The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

ATSS Presents the 2010 Carol Hacker Award to Elena Cherepanov

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“I still find it hard to believe,” says Elena Cherepanov when she thinks back to receiving the Carol Hacker award.

Elena takes us on a little trip back in time, when she first found out about Carol Hacker and what she meant to ATSS:

In 2007, when I came to the conference in Maine, I’d just recently reconnected with ATSS after many years. I was new to the Board, and there was a lot going on in the organization and in my own life. I was in the midst of a major health crisis, still unsure which way it would go, and if I will even be able to continue with anything at all.

It all made me look back at my life in order to re-evaluate it. I was doing many things automatically, without investing; I felt numb and unreal and was desperately in need of a point of reference, something that is definite and untarnishable in my life.

Then I suddenly woke up to it…In a kaleidoscope of people, relationships, group dynamics, and egos, I sensed something very true.

Several very different people completely independently took me aside, to the corner of the room where there was a strange, copper shiny thing: some kind of combination of lantern and altar. I was told than that this is a very special object that was created to commemorate a person who was very dear to everybody in ATSS: Carol Hacker.

I was told that she used to be the ATSS president; that she was a great person, was very respected and loved by everybody. She recently passed away leaving behind a great legacy of positive and unifying energy.

I felt very important and thankful to everyone who brought me to the lantern in order to tell me the Carol Hacker story. Carol’s story was more than a personal account; she was the heart and soul of the organization. Back then I remember thinking, “How wonderful it must be to have such a great and positive impact on people, and leave a legacy that brings everyone together and one that keeps on giving.”

“To this day I remain very grateful to all who introduced me in such a personal way back then to the living history of ATSS,” explains Elena.

Later, ATSS went through a major crises and transitions, and eventually re-emerged in many different ways. I wasn’t even sure that the lantern survived through the organizational transition.

Elena was presented with the prestigious 2010 Carol Hacker award at this year’s conference:

Then in the process of preparing for the 2010 conference, it was brought up. I received the e-mail saying that this year it won’t be awarded at Toronto’s 2010 Conference since there were no nominations submitted, and the Conference Committee did not follow through.

 “Oh s…” I remember thinking. On one hand I could easily relate to this — everybody was so exhausted preparing for the conference that any extra task was an overload. On the other hand, not presenting the award somehow felt wrong.

They tricked me!!!! Not for a second did I ever imagine that I could be the next recipient of the Carol Hacker award!

The next thing I knew is that at the luncheon I was simply chatting with my table mates. Then Kent starts talking. We try to keep our voices down when all of the sudden I begin to pick up cues such as, “This person read all the submissions.”

My friend asks, “Does Kent mean you?” I reply, “No, can’t be.”

“Now for sure Kent means someone else and I have no idea who he is talking about,” I say to myself.  Then the reality gradually began to sink in. I heard my name being called and saw all the eyes turning towards me. Everyone is smiling.

My first intention was to duck under the table. But then I thought that I am expected to go to the podium and to say something (and preferably not in Russian).

It wasn’t until later in the day that I really got the opportunity to process this huge news. I received so many warm congratulations, handshakes and hugs from complete strangers acknowledging that Carol Hacker and her legacy is very much alive in the hearts of ATSS members. And at that time I knew that I was in the right place.

I cannot express how much I appreciate being the Carol Hacker Award recipient. It means the world to me!  This is more than an award; this is an honor, inspiration, and the point of highest professional and personal standards. I shall do my best to live up to it. 

Congratulations Elena!

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Written by traumalines

November 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Spyware Lady, Vickie Mullins. Vickie Mullins said: ATSS Presents the 2010 Carol Hacker Award to Elena Cherepanov …: Back then I remember thinking, “How wonderful… http://bit.ly/hFd6lj […]

  2. […] Our last post was written by Dr. Elena Cherepanov in reaction to receiving the 2010 Carol Hacker award. As most of you read, Dr. Cherepanov was both surprised and completely honored to be this year’s recipient. […]


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