Public Citizen of The Year Award

The NASW Public Citizen of The Year Award honors an outstanding member of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values and mission of professional social work. The award recipient is not a social worker.


The award recipient must:

  • Make a significant contribution to an area or population of concern to the social work profession such as at-risk or vulnerable populations; quality of life in communities; social issues.
  • Act with courage
  • Demonstrate outstanding leadership
  • Exemplify social work values and ethics

Nomination Procedure

Chapters and individuals may nominate a community leader who meets the above criteria by submitting the following:

  1. Completed official awards nomination form
  2. A summary that describes:
    • What the nominee has accomplished
    • What risks the nominee took to achieve results
    • Who the beneficiaries were
  3. Curriculum vita
  4. Three (3) endorsements

To ensure the nominee’s eligibility, please adhere to the nomination guidelines. Use clear, concise, descriptive examples of activities and accomplishments.The National Awards Committee selects and makes recommendations to the NASW Board of Directors, which approves the award recipient.

2017 Award Recipients

Social Worker of The Year
Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez, MSW, LCSW

Lifetime Achievement 
Ruth Brandwein, PhD, MSW

Public Elected Official of The Year
Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville, TN

Public Citizen of The Year
Jay Berlin, PhD

Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement
Flavio F. Marsiglia, PhD, MSW

Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement
James R. Mackay, PhD, MSW

Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement
Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-R, SAP, CCM

International Rhoda G. Sarnat 
Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman