NASW Foundation has announced award recipients

The NASW Foundation announces the recipients of the 2012 Knee/Wittman and Sarnat Awards.

The annual awards recognize outstanding achievements in individuals, groups or organizations that have made significant contributions to social work.

The Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a professional social worker who has made exemplary contributions in health and mental health practice, while the Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement Award — which is not limited to social work — is presented to an individual or group that has made a significant impact on national mental health public policy, professional standards or program models.

The International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award is a monetary prize given to an individual, group or organization that has significantly advanced the public image of professional social work. The purpose of the award is to increase public awareness and recognition of the value of professional social work.

Kathleen EllKnee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award: Kathleen Ell

Kathleen Ell has a social work career spanning more than 46 years. While working toward her MSW, Ell volunteered as a social work assistant in health care settings in low-income communities. After obtaining her DSW, Ell became a prominent intervention researcher in the profession. Her extensive research efforts have focused on major depression, general psychological distress, quality of life and morbidity, health care seeking behavior, and mortality as it is associated with patients who have a life-threatening or chronic illness.

She is recognized across disciplines for expanding the understanding that psychosocial interventions are essential for improved patient and community health outcomes, and she is a keen observer of the important links between physical health and mental health outcomes.

Ell has secured research funding to study the association between death and depression among coronary patients, and she is the first social worker to get research funding from the American Heart Association.

She also has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her work has increased the knowledge base of cancer, diabetes and cardiac care as they relate to mental health and well-being. Ell is the Ernest P. Larson Professor of Health, Ethnicity and Poverty and behavioral health research director, Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families at the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

Lisa PapeKnee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement Award: Lisa Pape

Lisa Pape, the national director for homeless programs for the Veterans Health Administration within the Department of Veterans Affairs, is dedicated to putting an end to veteran homelessness. Her experience includes more than 21 years at the VA, primarily in homeless and residential programs, and overseeing 234 programs during her time as the national director of mental health residential rehabilitation treatment programs in the Office of Patient Care Services.

Pape is responsible for executing a budget of more than $1 billion for specialized homeless services, and in the past year she has helped implement several programs designed to assist homeless veterans, including Supportive Services for Veteran Families and the Homeless Veterans Supported Employment Program. As a result of the latter program, 400 homeless veterans obtained employment to staff the initiative.

Pape’s efforts have earned her a high level of respect and visibility within the VA, as putting an end to veteran homelessness is one of the initiatives of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The goal of the initiative, called Eliminate Veteran Homelessness, is to have zero homeless veterans in the U.S. by 2015.

Frederic ReamerRhoda G. Sarnat Award: Frederic Reamer

Since 1983, Frederic Reamer has been on the faculty at Rhode Island College, where he is currently a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work.

Reamer’s research and teachings throughout his career have focused on a range of human services issues, including mental health, health care, criminal justice, public welfare and professional ethics.

He has lectured about professional ethics and professional malpractice and liability on a national and international level and chaired the national task force that wrote the current Code of Ethics adopted by the National Association of Social Workers.

His involvement in several national research projects has been sponsored by The Hastings Center, the Carnegie Corporation, the Haas Foundation and the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare at the Center for Bioethics,

University of Pennsylvania. Reamer’s previous positions have included director of the National Juvenile Justice Assessment Center of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; senior policy adviser to the governor of Rhode Island; and commissioner of the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation, the state housing finance agency.

Reamer is the author of many books and professional articles on topics such as teens in crisis, criminal behavior and ethics, and is frequently quoted in the media. He also served as editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Social Work Education” and as associate editor of the National Association of Social Workers “Encyclopedia of Social Work” (20th edition).

Get more information about the awards and the NASW Foundation.