E. Gordon Poling Administrator Award

Unpublished material – USD Photograph Collection, Series 9, photograph of Dr. Gordon Poling 

The E. Gordon Poling Award was established in 1991. E. Gordon Poling was born to a farm family in Iowa and learned early the need for hard work. he sometimes stated that he started work at age 13 and had never stopped. He spent his early professional career in public school work in Iowa and stated his personal motto as "I have always tried to treat people fairly." Dr. Poling served the University of South Dakota and future counselors for 29 years. He was chairperson of the Division of Educational Psychology and Counseling from 1979-1990. During his tenure at the University and through his active leadership in the profession in the state and region, he never lost his ability to nurture students and fellow professionals. Dr. Poling served as only the second chair of the USD Counseling Department, and is credited by his colleagues with spearheading the development of the counseling program at USD.  He was a true counselor educator. Gordon died on August 30, 1990. As a memorial to Dr. Poling, the SD Counseling Association Board of Directors voted to rename the administrator award in his honor. 

Dr. Joan England of USD, a longtime colleague , observed of him, "Gordon was a humble man. He never knowingly called attention to himself, yet he was a person whose counsel was sought. His opinion was highly valued by students and colleagues who spent time with him. We who knew him are deeply grateful for the opportunity to count Gordon as a friend and colleague."

These winners have demonstrated an understanding of the counseling profession and unqualified support of it. Each individuals is or was in some kind of supervisory position over counselors, counselor-interns, or students of counseling.


2023 Winner: Joan Mahoney, pictured with nominators Kelly Jones and Morgan Robey

Not only is Joan Mahoney a leader and mentor in her position as Principal of O'Gorman High School, she also takes the time to work individually with the counselors when they are looking for guidance. Joan has been in the education field her entire career, starting as a teacher and moving to administration. The school counselors at O’Gorman are constantly collaborating with Joan and learning from her. We partner with her in difficult situations and work together to find the best solution for all of our students. Joan also appreciates the boundary between discipline and counseling. She is careful to keep the counselors away from disciplinary action, but keeps communication open so as to know if there is more to be considered in any given situation. - Kelly Jones

Throughout grad school and professional collaboration, I often heard difficult stories about the tension between administration and counseling. What I didn’t realize was how profound and productive the connection could be with positive, supportive, collaborative leadership like the O’Gorman School Counselors have with our leader and principal, Joan Mahoney. Joan supervises our counseling team of three school counselors and one counseling administrative assistant. Joan trusts our work and has laid a foundation of respect. She constantly advocates for us, but we also deeply value her gentle questioning or creative routes for consideration. She balances supervision and relationship well, as she keeps us accountable, but also recognizes our humanness. In parent meetings, she always leans on our expertise and makes sure we are the “good guys” with the families throughout.  -Morgan Robey

Past Award Winners

  • 2023- Joan Mahoney
  • 2022- Phil Schonebaum
  • 2021- Patti Lake-Torbert
  • 2019 - Dr. Andrea Bjornestad
  • 2018 - Celeste Uthe-Burow
  • 2017 - Dr. Anna Schwan
  • 2016 - Wendy Smith
  • 2015 - Dr. Becky Guffin
  • 2013 - Woody Schrenk
  • 2012 - Mark Britzman
  • 2011 - JC Chambers
  • 2010 - Mark Hedges
  • 2008 - James Korcuska
  • 2007 - Kelly Duncan
  • 2006 - Jay Trenhaile
  • 2005 - Howard Smith
  • 2004 - Roy Conrad
  • 2003 - Belle Fourche Administration
  • 2002 - David Fiedler
  • 2001 - Ruth Johnson
  • 2000 - Jan Nicolay