2022 Award Recipients

The 2022 Disability Manuscript Award was awarded to John Keesler, MSW, PhD (Indiana University Bloomington) and Jade Presnell, MS, LSW (Indiana University School of Social Work) for their submission titled, "Community Inclusion for People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Call to Action for Social Work." 


John M. Keesler, MSW, PhD, is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Indiana University Bloomington and a native of Buffalo, New York. As a faculty member in the MSW program, Dr. Keesler has taught research and advanced clinical courses, and served as field liaison for practicum placements. He provides his students with opportunities for interprofessional education and real-world application of social work skills through university-community partnerships.  As a social work researcher, Dr. Keesler focuses on adversity and trauma, trauma-informed care, and quality of life with a particular emphasis on the disability service industry. His research is grounded in more than a decade of practice experience supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan and their families. 


Jade Presnell, MS, LSW, is a licensed social worker with a passion for working alongside the disability community as an ally and advocate. She holds graduate degrees in psychology and social work. Jade has more than a decade of clinical practice experience supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in various capacities. At present she is a doctoral candidate, research assistant, and adjunct faculty at Indiana University School of Social Work where she engages in research and teaching with the aim of building more inclusive and equitable communities. Working to improve psychosocial outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, her research interests include strategies for advancing social inclusion and improving direct support workforce competency and well-being, trauma-informed care, and engagement in anti-ableist, human rights-based social work practice and education.


2022 Honorable Mention Recipient

Aesha John, LMSW, PhD (Texas Christian University) received the 2022 Honorable Mention for her submission, "Service Learning With Individuals With ID."


Dr. Aesha John is an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Texas Christian University (TCU). She earned her PhD in Human Environmental Sciences from Oklahoma State University. Her decade- long practice in India with children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) informs Dr. John’s research program, which focuses on well-being among individuals with IDD and their families, as well as parenting in difficult contexts. To include voices of Indian families in the published literature, Dr. John has collaborated with organizations serving children with IDD in several cities in India, and has examined family processes such as parent-child attachment, parents’ reaction to their child’s diagnosis, family stress and resilience, and mothers’ identity construction. Her cross-cultural research also focuses on Indian immigrant families navigating the challenges of adapting to a new culture, while at the same time parenting a child with IDD. In addition to her international and cross-cultural research, Dr. John engages with the Fort Worth community, and through partnerships with local IDD organizations, she implements community-based book clubs and job training programs for individuals with IDD. To spark interest and passion among the next generation of social workers to practice with individuals with IDD, she creates service learning opportunities for BSW and MSW students to engage in programs supporting individuals with IDD. Dr. John was a recent recipient of TCU’s 2022 Deans’ Award for Research and Creativity, which recognizes faculty who have produced the highest quality research over the last several years. 


2021 Award Recipients

The 2021 Disability Manuscript Award goes to Lisa A. O’Donnell, PhD, MSW (Wayne State University), Kathy Szechy (Wayne State University), and Amy M. Loree (Wayne State University) for their submission titled, “Public Attitudes Towards Individuals With Bipolar Disorders.”

Lisa O’Donnell joined the Wayne State University social work faculty in 2017 as an assistant professor. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan’s Joint PhD program in Social Work and Clinical Psychology in 2016. Following her doctoral studies, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Max Gray Fellowship in the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program in UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry. Overall, her research examines the nature of functional and quality-of-life challenges such as employment outcomes found among individuals with mood and anxiety disorders, the impact of stigma on these challenges, and the impact of current psychosocial interventions on remediating these challenges. Dr. O’Donnell received her MSW in 2005 from the University of Michigan and is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Michigan. She has been trained in various evidence-based treatments and has years of experience providing individual and group psychotherapy to adolescents, adults, and families.

Kathryn Szechy is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 21 years of clinical practice experience. Her social work practice has included inpatient and outpatient child, adolescent, and adult mental health services and special education school social work. She received her master’s of social work degree from the University of Toronto and a graduate certificate in research and evaluation from the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. Currently she is a 3rd year doctoral program student at the Wayne State University School of Social Work and holds a graduate teaching assistantship. Her research interests include optimal adult functioning for individuals with mental health and developmental disorders, with a focus on interventions to address postsecondary education and employment challenges.

Amy Loree is a licensed clinical psychologist and research scientist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI. Dr. Loree’s primary research interests focus on prevention, identification, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders during the perinatal period to improve parent and infant health. Many of her projects use technology-based approaches (e.g., telehealth, mHealth, EMR-based tools) to facilitate access to evidence-based screening and intervention. Currently, Dr. Loree is principal investigator on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded project implementing technology-based screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for hazardous alcohol use in women’s health clinics, co-principal investigator of the Henry Ford Health System Perinatal Behavioral Health Integration Program, co-principal investigator of a foundation-funded grant to develop a digital health application promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity in pregnancy, as well as a co-investigator on several studies focused on health services research and implementing evidence-based practices in health care settings to address substance use and co-occurring disorders.

2021 Honorable Mention Recipients

The 2021 Honorable Mention recipients are Ami Goulden, MSW, MA (University of Toronto), Ran Hu, MSW, MA (University of Toronto), and Bryn King, PhD (University of Toronto) for their submission titled, “Life Satisfaction for Youths With Disabilities: The Mediating Role of Resilience.”

Ami Goulden MA, MSW, RSW, is a doctoral candidate at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Ami’s research interests include sex-positive social work with disabled people, young parents with child welfare involvement, and accessible social work education in partnership with experts by experience. She embraces critical qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in her research agenda. Ami has been practicing social work for more than 10 years in various settings, including pediatric and adult health care and child welfare. She adopts models of critical reflection and universal design for learning in her pedagogical approach. Ami received her MSW from the University of Toronto and BSW from Dalhousie University. She also completed a master of arts in child and youth study at Mount Saint Vincent University. Ami’s dissertation research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is a previous recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and a Royal Bank of Canada Graduate Fellowship in applied social work research.

Ran Hu, MA, MSW, LMSW (NYS), is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Ran embraces and applies a wide range of quantitative and qualitative analytical methods in analyzing survey data and social media data, and she specializes in latent class/profile modeling, generalized linear models, and critical discourse analysis. Ran’s research interests include structural and interpersonal violence, policies on sex work and human trafficking, victim (mis)representation issues in the antitrafficking campaigns, simulation-based learning, and cross-cultural social work practice. Her previous professional experience includes program evaluation and development, direct practice in community-based organizations serving migrant women involved in the commercial sex industry and/or affected by human trafficking, and practice with groups affected by HIV/AIDS in China and the United States. Ran received her bachelor's degree in social work from Nanjing University, China; her MA in International Crime & Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY); and her MSW from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Bryn King, MSW, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, and an affiliated researcher at the Children’s Data Network and the California Child Welfare Indicators Project. She is also the co-founder and co-director of the Youth Wellness Lan, a youth-driven collaborative research hub housed at the University of Toronto. Dr. King’s research examines the epidemiology, service involvement, and outcomes of families who come to the attention of the child protective system in North America, with a focus on disparities in involvement and the experiences and trajectories of youths.

Watch the video below to hear from the 2021 Disability Manuscript Award winners and honorable mention recipients!