In Brief: August / September 2023

Trailblazing Social Workers Receive NASW Presidential Awards

NASW recently honored several social workers with the NASW Presidential Awards in Washington, D.C. Gary Bailey, a former NASW president and assistant dean for Community Engagement and Social Justice at the College of Social Sciences, Policy and Practice at Simmons University, presented the awards and noted that the honorees are social workers who have left an indelible mark on the profession and who will continue to have an impact. 

The honorees are:

Frederic G. “Rick” Reamer

Frederic G. Reamer

Frederic G. “Rick” Reamer, PhD, professor for the graduate program at the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College. Reamer is an outstanding educator, prolific author and a distinguished Social Work Pioneer®, Bailey said. “His vast array of contributions has helped shape the field of social work, most notably the profession’s Code of Ethics,” Bailey said. Through his relentless efforts in improving the Code, the social work profession has a set of principles and standards that reflect the highest ideals and charged social workers to be the champions of the worth and dignity of everyone. While Reamer was not able to attend the awards ceremony in person, he sent a video message to attendees.

Paige Jones

Paige Jones

Paige Jones, LMSW, is one of social work’s rising stars, Bailey said. She is “a true visionary with a prominent presence in the nation’s capital.”

Serving as a legislative assistant to Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., Jones is making a mark in public policy and social advocacy, Bailey said.

“As a macro social worker, Ms. Jones is driven by her passion and her desire to broaden the horizons of social work as a whole,” he said.

“Though a lofty goal, she remains undeterred and laser focused on the shaping of how society perceives social work and the profession’s impact on marginalized populations.” 

In selecting Jones for the award, former NASW President Mildred “Mit” Joyner said she instinctually knew this young social worker would be an agent for change because of her commitment and her drive, Bailey said.

Theodore “Ted” Blunt

Theodore Ted Blunt

Theodore “Ted” Blunt, MSW, grew up in the James Weldon Johnson public housing projects in North Philadelphia. His life embodies resilience, service, and the power of community, Bailey said. 

“Breaking barriers and setting new paths, Mr. Blunt became the first in his family to graduate from high school, college and graduate school,” Bailey said. 

He dedicated his career to making a positive impact in his community. Blunt excelled in his earlier years as a talented athlete. Later, he served as a caring, compassionate educator for nearly 40 years, impacting the lives of children in three different school districts. He transitioned to public office, serving for 16 years as a Wilmington City Councilman in Delaware and as president of the same council for eight years. Under his leadership, funding was made available for student scholarships citywide, Bailey said.

Hortense K. McClinton

Hortense K. McClinton

Dr. Sandra Crewe, dean of the Howard University School of Social Work, presented Hortense K. McClinton, MSW, with the president’s award. Crewe said McClinton, who was born in 1918, had to overcome oppressive Jim Crowe-era obstacles. She received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1939 and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. 

McClinton broke many barriers by being the first person of color employed in a professional capacity in many public and private social service agencies, Crewe said. In 1966, she became the first Black faculty member at the University of North Carolina. In 2022, the university named a residence hall in McClinton’s honor for her pivotal role in being the first African American professor and for the changes she instituted. She taught culturally competent practices and advocated for a hiring policy that embraced diversity.

“Mrs. McClinton’s courage and perseverance and unwavering commitment to service made her a trailblazer, a distinguished pioneer and indeed, a visionary,” Crewe said.

Dr. Robert Cosby, assistant dean of administration at Howard University, accepted the award in McClinton’s absence.

Janlee Wong

Janlee Wong

NASW also honored Janlee Wong, the former executive director of the NASW California Chapter with a special service award. Under his leadership, the chapter developed a strong social justice focus, said Bailey. 

During the search for a new NASW CEO after the retirement of former CEO Angelo McClain, the NASW board needed an interim CEO. 

“Without hesitation, Janlee took the helm and gave selflessly of himself,” Bailey said. “He is generous in his unwavering commitment to NASW and the social work community.”

cover of August / September 2023 issue

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