Faculty and staff department awards

Department news | June 30, 2022

At the department annual meeting, we honored several members of our faculty and staff who have contributed in various ways to the success of our department. A big congratulations to each of them!

Clinician Teacher Pathway Outstanding Mentor Award:
Carol Rockhill, MD, PhD, MPH
Dr. Rockhill is described as a tireless mentor with enormous patience. She has a range of mentorship skills and interests which help her connect with the wide variety of mentees she supports. She serves as a faculty mentor for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, General Psychiatry Residents, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellows, and for many junior faculty. She has a gift for being able to help those who are doubting themselves to find their strengths and dig themselves out to a better and happier place.

Wayne J. Katon Outstanding Mentor Award:
John Fortney, PhD
The Wayne J. Katon Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates sustained commitment to the creative, scholarly, professional and personal development of research mentees. This year, the award was given to John Fortney, PhD.

A large group of colleagues and current and former mentees submitted an impressive nomination packet on Dr. Fortney’s behalf which detailed his embodiment of Dr. Katon’s spirit of mentoring. An excerpt from his nomination packet states, “Dr. Fortney is an impressive and highly successful researcher who provides invaluable guidance to everyone who is fortunate to work with him, especially mentees. The success of his mentees speaks to the strength of his mentorship style, which fosters independence and creativity while providing exceptional support for professional and personal development. We can attest to his incredible responsiveness and accessibility to his mentees, the extraordinary time he dedicates to mentorship, and his commitment to ensuring the success of his mentees.” Other excerpts said, “His deep commitment to mentorship is rivaled only by his commitment to scientific rigor and conducting research that has the potential to create real differences in the world” and that “he helps to shape strong science with compassion and humor, never losing sight of ways to expand the amount of good we can do with our work.”

Outstanding Clinician Teacher Junior Faculty Award:
Laurel Pellegrino, MD
Dr. Pellegrino is known for impeccable clinical skills particularly in the arena of outpatient psychotherapy. She has been a clear leader in residency education since joining the faculty and taking on the role as an assistant program director. Representative quotes from resident evaluations include, “Laurel is an outstanding attending who always finds a great balance between allowing autonomy and providing supervision; We are able to discuss our cases candidly and share our thoughts without fear of criticism or censure. Her skills should be used as a model as to how to create an effective and supportive learning environment.”

Gary J. Tucker Career Teaching Award: 
Rick Ries, MD
The Gary J. Tucker Career Teaching Award, named in honor of the Chair of our department from 1985 through 1997, is given to a member of the academic or clinical faculty who has demonstrated, throughout his or her career, outstanding skills as a teacher and dedication to education. This year, the award was given to Rick Ries, MD.

Rick is an institution at the University of Washington. He tirelessly works as an educator and advocate for mental health and substance use treatment. He has been involved in hundreds of research projects, but his educational efforts likely equal his research efforts and may even eclipse them. These educational efforts are clear at the University of Washington, and across the state and the country. This effort takes the shape of countless presentations, but probably more notably, through the relationships and education he has provided to hundreds of providers who have his mobile phone number and call him at any time of the day or night. In addition, Dr. Ries has embodied many of the characteristics of a great teacher by being approachable, interactive in his talks, humble, challenging and honest.

Exceptional Staff Award: 
Lori Ferro, MHA, PMP & Kelcey Schmitz, MSEd
The Exceptional Staff Award honors and celebrates the valuable efforts staff members make toward supporting the mission of the department and upholding our core values of collaboration, continuous learning and mentorship, and integrity and accountability. This year’s Exceptional Staff Award went to Lori Ferro, MHA, PMP, Research Project Manager in the Division of Population Health, and Kelcey Schmitz, MSEd, Assistant Director of Training and TA, at the SMART Center and the School Mental Health Director at NW MHTTC. The below excerpts from their respective nomination packets give a hint at their exceptional service.

“Perhaps Ms. Ferro’s greatest talent is her ability to make people feel welcome and that they are a part of something truly important. Her ability to listen and understand people allows her to create a research environment where people feel free to be honest and to take risks.”

“It is Kelcey’s magnetic personality, keen wit, tireless commitment, and clear vision that ignite passion for the work among her team. As a result, we each strive daily to fulfill our roles, ensuring a fine-tuned, effective and efficient unit that delivers repeatedly for school districts, state education agencies and individual school mental health professionals.”

We would like to recognize Exceptional Staff Award nominees Jamie Adachi, Juliann Salisbury and Emily Taylor for their incredible contributions to our department!

Exceptional Team Award: Staff EDI Committee
Started last year, the Exceptional Team Award was born from the recognition that we have an incredible number of effective teams that support our work and that no one person acts in isolation. The winner of this year’s Team Award is the newly formed Staff EDI Committee.

Launched in October 2021, the committee works to create a safe, inclusive, and diverse environment that supports department staff personally and professionally. The group champions organizational change and brings an EDI and anti-racism lens to the department’s work. Members include Semhar Abraha, Co-Chair Binyam Abraham, Co-Chair Jamie Adachi, Casey Chandler, Christina Clayton, Vaughan Collins, Laura Cooley, Alan Gojdics, Staci Guerrero, Ali Iqbal, Jennifer Magnani, Chris McCain, Alison Newman, Nicole Sams, Becky Sladek and Andie Uomoto. An excerpt from their nomination says, “They all are passionate about the work and goals of the EDI work and what is even more impressive is they truly listen to each other’s ideas and provide feedback in a way where everyone is comfortable in sharing to reach consensus.”


Myra Parker and Seven Directions receive Prevention Science Award

Department news | June 30, 2022

Myra Parker, PhD, JD, MPH, and Seven Directions received the Prevention Science Award at the Society for Prevention Research this month. The Prevention Science Award is given to an individual or team of individuals for a significant body of research that has applied scientific methods to test one or more preventive interventions or policies. This is an amazing honor, highlighting their important work across the country.


Debby Tsuang honored with Award for Achievement

Department news | June 30, 2022

Debby Tsuang, MD, MSc, was honored by the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine with a Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement. The Award for Achievement honors alumni for significant professional accomplishments in science, medicine, and/or education. Dr. Tsuang has made critical contributions to the understanding of dementia and related disorders through her research on their genetic, clinical, and neuropathological underpinnings. Read more


SMART Center receives Washington Association of School Administrators’ Community Leadership Award

Department news | May 31, 2022

The Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) presented their Community Leadership Award to the SMART Center this month. The annual award is given to community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions toward education with specific criteria including benefit to students, leadership, motivation, success, cooperation/coordination with local district, recognition by others, and history of service. Sumner Bonney Lake School District, one of the SMART Center’s community partners, nominated the team. Kelcey Schmitz, MSEd, Director of Training and Technical Assistance, received the award on behalf of the SMART Center. Congratulations!


Jürgen Unützer receives APA’s Distinguished Service Award

Department news | May 31, 2022

Established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Board of Trustees in 1964, the Distinguished Service Award honors individuals and/or organizations who have contributed exceptional meritorious service to the field of psychiatry and/or the APA. Earlier this month, Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, was honored with the award at the Annual Meeting of the APA in New Orleans.

Dr. Unützer’s work focuses on innovative models of care that integrate behavioral health and general medical services. He founded the AIMS Center which is dedicated to ‘Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions’ that have been implemented in partnership with more than 1,000 health care organizations and clinics in the US and abroad.

The last member of our Department to receive this award was Wayne Katon, MD, who received the award posthumously. Dr. Unützer, Dr. Katon’s mentee, accepted the award on his behalf in 2015.


Allana Hall receives Margaret H. O’Donnell Prize in Psychiatry

Department news | February 28, 2022

Congratulations to Allana Hall, a 4th year medical student, for receiving the Margaret H. O’Donnell Prize in Psychiatry. This prize, funded by a generous philanthropic gift to the department, is awarded to a senior medical student at the University of Washington who has been highly involved in behavior health issues and done outstanding academic work in psychiatry. Allana has engaged in a wide range of activities including forming the first Wyoming Chapter of a student group focusing on Adverse Childhood Experiences and their health impacts, serving as a Crisis Text Line counselor and engaging in research focusing on medication for opioid use disorder. In addition to being recognized for her outstanding work, Allana will receive a $600 award. She is hoping to match into psychiatry next month and we wish her well!

Thank you to Heidi Combs, MD, MS, and Paul Borghesani, MD, PhD, for reviewing applications and administering the award.


Mary Larimer receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Department news | December 28, 2021

Congratulations to Mary Larimer, PhD, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Addictive Behaviors Special Interest Group (SIG) from the Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (ACBT) earlier this month. ABCT is committed to the enhancement of health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding, assessment, prevention and treatment of human problems through the global application of behavioral, cognitive and biological evidence-based principles. The Addictive Behaviors SIG provides a platform within ABCT for members to communicate and collaborate regarding substance use topics.


Joseph Cerimele named ITHS Rising Star

Department news | June 30, 2015

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) launched a new Rising Star program to help promising, early-stage investigators. Joseph Cerimele, MD, MPH, was among the first group of 12 investigators selected from applicants across the five-state WWAMI region. On June 1, each participant began a two-year career-development package designed to culminate with to the submission of a K- or R-series grant application to the NIH. Joseph aims to understand the experiences of primary care physicians regarding treatments of patients with bipolar disorder.


Jennifer Piel named “Woman of the Year”

Department news | June 30, 2015

Jennifer Piel, MD, JD, received "WA State Woman of the Year" for her advocacy of Mental Health in WA State, as well as a 2nd "Young Investigator Award" from the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. She is the first to receive this highly prestigious award twice. Piel works as a Staff Psychiatrist and Director of the Disruptive Behavior Evaluation Clinic at the VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division and as an Acting Assistant Professor and Associate Program Director for the Psychiatry Residency Training Program.


Joel Mitchell receives three national awards

Department news | June 30, 2015

Joel Mitchell PhD, Associate Chief of Staff at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and Acting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, received three prestigious and highly competitive National awards including, "Leadership Award" (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs); the Outstanding Healthcare Administrator Award (American Psychological Association), and the U.S. Navy Patriot Award.