Guest blogger: Andy Lattal, Ph.D.
ABA Technologies is pleased to share that one of its own, Dr. Darnell Lattal, will be the 2019 recipient of the Organizational Behavior Management Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting of the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), in Chicago, Illinois this May. A long list of notable behavior analysts has preceded her as a recipient of this award, including Aubrey Daniels, Jon Bailey, Judith Komaki, and Bill Abernathy—pretty stellar company!
The award recognizes Darnell’s significant contributions to OBM over many years and in many roles. For almost 10 of those years, she was the Director of Children’s Services for a Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center across a four-county region in West Virginia. In this role, she worked with others to address and design interventions and clinical treatment from infants to teens as well as their caregivers, teachers, and parents. She had earned a master’s degree in Special Education where she began her behavioral work. She was taught by Phil Drash’s team in the Verbal Conditioning Laboratory at Johns Hopkins U, exposed to Ted Ayllon’s token economy work at Anna State Hospital, Illinois. and worked with psychologists who persisted up the legal chain to establish a patient’s’ Right to Treatment judgment by the supreme court. She helped to set up services, including token economies in classrooms and institutions at a time where there were very few indeed. She participated in Civil Rights in Alabama and violence reduction policies at a national level, invited to the White House for the passage of the Brady Bill, both reflecting a lifelong interest in reducing coercive control.
While a Ph.D. student, she studied with faculty very interested in the then-developing field of OBM, among the first operant programs to offer a specialty in behavioral systems, influencing the rest of her career. Her dissertation was on conditions that promote help-giving by strangers to a person in need, a demonstration of her early interest in conditions that maximize cooperation and trust. Working with such prominent behavioral psychologists as Jon Krapfl, Ed Callahan, Don Hake, and Rob Hawkins, she earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from WVU, during a time of intense exploration of concepts related to radical behaviorism and the importance of verbal behavior. She worked with psychiatric and prison systems, providing behavioral training and coaching to prison guards, training parents raising high-risk children living in conditions of poverty, illiteracy, and potential (and actual) abuse. At Valley, she and other colleagues obtained a 3-year renewable grant to address infant development and parental interactions. She started the Youth Services Center as an alternative to incarceration for juvenile offenders, including job skills training and access to courses toward a high school diploma. After leaving Valley, she established her own company, Context Management, Inc, offering clinical services and introduced behavioral strategies to increase literacy in the local adult and child populations.
Following a stint as assistant to WVU’s Provost for Academic Affairs, she jumped into the world of OBM consulting with Chicago-based Corporate Behavior Analysts, or COBA, as it was known in OBM circles. After a move to the Continuous Learning Group at its formation, Darnell later found a home with Aubrey Daniels & Associates, Inc., (soon to become Aubrey Daniels International) in 1997. After a couple of years, Aubrey selected Darnell to be President and CEO of his world-renowned behavioral consulting company. She remained its leader until 2014 when she stepped down to run the Aubrey Daniels Institute, a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to bringing behavioral principles to learning in public education. She “retired” and continued to consult with companies on occasion. Darnell consulted with ABA Tech, and for the past year and a half, at the request of the owner, was asked to take on the temporary duty of acting CEO of the company. Along the way, she has as well consulted with a host of companies large and small, local and international, a few of those organizations behavioral and many not so much (at least until they worked with Darnell).
Darnell has published a variety of research articles, chapters, and books. The subject of this body of work is varied, but with a general theme relating to OBM applications. Her books include three volumes on workplace ethics, Winning the Integrity Revolution (1993), Ethics at Work (2005) and A Good Day’s Work: Sustaining Ethical Behavior and Business Success (2006), co-written with WVU philosophy professor Ralph W. Clark. A book in Japanese on reducing stress in Japanese companies through behavior-based leadership, (2010), with Japanese entrepreneur Jun Ishida. Life’s a PIC/NIC…when you understand behavior (2017), co-authored with Aubrey Daniels, is a book that examines everyday life and how principles of behavior can be of use. Currently, she and Carlos Zuluaga are in the final stages of The Wisdom Factor. to be published later this year.
Darnell has an uncanny ability to see the big picture and in so doing places her consulting work in a broad perspective that helps clients not only solve short-term problems but also see the implications of behavior now and in the organization’s future. When asked, she attributes this contextual perspective to her father’s influence during her formative years, himself a master of timing and perspective. Her openness to ideas and experimentation has endeared her to many a client. She could be described as a principled pragmatist, always striving to place problems in an ethical context while reaching workable and realistic solutions. When she was working in mental health, one of her supervisees gave her a coffee cup on which was written: “Diplomacy is the art of letting others have your way.” Nothing captures Darnell’s leadership style better, in the best, non-Machiavellian sense of that expression. She has a sense of where things should go, but she listens, and in a highly effective way patiently shapes and encourages people to find their own solutions, coaching skills as needed along the way, to address their organizational, and sometimes personal problems, solutions which she seemed to have known all along but wisely kept to herself.
ABA Technologies is so pleased to be able to celebrate this much-deserved peer recognition of Darnell’s effective, compassionate work that has had such positive effects on so many people and organizations, including our own.
Clark, Ralph W., and Lattal, Alice Darnell, Workplace Ethics: Winning the Integrity Revolution (1993), Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks. https://www.amazon.com/Workplace-Ethics-Winning-Integrity-Revolution/dp/0847677893
Clark, Ralph W., and Lattal, Alice Darnell, Ethics at Work (2005), Performance Management Publications. https://www.amazon.com/Ethics-Work-Alice-Darnell-Lattal/dp/0937100102/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546636415&sr=1-1&keywords=Darnell+Lattal
Lattal, Alice Darnell and Clark, Ralph W., A Good Day’s Work: Sustaining Ethical Behavior and Business Success (2007), McGraw Hill Professional. https://www.amazon.com/Good-Days-Work-Sustaining-Behavior- ebook/dp/B001E5DUZW/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546636415&sr=1-2&keywords=Darnell+Lattal
Ishida, Jun, and Lattal, Alice Darnell, Tatta 1tsu no Koì “Doì” ga shokuba sutoresu o nakushi mochibeì “Shon o Takameru: Okane dewa nai toì” Taru riwaì “do to IU Kangaekata (2010), https://www.amazon.com/shokuba-sutoresu-nakushi-mochibe%C3%8C-takameru/dp/4492521852
Daniels, Aubrey C., and Lattal, Alice Darnell, Life’s a PIC/NIC …when you understand behavior (2017), https://www.amazon.com/Lifes-PIC-when-understand-behavior-ebook/dp/B0727WJBJB
Abernathy, William B., and Lattal, Alice Darnell, Organizational Behavior Management (2014), Wiley https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118468135.ch26