Association for Community Organization & Social Administration

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Career Achievement

The Career Achievement Award honors the lifetime contribution of a person in the field.


2017: Tracy Michael Soska, University of Pittsburgh

Nominators:  Terri Mizrahi (Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College), Darlyne Bailey (Bryn Mawr), Mark Homan (retired)

Nomination Comments:

In terms of his commitment and determination as well as his successes in promoting community and macro social work at his university, Tracy is at the highest rung of the combined service and leadership ladder.  Tracy lead a successful effort with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to include social work among the professions eligible for its Community Development graduate fellowships and university-community partnerships program funding.  In terms of international work, Tracy has assumed leadership for collaboration with European partners through University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies creating several EU-US conferences on social policy and community development.

In terms of contributions to social work education, Tracy is the author with others of the Community Practice Competencies, an Encyclopedia of Social Work contributor in the area of housing and homelessness, and a continuing presence in other scholarly and applied research pursuits including partnering with Jack Rothman on a study that led to the founding of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work. Of particular magnitude is Tracy’s work in partnership with others to create macro practice competencies.  These competencies been published in the Encyclopedia of Social Work and accepted by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).  Because of the momentum and credibility built by this work, CSWE has now asked the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work (Special Commission) to prepare a Curriculum Guide to assist programs in meeting accreditation standards for macro practice content.

2016: Steve Burghardt, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, CUNY


Nominators:  Tracy Soska, Mark Homan, and Terri Mizrahi

Comment from nomination letter:

A professor of Community Organization and Planning since 1973 at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, Steve has been one of the premier community practice educators in our profession whose work has had seminal influence on multiple generations of students and practitioners. Steve is an influential author who has published nine books and is at work on his tenth and eleventh. Steve’s first significant contribution to the field was his now classic “The Other Side of Organizing,” written in 1982, that emphasized the personal struggles and strategic dilemmas of the progressive organizer in an era of conservatism. Steve also has written theoretical works on political economy and its impact on social work.  His most noted work in this area, co-authored with Michael Fabricant, was “The Welfare State Crisis and the Transformation of Social Work,” which focused on the crisis in public expenditure and the ensuing alteration of the labor process of social work practice itself. Their work was internationally recognized.

Read Steve’s Acceptance Remarks on his 2016 Career Achievement Award


2015: Dr. John Tropman (Nominator - Dr. Bowen McBeath, Portland State University)

Dr. Tropman is a long time University Professor in the School of Social Work and the School of Business at the University of Michigan. His areas of study are Nonprofit Management, Social Policy & Community Organization, Organizational Theory, and Project Management Executive Leadership.

An esteemed scholar and practitioner, his contributions have included: a) 47 books published by leading presses including Sage, Columbia University Press, Georgetown University Press, F.E. Peacock, and Jossey Bass; b) 52 scholarly papers published in top social work and social science journals such as Social Service ReviewSocial WorkHuman Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, and Governance (previously titled Administration in Social Work), Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and Policy Studies Journal; c) 54 chapters in scholarly books and encyclopedias; d) numerous practitioner-oriented essays, practice notes, editorials, and brief reports; e) over 50 consultancies with major nonprofit organizations, scientific societies (such as SSWR), schools of social work, membership associations, and for-profit corporations; and f) hundreds of international and domestic scholarly presentations and community talks. By numbers alone, John is likely the most prolific macro social work scholar to date. The major typologies of macro practice competencies (e.g., those promulgated by CSWE and by the Network for Social Work Managers) derive strongly from John’s scholarly efforts over the past 50 years. John is one of a very few macro practice academics admitted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, our most august scholarly academy.

2014: Dr. Alice Butterfield

2013: Claudia Coulton, Ph.D. (Nominator - Dr. Anna Santiago, Case Western Reserve University)

Dr. Coulton is the Distinguished Lillian F. Harris Professor of Urban Social Research at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.

She is a pre-eminent scholar and educator in the fields of community practice and urban studies whose expertise is highly regarded by colleagues locally, nationally and internationally. Over the course of her career, Dr. Coulton has used rigorous, innovative methods and multidisciplinary approaches to address significant issues of concern to the field of community practice, the social work profession and the larger society. With more than 200 publications, Dr. Coulton is one of the most cited scholars within the field of social work. Her corpus of work has reframed both the research methods employed as well as the scholarly debate in the profession. She founded the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development in 1988. Today, the Center serves as an active partner in the community development arena by conducting research and analysis that underpins effective action and builds knowledge for the field. A core capacity of the Center, and one that has been replicated across the country, is a regional information data warehouse and web portal used by thousands of individuals and organizations to inform community change work. Known as North East Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing(NEO CANDO). Moreover, Dr. Coulton is one of the founders of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), which currently has affiliates in more than 35 cities. The NNIP provides tools to partner cities to better understand macro-level systemic forces that produce distressed neighborhoods and identify what individuals, organizations and policies can do to reverse these conditions. She is currently working to expand the NNIP network internationally.


2012: Dorothy "Dee" Gamble (Retired, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill)










Dee Gamble’s lifework has been dedicated to enhancing community and international practice in social work.  Dee Gamble has had a career-long dedication to advancing community practice, social justice and human rights, and advocacy at grassroots, city, state, national and international levels for these causes.  With Dr. Marie Weil, she designed a framework of eight models of community practice specifying scope and purpose and roles taken by practitioners, which has been requested for publication in several venues and used in a variety of training and education programs.  Dee Gamble’s has an exemplary body of publications that has advanced the practice literature in macropractice, field education, community development, curriculum development, and more recently international and sustainable development. She is lead author of Community Practice Skills: Local to Global Perspectives, and has published chapters in both the Encyclopedia of Social Work and The Social Workers Desk Reference. She has contributed multiple chapters to both editions of The Handbook of Community Practice focused on participatory methods, sustainable development, and models of practice.  Her nominator, Dr. Tracy Soska, noted, "Dee has worked diligently through ACOSA, CSWE, and The International Federation of Social Workers to ensure that community and macro practice remain at the core of social work education and practice and that the global perspective is included in the social work curriculum.  She recently presented ACOSA macro practice competencies and community practice competencies at the International Conference of Social Workers in Stockholm (July 2012)."


2011: Lee H. Staples, Ph.D. (School of Social Work, Boston University)

Dr. Lee Staples










Dr. Staples has worked over 38 years in many roles-as an organizer, supervisor, staff director, trainer, consultant, coach, and educator. His work has included social change efforts related to welfare rights, public and private housing, youth leadership development, family day care, mental health and consumer rights, labor (hospital workers), public health, environmental justice, immigrant rights, international NGOs, neighborhood and statewide community organizing. He has held leadership positions in a number of professional associations, has presented 30 papers at academic conference and has engaged in extensive community organizing, training, and consulting with more than 100 groups across the United States and internationally, including Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Morocco. His major publications include 24 articles and book chapters as well as his 2004 book Roots to Power: A manual for Grassroots Organizing (2nd Ed.) and his 2008 co-authored book Youth led Community organizing: Theory and Action.


2006: Irving Spergel, Michael Sherraden

2005: Michael Austin, Jim Cunningham

2004: James Midgley, Terry Mizahi


2003: Rino Patti

2002: Roslyn Chernesky, Earl Durham

2001: Armand A. Lauffer, Ralph M. Framer


2000: Stanley Wenocur

1999: Tim Sampson

1998: Roger Lohmann, Marie Weil


1997:  Rosemary Sarri, George Eberle


1996: Myron Weiner, Richard Cloward


1995: Esther Wattenberg


1994: Felice Perlmutter, Audrey Faulkner


1993: Simon Slavin, George Brager

1992: David Austin, Jack Rothman