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The National Association of Social Workers Foundation Announces the 2009 International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award Winner

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation is proud to present John E. (Jack) Hansan, Ph.D., ACSW, social worker and entrepreneur, with the 2009 International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award for Advancing the Public Understanding of the Social Work Profession.

Jack Hansan has had a distinguished career as a social welfare administrator and socially-minded business entrepreneur.  Throughout his career, he has made countless contributions which have enhanced the public perception and understanding of the social work profession.

Hansan started his career in 1950 at a social agency in Kansas City, MO.  Following graduation from Rockhurst University (BS, 1951), and two years in the U.S. Navy, Hansan enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work.  He received an MSW in 1956 and became a Charter Member of NASW.

Hansan directed neighborhood centers in Peoria and Cincinnati and was elected Chairman of the Ohio Valley Chapter NASW.  He had a key role in Cincinnati’s delegation to the 1963 "March on Washington, DC for Jobs and Freedom," where he spent time with prominent African-American attorney Theodore M. Berry.  Berry made urban poverty a major component of his campaign for the Cincinnati City Council and invited Hansan to serve in his “kitchen cabinet.”  

Berry won the election and organized Council hearings on poverty, where Hansan was a presenter.   Following these hearings, Councilman John J. Gilligan recruited Hansan to work on his U.S. Congressional campaign. Hansan became the campaign manager and Gilligan won election to Congress.

After the Economic Opportunity Act, a major component of the “War on Poverty,” was enacted in 1964, Hansan and Berry collaborated on creating a local Community Action Commission (CAC) and developing programs designed to combat the effects of poverty.  Berry carried the proposal to Washington and presented it to Sargent Shriver.  Cincinnati was awarded one of the nation’s earliest community action grants. 

Hansan was chosen to be the first Director of the Cincinnati area CAC.  His contributions to the “War on Poverty” were recognized by the Cincinnati City Council in 1967 and by the NASW Ohio Valley Chapter in 1968. 

Hansan’s career was shaped by his Cincinnati experiences.  He served as Director of the Ohio Department of Public Welfare, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Ohio, Executive Director of the National Conference on Social Welfare (1979-1983), and Interim Director of NASW (1983-84).  Penn’s School of Social Work honored Hansan as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1981, the year he received his Ph.D. from Brandeis’s Heller School of Social Policy.   In 1983, he organized the first national conference on the homeless, from which the National Coalition on the Homeless was created.

From 1985 to 1989, Hansan was Manager, Senior Living Trends with The Futures Group.  In that role, he managed national projects concerning the elderly population for the AARP, United Way of America, U.S. Administration on Aging and several Fortune 500 companies.  In February 1989 Hansan was recruited by the U.S. Public Health Service to be the Project Director and build the National Practitioner Data Bank.  The NPDB was a congressionally mandated project designed to collect and maintain data needed to restrict the ability of incompetent or unlicensed physicians, dentists and other health care providers to move from state to state without discovery. For his efforts, on October 18, 1990, Hansan was awarded a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation by the Administrator, United States Health Resources and Services Administration for "Outstanding Contribution In Opening the National Practitioner Data Bank." 
From 1991 to 1997, Hansan published Aging Network News. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and with Dr. Robert Morris, he edited Welfare Reform 1996-2000: Is There a Safety Net?, and The National Government and Social Welfare: What Should Be the Role of the Federal Government?

Hansan’s numerous business ventures have been anchored in social work.  From 1986-2009, he and his family operated Capitol Advantage, helping organizations empower citizens through products including congressional directories and Capwiz online grassroots advocacy.  He founded several other companies to help older Americans live safely and independently, including SeniorCheckedSM, launched in Summer 2008 to assist service providers interested in committing to thorough evaluations, adhering to a strict code of ethics and allowing employees with direct senior contact to undergo extensive background checks. In March 2009, Hansan’s company Silver Nation introduced the CertiClear Platform and Job Counter, which provides accountability, transparency and credentialing for government agencies, IT solutions developers, nonprofits, and businesses, using their existing IT infrastructure.

In addition to his for-profit ventures, Hansan has developed The Social Welfare History Project website to capture and showcase the full range of social welfare in the U.S., with a special emphasis on social work’s contributions and impact.

It is with great honor that the NASW Foundation presents Dr. Jack Hansan with the International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award.

For more information about the award, or to interview Dr. Hansan, please contact the NASW Communications Department at (202) 336-8212 or

About the Sarnat Award:
The International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award is given to an individual, group, or organization that has significantly advanced the public image of professional social work. This monetary prize is made possible from an endowment fund established by a generous contribution in 1996 from distinguished social worker Rhoda G. Sarnat, LCSW and Bernard Sarnat, MD.

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The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 132,000 members. 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.