Press Release

CASEL Announces the 2022 Awards for the Social and Emotional Learning Leaders of the Year

Six recipients celebrated for advancements in social and emotional learning research, practice, and public policy

November 14, 2022

Today, CASEL announced recipients of the 2022 SELLY Awards, honoring outstanding achievements of six “Social and Emotional Learning Leaders of the Year” in the categories of research, practice, and public policy. The annual awards recognize individuals whose body of work and commitment to social and emotional learning (SEL) have advanced the field and paved the way for others.

“CASEL believes that great movements are built in collaboration with others to produce the richest insights, biggest impacts, and best outcomes in support of children. These awards have been named after influential SEL leaders to celebrate today’s innovators in education who are improving the lives of young people nationwide,” said CASEL President and CEO, Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel. 

This year, CASEL recognizes six individuals: 

Joseph E. Zins Awards for Social and Emotional Learning Action Research 

  • Dr. Karen Bierman, Evan Pugh Professor and Director of the Child Study Center, Penn State University 
  • Dr. Christina Cipriano, Assistant Professor, Yale Child Study Center; Director of Research, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Mary Utne O’Brien Awards for Excellence in Expanding the Evidence-Based Practice of Social and Emotional Learning 

  • Dr. Rose Prejean-Harris, Director of Social Emotional Learning, Atlanta Public Schools
  • In memory of Dr. Eric Schaps, Founder and President, Developmental Studies Center 

Ann S. Nerad Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Advance Policies for Social and Emotional Learning 

  • Dr. Teri Lawler, Trauma-Informed Psychologist, Delaware Department of Education 
  • Gene Wilhoit, CEO, Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky

Learn more about the recipients:

Dr. Karen Bierman

“It is a great honor to receive the Joseph E. Zins Award. I’ve long admired CASEL for the critical national and international leadership it provides and the positive impact it has had. CASEL has been exceptionally successful at bringing together science, practice, and policy support for social and emotional learning. I’m grateful to be part of its network of partners and advocates for SEL and to support its efforts to expand nurturing contexts and learning opportunities for children, youth, and adults across the globe.”

Dr. Christina Cipriano

“I am deeply grateful to be recognized by the CASEL community to receive this honor! My work advancing the science and practice of SEL assessments and interventions has granted me the privilege of learning alongside outrageously brilliant colleagues, students, educators, and schools nationwide. As an applied scientist, my work is our work, and I have no doubt that together, we will continue to build the path forward with wholly equitable and inclusive SEL.” 

Dr. Teri Lawler

“Aristotle said that educating the mind without educating the heart was not education at all. I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with CASEL on behalf of the Delaware Department of Education and the students, educators, and communities that we serve to center the heart in all we do. It was a great honor to accept the 2022 SELLY Award for distinguished contributions to advance SEL policy, and my joy was increased by having Ann S. Nerad present at the ceremony! She and CASEL represent the power of passion meeting purpose and embody the spirit of every ‘way maker’ who has ever been inspired to chant along with the Little Engine that Could, ‘I think I can, I think I can’ make a difference!’”

Dr. Rose Prejean-Harris

“It is with the deepest gratitude that I accept the honor of this year’s Mary Utne O’Brien Award.  Mary’s commitment to expanding the work of social and emotional learning was truly that of the heart, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share my heart work with so many others across the country. I am appreciative that CASEL continues to provide me and other practitioners with the platform to share and grow together as we work to impact the lives of children.”

Gene Wilhoit

“I am honored to receive the Ann S. Nerad Award for my contributions to advance SEL policies. I know the most important SEL work is carried out by those guiding our students toward success and policy work is supportive to that important work. Yet, I believe with thoughtful and systematic state policy, we can progress from good deeds to sustained supports for all of our learners. We all have our parts to play to achieve our promise to our next generation. I am proud to be a small part.”

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