Michael A. O'Donnell

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Michael A. O'Donnell
Michael ODonnell.jpg
Born (1956-06-17) June 17, 1956 (age 65)
OccupationAuthor, Researcher, Lecturer

Michael A. O'Donnell (born June 17, 1956, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) is an American writer and researcher and co-principal of the Adolescent Wellness Research Project,[1] jointly with University of Alabama family strengths scholar Nick Stinnett[2].[3] Their research on adolescent wellness[4][5][6] was published in the book Good Kids (Doubleday 1995)[7][8] and they were invited to speak on this study before the United Nations in Vienna, Austria,[9] in 1995. [10]


O'Donnell received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in 1986.

The International Family Life Institute[edit]

In the late 1980s, O'Donnell, then an Assistant Professor of Family Studies, Dean of Professional Studies at Faulkner University and a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE), and Stinnett co-founded The International Family Life Institute, Inc., Montgomery, AL.[11][12] The Institute 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)[13] through the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).[14] 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[15] was also an Associate Professor of Family Studies and the Founding Executive Director of the Southwest Center for Fathering on the campus of Abilene Christian University. The Center was the first university-based center for fathering in the United States. O'Donnell was interviewed for his work in the area of fathering in The Chronicle of Higher Education.[16][17] O'Donnell trained over 400 certified fathering small group leaders in the U.S. and overseas.[18][19][20][21][22] 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.[23][24]


In 1995, O'Donnell, a Professor of Family Studies and Department Chair of Psychology & Behavioral Sciences with Rochester University in Mich., had authored or co-authored eight books, including: Home from Oz (Thomas Nelson & Word 1994), A Question of Honor (HarperCollins & Zondervan 1995), and How A Man Prepares His Sons for Life (Baker Publishing Group & Bethany House 1995). These books have been the focus of numerous radio, TV and print features such as in USA Today,[25] Better Homes and Gardens[26] and Jet[27] magazines; 60 Minutes, CBS Interactive Business Network, CNN and the PBS nationally syndicated radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge.[28][29][30][31]

Personal life[edit]

He is the identical twin brother of award-winning playwright Richard O'Donnell. He has been married for 35 years and has three children (one deceased) and two grandchildren.

Academic and popular books[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Some honors and awards include: In 1992, then-Governor President Bill Clinton appointed Dr. Michael O'Donnell as an "Arkansas Traveler";[36] 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. 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.[37]

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).


  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. ^ Raising Teens (published by Better Homes and Gardens), "Seven Secrets to Raising Great Kids," December 1999.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ http://www.ncfr.org/degree-programs/spring-arbor-university
  14. ^ 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) .
  15. ^ Troy Eccentric [2], "Good Examples! Hills Author Basks In National Spotlight," Jay M. Grossman, October 24, 1996.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ http://chronicle.com/article/Abilene-Christian-U-Center/95049/
  18. ^ 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."
  19. ^ "Father Center Says Dads Aren't Doing Enough," Mia B. Moody, Cox News Service, Oct. 25, 1993.
  20. ^ "Fatherly Advice: University's Center Urges Two-Parent Homes for Stability," Jean Pagel, Associated Press, June 18, 1995.
  21. ^ The Straits Times (Singapore), "Centre for Fathers Finds a Home," May 25, 2001.
  22. ^ The Straits Times, "Family and Parenting: Staying in Remote Control", November 16, 2001.
  23. ^ http://www.fathersandfamilies.com/about/history.htm
  24. ^ http://www.sacramento365.com/org/detail/7425
  25. ^ USA Today, "Shoring Up the Navy," May 1996; USA Today, "Lifting Teen Limits," Nanci Hellmich, October 30, 1996.
  26. ^ Better Homes and Gardens, "Six Secrets to Raising a Successful Teen," Martha Miller, 1998.
  27. ^ Jet (now Ebony magazine) "Experts Tell How to Set Age-Appropriate Limits for Teens", May 2008.
  28. ^ PBS Radio, To The Best of Our Knowledge, June 1996.
  29. ^ "Daddies Should Develop Relationships with Children," Associated Press, June 20, 1993.
  30. ^ "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.
  31. ^ "Dads: Fathering Walks A Political Minefield These Days," Staff, June 18, 1995, Houston Chronicle, Outlook section, Page 2, 2 Star Edition.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Cited in "Family Therapy Review: Preparing for Comprehensive and Licensing Examinations", Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc Inc. (publishers), 2011, Robert H. Coombs, editor.
  35. ^ 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].
  36. ^ [4] "Arkansas Traveler Certificate," 1992.
  37. ^ [5] "Herald wins two Catholic Press Association awards," July 6, 2012.