2019 Social Work Day on the Hill Nominees
Nominees for 2019 CRISP Awards for Outstanding Social Workers
Outstanding Congressional Social Worker of the Year
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona)
Nominator’s Comment: Sen. Sinema handled herself gracefully and skillfully during a very competitive race and after winning, went on to continue to inspire women, social workers, and bisexuals among others, as she joined a phenomenal and diverse 116th Congress.
She’s been an adjunct instructor teaching Master’s-level policy and grant-writing classes at Arizona State University School of Social Work since 2003. She supports reproductive and LBGT Rights. She helped shape the Affordable Care Act. She supports gun control reform.
Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)
Congresswoman Susan Davis (California 53rd)
Nominator’s Comment: Congresswoman Davis has centered social work in her practice and embodied derivatives of our values such as diversity and inclusiveness.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (California 13th)
Nominator’s Comment: She’s an outstanding social worker who uses the principles of social work to further her cause in the House.
Elisabeth Coates is a recent Brown School grad and Clark-Fox Policy Scholar who is now working for the Senate Appropriations Committee focusing on urban development, housing, justice, commerce, transportation, and science issues. She describes her experience this way: “My first taste of Capitol Hill began where I worked a part-time unpaid internship in the Senate Finance Committee. While a lot to juggle, I was able to utilize my research and policy training from the Brown School to embed myself in the federal policy process. I fell in love immediately with operating on a congressional level and knew that Hill life – ideally Senate – was the place for me to begin my professional journey. Through the networking opportunities and professional connections and skills provided through my internship, I was offered a position in the Senate Appropriations Committee focusing on urban development, housing, justice, commerce, transportation, and science issues. It’s a swath of topics in a contentious committee, but my ability to understand federal policy’s impact from the macro to the micro level placed me as the best candidate for the position.”
Outstanding Student of the Year
Bi’Anncha Andrews (Trinity Washington University)
Nominator’s Comment: Bi’Anncha demonstrates continued commitment to social justice, respect for the dignity of all individuals, and a recognition of the structural factors that cause human suffering. She has exercised leadership throughout her time in the graduate program at NCSSS, both in the classroom and in field, and she has an expressed commitment to working for social justice in the years to come.
Melissa A. Fisher (Widener University)
Nominator’s Comment: Melissa works to help all of the social work students she encounters. She is passionate about her chosen profession. Her commitment to future social workers shows in her willingness to serve on all levels including president of the MSWSO at Widener University where she attends. Melissa serves on a few nonprofit boards in her local area and does all of this while being a mother to her seven children. She exemplifies commitment to the principles of a valued social worker. i
Alesandra Lozano (University of Houston)
Nominator’s Comment: Alesandra Lozano is currently a graduate student in the Graduate College of Social Work where she is pursuing a Master’s of Social Work Degree with a specialization in political social work. However, I have known Ali for several years before she was a student due to her activism in the Houston community, and it was because of this activism that I recruited her to pursue her MSW from the University of Houston.
I first met Ali while she was working for the Texas Freedom Network as their Outreach and Field Coordinator. Through this work, Ali planned and implemented a number of events on the UH campus as well as other campuses across the state. These events focused on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and voting access. Since becoming a student in the GCSW, Ali has assisted me in identifying issues of importance that need to be addressed with our students and in developing outside-the-classroom programming to discuss these issues. For example, last year Ali organized programming for our students focusing on the needs and experiences of the transgender community to raise awareness among our students.
This year, Ali was elected by her peers to serve as the President of the GCSW Student Government Association. In this role, Ali has led a campaign for the University of Houston to recognize Indigenous People’s Day in lieu of Columbus Day. Over the past few years, I have come to know Ali as a tireless advocate for women, the LBGTQ community, and other vulnerable populations. Her passion for equal rights, social justice, empowerment, and compassion are evident throughout all her work.
In addition to her work with the Texas Freedom Network, she previously worked for the Women’s Campaign Fund, where she researched candidates for political office and prepared endorsement briefings to assist women candidates in being elected. She also worked for two years with the Victory Fund & Institute where she worked to elect LGBTQ candidates across the country. During her first year as an MSW student, she worked as the Outreach Director for Laura Moser, a congressional candidate for Texas Congressional District 07.
Last fall, Ali worked with the GCSW’s Dr. Suzanne Pritzker in coordinating the University of Houston’s Voter Engagement and Political Justice Initiative. Under Ali’s leadership, this program trained over 300 Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrars and registered over 4,000 potential voters across three Texas counties. She is currently completing her MSW internship with Children and Risk, a statewide research and advocacy organization. As you can see, Ali’s entire history of volunteer work and paid employment has focused on promoting policy and legislative change.
Ali is a recognized leader throughout the Houston and broader Texas communities, which at her young age is a testament to all she has been able to accomplish. She has been recognized as one of Houston’s Top LGBTQ Women Leaders by Outsmart Magazine, and a Rising Star of 2016 by the League of Women Voters. Her skills in organizing grassroots campaigns to support women and the LGBTQ community have led to important advances throughout Houston. I am very proud that she is a student of the Graduate College of Social Work and she is very deserving of the Outstanding Student of the Year Award.
Nominator’s Comment: Jessica Mitchell has had a significant impact on me as a MSW student. She has inspired me to focus on the political aspect of social work. She is the definition of a leader for not only myself but many of my peers. Jessica devotes her time to her students both in and out of the classroom to her students.
Anthony Robinson (Arizona State University)
Nominator’s Comment: Anthony holds a master’s degree in social work and he is working towards clinical license. Anthony works full-time as a social worker at a large nonprofit hospital in the Fairfax community. He is currently a full-time doctoral student in Arizona State University’s Doctorate of Integrated Behavioral Health program.
Robert Sagastume (Clark-Fox Policy Institute Scholar)
Nominator’s Comment: Second-year MSW/MSP student Robert Sagastume has been selected among thousands of applicants to attend the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University this fall. CGIU seeks to bring together student leaders to develop concrete steps toward solving global issues. Approximately 1,000 students were chosen to attend the initiative established by former President Bill Clinton based on their proposed “commitments to action.” This year’s event will take place Oct. 19-21 at University of Chicago and aims to bring undergraduate and graduate students together to address pressing challenges in their communities and around the world. The three-day event focuses on providing students with networking opportunities, skill workshops, speakers and panels led by professionals such as Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright.
“My ‘commitment to action’ proposal was based off an idea by an undocumented youth-led group known as the Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance,” said Sagastume, who served as the group’s co-director for 2 1/2 years. “It includes a program where undocumented/DACA students mentor other immigrant and non-immigrant students so they can achieve postsecondary education.” Due to Missouri’s current policies towards this specific population, the high school dropout rate continues to increase, he stated. Sagastume was born and raised in Honduras until age 12 before migrating to the United States, navigating through society as a former undocumented and DACA immigrant.
“There’s a need for visible support for undocumented and DACA immigrant students,” he continued. “High school students in this situation feel they are alone, and end up giving up on their education. This program focuses on encouraging students to complete high school and identifying postsecondary educational institutions that might help them succeed—regardless of policies implemented to hinder their advancement in academia.” Sagastume is excited by this opportunity to gather with other student leaders looking to initiate positive change in their communities, countries and around the world.
“This is a wonderful chance to use all I’ve learned at the Brown School to gain momentum around this issue. I’m so grateful for the support of my many mentors.” Sagastume is also a Clark-Fox Policy Scholar in the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, which provides graduate students with a rigorous and immersive experience that helps Brown School students understand the formation of social policy as a high-impact tool for positive social change.e
Marcus Smith (California 13th)
Nominator’s Comment: As a top 10 finalist in Boston College’s Entrepreneurial business pitch competition, Marcus was the only social work student competing. He pitched an educational simulation business idea aimed at training social workers and other helping professionals’ practice and apply executive decision making for nonprofit management. He hoped to win seed funding to start his business. Despite falling short of his goal, Marcus set up meetings with BC’s resident entrepreneur for mentorship. As a macro social worker, Marcus volunteers monthly to serve as a foster case reviewer for Massachusetts Department of Child and Family. Marcus participates on a panel to help plan for the future of children in DCF care. Marcus has a 3.8 GPA in his social work courses, earning all As and A-s.
From 2017-2018, Marcus was elected the president of the SW student body. He was tasked with fostering a welcoming community in the program as well as advocating for SW students as a Senate representative on the Graduate Student Association at BC. During Marcus tenure, he lobbied the VP of Students Affairs to address on campus racial incidents, include graduate and international housing as a priority in the University strategic plan, and expand campus Athletic discount ticket pricing to graduate students. Even today, despite no longer serving as an elected student leader, Marcus still meets with student affair to advocate for additional resources for All graduate students on campus.
Marcus is a Resident Assistant (RA) in one of BC’s student residence. He serves as a mentor to undergrad students. His monthly programs have included bring other graduate students from different universities on campus to mentor undergrads interested in graduate programs as well as financial planning to prepare them for post college life. e
Noni-Ife Taylor (BSW)
Nominator’s Comment: She started an organization called social work student connect. She is determined to change the perception of social work careers and is raising awareness about the diverse opportunities we can use with our degree.
Deborah Woolford (University of Maryland-Baltimore)
Nominator’s Comment: Deborah’s commitment to the profession and enthusiasm for social change is infectious. She shares her time and energy selflessly, and she was a leader on campuses in Maryland engaging faculty and students in the 2018 election. I have a wonderful picture of her giving former Senator Barbara Mikulski a Voting Is Social Work t-shirt. She is a wonderful political social worker who inspires those around her to be active and engaged in making their voices heard so our democracy responds to the needs of all people.
Outstanding Individual in Academia
Dr. Christina Andrews (University of South Carolina)
Nominator’s Comment: Christina has relentlessly worked on the effects of Medicaid policy on health, especially rates of opioids treatment. Her work is methodologically top-notch. For that reason, it has been published in journals read widely by influential clinicians and legislators (the New England Journal of Medicine and Health Affairs, e.g.) and she has been asked to testify to legislative committees in Washington. Her work has also reached the public through mentions in sources like US News & World Report. This combination of passion for justice and rigorous research methods distinguish her among academics.
Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant (New York University)
Nominator’s Comment: On a campus in one of the most diverse cities in the country, Silver School of Social Work is not. Dr. Byrant was a refuge to us students who needed to connect with a person of color on campus who understood the challenges we face as we try to attain our higher education.
Dr. Ruby Gourdine (Howard University)
Nominator’s Comment: She initiated and edited exclusive edition of Social Work in Health Journal with Howard University School of Social Work. Innovated and expanded field placements for HUSSW students. Provides mentoring and support for new faculty.
Dr. Jennifer Greenfield (University of Denver)
Nominators’ Comment: We are writing this letter to express our enthusiastic recommendation of Dr. Jennifer Greenfield for the Outstanding Individual in Academia Award. As her colleagues at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), we have had the unique pleasure of witnessing and benefitting from her extraordinary contributions. This letter of support is written in collaboration by Amanda Moore McBride, Morris Endowed Dean and Professor, Leslie Hasche, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, and Jennifer Bellamy, Faculty Chair and Associate Professor.
Dr. Greenfield is a remarkable colleague and impactful scholar in the area of social work policy that impacts paid family leave, minimum wage, caregiving, and health and family economic security. Dr. Greenfield has served as an assistant professor at the University of Denver (DU) Graduate School of Social Work since 2013. Throughout this early stage of Dr. Greenfield’s career development, she has emerged as a national, state, and local leader in social and aging policy, and has focused on the impact of the policies on disparities in health and wealth among caregivers. She is known both inside and outside of academia as a policy scholar whose expertise and achievements have had a local, statewide, and national public impact.
Dr. Greenfield’s research is used extensively by advocacy groups and legislators to forward a policy agenda that is centered in social work values and that seeks to improve quality of life, particularly for populations experiencing significant disenfranchisement and oppression. She is noted for her commitment to scholarship that has clear implications for social work policy and practice, and her ability to translate this scholarship and communicate it to the public, community organizers, policy makers, and practitioners. Her work centers on social justice, addressing issues including those related to socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, mental health, health, aging, gender and gender identity. She not only crafts her scholarship to inform the work of policymakers and practitioners, she also has a strong history of successful collaborations with community partners.
To highlight just a few of her notable achievements, her scholarly work on the topic of paid family and medical leave positioned her to be actively involved and central to the state legislative process around the FAMLI Act which was originally introduced in the Colorado General Assembly in 2015. Dr. Greenfield worked closely with the bill’s primary sponsor and testified multiple times as an expert on the topic in support of the legislation at the general legislative hearing, the House Committee on Health, Insurance, and Environment hearing, and the House Finance Committee hearing. During this same time period, she published an op-ed on the topic in the Denver Post to further educate the general community on the importance of the issue. She continued her advocacy work in this area by testifying as a topic expert multiple times when the bill was reintroduced in 2017 and then again in 2018 in the Colorado legislature, and through interviews with journalists covering the topic (see Sybrandy  and Sealover ). She is currently leading an analysis of the current paid family leave proposal in Colorado (2019) and will be releasing the report in collaboration with The Impact Project, a new foundation that works to advance economic security initiatives in 10 states. The report will be released with a DU news story and a press toolkit, which will be available to the public via the Internet.
Related to the current paid family leave proposal, she has been invited to submit a guest commentary to The Denver Post, and has a scheduled call with the Pew Charitable Trusts to propose a pre-/post-analysis of paid family leave project, assuming the proposal passes the Colorado legislature this year. These collaborative efforts to infuse scholarship into the legislative process and public discourse are emblematic of her work. Her active involvement in the policy arena on the topic of paid family and medical leave at the state level in Colorado garnered attention at the national level where she was invited and participated in November 2017 as one of 25 experts at the only national research convening on paid leave, which was hosted by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. In the fall of 2018, she returned to DC to participate in a similar convening hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts. This national-level profile resulted in an invitation to join a seven-person advisory council to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Paid Family Leave, chaired by former Senators Chris Dodd and Rick Santorum.
Finally, she participated on a three-person expert panel that was livestreamed and archived on C-SPAN and included discussions with Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to the President of the U.S., as well as former Senators Dodd and Santorum, and participated in an off-the-record breakfast with Ms. Trump, the two former Senators, executives from several major businesses, representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other prominent organizations. She has an extensive social media presence (including Twitter and Facebook) which she frequently and deftly uses to disseminate policy analysis and research findings to advocates, journalists, and legislators further enhancing the public impact of her scholarship.
Her Twitter account has grown dramatically from a few hundred followers in 2013 to more than 1800 followers currently. In the spring of 2016, she was averaging 2,000 to 8,000 tweet engagements each month which has now grown to an average of over 20,000 monthly engagements, spiking at times in some months to more than 100,000 engagements. Dr. Greenfield also shares findings in media appearances, published op-eds in local and national papers, and in testimonies to state legislative committees. She is recognized as a policy expert in the areas of paid family leave and minimum wage efforts. Throughout this work, she continues to articulate how these policies have an expanded benefit for all types of caregivers, including caregivers of older adults. For a powerful example of Dr. Greenfield’s work, you could see her co-authored 2017 opinion piece in The Hill at: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/labor/359043-considering-a-national-paid-leave-policy. This written work offers a compelling case for how a national paid family leave policy could benefit caregivers of older adults.
Another example is her recent interview on caregiver for older adults on a local television news show: https://www.9news.com/video/life/the-aging-population-and-caregivers/73-8159787. For this work, Dr. Greenfield was recently selected as a Public Impact Fellow at the University of Denver. Dr. Greenfield has grown and maintained a consistent writing and research program in her substantive areas of interest, contributing not only to the public and policy discourse, but the academic discourse as well through more traditional venues. Her traditional scholarly articles are published in the top tiered journals in fields of social work or gerontology such as The Gerontologist, Social Service Review, Health & Social Work, and the Journal of Social Work Education. She is recognized by peers as a researcher whose work is influential in the public sphere and is frequently turned to as a source of relevant and timely, evidence-based information on matters of health policy. Dr. Greenfield has made (or contributed to) numerous peer-reviewed national peer-reviewed conference presentations panels and presentations, and her work on public policy has been featured 17 different times in the media, including radio and television interviews. Additionally,
Dr. Greenfield integrates her research and policy activities directly into her teaching efforts. Her educational leadership at the University of Denver and beyond cannot be overstated. At GSSW, Dr. Greenfield teaches Aging Policy, Health Care Policy, the MSW foundation course: Social Policy Advocacy, and the doctoral course on Social Policy Analysis and Development. In 2015, Dr. Greenfield’s excellence in teaching was recognized by the student-nominated “Award for Excellence in Teaching.” Students describe her as ‘motivating’, ‘so knowledgeable’, ‘social justice-focused’, and as someone to ‘be in awe of….” We can attest to hearing students who credit Dr. Greenfield with improving their views on how to promote change through policy work. She has been a crucial partner in leading the integration of aging content into curriculum at our school through her role as the lead faculty for the foundation policy course, her mentorship of numerous students, and her willingness to share examples of her aging policy syllabus with colleagues across the nation. We are highly fortunate to have her as a colleague. The profession and academic contributions of social work could not be better represented than by the work of Dr. Greenfield. The broader policy discourse and policymaking process benefits from her knowledgeable and energetic contributions. For her extensive advocacy and contributions to social policy, we are pleased to submit this nomination.
Amanda Moore McBride, Morris Endowed Dean and Professor
Leslie Hasche, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor
Jennifer Bellamy, Faculty Chair and Associate Professor
University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
Dr. Anthony J. Hill (Winthrop University)
Nominator’s Comment: Dr. Anthony J. Hill, Ph.D, LICSW-CP, CFSW, CCTP, ACSW, Chair-MSW Program Director and Associate Professor at Winthrop University for this recognition because he exemplifies the values of our social work profession as an outstanding educator and mentor to many social work professionals. I first met Dr. Hill when he taught at Catholic University. I took 4 of his courses, including policy and advocacy. He was one of the faculty who went above and beyond in ensuring students were successful in their determination to be ethical social workers. His role as educator extended when he became a mentor and role model to many of us. He is someone who encourages your leadership and motivates you to take yourself and your profession to the next level. Thanks to him, I have learned the skills needed to be a better advocate in my community. He has been essential in promoting social work as a career option which is so essential as we aim to develop the next generation of social work professionals. Dr. Hill is a phone call away to many of the people he mentors and continues to guide is with excellence, kindness, wisdom and respect. His work truly has a multiplier effect; we are in turn better social workers and agents of change because his teachings and support, which has a wider impact in our community.
Dr. Neeraj Kaushal (University of Maryland-Baltimore)
Nominator’s Comment: Professor Kaushal has just published a book “Blaming Immigrants: Nationalism and the Economics of Global Movement” that is likely to help change the narrative on immigration, restoring American pride in being a nation of immigrants.
Dean Mary McKay (Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis)
Nominator’s Comment: Dean McKay has long advocated for social policies and legislation that improve the lives of children and families. Dean McKay recognizes that social justice and racial equity must be advanced through the development of evidence-based policy.
Dr. Suzanne Pritzker (University of Houston)
Nominator’s Comment: Dr. Suzanne Pritzker began the first ever Voter Engagement and Political Justice Initiative at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work this year while simultaneously working on a policy audit of voting laws/access in the state of Texas. All of her research and grants demonstrate her unequivocal commitment to promoting the values of the social work profession in the pursuit of political justice. In addition to her faculty role, Dr. Suzanne Pritzker also sits on a local committee dedicated to expanding civic engagement and accessibility for local residents and students alike.
Dr. Sunny Harris Rome (George Mason University)
Nominator’s Comment: It is with great pleasure that I nominate Sunny Harris Rome as Outstanding Individual in Academia. Sunny is known for her national leadership in policy education – as President of Influencing Social Policy (ISP), Co-Chair of CSWE’s Social Welfare Policy & Policy Track, commissioner with the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice, and policy “lead” on CSWE’s Macro Curriculum Guide. I’d like to speak, however, to her innovative contributions here at George Mason. This past fall, inspired by the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign, Sunny developed and taught a new elective on voting rights and the midterm elections.
The course was organized with most of the instructional time up front, allowing students to spend the bulk of the semester pursuing hands-on projects out in the community. A raft of amazing guest speakers supplemented the students’ in-class exploration of the history of voting rights; voting patterns and trends; disenfranchisement, intimidation and suppression; and initiatives to expand access to the polls. Once out in the community, the students had some amazing accomplishments. Some worked to enfranchise underrepresented populations (helping 70 nursing home residents complete absentee ballots; translating voter education materials into Spanish; organizing a registration drive at a coffee shop in an African American neighborhood; meeting with clergy in low-turnout precincts to enlist their help in promoting voter participation; etc.).
Others chose to work for Virginia candidates in closely contested races (Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger – both of whom won!) by generating about 200 post-cards, phone banking, and knocking on about 700 doors. The students all completed the state’s voter registration training, and nearly all worked the polls on Election Day – as Election Officers, poll watchers, election protection volunteers, or by soliciting signatures for redistricting reform. All in all, the students registered more than 150 people, placed announcements in neighborhood bulletins going out to 870 homes, and reached about 12,000 “friends” through social media. Most impressive was Sunny’s success in helping students (in both the Social Change and Clinical Practice specializations) grasp the connection between voting rights and social work practice.
In fact, one of their recommendations was that the course be required for everyone. This is just one example of Sunny’s commitment to policy practice. She consistently works to incorporate hands-on advocacy activities into everything she does. Students in her other classes have organized call-in days and petition drives, written op-eds and letters to the editor (some published), lobbied members of Congress, and successfully added cosponsors to pending bills. Recent topics include DACA, homeless youth, paid Family & Medical Leave, mental health in schools, zero tolerance in schools, and juvenile justice reform.
Outside of class, she continues her own advocacy activity, sometimes bringing interested students with her to Capitol Hill. She has published on policy practice and is currently writing a textbook on social work and voting rights. In recognition of her dedication and innovation in bringing policy and advocacy to life for social work students – and in modeling social work engagement in policy change – it is with great respect that I nominate Sunny Harris Rome for outstanding individual in academia.
Stephanie Shoffstall (School Social Worker)
Nominator’s Comment: Stephanie has been a dedicated school social worker for years. Fighting for kids in poverty and a champion for kids who have been abused, she aims not only to change children, but also aims to create healthy environments for the children. She works personally to expand her knowledge, takes time to pursue programs that are trauma informed to implement, challenges her colleagues and practiced regular introspection. Not only does she dedicate herself to her work, she has empathy for everyone. Recently she was worried about ensuring a teacher with terminal cancer was able to pursue her wish of teaching until she was no longer able to- despite challenges from other administrators. In addition, she regularly advocates at local and government levels for all of the values of our profession. She’s amazing.
Tanya Rhodes Smith (University of Connecticut Nancy A. Humphreys Institute)
Nominator’s Comment: Tanya is an Instructor in Residence and the Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. She believes that political empowerment and voting are central to all facets of social work practice. In July of 2015, Tanya assumed the helm of the Institute from founding director Dr. Nancy A. Humphreys. Since then, Tanya has been instrumental in developing and delivering training for social work students, educators, community leaders, and social service agencies on nonpartisan voter engagement and political advocacy. She has overseen the expansion of the Institute’s signature training, the Campaign School for Social Workers, to universities across the country and led the development of nonpartisan voter engagement training models for schools of social work and social service agencies.
The work of the Institute seeks to create a more inclusive democracy, that represents and responds to the needs of all citizens. This involves two interrelated areas: training social workers on electoral politics, and non-partisan voter engagement. Attendees of the Institute’s Campaign School, which has trained more than 1,200 social workers since 1994, learn why representation matters and how to get involved in campaigns and policymaking. The voter engagement initiative teaches students, faculty, and community members why voting matters to social work’s mission and impact. In addition, Tanya teaches in the Policy Practice concentration at UConn in the areas of program planning and evaluation, political advocacy, and political social work. She has published on increasing the political participation of social workers and students and the communities they serve.
She is a frequent invited speaker at the Council on Social Worker Education, Policy Conference 2.0, Social Workers on the Hill and Student Advocacy Day, to name a few, where she presents on voter engagement in social work education. Tanya has been involved in The National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign since it began in 2016 with the first launch of the VotingIsSocialWork.org website. Now, the new website and current leadership team continues to include the Humphreys Institute, with new partners: Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. The Campaign seeks to raise awareness of the importance of voting; integrate voter engagement activities into class and field education; provide information about voter mobilization skills and strategies to field instructors, students and faculty for use in agencies and the classroom, and, ensure that all the people served by social workers have access to the vote.
Research indicates that Individuals and communities who vote are better off in important indicators of well-being. Voting is a social determinant of health and a basic human right. Tanya firmly believes that voting builds political power, and this is confirmed by multiple studies showing that elected officials direct more attention and resources to communities that vote in higher levels. Tanya works with faculty across the country to study the political participation of social workers and communities, as well as the quality and impact of programming offered by the Humphreys Institute. Her mission is to expand voting rights through education and advocacy and support policies that help people become lifelong, informed voters in all elections. I highly recommend Tanya Rhodes Smith for the Outstanding Individual in Academia award presented by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy.
Dr. Mickey Sperlich (University of Maryland-Baltimore)
Nominator’s Comment: During Mickey’s career of over 20 years a midwife, she found that many of her clients were survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and were experiencing serious challenges related to their survivorship during pregnancy. Discovering a dearth of interventions for this population, Mickey co-developed the Survivor Mom’s Companion (SMC), the only psychoeducational intervention for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the perinatal period. She has a tremendous commitment to this population, having created a prenatal and postnatal version of the SMC, which is now out of pilot stages and “live” in the world after much determination on her part. Mickey is a tenacious researcher and a gifted teacher who leads with her heart. This, combined with a sense of practical urgency about the state of the world today and a considerable work ethic has expanded her current research to social workers and gun violence, psychological trauma, and refugee women who work as doulas, among other topics. Mickey lives the values of social work on small and grand scales, and should be applauded for her efforts.
Outstanding Individual in Business
Nikita Banks (LCSW)
Nominator’s Comment: Ms Banks is the host of Black Therapist Podcast. She uses the platform to raise awareness about the unique issues people of color face when dealing with mental health issues and mental health diagnosis. In the show she discusses diverse topics to inform people of color of the importance of the necessity of self investment.While sharing her own path to mental wellness and the pursuit of it as a career.
La Shawn Paul (LCSW-R)
Nominator’s Comment: La Shawn Paul, LCSW-R is a therapist, DSW student, and mental health advocate that promotes social work values through mental health awareness. She utilizes social work skills to educate and advocate for marginalized communities that lack awareness to self-report mental illness and have been historically denied access. In addition to therapy, La Shawn throughout her career has worked with local NY politicians to influence mental health legislation. She has lent her expertise to various media outlets to promote closing the gap in minority mental health. Her work is as recognized by the HuffPost who listed her as one of the 10 Black Female Therapists to Know. As an outstanding leader and changemaker, she was awarded the NASW NYC Emerging Leadership Award.
Outstanding Individual in the Nonprofit Sector
Lakeya Cherry (Network for Social Work Management)
Nominator’s Comment: As the CEO for the Network for Social Work Management, she has spearheaded programs to allow diverse social workers to gain macro experiences. She facilitates a Policy Fellowship that allowed professional social workers the opportunity to conduct policy and gain presentation experience at the NSWM annual conference. She most recently developed and launched the innovative “Changemakers of Color” health care management program to provide culturally appropriate management development for diverse people of color. This commitment to lift social workers of color in an effort to diversify administration within non-profit and public service settings is in line with social worker values and principles. I nominate Lakeya Cherry to highlight the passion and commitment she has consistently demonstrated through her leadership roles within NSWM.
Ric Estrada (Metropolitan Family Services)
Nominator’s Comment: Ric Estrada is the CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, a large nonprofit in the Chicagoland area that has offered traditional social services. In 2017, Ric helped bring together several organizations to address the violence crisis in Chicago, spearheading a fundraising effort from philanthropy that would create innovative methods to address community violence called Communities Partnering for Peace (CP4P). Part of this effort is to hold government accountable to provide resources to address our most pressing issue. His thoughtfulness concerning the sensitive issues of race, class and gender concerning how they interplay with violence, nonprofit and community leadership, reflect our core social work values related to social and economic justice, and he carries himself in a manner that is inclusive, pragmatic and innovative. Much of his efforts related to this go under the radar, and this work has many amazing people that are involved, yet it is Ric’s unassuming leadership that has built the trust from government, philanthropy, and community. For these reasons, I nominate Ric Estrada for social worker of the year in the nonprofit sector.
Jensy Linares (Institute for Family Health)
Nominator’s Comment: Jensy Linares goes above and beyond in managing a program that is focused on improving the lives of individuals that are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Continuously strives to improve her program by strengthening the team engagement, and securing new ways to deliver clinical interventions. Jensy is a leader who leads by example. She is motivated to do more and strive for better outcomes only because of her compassion and empathy for the participants she serves. Jensy has created a team in OntrackNY that is strong, cohesive, and dedicated.
Joan McCarley (TERRIFIC, Inc.)
Nominator’s Comment: Joan McCarley is Executive Director of TERRIFIC, Inc., an acronym for the Temporary Emergency Residential Resource Institute for Families In Crisis, Inc.. Founded in 1975 by the Reverend Debbie Tate and a group of caring volunteers, it is a community-based, internationally-recognized, non-profit housing and human service organization. Ms. McCarley has been on the front lines of helping to combat the spread of the HIV epidemic since the early 1980’s first with children who were infected with the virus. Today, the agency’s goal is ensuring that our older adult population in the District of Columbia are a thriving and are able to age in place and continue to live healthy, vibrant, productive lives. Ms. McCarley’s devotion and unwavering support of our aging is commendable. She provides exceptional support and service to community leaders, agency directors, political figures and especially her staff. She quickly discerns individual’s needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction. Ms. McCarley has been known to work long after office hours and into the night, at her home to ensure that grant language is accurate and specific to the needs of the population. She demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to this community as well as to the general public. Her skills, knowledge, willingness to help others, and dedication make her an outstanding nominee.
Katie Rhoades (Healing Action)
Nominator’s Comment: Katie Rhoades is the Founder and CEO of Healing Action. She is a survivor of sex trafficking, graduate from the Brown School and founder of Healing Action which is saving lives today by offering supports to other survivors.
Linda Rosenberg (National Council for Behavioral Health)
Nominator’s Comment: Linda is an exemplar social worker who has served 15 years as the CEO /President of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Under her leadership, the National Council for Behavioral Health has become our nation’s most effective advocate for behavioral health prevention, early intervention, science-based treatment, and recovery. Harnessing the voices of the 10 million adults, children, and families served by the National Council’s 2,500 member organizations, Rosenberg helped secure passage of the federal parity law, expanded integrated behavioral and primary care services, introduced Mental Health First Aid in the U.S., and built an array of organizational, clinical and workforce improvement initiatives. The National Council’s strong support of the Mental Health Excellence Act will result in the first comprehensive effort to establish community accountability for the health of people with serious mental illnesses and addictions, the consistent utilization of evidence-based practices, and the standardized measurement of outcomes.
Outstanding Individual in Philanthropy
Maxine Clark and Bob Fox
Nominator’s Comment: After enjoying highly successful careers as innovative entrepreneurs, civic leaders Maxine Clark and Bob Fox founded the Clark-Fox Family Foundation in 2004. The Clark-Fox Family Foundation supports the economic development of the St. Louis metropolitan region through program development and investments in K-12, higher education, public health, immigration, social justice, community leadership, and entrepreneurship. Building on a legacy of generous support to Washington University in St. Louis, Maxine Clark and Bob Fox pledged funding for a new forum facility and policy-related programming at the Brown School. In recognition of their commitment, the Brown School Policy Forum was renamed the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Policy Institute.
Nominator’s Comment: Daniel Pitasky has been a social work leader in the philanthropic sector for over 20 years. He is currently the Executive Director at the Schultz Family Foundation. Daniel founded the foundation’s portfolios providing critical support for post 9/11 Veterans and opportunity youth. Through his leadership and vision, he has created funding opportunities that have developed innovative programs in non-profits serving these two unique and underserved communities. His population impact reach is over 8 million individuals (4.6 million OY & 4.2 million Veterans).
I am nominating Daniel for this prestigious award because of his steadfast ethics, loyalty, and professionalism to the world of philanthropy and the immense impact it has on high value social change. His work at the SFF has a ripple effect to national policy effecting the populations served by the foundation. Daniel brings to the SFF and the funded organizations standards that challenge the grantees to provide data driven programming and return on investment evaluations. He stands by the social work code of ethics in delivery of his practice and in turn, ensures the SFF investments are creating the very best possible impact. I have been an observer of his work for several years. He is the best possible example of a social work leader in philanthropy. He would be a wonderful representative of the CRISP Social Worker of the Year.