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2015 Distinguished Alumni of the Year 

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Alumni Council has selected and congratulates three award recipients to be recognized at each of our commencement ceremonies for the first time. Read more about each of our 2015 honorees by scrolling or using the navigation links to their names below:

​​Joseph W. Kovach, Psy.D. ('86)Joe Kovach LinkedIn profile pic.jpg

Honored July 10 at our Chicago commencement ceremony 

Dr. Kovach earned a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 1986. As a member of one of the earliest graduating classes, he is a Chicago School Pioneer. The Chicago School had a humble but hopeful beginning and is now a major institution impacting lives across the country and the world. In many ways Dr. Kovach’s career embodies the values and path of The Chicago School as he has touched many lives as a teacher, administrator, researcher, consultant, and international expert.

As an educator Dr. Kovach has taught at Calumet College of St. Joseph, Purdue University, Loyola University, and South Suburban Community College. He has been department head at Calumet College of St. Joseph since 1989 and a full professor since 1998. He has taught at Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy since 2000. Joseph has worked with state and local police and sheriff’s departments specializing in trauma intervention, crisis counseling, death notification, and stress management.

As an administrator Dr. Kovach has chaired departments of Behavioral Sciences, General Education, and Quantitative, Behavioral and Social Sciences. He has directed programs of Psychology, Drug and Alcohol Studies, International Studies and Service, Integrated Studies, and the School for Adult Learning. He has represented the faculty on the Board of Trustees of Calumet College of St. Joseph​ for more than 15 years and developed curriculum for at least ten discipline areas including a graduate program in psychology.

As a researcher Dr. Kovach conducted Parkinson's research in the Neurology Department of Northwestern University Medical School and epilepsy research in Neurology at Loyola University Medical School. He collaborated with the development of an internet forensic test battery, the Standard Predictor of Violence Potential with 97% sensitivity-specificity for use in various industries such as airlines, law enforcement, energy, non-profits, corporations, and universities. Dr. Kovach has co-authored a series of research papers concerning predicting at-risk and violent behaviors and the re-standardization of Ammons Quick Test, a test of verbal intelligence. His academic papers have been presented and published at Oxford and in Eastern Europe. For the last four years he has presented papers at The American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

As a consultant Dr. Kovach has worked with many entities such as as McDonalds, METRA Railroad, United Transportation Union, International Sheet and Metal Workers, Inland Steel, Gary Housing Authority, Loyola University, The Buzan Centres, Purdue University, and Lake County Mental Health. Dr. Kovach also was a delegate participant in the White House Conference on a Drug Free America during President Reagan’s Administration.

As an international expert Dr. Kovach leads study groups of students, faculty, alumni, and community leaders on trips to countries such as Italy, France, England, Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Spain. He is a member of the Oxford Roundtable on Human Rights.  He was involved in Lithuania after the fall of the Soviet Union participating in an Eastern Europe development conference. He was part of a team that implemented a ground breaking staffing system for the U.S. Eighth Army Community Service centers across South Korea, and returned three years later as team lead to evaluate the effectiveness of that implementation.

Shirin Zarqa-Lederman, M.A. ('10)Shirin Zarqa-Lederman1.jpg

Honored Oct. 9 at our Washington, D.C. commencement ceremony

Shirin Zarqa-Lederman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of New Jersey. She is also a Board Certified Professional Counselor by the American Psychotherapy Association. She’s the author of a children’s book series, The Trotters of Tweeville, a self-professed psychology nerd, and a mother of five with a “sixth sense” when it comes to children and adolescents.

Counseling was not the career path Ms. Zarqa-Lederman had in mind in prior to graduating from Rutgers University in 1999 with undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies as an Honors Scholar, with senior thesis, The Irresponsible Society: The Discourse Surrounding Addiction. The following year, she completed a Masters in Communication and Information Studies with thesis, Communication in couples coping from substance abuse: Analyzing their stories

With developing interest in substance abuse counseling through her undergraduate and graduate research, Ms. Zarqa-Lederman began as a mental health assistant and was promoted to Program Coordinator of the Adolescent Substance Abuse unit at Princeton House Behavioral Health, a division of The Medical Center at Princeton, at the time managed by Liberty Behavioral Health. She transitioned to Community Liaison, focused on securing substance abuse treatment for adolescents and adults in the Southern New Jersey Region, and after the birth of her third child, served as mobile behavioral therapist at Child and Family Solutions and Caring Families.
Addressing her passion for addressing the emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of children, adolescents, and their families, Ms. Zarqa-Lederman enrolled in The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Online campus and completed an M.A. Psychology program, specializing in Child and Adolescent Psychology in 2010. Her thesis, First Generation American Arab Adolescents in Suburban America: An Investigation of their Acculturation Issues, was inspired by her cultural background as an American of Palestinian descent. 

Shirin is also inspired by the European Jewish cultural background of her husband, Gabriel, and considers their five children as “seeds of peace” demonstrating that children can grow up with each other and together in tolerance of one another. She is a supporter of organizations that promote health, wellness, and cultural tolerance, specifically as it relates to children, such as Palestinian Children Relief Fund, Seeds of Peace, and Unicef. Her interest and experience with interactions of multiethnic families led to partnership and contributions to I Write To You As…, a blog project created and developed by Jenan Matari, board member of the New York Chapter of the Palestinian Children Relief Fund. One of her blog posts, “One of the Many,” was included in book, Not in my Name, edited by Sangria Editoria. 

While at home on bed rest during her fifth pregnancy, she began to write and rhyme for self-entertainment, and formed the character of Zavis DaMavis, later the star of her first Trotters of Tweeville release in 2014. The series encompasses Shirin’s passion for writing and dedication to children and was launched in an effort to encourage kindness as an antidote to intolerance and bullying. Zavis DaMavis demonstrates what it means to be kind and its impact on others. Characters of the Trotters of Tweeville Series, including Harraf Namrattle and JouJou McVue in books two and three, are inspired by viewing her own children’s behaviors and personalities through the lens of therapist. Her style is influenced by childhood favorites, Dr. Suess, Shel Silverstein, and Maurice Sendak, whose words have had a personal lasting impact. Shirin believes that when children’s reading is fun and engaging, it will become life-long.

Peter Shore, Psy.D. ('09)Peter Shore PsyD.jpg

To be honored Oct. 29​ at our SoCal commencement ceremony

Peter Shore, Psy.D. is a 2009 Clinical Psychology graduate of  The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Chicago Campus. He is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Shore also currently serves as the Director of Telehealth for Northwest Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN 20) in the Department of Veterans Affairs and Director for Mobile Clinical Video in the Office of Connected Care, VA Central Office. 

Dr. Shore began his VA career immediately following his internship where he was hired as a staff psychologist at the Portland VA in 2009. Based on identifying a need to connect with Veterans experiencing significant access to care, Dr. Shore developed and implemented the VA's first Home Based Telemental Health program, which permitted Veterans to connect with their VA providers via webcam and personal computer. In the first year of the pilot 80% of all enrolled Veterans indicated they would not have received any mental health services had it not been available via Home Based Telemental Health.

In 2011, Dr. Shore was hired by VA Central Office in the Office of Mental Health Services. In this new role, Dr. Shore led a group of nationally recognized family psychology experts to develop an original curriculum focused on Parenting for Service Members and Veterans. This curriculum was the basis of a web-based self-help course and associated Mobile App, which Dr. Shore served as the project lead. The free online course has gone onto win numerous national and international awards in the Interactive Learning industry.

Dr. Shore was the recipient of the 2012 Veterans Health Administration Innovation Award, which provided financial support to expand the Home Based Telemental Health pilot by furnishing veterans with iPads and laptops to connect with their VA providers for clinical video visits mental health services. The Innovation Award also supported the establishment of the VA's first Telejustice program whereby incarcerated veterans are able to connect with their VA social workers via telehealth.

In recognition of his contributions to VA Psychology and innovative service delivery Dr. Shore was the recipient of the James Besyner Early Career Award in 2013 by the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders.

In addition to his current role as VISN 20 Director of Telehealth, Dr. Shore maintains a clinical practice within the VA as a Compensation and Pension Mental Health Examiner and unit psychologist on the Acute Psychiatry unit at the Portland VA in addition to providing supervision to pre-doctoral interns.

​Dr. Shore has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and actively in the area of telehealth and is currently co-editor of a book series on Behavioral Telehealth through Springer Publications.

Dr. Shore is driven by a sense of urgency to help transform healthcare systems through pioneering innovations while focused on improving patient experience and provider engagement through the lens of social justice.​

Learn more about The Chicago School's Distinguished Alumni of the Year Awards and past receipients​.​