The recipients of NASW’s 2014 National Awards and the NASW Foundation Recognition Awards were recently announced. A ceremony to honor the seven individuals will be held later this month in conjunction with NASW’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Washington, D.C.
NASW National Awards
Social Worker of the Year: Ana Bonilla-Galdamez
Bonilla-Galdamez is a school social worker at the Alexandria City Public Schools and currently works at the Charles Barrett Elementary School. She created and led a mentorship program that pairs students who need one-on-one attention with a mentor in the community.
She also created a parents’ support group and has worked with local businesses to help families in need of housing, clothing, food and holiday gifts.
While at her previous assignment at Alexandria City Public Schools’ T.C. Williams High School-at the Minnie Howard campus, Bonilla-Galdamez created the after-school Latino Youth for Excellence Program. It offered students an opportunity to connect and discuss issues important to them.
Lifetime Achievement: Phyllis Mitzen
Mitzen has been called a tireless advocate for the advancement of community and professional commitment to meet the needs of older adults and their family members.
Among her many achievements are serving in a variety of roles at the Council for Jewish Elderly as well as being a consultant, policy analyst and theoretician on issues involving aging. She was also instrumental in the passage of legislation that brought about reform in Illinois’ long-term care system.
In an effort to create a future generation of social work professionals who are well-trained to serve older adults and their families, Mitzen has worked to attract young social workers to choose aging as their career path.
Public Elected Official of the Year: U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
One of Harkin’s legislative achievements was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he authored in 1990. He also played a pivotal role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.
Harkin is known for supporting equal rights, enacting cleaner environmental standards, making college more affordable and improving opportunities for those who are less fortunate.
Harkin championed the 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, legislation that ensures those who receive mental health coverage through group health insurance policies receive benefits for mental health treatment that are equitable to treatment for general medical issues.
Public Citizen of the Year: The Rev. Ann Helmke
Helmke is the director of spiritual services at Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas,an independent comprehensive homeless shelter.
She helped organize the San Antonio Gang Peace Summit and seminars in the 1990s, which have been credited with significantly reducing intergroup violence, thereby saving lives and lessening grief for thousands of local families.
The peace summit prompted Helmke and others to found the peaceCENTER, the local and now national and international effort to promote expressions of peace in homes and communities through written and graphic expressions.
Helmke’s current efforts focus on fuller integration of spirituality within holistic models of healing, recovery and transformation as well as strengthening the vital and researched role of compassion within shared lives, organizations, and community and civic arenas.
NASW Foundation Recognition Awards
International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award: Katharine Briar-Lawson
This award is a monetary prize given to an individual, group or organization that has significantly advanced the public image of professional social work.
Briar-Lawson is dean and professor of the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany in New York. She has been called an outstanding role model for social workers, consumers and policymakers.
Her efforts include numerous initiatives in Washington state, Florida, Utah and Albany to connect the university to community development efforts and to ensure that service users have a voice in how services are delivered.
Briar-Lawson inspired NASW to host an 80th anniversary celebration, honoring Children’s Bureau staff, and led an effort to put together a comprehensive volume, “Children’s Bureau: Shaping a Century of Child Welfare Practice, Policies and Programs,” published by NASW Press.
She spearheaded efforts to create the journal “Public Child Welfare,” now an important resource to publish child welfare research.
She is also credited with being an innovator in promoting interprofessional education and practice and for her dedication to social justice, equality and service on behalf of the oppressed and disenfranchised.
Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award: Harold “Hal” Lipton
This award honors a professional social worker who, over the course of his or her career, has made an exemplary contribution to health/mental health practice and who has spent at least 25 years in the field, whether currently active or retired.
Lipton has been in social work practice for 51 years, heading leadership positions in Children’s Hospital settings in Oakland, Calif.; Akron, Ohio; and Washington, D.C.
He is nationally known as a strong advocate for children and families of all races, cultures and creeds, well and sick, accidentally injured, battered, abused, and chronically, terminally and mentally ill. His work has spanned from practice to administration; supervision to education; and fields of health and mental health.
Knee/Wittman Outstanding Achievement Award: Roberta Greene
This honor recognizes an individual or group that has had a significant impact on national health and/or mental health public policy, professional standards, or exemplary program models. Nominees can include social workers and non-social workers.
In 2012, Greene retired from the faculty of the University of Texas-Austin School of Social Work and now serves as professor emerita after 10 years as the Louis and Ann Wolens Centennial Chair in Gerontology and Social Work.
Greene was one of a handful of social work leaders committed to social work with older persons and their families and advocating for its importance.
She has played a major role as a consultant to develop the gerontological social work competencies and is respected for her many efforts as a social work educator, researcher, theoretician, practitioner and gerontologist, and as a valued mentor. She also authored the classic text used in schools of social work across the country, “Human Behavior and Social Work Practice,” which is now in its 3rd edition.