Michael A. O'Donnell

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Michael A. O'Donnell
Michael ODonnell.jpg
Born (1956-06-17) June 17, 1956 (age 64)
OccupationAuthor, Researcher, Lecturer

Michael A. O'Donnell (born June 17, 1956, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) is a best-selling author, researcher, and international lecturer with a Ph.D. from Kansas State University and is best known for his Adolescent Wellness Research Project,[1] co-conducted with family strengths scholar Nick Stinnett, Ph.D.,[2] a professor with the University of Alabama.[3] Their research on Adolescent Wellness[4][5][6] was published in the book Good Kids (Doubleday 1995)[7][8] and was presented before the United Nations in Vienna, Austria,[9] in 1995. The United Nations also published their research in the UN Directory of International Year of the Family Research Projects in the summer of 1995.[10][11]


The International Family Life Institute[edit]

In the late 1980s, O'Donnell—an Assistant Professor of Family Studies, Dean of Professional Studies with Faulkner University, and Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)—and Stinnett co-founded The International Family Life Institute, Inc., Montgomery, AL,[12][13] which helped pioneer the first B.S. degree completion program in Family Life Education on the campus of Spring Arbor University, Mich., leading to certification for professionals as Certified Family Life Educators (CFLE)[14] through the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).[15] The Institute was a for-profit enterprise offering assistance in curriculum development, prevention-through-education seminars, and research and writing projects in the area of family and consumer science and practice.

Southwest Center for Fathering[edit]

In the early 1990s, O'Donnell[16] was also an Associate (undergraduate & graduate) Professor of Family Studies and the Founding Executive Director of the Southwest Center for Fathering on the campus of Abilene Christian University—the first university-based center for fathering in the United States—and has been featured for his work in the area of fathering in The Chronicle of Higher Education.[17][18] O'Donnell was personally responsible for training over 400 certified fathering small group leaders in the U.S. and overseas.[19][20][21] He is also "the inspiration" for the development of the Centre for Fathering in Singapore, which was the first recipient of the Volunteer Development Grant, initiated by the Prime Minister of Singapore in 2000.[22][23] Also, the Center for Fathers and Families in Sacramento, Calif., was formed after attendees returned from a seminar held by O'Donnell at Abilene Christian University.[24][25] O'Donnell was also invited to be an original signer of A Call to Fatherhood published in 1997 by the Center of the American Experiment, The National Fatherhood Initiative, and the Institute for American Values; which was presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In 1992 O'Donnell was invited to conduct a Fathering Certification Seminar at the U. S. Naval Base, Naples, Italy. And, in 1991 the Southwest Center for Fathering was awarded a $17,000 training grant from the Texas Department of Human Services to educate and train their employees in leading fathering support groups for their Foster Care programs.


In the mid-to-late 1990s, O'Donnell—then a (full) Professor of Family Studies and Department Chair of Psychology & Behavioral Sciences with Rochester College in Mich.—had authored or co-authored eight books, including: Home from Oz (Thomas Nelson & Word 1994), A Question of Honor (Harper Collins & Zondervan 1995), and How A Man Prepares His Sons for Life (Baker Publishing Group & Bethany House 1995)—which was nominated for both the Christianity Today and Gold Medallion book awards. A best-selling author, these books have been the focus of numerous radio, TV and print features such as in USA Today,[26] Better Homes and Gardens[27] and Jet[28] magazines; 60 Minutes, CBS Interactive Business Network, CNN and the PBS nationally syndicated radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge.[29][30][31][32] He was also invited to be a contributing scholar to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Social Issues[33] published by Cavendish Corporation in association with Salem Press and Initiatives for Families[34] for the National Council on Family Relations.

Personal life[edit]

He is the identical twin brother of award-winning playwright Richard O'Donnell.

Academic and popular books[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Some honors and awards include: In 1941 the Arkansas General Assembly created the Arkansas Traveler Certificate to honor out-of-state visitors, presenting the first one to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and so, in 1992 then-Governor President Bill Clinton appointed Dr. Michael O'Donnell as an "Arkansas Traveler";[39] he also has had induction into Kappa Omicron Nu Family and Consumer Sciences Honor Society (1991); inducted into Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society (1997); selected as the Coons-Farrar Lecturer for Harding University (1992); selected as the President B. Garrison Lecturer for Henderson State University (1993); a Fine Arts Lecturer on Fathering and the Media for Lander University (1994); selected as the Dr. Bruce Everist Endowed Lecturer for Louisiana Tech University (1997).

O'Donnell was also invited to be an original signer of A Call to Fatherhood published in 1997 by the Center of the American Experiment, The National Fatherhood Initiative, and the Institute for American Values; which was presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.[40]

He was also nominated for both the 1997 Gold Medallion and Christianity Today book awards; and he was invited in 2002 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to be the keynote speaker of Singapore’s National Week of the Family.

In 2012, he was selected as a Catholic Press Association Award-Winner for his monthly column, Family Matters in The Colorado Catholic Herald, Editor-in-Chief, Bill Howard (journalist).[41]

In 2013, he was awarded, together with his communications team and Atomic Film Makers, at Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, a national Telly Award for their video promotion of the Marian House (Soup Kitchen)--it was awarded to them from among 12,000 entrants, including Universal Studios, HBO, Showtime and Warner Brothers.[42]


  1. ^ New Man magazine, "Successful Kids Believe," November/December 1997.
  2. ^ Stinnett, Nick, & John DeFrain. 1985. Secrets of Strong families. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
  3. ^ Abilene Reporter News, "Survey Says Normal, Happy Teens Do Exist," Jerry Daniel Reed, July 11, 1994.
  4. ^ Cited in DeFrain, John; Swanson, Dianne; Brand, Gail (2008) "Creating a Strong Family: Looking at Life from a Family Strengths Perspective", University of Nebraska.
  5. ^ Cited in DeFrain, John and Sylvia M. Asay. “Strong Families Around the World: An Introduction to the Family Strengths Perspective.” Co-published simultaneously in Marriage & Family Review Haworth Press Vol. 41, No. 1/2, 2007, pp. 1-10; and: Strong Families Around the World: Strengths-Based Research and Perspectives (ed: John DeFrain, and Sylvia M. Asay) The Haworth Press, Inc., 2007, pp. 1-10.
  6. ^ Cited in DeFrain, John ; Asay, Sylvia M. , "Family Strengths and Challenges in the USA", Marriage & Family Review: Vol. 41, Issue 3 & 4, 2007.
  7. ^ USA Today, "One Last Trip Before Kids Fly the Coop," Linda Temple, September 4, 1997.
  8. ^ [1]Articles on "Good Kids" in Vietnamese
  9. ^ Delaware County Sunday Times, "O'Donnell Will Address United Nations," June 18, 1995.
  10. ^ Optimist, "Family Matters: Professor to Present Research to United Nations Committee," Erin House, June 1995.
  11. ^ Stinnett, N. & O’Donnell M.A. et al. (1995) “Adolescent Wellness and Family Strengths Research Project”. Directory of International Year of the Family IYF Research Activities, Vienna, Austria: Australian Institute of Family Studies and United Nations.
  12. ^ Raising Teens (published by Better Homes and Gardens), "Seven Secrets to Raising Great Kids," December 1999.
  13. ^ The International Family Life Institute, Inc. was responsible for funding the Center for Fathering for $10,000 on the campus of Abilene Christian University and funding the National Adolescent Wellness Research project with the University of Alabama for an additional $15,000.
  14. ^ http://www.ncfr.org/degree-programs/spring-arbor-university
  15. ^ Spring Arbor University: The bachelor's degree in Family Life Education program is accredited by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). In 2007, SAU had the highest percentage of graduates nationally to become family life educators through the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) .
  16. ^ Troy Eccentric [2], "Good Examples! Hills Author Basks In National Spotlight," Jay M. Grossman, October 24, 1996.
  17. ^ Chronicle of Higher Education, "Reforming Phantom Fathers," Katherine S. Mangan, June 1996; The Ruston Daily Leader, "Lecture Series to Feature O'Donnell," October 31, 1997.
  18. ^ http://chronicle.com/article/Abilene-Christian-U-Center/95049/
  19. ^ The Portal to Texas History, The Optimist (Abilene, TX), Vol. 79, No. 33, Ed. 1, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1991, "Southwest Center for Fathering to Announce Opening Monday."
  20. ^ "Father Center Says Dads Aren't Doing Enough," Mia B. Moody, Cox News Service, Oct. 25, 1993.
  21. ^ "Fatherly Advice: University's Center Urges Two-Parent Homes for Stability," Jean Pagel, Associated Press, June 18, 1995.
  22. ^ The Straits Times (Singapore), "Centre for Fathers Finds a Home," May 25, 2001.
  23. ^ The Straits Times, "Family and Parenting: Staying in Remote Control", November 16, 2001.
  24. ^ http://www.fathersandfamilies.com/about/history.htm
  25. ^ http://www.sacramento365.com/org/detail/7425
  26. ^ USA Today, "Shoring Up the Navy," May 1996; USA Today, "Lifting Teen Limits," Nanci Hellmich, October 30, 1996.
  27. ^ Better Homes and Gardens, "Six Secrets to Raising a Successful Teen," Martha Miller, 1998.
  28. ^ Jet (now Ebony magazine) "Experts Tell How to Set Age-Appropriate Limits for Teens", May 2008.
  29. ^ PBS Radio, To The Best of Our Knowledge, June 1996.
  30. ^ "Daddies Should Develop Relationships with Children," Associated Press, June 20, 1993.
  31. ^ "Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men of Integrity," Nick Harrison, HarperCollins Publishers, May 28, 1996. Cites Dr. O'Donnell's professorship with Abilene Christian University and work as director with the Southwest Center for Fathering in its biographical appendix.
  32. ^ "Dads: Fathering Walks A Political Minefield These Days," Staff, June 18, 1995, Houston Chronicle, Outlook section, Page 2, 2 Star Edition.
  33. ^ O’Donnell, M.A. (1996) “Men’s Movement”, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Social Issues. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, Inc. and Marshall Cavendish.
  34. ^ Steele, C., O’Donnell M.A., et al. (1995) “Spirituality and Family Life”, Initiatives for Families: Research, Policy, Practice, and Education. Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).
  35. ^ Cited in Parenting 911: How to Safeguard and Rescue Your 10 to 15 Year-Old from Substance Abuse, Sexual Encounters and Other Risky Situations, Giannetti, Charlene and Sagarese, Margaret, Random House, 2004.
  36. ^ Cited in Fechner, Kellie M (2006) "Resilience: A Case Study of the Personal Characteristics, Skills and Coping Strategies of Educationally Successful Adolescents", Woodcrest State College.
  37. ^ Cited in "Family Therapy Review: Preparing for Comprehensive and Licensing Examinations", Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc Inc. (publishers), 2011, Robert H. Coombs, editor.
  38. ^ O'Donnell's book, Heart of the Warrior, is cited in The Men's Bibliography: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Writing on Men, Masculinities, Gender and Sexualities, compiled by Michael Flood, 19th edition, 2008, [3].
  39. ^ [4] "Arkansas Traveler Certificate," 1992.
  40. ^ A Call to Fatherhood, 1997. Center of the American Experiment, National Fatherhood Initiative and Institute for American Values.
  41. ^ [5] "Herald wins two Catholic Press Association awards," July 6, 2012.
  42. ^ [6] July 2013.