Lenore A. Kola, PhD

Lenore A. Kola, PhD, is an associate professor emerita of social work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and co-director of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices (CEBP). She is also the former dean of the university’s School of Graduate Studies.

In an academic career spanning over 35 years, Kola has developed and implemented over 10 different training and fellowship programs for master's students and professionals, and received funding for these initiatives from federal, state, and county agencies, as well as from charitable foundations. These programs have helped advance the knowledge, skills, credentialing, and professional development of social workers and chemical-dependency counselors alike. 

Kola is the author or co-author of more than 12 different training manuals, modules, and curricula. She has also published on the topics of alcohol and other drugs, the elderly, integrated treatment for co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders (also called dual disorders), supported employment, evidence-based practices, and implementation science/technology transfer—the translation of research evidence into service-systems change, organizational change, and clinical change.

Before joining the Mandel School faculty in 1975, Kola worked as a regional coordinator for the Division of Alcoholism in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health from 1969 to 1974, where she provided technical assistance (program development, consultation, and training) to state psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, and community-based service agencies, helping them implement treatment programs for patients with alcohol abuse and other drug abuse. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Boston University.

Advancing Professional Education

Throughout her career, Kola has been instrumental in promoting the integration of mental health and chemical-dependency services and systems. In 1975, she established a curriculum specialization at the Mandel School for the study of alcohol and other drugs (AODA) and the practice of chemical-dependency counseling. She chaired the program for over 25 years. As a result, numerous graduates of the Mandel School have become licensed independent social workers who are also certified in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of alcohol and other drug abuse problems, including:

  • Problematic substance use
  • Substance abuse
  • Substance dependence

In 2011, Kola provided leadership that enabled the Mandel School to achieve another milestone in its long history of excellence in the field of social work education. She helped the AODA specialization become accredited by a new professional-licensing entity called the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals (OCDP) Board. The accreditation from the OCDP Board adds value to the addiction-studies curriculum because the courses meet the formal education requirements the board sets forth. Today, students in the Mandel School's mental health specialization and AODA specialization prepare for two important credentials—a professional license in social work and a professional license in chemical-dependency counseling.

Over the past 10 years, Kola has been instrumental in working with Mandel School faculty to add courses for the study and treatment of co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders to the curriculum, so students in the AODA and mental health specializations also acquire the knowledge and skills to demonstrate proficiency with integrated dual-disorder treatment. In 2010, she developed a curriculum in substance abuse studies for undergraduate students at Case Western Reserve that the university approved and implemented.

Technical Assistance and Workforce Development

The ongoing professional development of licensed practicing social workers and chemical-dependency counselors has also been a career focus of Kola. In addition to developing and implementing numerous training programs for agency professionals, she was part of the leadership team assembled by the Ohio Department of Mental Health in 1999 that brought a Block Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to Ohio to support a statewide implementation of Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT), the evidence-based practice for people with co-occurring severe mental illness and substance use disorders. The grant supported the creation of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices (CEBP) and two State of Ohio Coordinating Center of Excellence (CCOE) initiatives—the Ohio Substance Abuse and Mental Illness (SAMI) CCOE and the Ohio Supported Employment (SE) CCOE.

Kola explains that the CEBP is a technical assistance organization that has gained a national reputation for technology transfer—the translation of research into practice—because of its systematic method of providing consultation, training, and evaluation services. Its method is based upon five stages of organizational change, with eight to 10 practical steps in each stage that help organizations pace and track the progress of their implementation efforts.

As a university-based purveyor of change, the center understands the world of research and the world of policy and practice, including the facilitators of and barriers to change. As a result, the center has been successful with helping state and county health authorities, community mental health and addiction-service agencies, and hospitals and health clinics implement and integrate evidence-based practices and other emerging best practices that improve quality of life and other outcomes for people with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.

Over the past 11 years, the center has used its methods with success in a variety of communities throughout Ohio's 41,000 square miles, including at urban centers in Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, as well as numerous rural communities in between. The center has also received requests for help from SAMHSA and from policymakers and service organizations in 23 other states and four other countries—Australia, England, Canada, and The Netherlands—and is currently active in Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, among others.

Through its CCOE initiatives, the center continues to provide consulting, training, and evaluation for Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT), the SAMHSA-recognized evidence-based practice, to all six of Ohio's regional psychiatric hospitals and over 60 community-based mental health organizations. It also provides technical assistance for Supported Employment (SE), another SAMHSA-recognized evidence-based practice, to 23 organizations in Ohio and works with staff from Ohio's Consumer-Operated Services to encourage employment among their participants.

The center also continues to work with hospitals, health networks, and community health clinics to integrate core components of evidence-based practices and emerging best practices into primary healthcare with Motivational Interviewing (MI) and "Tobacco: Recovery Across the Continuum" (TRAC), a motivational model for tobacco cessation that was developed by the center specifically for people with severe mental illness.

Other Career Highlights

Additional highlights from Kola's career include the following:

  • Project director for the Faculty Development Program from the NIAAA/NIDA/CSAP (1990-95).
  • Project director of an NIAAA-funded Alcoholism Training Program in the Mandel School's master's program (1975-1982).
  • Project director for an NIAAA-Alcoholism Research Training Program in the Mandel School's doctoral program (1976-1982).
  • Project director for the NIAAA/NCAE-funded National Occupational Program Training Program (1981-1982).
  • Project director of a fellowship program for the study of dual disorders for Mandel School master's students, funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County (2000-2009).
  • Member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Task Force that developed teaching modules in substance abuse (1992-1994).
  • Founding chair of the NASW section on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) and founding editor of the award winning NASW ATOD newsletter, Issues of Substance (1995-1996).
  • Recognized by the Graduate Student Senate of the School of Graduate Studies, Case Western Reserve with the creation of the The Lenore A. Kola Graduate Student Community Service Award, which is awarded annually (2006).
  • Recognized by Case Western Reserve's Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Association Spotlight Series for Women's Scholarship Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship (2007).
  • Recognized by the Council of Social Work Education's Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education Mentoring Program for her mentoring of a junior faculty member (2010).