Second in a series.

Bethel College professor, author and researcher Ada Schmidt-Tieszen has claimed numerous awards and citations in her years of practice.

She is one of three named as Newton Area Women of the Year for 2020. The award is given to three women each year since 1956 by the Newton Area Women of the Year program.

Schmidt-Tieszen will be honored at a brunch later this year.

"It’s a strange year, a strange spring to be sure," Schmidt-Tieszen said of winning the award. "… I feel very honored. One of my students, who is going to graduate into social work this year, nominated me. That feels like a huge honor for me. For a student to have thought high enough of me that she would nominate me, that’s one of the things I take away from this. That feels like a privilege. It’s very special."

Schmidt-Tieszen is the program director and instructor in the social work department at Bethel, a position she has held since 2011. She has been a professor at BC since 1985.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bethel in 1974, a master’s degree from the University of Denver in 1981 and a doctorate from the University of Kansas in 2004.

She also served as an instructor at Colorado State and Denver, as well as a research assistant at KU.

Her specializations include "Disaster Social Work, Social Justice, Child Welfare, Women’s Issues, Policy, Social Work Practice, Conflict Mediation and Qualitative Research."

She also serves on the board of directors at Mirror Inc., headquartered in Newton, which offers drug and alcohol treatment.

"Board members help to make decisions and set policy," she said. "We rotate around and take turns acting as president of the organization. I’ve done that twice."

She recently engaged in a research sabbatical with Mennonite Disaster Service, "exploring how to incorporate social work into disaster situations and how social workers could work with disaster organizations."

She said she spent about a semester and a summer working with the MDS, visiting projects and interviewing those after disasters.

"I found out more about what their experiences were and what was helpful," Schmidt-Tieszen said. "What social workers ought to know about that."

Schmidt-Tieszen said there was some application to what she learned during her research to what is going on now with the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I know that, and I talked with people who have gone through hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and lots of those sorts of disasters, can cause a person frequently to suffer trauma," she said. "With this coronavirus, some people have said it’s kind of a community trauma. There are some people who have had family members who have died and have experienced the disease close to them. They may feel traumatized by that. Health workers may feel traumatized by that. I think with the anxiety, all of us may feel, to one extent or the other, trauma and anxiety. When this is over, some have said, we will have a mental health pandemic."