2020 Leo D. Doherty Memorial Award
for Outstanding Leadership and Service

Dr. Sara Finney, James Madison University

The Leo D. Doherty Memorial Award is presented to a longstanding NERA member who "has generously given of self to NERA, to advance its mission and to enable it to thrive." The award, instituted by the NERA Board of Directors in 1981, honors the memory of Leo Doherty. He was instrumental in NERA's development and growth as a professional association for educational research. Leo's leadership qualities, both ethical and compassionate, encouraged others to pursue and achieve their goals. The 2020 Leo D. Doherty Memorial Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service was awarded to Dr. Sara Finney, Professor for the Assessment & Measurement Ph.D. program and Associate Director for the Center for Assessment and Research Studies at James Madison University. Her nomination letter correctly states, "Sara’s service to NERA over the years has enabled the organization to thrive in a meaningful way, and she is an example of an ethical, compassionate, and inspiring leader."
Evidence of Sara’s commitment and service to NERA has been her orchestrating and mentoring dozens of faculty and students through NERA each year since the mid-2000s. After attending and participating in NERA the first time, Sara increased the attendance of many graduate students and JMU faculty members each year for the last 12 years. Her spirit of service to NERA and support for graduate students were first evidenced in those early years by her driving over 400 miles each way to attend the conference, usually giving rides to her colleagues and graduate students. Later, JMU administrators seeing the popularity and value of NERA sparked by Sara’s efforts, provided a bus to transport faculty and graduate students to the conference. Through Sara’s commitment to bring students to NERA, countless connections were made that have since evolved into career opportunities and various research collaborations at organizations such as the College Board, ETS, and Curriculum Associates.
 In addition to being a key player in the initial connection between JMU and NERA, Sara herself has served NERA in many ways,  generously given her time, expertise, mentoring, and support to NERA. She regularly serves as discussant on paper sessions at the annual conference. Sara has been a presenter and co-presenter for NERA workshops several times and a member of two invited panels in addition to co-authoring more than 25 papers with her students since 2007. She received the Thomas F. Donlon Memorial Award for Distinguished Mentoring in 2011 and served on the Board of Directors for NERA from 2008 to 2011. As a board member, Sara passionately supported the value of NERA and advocated for the quality of the NERA conference for the membership.
A video tribute highlighting Dr. Finney's contributions to NERA can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INO1ojHgatE.

Click here to read the Call for Nominations for the Leo D. Doherty Memorial Award

Previous Award Recipients:
2019No Award Given
2018Steven Holtzman
Educational Testing Service
2017April Zenisky
University of Massachusetts Amherst
2016Elizabeth Stone
Educational Testing Service
2015Helen Marx
Southern Connecticut State University
2014Stephen G. Sireci
University of Massachusetts Amherst
2013Kristen Huff
Regents Research Fund
2012No Award Given
2011David Moss
University of Connecticut
2010Darlene Perner
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
2009Gavrielle Levine
Long Island University / C. W. Post
2008Sharon F. Cramer
Buffalo State College, State University of New York
2007Diane E. Liebert
DLE Associates
2006Richard Schwab
University of Connecticut
2005Dianne Zager
Pace University
2004Jim Fleming
University of Albany, SUNY
 Fran Archambault
University of Connecticut (retired)
2003Janet Carlson
Texas A & M University at Galveston
2002Barbara J. Helms
Community Training & Assistance Center
2001Scott W. Brown
University of Connecticut
2000Judith Robb
University of New Hampshire
1999Thomas Shuell
University at Buffalo, SUNY
1998Cheryl Gowie
Siena College
1997Kurt Geisinger
LeMoyne University
1996Liora Pedhazur Schmelkin
Hofstra University
1995Philip Archer
Nassau County NY BOCES
1994Robert McMorris
State University of New York at Albany
1993David L. Passmore
Pennsylvania State University
1992Douglas A. Penfield
Rutgers University
1991Janice Gibson
University of Pittsburgh
1990Laura Harckham
Congers, NY
1989Mary Horan
New York State Education Department
1988Edward F. Iwanicki
University of Connecticut
1987Reuben Rusch
State University of New York at Albany
1986No Award Given
1985Richard L. Egelston
New York State Education Department
1984Mauritz Johnson
State University of New York at Albany, retired
1983Robert K. Gable
University of Connecticut
1982Richard M. Clark
State University of New York at Albany
1981Sigmund Tobias
City University of New York

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