Foundation Honors Munson and Davis

Carl E. MunsonSocial Work Pioneer® Carl E. Munson was recognized for contributions to clinical practice.

Two social workers who have made significant contributions to the profession were honored with the NASW Foundation's annual Knee/Wittman Awards in October.

The awards program was established to recognize the values, ethics and approaches exemplified by two dedicated social work pioneers, Ruth Knee and Milton Wittman. This year, Carlton E. Munson and King Davis were honored for their efforts with a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by NASW and the NASW Foundation. NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark, who is also president of the NASW Foundation, was joined by NASW President James Kelly in hosting the ceremony.

The awards program was established in 1989. Wittman died in 1994 and Knee died in October.

Munson was honored with the Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement in Health and Mental Health Policy award. As a professor in the School of Social Work, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Munson has taught social work practice at the BSW, MSW and doctoral levels. He served for seven years as director of the University of Maryland School of Social Work doctoral program and has chaired doctoral dissertation research on social work practice issues.

Kelly noted that Munson has made significant contributions to clinical social work practice and the social work profession in the federal and state court systems.

Munson's participation as a clinical expert witness and consultant in two Maryland Court of Appeals child welfare cases established the right of social workers to make Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), diagnoses and to testify as expert witnesses. These efforts established the credentials of clinical social workers at the state and national levels, Kelly explained. Munson's clinical expertise, especially as it relates to children, has led to his national recognition as an expert witness on matters connected with mental health and domestic and international child abduction cases.

At the ceremony, Munson said he was proud of the opportunities he has had in helping children deal with their adversities. He said there were numerous mentors who guided him during his career and that he has been proud to serve as a mentor to others.

"To be relevant in our work in this modern world, we must have mentors," he said.

Munson's contributions to clinical practice in mental health have been recognized by a number of awards, including the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians Dr. Henry P. and Page Laughlin Award as Distinguished Teacher, the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence Education Achievement Award and the Maryland Society for Clinical Social Work, Social Work Educator of the Year award. Munson has been a member of NASW for more than 40 years. He has served on the editorial review board of NASW's Social Work Dictionary and he serves as chairperson of the Professional Standards Committee, NASW Maryland Chapter.

King Davis and James KellyKing Davis (left), with NASW President James Kelly, was honored for his work in the field of mental health.

King Davis has made exceptional contributions in the fields of health and mental health throughout his professional career, Kelly said. He was honored with the Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement in Health and Mental Health Practice award.

Since 2000, Davis has held the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. His research and teaching at the university have focused on public mental health policy, the provision of culturally competent mental health services, health care for the mentally ill and disparities in rates of illness and services for people of color. From 2003-2008, Davis also served as executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas, which awards grants and manages programs to improve mental health research and services in Texas.

Kelly said that Davis's work has made an impact in mental health policy, research and practice statewide as well as nationally.

Prior to his service in Texas, Davis was appointed commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He also served as the Virginia's director of community mental health services.

Davis's academic experience includes service as the William and Camille Cosby Chair in Social Work at Howard University and the Libra Chair in Public Policy at the University of Maine School of Business. He also served as the John Galt Chair in Public Mental Health at the University of Virginia's Department of Psychiatry. Davis has held academic appointments at Washington University in St. Louis, Virginia Commonwealth University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Norfolk State University.

Davis recently served on the Surgeon General's Workshop on Mental Health, Culture, Race and Ethnicity and in 2003 helped write a report on cultural competency for the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He has presented his research findings at conferences and workshops throughout the nation.

Catheleen Jordan, president of the NASW Texas Chapter, said Davis has transformed the Hogg Foundation into an activist organization that funds innovative mental health initiatives such as culturally modified evidence-based practice methods. He works to transform mental health treatment and public policies that fund services for mental health treatment, she said.

Davis has served on a number of committees and voluntary boards, including the American College of Mental Health Administrators Governing Board, the Annie E. Casey Foundation Advisory Board and the Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Advisory Board. He has been a member of NASW for more than 40 years and served on the editorial board of Health and Social Work, one of NASW's scholarly journals. Davis has received the Austin Travis County Mental Health Center Garnet Coleman Eternal Flame Award, the Council on Social Work Education Lifetime Achievement Award and the Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas at Austin.

Davis said he was honored to receive an award named after two extraordinary social workers.

The NASW Foundation is a charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities through the advancement of social work practice.

Get more information: Knee/Wittman Health & Mental Health Achievement Awards.