitive functions in older adults. Katherine plans to continue her education in geropsychology at the doctoral level.

Award:  Community Involvement Award
Winner:  Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS)

From left to right: Sara Messelt and Scott Palmer


The Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is this year’s recipient of the Community Involvement Award.  In 1997, Susan Carlson, Minnesota’s First Lady from 1991-1999, convened the Governor’s Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to study the issue in Minnesota and make recommendations to the Governor and the 1998 legislature.  Out of that initiative, the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or MOFAS, was launched in 1998.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, are the most preventable social problem we face since it is 100 percent preventable.  There is over 40 years of scientific research demonstrating the clear risk of drinking alcohol while pregnant.   MOFAS works to ensure that all women in Minnesota know about the 049 message – zero alcohol for nine months.  MOFAS offers specific activities, classes, and support for birth and kinship families to help guide them on their journey.

For families, MOFAS has established a number of diagnostic clinics throughout the State of Minnesota to provide support before, during, and after the evaluation process.  Psychologists play a major role in any MOFAS diagnostic clinic.  These assessments are multidisciplinary and recognize the importance of coordination and collaboration.  Psychologists have a major role in completing diagnostic assessments, psychological or neuropsychological testing, and then reviewing the diagnostic information and treatment recommendations with the families.  Psychologists are often the leaders of these teams and synthesize the information from various disciplines into a combined report that gets the ball rolling for coordinated care.

MOFAS also engages psychologists in a number of grants and volunteer activities with the hope of getting out the 049 message and making a difference in the lives of children impacted by FASD.  For example, psychologists have volunteered time with MOFAS-sponsored training-of-trainers events which allows psychologists and other professionals to share information on FASD with other Minnesota providers and communities. MOFAS grants have brought to our community FASD screening in our pediatrics clinics, alcohol and substance use screenings for moms most at risk for pregnancy in our family practice clinics, and education and parent support to help moms and dads learn effective methods of parenting.  The Minnesota Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is wonderful to our communities in Minnesota and to the children and families impacted by FASD.

Award:  Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award
Winner:  Park Nicollet Health Services

From left to right: Jennifer Pollard, Scott Palmer, Kari Olson-Finnegan, and Jay McNamara

Park Nicollet Health Services is one of four recipients for this year’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.  Park Nicollet, a 2011 PHWA winner, continues its strong tradition of focusing on employee well-being, health and safety, and employee recognition. In addition to generous continuing education and tuition reimbursement practices, Park Nicollet promotes an online system for employee recognition called Ovations!  Park Nicollet’s Wellness Fair, which includes numerous programs such as a Sleep Center, a Women’s Health Center, and a Better Eating Collaborative, resulted in improved scores on the organization’s modifiable health index. Park Nicollet also provides easy access to EAP, Spiritual Care, online resources, renewal rooms, healing touch, and MBSR classes to assist with stress management. Employee involvement is prominent with staff at all levels in that they are included on their Diversity committee, an Employee Engagement Survey and Action Planning Process committee, a Corporate volunteer council, a Celebration for Life fundraising event, and standing committees which address Safety, Wellness, Staffing, and Safe Patient Handling.

Award:  Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award
Winner:  Touchstone Mental Health

From left to right: Jennifer Pollard, Scott Palmer, Martha Lantz, Julie Aubel, and Jay McNamara

Touchstone Mental Health is the second recipient of this year’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.  Touchstone Mental Health reports and displays an intentional positive attitude in the way they treat their employees, and their clients.  The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award Committee found several themes throughout Touchstone’s application reflecting “praise,” “support,” and “teamwork,” in addition to intentionality.  Touchstone has programs and policies in place designed specifically to enhance employee effectiveness, including tuition and licensing fee reimbursement, and multiple in-house, online, and outside training opportunities. Employees consistently report they receive the tools and resources necessary to be successful. A strong collegial atmosphere was reported by employees who truly care for one another. Pervasive teamwork allows employees’ opportunities to thrive and be their best, through practices such as offering each other advice, donating vacation time to a coworker in need, or celebrating personal accomplishments and milestones.

Award:  Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award
Winner:  Youth Frontiers

From left to right: Jennifer Pollard, Scott Palmer, Ali Sipkins, Deb Peterson, Phyllis Stromberg, and Jay McNamara

Youth Frontiers is the third recipient of this year’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. Youth Frontiers values caring, quality, and growth not only for the schools and students the organization serves, but also for the organization’s employees.  Youth Frontiers partners with schools to model and teach character values of kindness, moral courage, respect and personal responsibility, but they have fun doing it too!  From having spontaneous dance parties at 2:56 p.m., to their “Props Out” award, as well as other awards that recognize any accomplishment for any employee in any area, Youth Frontiers employees noted they feel a strong connection to their organization which also invests in them.  The “YF Way” focuses on being a character-based caregiver, and on helping each other out on a uniquely individual basis that values the diversity we all possess.

Award:  Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award
Winner:  People Incorporated Mental Health Services

From left to right: Susan Rydell, Jennifer Pollard, Sue Hoisington, Jill West, Scott Palmer, and Jay McNamara

People Incorporated is the fourth recipient of this year’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. People Incorporated Mental Health Services values employees through servant leadership.  People, Inc. understands that employees make the organization, and that satisfied and engaged employees take the organization further.  From their newly developed intranet that connects numerous locations where any employee can post a story or question to the CEO’s monthly blog, People Incorporated employees have a voice and are heard by the organization’s leadership.  The organization also incurred a 0% increase in healthcare premiums in the past year and their insurance company even asked to use People Incorporated’s health programs as an example for their own staff!

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