2018 Professional Recognition Award Recipients
Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education AwardDr. Lisa de Saxe ZerdenAssociate Dean | University of North Carolina at Chapel HillThe Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MSW. Zerden was born in South Africa and has conducted social work practice and research in her home country, Puerto Rico, and across the United States. She is the senior associate dean for MSW education at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill School of Social Work. In this role Zerden manages the day-to-day functions of the MSW program, which includes 300 graduate students annually and more than 50 faculty members. Zerden received her PhD in sociology and social work from Boston University and her MSW from the University of California at Los Angeles. She received her BA in sociology and human services and eastern religion from the George Washington University. Zerden joined the School of Social Work at UNC in 2010.
Zerden’s research and scholarship have focused on drug use and risk behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. More recently her work has emphasized the preventive components of behavioral health through integrated models of care. Over the past 4 years Zerden has been the principal investigator for projects awarded more than $3.6 million dollars in federal funding plus various internal university awards. She has been the lead collaborator on several interprofessional efforts that have promoted the social work profession across UNC, in North Carolina, and in national venues.
Zerden’s work on interprofessional collaboration has made her a leading scholar on the social work workforce in integrated care and on interprofessional team-based care. She has helped bolster the profession’s role in interprofessional education, professional advocacy, and by contributing to the literature on social work education. To date, Zerden has written 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and six technical reports and/or invited chapters and has presented her work nationally and internationally. Zerden’s co-authors represent a diverse set of colleagues from social work; across disciplines including nursing, public health, and medicine; and the MSW and PhD students for whom she has provided mentorship.
Zerden has taught almost every course across the generalist MSW curriculum, including specialized courses in the community management and policy practice (macro) specialization at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2014, faculty members gave her the Excellence in MSW Teaching Award based on her contributions to student learning and her impact on the MSW program. In 2017, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work awarded her the inaugural John A. Tate Early Career Scholar for Children in Need Junior Professorship.
Zerden currently serves as the vice president on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, the Political Action Committee for NASW-NC, and co-leads the Associate Dean’s Group through CSWE.
Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education AwardDr. Mimi AbramovitzBertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy | Hunter College, City University of New YorkThe Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, MSW. Committed to public higher education, Abramovitz serves on the faculty of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and The City University of New York.
Known nationally and internationally as a public intellectual, Abramovitz brings a gender/race/class analysis into the study of social policy. Her four books, 80+ academic articles, and hundreds of national and international conference presentations have influenced students, faculty members, practitioners, and public officials. Given social work’s location at the intersection of the individual and society, Abramovitz believes that it is especially well-positioned to address the harmful forces that perpetuate inequality and to undo the power relations that oppress people in the family, the market, and the state.
She is among a small group of social work scholars whose publications also appear on sociology and women’s studies syllabi. Her well-reviewed books include Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy From Colonial Times to the Present, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2018); Taxes Are a Women’s Issue (Feminist Press at CUNY, 2006); Under Attack and Fighting Back: Women & Welfare in the US (Monthly Review Press, 2000); and The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy (with Joel Blau; Oxford University Press, 2010). Research is underway for Gender Obligations: The History of Activism Among Low-Income Women. Published in major academic journals, her work also has appeared in the popular press, including The New York Times and Women's Review of Books.
Known as an activist and a scholar, Abramovitz worked as a welfare worker and welfare rights, trade union, and community organizer before receiving her MSW. Once in academe, she co-founded the Hunter College Welfare Rights Initiative, Undoing Racism Internship Project, Social Welfare Action Alliance, and Journal of Progressive Human Services. A leader in the Macro United Movement, she currently serves on the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice and co-leads the Voting IS Social Work Campaign. Trained in community organizing and social policy at Columbia School of Social Work, she is a valued teacher and mentor who has inspired and changed the lives of her students.
Abramovitz has received 15 prestigious awards, including Top Social Work Leader, NASW-NYC Chapter; and Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award, CSWE. She was recently inducted into the Columbia School of Social Work Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Policy.
Service and Leadership in Social Work Education AwardTracy SoskaAssociate Professor & COSA Chair | University of PittsburghThe Service and Leadership in Social Work Education Award is presented to Tracy Soska, MSW, LSW. Soska is assistant professor, chair of the Community Organization and Social Administration Program, and director of continuing education at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. Soska teaches courses in human service management, community organizing, economic/social justice, and social work for civic engagement. He co-directed the university’s Community Outreach Partnership Center 2000–2012, and continues to work on numerous campus initiatives to enhance community engagement, service learning, and student community service.
In 2000 Soska received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award and in 2008 the University Senate Service Award. He also maintains faculty affiliations with the University Center for Social and Urban Research and the University Center for International Studies and its Jean Monnet European Union Center of Excellence. He was a founder of the Continuing Education Directors’ Network in schools of social work, which is active at the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Program Meeting, and he has served on the CSWE Commission on Membership and Professional Development and the Council on Conferences and Faculty Development. He also initiated the University–Community Partnerships track at the Annual Program Meeting.
Soska was twice national chair of the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA), in addition to serving as an editor of its Journal of Community Practice, 2007–2017. He serves on ACOSA’s Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice and worked on CSWE’s Specialized Practice Curricular Guide to Macro Practice Social Work. Soska is co-author (with Alice Johnson Butterfield) of University–Community Partnerships: Universities in Civic Engagement (Haworth Press, 2004), a special issue of the Journal of Community Practice titled “Service Learning: Community Engagement and Partnership for Integrating Teaching, Research, and Service” (2010), several iterations of the chapter on housing in the Encyclopedia of Social Work, and many other book chapters and articles. He has presented numerous conference papers on the topics of university–community engagement, community/citizen leadership development, and research/service learning.
Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 1993, Soska was a nonprofit executive for more than 15 years. He led organizations addressing neighborhood revitalization and advocacy, workforce development, criminal justice and reentry, and human services collaboration, including 10 years leading coordinated human-service efforts in the Mon and Westinghouse Valleys at the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial collapse.