Recognizing Exemplary Achievements within the Field.

Left: Evan Imber-Black
Right: Ellen Berman

Left: Guillermo Bernal
Right: Celia Falicov

Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research  

Barbara H. Fiese, PhD

Presenter: Susan McDaniel*

Barbara H. Fiese, Ph.D., is a clinical and developmental psychologist whose research focuses on family factors that promote health and wellbeing in children. She holds the Pampered Chef, Ltd., Endowed Chair in Family Resiliency and is Professor and Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with affiliated appointments in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology. She is considered one of the national experts in the role that shared family mealtimes may play in promoting health.  

She is a Principal Investigator or co-Investigator on multiple federally funded projects aimed at examining environmental and biological factors contributing to early nutritional health including the STRONG Kids2 Project which takes a cell-to-community approach to dietary habits from birth and the ITOPP program, an innovative transdisciplinary MPH/PhD training program in obesity prevention. She is also the PI on several projects aimed at increasing the efficiencies of summer and after school feeding programs for food insecure children and youth. 

 She has received multiple teaching and research awards including the Distinguished Contribution to Couple and Family Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the John Clyde and Henrietta Downey Spitler Teaching Award from the University of Illinois and the Team Research Award from the University of Illinois.  She is the Editor of the Journal of Family Psychology and Editor in Chief of the Handbook of Contemporary Family Psychology.

I am truly honored to receive the 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research from the American Family Therapy Academy. AFTA is home to the leaders in the field of systems thinking, practice, policy, and research. I especially appreciate the interdisciplinary collaborative nature of AFTA as this at the core of scientific advances today. I recall my days of graduate school when I sought training in family therapy at the Family Institute in Chicago. I was advised by my graduate clinical supervisor that I should hold off because family therapy was “too complicated.” I am thankful that I did not heed that advice as the training I received in family therapy set me on a path to try to unravel the complexities of families and the role that they might play in promoting children’s health. I am thankful to the AFTA membership for its commitment to address the complexities of family life, to confront the hard questions that families face every day and to find solutions for all families. 

Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice  

The Multicultural Family Institute Group (Monica McGoldrick*, Nydia Garcia Preto*, Roberto Front, Barbara PetkovSueli Petry*, Angelina Belli*, CharlesEtta Sutton*, Paulette Hines*)

Historically, a few of us began working together in the early 1970s, gradually drawing others into a network of therapists, who had a commitment to systemic ideas and contextual work. And those who joined us fortunately expanded the network as new people brought along their colleagues and students. Over the 25 years of our Culture Conferences, 240 presenters generously gave their time, their creative thinking and their wonderful energy to the network as faculty, and both the faculty and participants brought many others into the conversation.

We thank AFTA for this appreciation of our efforts over the past three decades to promote collaboration and networking with our Annual Culture Conference, which we celebrated for 25 years. Our group has been committed to promoting social justice and countering societal forces that undermine people because of race, gender, culture, class, sexual orientation, religion or disability. We hope we have contributed to creating a world in which everyone shares in the possibility of finding a home place where they feel safe and can receive educational, health and mental health resources that allow them to function at their best. To quote Margaret Mead, we have tried to “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We appreciate the recognition AFTA is giving us and now turn to AFTA to continue and expand collaboration and networking. 


Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy

Mary Jo Barrett*, MSW

Presenter: Linda Stone-Fish*

Mary Jo Barrett is the Founder of The Center for Contextual Change. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the Jane Addams School of Social Work and has served on the adjunct faculties of The University of Chicago, The Chicago Center for Family Health, and the Family Institute of Northwestern University. Ms. Barrett was the Clinical Director of Midwest Family Resource and has been working in the field of family violence since 1974 beginning with Parents Anonymous. Ms. Barrett’s latest book, Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change, was co-authored by Linda Stone Fish.  Ms. Barrett has also coauthored two books with Dr. Terry TrepperIncest: A Multiple Systems Perspective and The Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook. She created the Collaborative Change Model, a contextual model of therapy used to transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and/or traumatic events. Her trainings and published works focus on the teaching of the Collaborative Change Model; Family Therapy and Interpersonal violence Adult Survivors of Abuse and Trauma; Complex Developmental Trauma and Compassion Fatigue. Ms. Barrett founded the Family Dialogue Project, a mediation program which strives to redefine relationships within families that have been impacted by allegations of abuse or differences that appear irreconcilable. 

It is truly an honor to be recognized by my colleagues, as a matter of fact, I am not sure there is any greater honor than to be held in esteem by the people I hold in such esteem.  It is a particular honor to be recognized as an innovative contributor to our field.  One of the beliefs I hold dear to my brain and heart is that change and evolution is a natural process.  Working in interpersonal violence for over 40 years, I have seen the families and communities create a nonviolent existence. This is possible only when the therapist and institutions meet the difficulties with innovative and adaptable strategies and interventions.  I am privileged to work with families who through our joint resources have overcome complex trauma.  I consider my work to be a Creative Sacred Art Form, working collaboratively with the families, creating change for the greater good.  

Lifetime Achievement Award  

Lois Braverman*, MSW

Presenter: Evan Imber-Black* 

Lois Braverman, is President Emeritus of the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Ms. Braverman is a highly regarded educator and clinician with over 40 years of experience in field of family therapy. Her publications and national and international presentations cover a range of topics including: family dynamics and serious mental illness, women’s friendships and marital relationships, motherhood and mothering, and issues of power in family therapy. She is founding editor of the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy and author of Women, Feminism and Family Therapy (The Haworth Press). She was the recipient of the 1994 American Family Therapy Academy’s “Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy Award” and the 2012 University of Iowa, College of Arts and Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Award.


I am honored to receive the 2019 AFTA Lifetime Achievement Award.  The trajectory of my career has been inexorably linked to the relationships that I formed with AFTA members. I am forever grateful to Rachel Hare-Mustin who gave me my first opportunity to participate in AFTA governance by asking me to Chair the Nominations committee and to Dick Chasin and Celia Falicov who asked me to be Program Chair (1994, 2001) during their Presidency.   Without Monica McGoldrick, Froma Walsh, and Carol Anderson putting together the women’s conference in Stonehedge in 1984, my ideas about feminism and family therapy might have stayed in the cornfields of Iowa Finally my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues at the Ackerman Institute, whose collaboration, insight, and courage helped me fulfill a lifelong dream of leading an Institute committed to the invention and development of clinical innovations for some of the most difficult mental health problems facing families and couples. AFTA and Ackerman Institute have been my idea of professional heaven and I am so blessed to have been part of both organizations.

Distinguished Contribution to Social Justice  

America Bracho, MD, MPH 

Promotores of Latino Health Access

Presenter: Rosy de Prado*

Dr. America Bracho is the Executive Director of Latino Health Access, a center for health promotion and disease prevention located in Santa Ana, California. Latino Health Access facilitates mechanisms of empowerment for the community and trains community health workers as leaders of wellness and change. Dr. Bracho worked as a physician in her native Venezuela for several years, after which she came to the U.S. to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the University of Michigan.  America is a Certified Diabetes Educator.  

Dr. Bracho is a current member of the Board of Trustees for Casey Family Programs and a former trustee of the Marguerite Casey Foundation. She served as a commissioner for the Let’s get Healthy California Task Force and is a current member of the California Future Health Workforce Commission. She served on the Institute of Medicine Round Table on Health Disparities. Dr. Bracho has been a presenter for hundreds of Universities, Professional associations and community groups.  She has been a consultant and faculty member for several international courses in Latin America, Australia and Europe. She has received several awards for her contributions. Dr. Bracho has been featured in several documentaries including the HBO Special “The Weight of the Nation” and a TedMed Talk on the role of patients in improving health care and their communities. Dr. Bracho is a co-author of the recently published book “Recruiting the heart and training the brain: the work of Latino Health Access”. 

 Promotores- We started our work in Orange County, California, in 1993. Since then we have developed different strategies and programs to carry out our mission of partnering and supporting working families so they can have the resources and the environment they need to enjoy health and prosperity, actively encouraging the participation of every person in the processes of learning and transformation by which we measure success. In this strong partnership that LHA has with our communities, we carry out our strategies in teams of staff and neighbors that include experts in a variety of areas. Our community experts are the promotoras. They are people from our communities, many of whom came to LHA as participants in our programs, after which they became volunteers and later on health promoters or promotores (known in many places as community health workers). We began with a few volunteer promotoras. Now, 42 out of 70 employees are paid promotores working in different communities throughout the county, finding community members everywhere – in laundromats and on the streets, at bus stops and in markets. They visit families in their homes and invite people to participate. They educate and they serve.

This award is very meaningful to us.  We know that our work is part of a larger collective effort for justice.  There are many groups and partners across the world with similar values engaging in similar efforts.  We truly believe that our families and communities belong together and that we all need to join our hearts and voices for the ones that are not allowed to talk, to have a safe space of living or to be dreamers for better futures. We are proud of the work that AFTA does and it is a true honor to be recognized by such a great group of colleagues. In our recent 25th Anniversary, we decided to honor each of our beloved promotores that have inspired and informed strategies for building healthier communities. They represent many others all over the world. Extending this award to them plants the seed for a whole new approach in working with families and communities as Mental Health professionals. 

Thanks on behalf of our staff and communities.




Early Career Award

Lana Kim*, PhD

Presenter: Carmen Knudson-Martin*

Lana Kim, PhD, LMFT is an Associate Professor in the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy Program at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and AAMFT approved clinical supervisor at the Lewis & Clark Community Counseling Center. She earned her PhD and MS degrees in MFT, with a concentration in Medical Family Therapy, from Loma Linda University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In her clinical work, she draws from narrative approaches and socio-emotional relationship therapy, and is interested in the ways in which power, culture, and larger social contexts shape lived experience, relationships, problems, and the process of change in therapy. Her research interests include second generation Asian-American families, parent-child relationships, culturally responsive MFT practices, clinical supervision, and medical family therapy and collaborative care practices.  


Since joining AFTA in 2010 as a doctoral student, this organization has served a significant and meaningful role in helping me develop and grow as a family therapy practitioner, scholar, and educator. Each year that I have attended the conferences, I have been challenged and inspired by the ideas of all who have presented and shared the important work they do. I have also cherished the relationships I have developed with fellow AFTA colleagues, friends, and mentors, and I have enjoyed in participating in the work of this organization. I have such deep respect for the innovative work that my fellow early career cohort members do. It is a privilege to be amongst such a talented and courageous group of professionals, thus, words cannot express how humbled and honored I feel to be chosen as this year's recipient of the AFTA early career award. I want to express my sincerest thanks to the AFTA Board of Directors and all who are on the selection committee for extending this award to me.  

 I can still feel the energy and excitement I experienced when I attended my first AFTA conference in 2010.