"We are excited about the strength of our community partnerships and the fact that our school will at last have its own building on campus. The state of the School of Social Work is stronger than ever."
The event was held at the beautiful Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, exactly two years to the day of the inaugural Celebrating Social Work Leaders event on March 10, 2020. The inaugural event took place exactly one day before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The event was skipped in 2021 due to COVID-19, making this the second celebration of social work leaders event hosted by the School of Social Work and their Community Advisory Board – it made this year’s event one for both celebration and reunion.
Social workers advocate for those most vulnerable in society, provide stability during life’s hardest transitions, and demand the systemic changes needed to make life more just and equitable for all. The event brought together social worker and community partners from across the state and beyond. There was representation from a wide range of disciplines including school social workers, mental health, medical and clinical social workers, developmental disabilities, aging, child welfare, juvenile justice, suicide prevention and many more. There was representation by social work faculty, students, staff, alumni, members of UNR and NSHE leadership, political representatives, community partners and dignitaries. Provost Jeffery Thompson provided the UNR welcome, Founding Dean Shadi Martin presented the state of the School and Associate Dean Lillie Wichinsky highlighted the future plan for the School.
"Despite the challenges of the pandemic, enrollment at the UNR School of Social Work has continued to grow significantly as has the size of its faculty," Founding Dean of the School of Social Work Shadi Martin said. "We are excited about the strength of our community partnerships and the fact that our school will at last have its own building on campus. The state of the School of Social Work is stronger than ever."
Twelve awards were presented during the event, which wrapped up with the announcement of the City of Reno’s proclamation announcing their support of the month’s observance and recognition of the importance the School of Social Work plays in building great social work leaders.
“I want to thank everyone who has played a role in helping our communities navigate all the challenges of this global pandemic," Martin said. "I want to thank all the amazing social work leaders who make a difference every day in our communities throughout the state of Nevada and beyond.”
“As Nevadans face public health crises, social justice crises, employment crises and mental health crises, the demand for more skilled, compassionate and ethically oriented social workers has never been greater,” Dean Martin shared. “Social work is one of fastest growing professions in the nation and social workers are the primary providers of mental health services. The mental health and wellbeing of our communities is directly impacted by the quality and quantity of social work students we graduate.”
Of the 12 awards presented at the event, there were eight Compass Rose awards, three Dean’s Special Recognition awards and one award for the Heart of a Social Worker.
- Compass Rose Social Justice Award – Eilish Kelderman, MSA Candidate
- Compass Rose Competence Award – Yezenia Olivera, MSW, School of Social Work, Field Education Program
- Compass Rose Diversity Award – Teach Me to Grow Healthy, Center for Healthy Aging
- Compass Rose Integrity Award – Michael Luque, MSW, Nevada Training Partnership
- Compass Rose Dignity Award (TIE) – Dinita Smith, MSW, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Drug Abuse Clinic, & Trauma Intervention Program of Northern Nevada
- Compass Rose Service Award – Erin Snell, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, FOREVER 14
- Compass Rose Relationships Award (TrueNorth honoree) – Ashley Daftary, Ph.D.
- Compass Rose Leadership Award (Legacy Award honoree) – Paula L. Achurra
- Dean’s Special Recognition Awards
- Brenda Nguyen
- Zach Behl
- Lillian Wichinsky
- Heart of a Social Worker – Lady Rota Rosaschi, MPA, LSW
“All the nominees are tireless heroes and are long overdue to be recognized,” Martin said. “We hope everyone who came had a wonderful time and felt proud to be a social worker.”
The event concluded with the recognition of the dedication and contributions of the School’s Founding Dean Shadi Martin. Chair of Board of Regents, Cathy McAdoo and Dr. Mridual Gautam, Vice President for Research and Innovation presented Dean Martin with a portrait of her given by the School’s Community Advisory Board to be placed at the new home of the School of Social Work. Regent McAdoo stated, “it is only fitting the portrait of the founding dean hang in the new School of Social Work building forever”. The new School of Social Work building is projected to open by Spring 2023, after it undergoes a complete renovation.
The UNR School of Social Work looks forward to hosting its 3rd annual Celebration of Social Work Leaders again in March 2023.