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Patricia Martin-O'Meally receives Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is pleased to announce that Patricia Martin-O’Meally will receive a Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award for 52 years of practice improving services to people living with a mental illness and for her commitment to community and social work education.

“The NASW Foundation is proud to present this award to Patricia Martin-O’Meally,” said NASWF Director Robert Arnold. “Not only is she a pioneer in organizing and developing community-based programs to meet the needs of seriously mentally ill individuals; she has also been a leader in the mental health field helping to establish needed services for them at the federal St. Elizabeth Hospital.”

The Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award goes to social workers who have made exemplary contributions in health and mental health practice. The Knee/Wittman Award Program was established in 1990 to recognize those who represent the values, ethics, and approaches exemplified by two dedicated social work pioneers, Ruth Knee (1920-2008) and Milton Wittman (1915-1994).

Ms. Martin-O’Meally ACSW, LICSW, LCSWC, BCD, CPM, certainly deserves this award. She received a BA degree from Virginia Union University in 1968 and an MSW from Howard University School of Social Work in 1979. She first worked as a geriatric case worker from 1968-1973. From 1973 to 2004, she held clinical social work, supervisory and management positions at the St. Elizabeths Hospital, the first federally operated psychiatric facility located in Washington, DC., now known as the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health.

She was a pioneer in organizing and developing community-based programs to meet the needs of seriously mentally ill individuals who upon leaving the hospital needed services to support their adjustment to community living. She was a leader in helping establish critically needed services designed for long term institutionalized consumers from St. Elizabeths.

As president of the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Social Work Association, Ms. Martin-O’Meally helped establish the organization as a voting member of NASW’s DC Metro Chapter’s Executive Board. As an officer of the Association, she spearheaded the establishment of the agency’s Social Worker of the Year Award.

During her 30-year tenure at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital/DBH, she worked to establish the first Social Work Bargaining Unit so that social workers could have a seat at the table equal with other mental health care providers during contract negotiations. She developed and managed the Court Ordered Dixon Training Program for the Agency, offering years of training programs to prepare hospital staff and community providers for community-based care giving.

In addition to her work with the hospital, Ms. Martin-O’Meally worked as a tenant advocate and served as a Commissioner in Prince George’s County, Maryland, helping tenants navigate rent control/condominium conversion regulations and represented tenants at landlord/tenant adjudication hearings.

She also worked to develop the Prince Georges County Tenant Federation, served as its Vice President and was so successful at addressing issues related to improving apartment living standards on the local, state and national levels that then Maryland Gov. Blair Lee appointed her to serve on the Governor’s Landlord Tenant Laws Study Commission, a post she was reappointed to over a number of administrations until 1992.

Founder and executive director of the Life Studies Institute in 1990, she established and continues working with agencies and grassroots programs in Washington, D.C. to reduce the risk of substance abuse, family violence and to mentor youth through community/church and school programs and also provide training in mental health and related areas.

Ms. Martin-O’Meally was very dedicated to her work educating future generations of social workers as an associate adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Social Work, for 24 years, 1993-2018.

An active member of the NASW Social Work Pioneers®, which honors members of the social work profession who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession, Ms. Martin-O’Meally remains instrumental in engaging students from various schools of social work attend the Annual Social Work Pioneer Program. She is currently the Chair of the International Council on Social Welfare, the United States Committee and also continues to serve as a member of The Professional Advisory Group for the Saint Elizabeths Hospital Chaplains Services.

“Ms. Martin-O’Meally has a been an educator and strong advocate for the mentally ill and as a long-time NASW member continues to educate students and the community about the mission and value of the social work profession,” Arnold said.

Go here for more information on the Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is a charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the advancement of social work practice.

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