Social Worker of the Year

Rebecca Parrish, LICSW

Rebecca Parrish has worked over the last 7 years implementing the Integrated Mental Health program within primary care at Kaiser Permanente. She worked with implementing screening all patients 18+ for depression and alcohol use within primary care. She grew the program to include 60 licensed clinical social workers and a number community resource specialist. What started as a small pilot has become the standard work across Washington State. Her company has increased the quality of care of thousands of patients across Washington. Rebecca is devoted to a patient first model. She is always willing to be available to her social work team, and developing an impressive mental health system.

Social Work Educator of the Year

Tam Dinh, Ph.D., LICSW

Tam Dinh, PhD, LICSW is the very embodiment of an educator. She teaches us all, even when she is not behind the podium. For our students, she continually looks for ways to make their learning innovative, relevant, and engaging. Her commitment to their well-being is also evident in the way she structures her classes, makes space for them during this pandemic, and strives to create community. She models a healthy balance between being available for those who need a supportive ear (or heartfelt pep talk!) and modeling healthy boundaries. This is such a necessary component for pre-service learners to incorporate from the beginning and sets them up for career-long success. While all of us educators work hard and are committed to our students, what sets Tam apart from her peers is her proactive work on behalf of our students. She lives out the concept of removing all barriers to success, not only for her students, but also her department. She has secured several grants that provide stipends for students in their fieldwork. The University she works at serves many first-generation students, as well as nontraditional students, and for many this is the “make or break” opportunity that allows them to devote their best self to their education rather than scramble for more part-time work to support themselves and their families. In response to the pandemic, and both the lack of viable internship sites for our students, as well as the increased need of our first-year students, Tam created an internship opportunity on-campus that paired BSW senior interns with our first-year University introductory course faculty. This allowed our students to provide case management and additional support to the incoming freshman, as well as our faculty, who are also feeling the additional burdens placed on them during this pandemic. For the others of us who are fortunate enough to teach alongside Tam, she serves as a mentor and guide through the tenure process, development of pedagogy, and living out grace for and with our students. She holds the standards of the profession high not only for our students, but for us as well. She is devoted to the promotion of inclusion and true equity, both inside the classroom, and within our department. These are values she lives, not just teaches. Her commitment to quality education extends beyond our university, as she is also an elected School Board member in her local district. She fights tirelessly for the students in her district and uses best practices, as well as the values and ethics of social work to guide her. Her community is fortunate indeed to have her vision and collaboration at work on their behalf. In short, Dr. Tam Dinh is the ideal representation of both worlds – social work and education. Her tireless commitment to both is inspiring, and she is a shining star for Washington state and a true leader.

Public Citizen of the Year

Everett Maroon

Everett Maroon has been the Executive Director of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, an agency serving Southeast Washington, for over ten years. The agency is the only HIV\AIDS prevention agency in the region. They have also grown to provide a number of additional substance and Hepatitis related programs and they are are the only needle exchanger for over a 200 mile radius. During his tenure Everett has taken an agency with about a $150,000 annual operating budget with barely 2.5 FTEs to a thriving organizing with many employees and a budget of over $1.5 million. Through Everett's visionary and innovative leadership, the agency has become a voice for public health and the substantial substance and mental health treatment needs of many rural citizens that are often kept in the margins by poverty and stigma. Everett has become a significant community leader known for his smart non-profit leadership, grant and funding expertise, and his ability to analyze and advocate for the effective public health policy. Everett values what social workers value and Washington lucky to call him a citizen.

Outstanding Recent Graduate

Nichelle Curtis-McQueen, MSW

Nichelle is an outstanding example of a social worker. She dedicates her time and energy to several different causes that seek to better society and the social work profession. She steps up into leadership positions when called upon, is deeply reliable, thorough, and promotes teamwork and collaboration in her leadership roles. Furthermore, she leads with integrity and humility. Nichelle is a commissioner in the city of Federal Way, is the new chair of the Legislative Action Committee in the NASW-WA Chapter, and a manager at Green Hill School. Nichelle stands out and is highly deserving of this award!

Outstanding Student

Amber Letchworth, BASW

Amber has overcome incredible personal challenges to be accepted into a JD/MSW program with EWU and Gonzaga University. Despite being a busy student and mother, she has been an active member of the NASW-WA Legislative Action Committee and driven across the state to help organize the NASW-WA Policy Conference for multiple years. Her passion and drive to lift up other people around her and to organize her colleagues for important causes deserve recognition!

Taylene Watson President's Award

Julia Newbold, MSW

Julia Newbold is the lone social worker in a 6-attorney unit serving individuals civilly committed after serving lengthy prison sentences for sex offenses. The work is challenging and she faces it with kindness, grace, and persistence that is unparalleled. These gentlemen have been out of society for decades, and she is solely responsible for planning and executing their reentry. She picks them up and drives them around for the first three days in the community – connecting them with community services, teaching them about debit cards, opening bank accounts, getting identification, connecting with back to work resources, grocery shopping, and acclimating to transitional housing. She walks the amazing line between guidance and empowerment, allowing these gentlemen to settle into independence without fear. She can chat with any of them about any topic important to them, from football to southern cooking to their favorite movies. She always finds a way to personally connect with clients while assisting them professionally. It is incredibly difficult to house our population. But Julia has built relationships with landlord across the state, convincing many what a wonderful experience it is to serve our clients. She’s changed minds that were dead set against our clients and are now some of our most committed housing providers. With Julia it is once a client always a client, even when a client is no longer on her roster due to successful transition, she’ll volunteer when possible to ensure they prevail against obstacles. We recently placed an African American client in a supportive living house with after a couple months we realized was not a good fit for him culturally and that the “supportive services” were unintentionally racist. She immediately reached out and found him replacement housing that would respect his independence. Then she spent her day off on January 1, 2021 helping move him into a better situation. While providing such incredible service, Julia also strictly abides by her social worker ethics and maintains firm professional boundaries. That combination is not one I have ever seen in my career and she pulls it off with ease. In my book, and so many of our 70+ clients, she is already the Social Worker of the Year!

Julia came on to work in transitions with sexual violent predators releasing from McNeil Island as a very young social worker and is an amazing human being working in this field . She is outstanding when it comes to navigating our broken criminal justice system.