2020 Awardees

2020 Professional Recognition Award Recipients


  • Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award

    Betty J. Ruth
    Associate Clinical Professor | Boston University
    The Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award is presented to Betty J. Ruth.

    Ruth is clinical professor and director of the MSW/MPH program at Boston University (BU) School of Social Work, where she taught ethics, racial justice, and macro practice and has served as the director of the MSW/MPH program for more than 30 years. Trained as a public health social worker, Ruth has been a passionate lifelong advocate for the integration of public health approaches in social work. Over three decades, she stewarded the tiny BU program (from which she had graduated in 1984/1985), into the largest program of its kind in the United States. Today, due to its carefully crafted curriculum and integrated focus on public health social work (PHSW), it is widely regarded as a standard-bearer for MSW/MPH education.

    Throughout her career, Ruth has provided broad leadership to advance the integration of public health skills into social work. She has written extensively on the history of PHSW, MSW/MPH education, and the profession’s role in prevention. She has consulted with other MSW/MPH programs, held leadership roles in the American Public Health Association’s PHSW Section, and co-established the Group for PHSW Initiatives to support efforts to elevate the ongoing importance of integrating PHSW. As principal investigator for Advancing Leadership in Public Health Social Work Education, a Health Resources Services Administration project based at BU, Ruth led her team in producing many free resources for those interested in integrating public health concepts into their work.

    Ruth has often noted that the entire profession stands on the shoulders of PHSW ancestors and that her goal has been to help “package and transmit the heirloom seeds of public health social work” for broad use when its necessity was more clearly appreciated. She has recently revised her view that PHSW’s time is later. She notes that COVID-19 makes the urgent need for PHSW explicit. She looks forward to joining with social workers in the field as we rebuild from COVID-19.
  • Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award

    Dr. Rebecca Gomez
    Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs | Our Lady of the Lake University
    The Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Rebecca Gomez.

    Dr. Gomez is PhD director at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). She was previously MSW director and director of the Worden School at OLLU. Dr. Gomez is renowned for her use of technology as a way to increase access to quality social work education, coupled with a radical emphasis on building culture and community in distance education environments.
    As director of the Worden School Dr. Gomez led a program in which students represented extreme geographic diversity including all 50 states and internationally. She pioneered the incorporation of tenure-track remote faculty members at OLLU to increase the diversity of faculty training, research, and experience. She also spearheaded research on this innovation to enhance the viability and effectiveness of remote faculty members. These innovative programs not only increased access and enrollment, they also supported underrepresented students, which resulted in high retention and graduation rates.

    Dr. Gomez also pioneered and led the OLLU online PhD program, one of only three online PhD programs in the United States, which provided access to underrepresented students and filled an important gap in social work education by training faculty members especially for service in minority serving institutions. The use of targeted design, recruitment, and holistic admissions that reflected collectivist cultures resulted in an unprecedented representation of diversity in the inaugural cohort, which reflects a 36% increase in racial and ethnic diversity compared to other U.S. social work PhD programs.

    Dr. Gomez was named a Top 30 Technologist, Transformer, and Trailblazer in 2017 by the Center for Digital Education; the Agnes M. (Lehman) Gloyna Award for Technological Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Our Lady of the Lake University; and The Texas Distance Learning Association Award for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by an Organization.

    Dr. Gomez will join the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in August 2020 as associate dean of academic and student affairs.
  • Early Career Faculty Service and Leadership in Social Work Education Award

    Dr. Alice Gates
    Associate Professor and BSW Program Director | University of Portland
    The Early Career Faculty Service and Leadership in Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Alice Gates.

    Dr. Gates earned her MSW (2007) and PhD (social work and sociology, 2011) from the University of Michigan. She is associate professor of social work, BSW program director, and department chair of sociology/social work at the University of Portland.

    Dr. Gates’ contributions to the field are motivated by a deep commitment to social justice and more than a decade of community organizing focused on building power among women, low-wage workers, and recent immigrant communities. Her research examines how formally disfranchised groups engage in collective action and explores how the experiences of vulnerable and marginalized populations should inform community practice and social policy. Examples of her community-based research have appeared in the Journal of Community Practice and Families in Society. Since 2015 she has been involved with the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration and served as an ally to the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice. For 3 years she served at the University of Portland as the director of the Social Justice Program, and she has served on the boards of local and statewide organizations serving Latinx communities and advocating for women’s economic security.
  • Established Faculty Service and Leadership in Social Work Education Award

    Dr. Kay Hoffman
    Retired Professor | University of Kentucky

    The Established Faculty Service and Leadership in Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Kay Hoffman.

    Dr. Hoffman is professor and dean emerita of the College of Social Work, University of Kentucky (UK), where she served for 20 years. Retired in 2018, Dr. Hoffman continues her work with PhD students and supervises an evaluation team of researchers examining prevention responses in child welfare and public health. At UK she was the Dorothy A. Miller Professor in Social Work Education and a member of the Kentucky Institute of Medicine. Her scholarly work is in social work education, child welfare, and international social work.

    Dr. Hoffman was president of the Council on Social Work Education and chair of the Commission on Accreditation, served on the board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, and has been a visiting faculty member at the University of West Arad in Romania and a senior scholar at CSWE. She won the Significant Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, Ohio University; the Friend of School Social Work Award from the Kentucky School Social Work Association in 2007; and was NASW Social Worker of the Year at the New River Valley Chapter in Virginia. She is past president of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency and the Detroit Welfare Reform Coalition.

    Dr. Hoffman continues to be active in her local community, having served as the president of the Plantory, an incubator for nonprofit organizations, and president of the Center on Human Entrepreneurship Solutions Group. Presently, she is a board member of the Peninsula Art Academy. She is a graduate of Ohio University, the Ohio State University, and Wayne State University in Detroit. She was a faculty member and academic administrator at Marygrove College, Wayne State University, New Mexico State University, and Radford University in Virginia prior to her tenure and retirement from UK.