The John Kalafat Awards 2009 Winners

The John Kalafat Awards 2009 Winners

The John Kalafat Awards In Applied Community Psychology
The American Psychological Association, Division 27
The Society for Community Research and Action

The Practitioner Award: William Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Bill Berkowitz, Ph.D., is a community psychologist who has been writing about, teaching about, creating, and directing neighborhood and community service programs for more than 35 years. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology since the 1960s at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and at other universities.  Three of his books - Community Impact, Community Dreams, and Local Heroes - deal respectively with skills, ideas, and personal qualities needed for effective community action. A fourth book, The Spirit of the Coalition (with Tom Wolff), deals with principles and techniques for community coalition development. These books have led to national television and radio appearances, major media write-ups, and articles written for popular publications ranging from The Futurist to Parade. His professional publications include multiple scholarly journal reports and several book chapters, as well as invited articles in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and the Handbook of Community Psychology.

Since the mid-1990s, Bill has also been a core team member, lead editor, and writer for the Community Tool Box, a national collaborative of community psychologists and other practitioners based at the University of Kansas, which with over 7000 pages of original text has become the largest single source of community development information now in existence. In addition, he edits a Neighborhood Newsletter in his own community, where he has also served in elected public office as a Town Meeting Member for more than 25 years.

Among community programs he has helped start are a Neighborhood Innovations Program, a free adult education center, a shelter for battered women, a consultation and education division, a regional training consortium, and the  statewide Community Partners program, which has built and supported dozens community coalitions across Massachusetts. He has often consulted to and trained community groups, and has been a frequent keynote presenter at major conferences.
Bill is now an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and previous administrator of its graduate program in Community Social Psychology. His special interests focus on teaching, writing about, and practicing social and community psychology, neighborhood development, and the strengthening of citizen participation in local community life. He is presently completing a multi-method research project on the dynamics of suburban neighborhoods, designed to strengthen life in communities where more than half the American population lives. 

Dr. Berkowitz graduated with honors from Cornell University and received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. He is a Licensed Psychologist, an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and a recipient of its career award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice in Community Psychology. Further biographical details may be obtained from his 2008 or 2009 profile in Who's Who in America.  He may be reached at

Audio from Bill Berkowitz's award address at the 2009 Biennial with an introdution by  William Neigher:

The Community Program Award: SOS Signs of Suicide®

Screening for Mental Health®, Inc ( is the non-profit organization that first introduced the concept of large-scale mental health screening in 1991 with its flagship program National Depression Screening Day®. All SMH programs promote the improvement of mental health by providing the public with education, screening, and treatment resources.

The SOS Signs of Suicide®
prevention programs aim to raise awareness of depression and educate middle and high school students how to respond to the signs of suicide in a friend or family member.   The main teaching tool of the SOS programs is a video that teaches youth how to identify symptoms of depression and suicidality.  A discussion guide accompanies the video and can be implemented by existing school staff.  The programs’ primary objectives are to educate youth that depression is a treatable illness and to equip them to respond in an action-oriented approach in the face of a mental health emergency; to ACT® (Acknowledge, Care, Tell). The SOS program can also be used in alternative settings serving youth such as: social clubs, after school programs, and juvenile justice systems. This program is the first school-based suicide prevention program to show a reduction in suicidal behavior in a randomized controlled study.  Additionally, SOS is the only school-based suicide prevention program selected by SAMHSA for its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression, while reducing suicide attempts.

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