Previous Awardees

The Council on Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (CRECD) Award was approved by the Board of Directors in 2015 with the inaugural CRECD Award given at the 2015 Annual Program Meeting in Denver, CO. The list of all awardees by year is below. 

2021 Awardees

2018 Awardees

2017 Awardees

2016 Awardees

2015 Awardees



Junior Faculty Award Recipient—Anna Ortega-Williams
Dr. Anna Ortega-Williams is a social work scholar, practitioner, researcher, and organizer who is inspired by the healing alchemy of social action, youth development, and well-being. Dr. Ortega-Williams is an assistant professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. As a social work educator, she is committed to uncovering trauma recovery interventions that push the boundary of where micro-level clinical practice ends and macro-level practice begins. Her approach to social work centers cultural humility, anti-racist, intersectional, and anti-oppressive frameworks. Dr. Ortega-Williams’ area of research focuses on historical trauma, posttraumatic growth, and social action in trauma recovery. Her scholarship, research, and teaching are grounded in her 20-year journey as a social worker providing individual, group, and family counseling, in addition to working as a director, program developer, capacity builder, and evaluator. She is deeply inspired by local, national, and global social justice movements; in particular, Black youth-led responses to interrupting systemic violence. She received her bachelor’s degree from the City University of New York, Hunter College; master’s degree from the State University of New York, Stony Brook; and PhD in social work from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service. As a Black queer mom, activist, organizer, and poet born and raised in public housing in the Bronx, she believes social work practice can promote joy, healing, imagination, and hope when rooted in transforming social and economic justice and protecting human rights.

Doctoral Student Award Recipient—Dashawna Fussell-Ware

Dashawna Fussell-Ware is a proud native of Miami, FL. She received her bachelor of arts, with honors, in psychology with minors in English and human and social development from the University of Miami in May 2013 and her master’s of social work, with a certificate in nonprofit management, from the University of Georgia in May 2018. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Also, she serves as a doctoral fellow for the Center on Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh and Steel Smiling, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Black Pittsburgh residents' mental health.

During her undergraduate career, Fussell-Ware accumulated a plethora of research experience with diverse populations, including children in Head Start/Early Head Start programs, children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, and youths living with mood/anxiety disorders. After graduating she joined the fight for social justice through education as a Teach for America corps member, teaching 11th and 12th-grade students at her alma mater in the Miami neighborhood of Liberty City. While earning her MSW, Fussell-Ware served as a clinical services liaison for a transitional housing nonprofit and as a clinician for a mental health service provider.

Fussell-Ware's current research focuses on promoting mental health literacy among Black, Latinx, and Hispanic children, adolescents, and transition-age youths as a pathway to eliminating mental health disparities. She has been honored for her work on racial/ethnic minority youth mental health with fellowships from the Council on Social Work Education and the American Psychological Association. Her career goals are to conduct groundbreaking research that positively influences policy and social work practice as well as serve communities of color through partnerships with resource-rich academic institutions.

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Junior Faculty Awardee: Dawnsha R. Mushonga
Dawnsha R. Mushonga is awarded the 2018 junior faculty award for her paper titled “Identifying Protective Factors Associated with Positive Mental Health among Traditional and nontraditional Black College Students.” 

Abstract: Objective: To investigate variations in levels of positive mental health (PMH) in Black traditional (ages 18 to 25) and nontraditional (ages 26+) college students and to identify protective factors that promote levels of flourishing within these groups. Participants: A total of 235 Black college students completed online surveys in Spring 2017; 156 were traditional college students (Mage = 20.88, SD = 2.12; 83% female) and 79 were nontraditional college students (Mage = 36.06, SD = 36.1; 80% female). Methods: Participants completed a survey comprised of a demographic questionnaire and instruments measuring spirituality, social support, racial identity, self-esteem, and positive mental health. Results: Results of this study showed higher levels of spirituality, social support, and self-esteem were associated with flourishing levels of mental health in Black traditional students; however, spirituality, self-esteem, and racial identity were predictors of PMH in nontraditional students. Conclusions: College campuses benefit from establishing a campus environment that caters to the unique needs of all students. These findings can be integrated into initiatives focused on promoting flourishing levels of mental health in Black college students. Furthermore, this research aids in targeting prevention and intervention programs to reduce mental health disparities that currently exist between Black and White students.


PhD Student Awardee: Stephenie Howard
Stephenie Howard is awarded the 2018 PhD Student award for her paper titled "Social Isolation Among Young Black Women."

Abstract: Social isolation has been identified as one of the major focuses and challenges in the field of social work. This paper contributes to this grand challenge by informing a gap in the literature on Black women’s social isolation. This paper presents on the findings of an empirical study on social isolation among young Black women. The primary goal of the study is to identify the range, scope, and impact of social isolation experienced among women by Black women. Secondary aims are to inform the cultural sensitivity of Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory of development. While focus is on young adulthood, the issue of social isolation permeates the lifespan for African American women in particular. Importantly, consistent with imperative to bridge research and practice, this paper expounds on the practice implications that emerge from the research findings.

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Junior Faculty Awardee: Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson is awarded the junior faculty award for his paper titled “Black Bodies on the Ground: Policing Disparities in the African American Community—An Analysis of Newsprint From January 1, 2015, Through December 31, 2015.” 

Abstract: This paper tests the thesis that policing today is a consequence of its history with the Black community.  The author provides a brief historical account of policing in America as it pertains to Blacks from slavery to the 21st century.  An account of the role of the slave patrols and the various codes and laws enacted to control Blacks are also discussed. This research will examine the historical relationship between police and the Black community by taking a closer look at the killing of unarmed Black men from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, using and analyzing newsprint retrieved from two data sources.  Specific cases are discussed and the author provides possible solutions to address the social problem of the killing of unarmed Black males by police.

PhD Student Awardee:  Cary Klemmer
Cary Klemmer is awarded the 2017 PhD Student award for his paper titled "Feminist Social Work: Engaging Gender Diverse Groups."

Abstract: The lives of gender diverse individuals (hereafter Transgender) are in part categorized by experiences of systemic violence and discrimination. These experiences have been empirically correlated with negative behavioral health outcomes such as depression, suicidal ideation, and more. To address these disparities social workers must be able to engage these groups into services, which requires a sensitivity to their gender identities, expressions, and risk profiles. Research has shown that a lack of sensitivity and knowledge of risk create barriers that impinge upon the success of transgender people accessing services. Feminist theory expands knowledge of gender and can assist social workers in successfully engaging transgender groups. We argue that Feminist theory must be regularly and systematically incorporated in clinical and doctoral level social work education to affect the efficacy of work with transgender clients in both practice and research settings. Successful engagement of transgender people into social and health services and research relies on workers’ engagement in a feminist reflexive process that facilitates the worker’s uncovering of both personal and social conceptions of sexuality and gender and the implications of those views on clients’ lives. Without such knowledge, the likelihood of transgender people being adequately served remains questionable. The proposed effects of incorporating feminist theory in social work curricula and the resulting consequences on practice with transgender clients require evaluation. 




Junior Faculty Award Awardee: Jessica Yang
PhD Student Awardee: So-Young Park 



Junior Faculty Awardees: Justin Lee, Suzie S. Weng, and Lisa A. Gray 
PhD Student Awardees: Shanna Katz Kattari, Darren Whitfield, and Lisa Langenderfer-McGruder