Ten awardees to be honored

ad image of winnersNASW awardees will get the red-carpet treatment this month at a special ceremony to be held during the association’s national conference, “Social Work: Courage, Hope & Leadership,” taking place July 23-26 in Washington, D.C.

“A Night at the Awards” will feature an actual red carpet for the event to recognize social workers and others who made great strides in helping the profession and the people they serve.

NASW organizers said tickets for the reception, which will honor recipients of the NASW National Awards, NASW Foundation Awards and the Council of Chapter Executives, are available to anyone for purchase. The event takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 25 at the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.

“The elegant reception will offer attendees the opportunity to meet with social work colleagues and gain new inspiration as we proudly showcase an amazing group of social work and community leaders,” said Susan Rubin, assistant director of the NASW Foundation.

Among those being honored is NASW’s national Social Worker of the Year Adrienne Decker Delgado, from Arizona.

She convinced her supervisor at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health of the benefits of hosting an online resource for health and social services. With the help of in-kind resources, was launched in 2012.

“I believe that most people are capable of finding the services they need, given they have a tool to do it,” Delgado said of the bilingual website that groups community resources based on needs.

“Well over 90 percent of Phoenix residents have no idea of the multitude of free and low-cost services,” she said. “When you don’t know something exists, you don’t tend to look for it, and needs are left unmet.”

Delgado wanted to create a tool so that anyone with basic computer skills could find services. The most popular topics are housing, legal issues, jobs, food and clothing, and mental health and medical services.

She said promoting the site is important.

“We don’t want residents to ever become seriously ill or die prematurely because they don’t know where to find free/affordable services,” Delgado said. “We want everyone to know about and our Spanish site, It takes 30 seconds to show clients how to use the site, and access enables knowledge of almost 2,000 free and low-cost services.”

Other NASW National Award recipients to be honored at the awards ceremony are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Mitchell Kahn, founder and director of the bachelor’s degree program in social work at Ramapo College in New Jersey, who has helped thousands of Bergen County residents find affordable housing.
  • Public Citizen of the Year: Susan Frank, who had a vision to help senior homeowners who could not afford to repair their dilapidated houses. She founded the nonprofit Hearts for Homes in Texas.
  • Public Elected Official of the Year: Florida State Rep. Mia Jones, D-District 14, who has lived up to her campaign promises to promote economic development in underserved communities.

The NASW Foundation Awardees include social worker and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who will receive the International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award. The award is given to an individual, group or organization that has significantly advanced the public image of professional social work.

Mikulski, who is an NASW Social Work Pioneer®, is the longest-serving woman in Congress and is known for supporting legislation vital to the social work profession. This includes the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, which she has introduced in the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses.

In addition, Mikulski has supported the National Center for Social Work Research Act and the Clinical Social Work Medicare Equity Act. Mikulski is also the first woman to serve as Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Other NASW Foundation Awards go to three recipients of the Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement and Health/Mental Health Achievement Awards:

  • Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement in Health and Mental Health Practice: Charles Glisson, founding director of the Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement in Health and Mental Health Policy: Robert Connolly, a NASW Social Work Pioneer® who has made extensive contributions in health care, Medicare and Medicaid as well as public policy.
  • Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement in Health and Mental Health Policy: Lisa Pape, national director of homeless programs for the Veterans Health Administration within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The NASW Council of Chapter Executives will honor Emily Bleyl, executive director of the NASW Utah Chapter, with the Outstanding Chapter Executive of the Year Award, and Stephen Karp, executive director of the NASW Connecticut Chapter, with the Gilman-Wells Award.

In addition to the awards reception, the NASW national conference will feature keynote speakers, plenary sessions, more than 100 breakout sessions, preconference workshops and a film festival.