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University of Iowa News

May 25, 2004

Portman Awarded First-Ever Arnold Anti-Oppression Award

The American Counseling Association's Counselors for Social Justice division has given University of Iowa Assistant Professor Tarrell Awe Agahe Portman its first-ever Mary Smith Arnold Anti-Oppression Award.

Portman, who works in the UI College of Education's Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development, received the award during the ACA World Conference in Kansas City, Mo., last month.

The award was created in memory of Mary Smith Arnold, Ph.D., a founding member of the Counselors for Social Justice, which is a division of the American Counseling Association, as well as an alumna of the UI.

The certificate given to Portman at the conference states that Arnold "fought tirelessly for equity, social justice and to end all of the oppressions as a counselor, counselor educator, and citizen of the world. Dr. Arnold's spirit and passionate work live on in the social justice counseling and advocacy contributions of Dr. Tarrell Awe Agahe Portman."

Specifically, Portman was recognized for the research resulting in a 2002 article, co-written with her husband, Gerald Portman, titled "Empowering Students for Social Justice (ES2J): A Structured Group Approach." The article, which appeared in the Journal for Specialist in Group Work, describes and outlines a small group curriculum model for use in upper elementary and middle schools related to social justice surrounding prejudice, power and oppression.

Portman was selected for the award by a committee in conjunction with Arnold's family.

"Receiving this award will always be special for me," Portman said. "As a new counselor educator entering the profession, I considered Dr. Arnold to be one of those many mentors that contribute to our professional development. Dr. Arnold truly believed in fighting against oppression as demonstrated by her actions and her scholarship."

Portman, who has been with the UI College of Education since 1999, has been an active member of the ACA for 20 years and currently serves as chair of its Research and Knowledge Committee.

She holds a Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Arkansas, and from Southeast Missouri State University she holds an MA Ed. in guidance and counseling (K-12) and a BS Ed. in art (K-12) and elementary education (K-8).

A licensed mental health counselor and K-12 teacher and school counselor in Iowa and Missouri, Portman has 15 years of experience in K-12 public schools as a teacher and school counselor.

Her research includes examining multicultural counseling issues in educational settings and mental health issues of American Indian women. In addition to the paper cited earlier, her recent publications include "American Indian Women Sex Role Attributions" in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling (2001) and (with R.D. Herring) "Debunking the Pocahontas Paradox: The need for a humanistic perspective," in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development (2001).

She is an enrolled member of the White River Band of Cherokees and served on the Tribal Council for three years and as chief for two terms. She was selected as a National Indian Fellow from 1994-1996 and was a Holmes Scholar from 1996-1999. She recently was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Holmes Scholar Alumni.

In 2000, she was presented with the Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award by the UI College of Education.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,