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Please join us as we honor the accomplishments of social workers and community members during our Social Work Month Celebration on March 31, 2023. This year, we will host a virtual event -- RSVP to save your spot

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Edwina "Eddie" Uehara, MSW, PhD


The Chapter chose to recognize Edwina "Eddie" Uehara for her lifetime of contributions to the social work profession in Washington and across the country. Dean Uehara's tenure with the University of Washington's (UW) School of Social Work included many firsts: She was the school's first dean of color, UW's first Asian-American female dean, and the first Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work -- the first of such an endowment at a U.S. public university. Her work impacted the state throughout her career, from her work in Eastern Washington as a community development specialist in rural school districts to working as a visionary leader leveraging resources to enhance the social work profession's response to behavioral health and workforce challenges. From Dean Uehara's nomination: "Her transformative leadership and scholarship has impacted and touched the lives of so many Washingtonians. Dean Uehara's work transcends our state, and includes improving lives through providing decades of committed leadership, scholarship, and service. Dean Uehara was instrumental in social work initiatives including the Grand Challenges for Social Work, the Washington State Behavioral Health Workforce Development Initiative, the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, and so much more. Dean Uehara is such a positive champion for the social work profession and her contributions are lasting and immensely appreciated."


The UW School of Social Work announced that Dean Uehara will transition from her role as Dean this summer. Read more about Dean Uehara's work here. 

Social Worker of the Year

Charles Loeffler, MSW


Charles Loffler was nominated for his professional efforts -- not only in his personal work or to support those that he supervises -- but also to educate and empower staff office-wide and to advocate for the profession as a whole. From Charles’ nomination: “Supervising the Family Treatment court unit, he provides a specialized approach in working with families to address complex barriers to child safety all while utilizing a strengths-based and solution-focused approach. He is transparent about his decision-making process which builds trust not only amongst those that he supervises, but also with the families and children that we work so closely with. Beyond supporting his own individual unit, he is the first to volunteer to create learning opportunities for entire programs and supports improving office culture through facilitating staff meetings office-wide, even though doing so is beyond his job description. He genuinely believes in the importance of our role as social workers. Additionally, I have seen firsthand his commitment to advocate on behalf of the child welfare profession as a whole, lobbying for fair compensation and reasonable work expectations … He speaks proudly, professionally, and passionately about the profession and the populations we work with. He is often the first to speak about concerns or opportunities for growth whenever he is given the opportunity to do so. He also consistently encourages others to get involved, promoting the importance of advocacy as one of our professional ethical obligations.”

Social Work Educator of the Year

Lori Sirs, DSW, LICSW


Lori Sirs, DSW, LICSW is the BSW Program Director and a professor at Saint Martin’s University. She brings over 15 years of practice, supervisory, and field learning experience to her work with students. From Lori’s nomination: “Dr. Sirs is dedicated to promoting equality, diversity, and social justice. She is committed to hiring diverse faculty for the social work department... This year she also took several students to the LSWO National Latinx Conference in Seattle, WA. She teaches about the Grand Challenges of Social Work and encourages advocacy at all levels; attendance at NASW-WA’s Policy Conference is part of her syllabus and a requirement for her students. Dr. Sirs ensures that her students receive exceptional field experiences that put their education into practice and expand their knowledge. She has formed relationships with a variety of organizations around the Olympia area for practicum placements including non-profits, state agencies, the county prosecutor’s office, and the county commissioner’s office – opportunities not always available to BSW students. Dr. Sirs personifies a strengths-based approach, meeting students where they are and bringing out the best in them."

Outstanding Student

Zelda Oppenheim


Zelda was selected as Outstanding Student. Zelda was identified as a changemaker and hard worker. From Zelda’s nomination: “Zelda currently helps run the Seattle Needle Exchange program and truly goes above and beyond their role in managing the program, engaging with service users, stakeholders, and the powers that be. Zelda works around the clock to ensure programming, supplies, volunteers and staff have what they need, all while enrolled in the University of Washington MSW program! Zelda volunteered for PHRA for around 4 years before being offered the position last year. Zelda displayed the same work ethic during practicum at the Bellevue Fire CARES mobile intervention team and expressed true compassion and caring for those in the community facing all kinds of intersectional issues and challenges.”

Outstanding Recent Graduate

Rayanna Tensley, MSW


Rayanna Tensely was selected as Outstanding Recent Graduate for her application of social work project development skills and her energetic approach to her work. From Rayanna's nomination: "Rayanna recently graduated with her MSW from Eastern Washington University, where she was active in student leadership. Rayanna has worked alongside Goodwills of Washington state to create and implement their digital equity project from the ground up. This project work included grant writing, creating and sustaining budget, training and hiring, implementation, and ensuring overall sustainability. Rayanna serves as a member of Goodwill's EDI-B committee. During her time as co-chair, they created the organization’s very first EDI policy. Rayanna is active as the Eastern Washington Representative with the Washington Chapter of NASW. She continues to work to provide opportunities for Eastern Washington social workers to connect and share resources."

Taylene Watson President's Award

Hien-Thao Phan, LICSW, MSW


Social worker Hien-Thao (Thao) Phan was chosen to receive the Taylene Watson President's Award for her exemplification of social work values and ethics and deep personal and professional commitment to diversity and cultural inclusiveness. From Thao’s nomination: “Thao discovered social work during their undergrad. Thao signed up for an intro to social work class with no idea what social work was. Once in the class, she realized that social workers have been supporting her family through their immigration process. Thao found that the profession aligned with her values which included social justice and meeting people where they are. After school, Thao worked in community health and provided case management. Thao accepted a behavioral health clinical position at International Community Health Services. She shared that providing behavioral health services to ICHS patients aligned with Thao's commitment to serve the API elders. Many of Thao's patients do not speak English and come from communities that stigmatize behavioral health. She has been able to see positive changes in the elders and patients she serves—and has done this meeting her patients where they are and providing non-judgmental care.”

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Public Citizen of the Year

Sherronda Jamerson, MA, SUDP


Sherronda Jamerson is described by colleagues as an exemplary ally to the social work profession. Sherronda develops, implements and presents EDI trainings to professionals and community-based organizations locally and nationally. Sherronda demonstrated significant contributions throughout both her EDI work (including healthcare equity) and her therapeutic role providing individual and group therapy. From Sherronda’s nominations: “Sherronda’s leadership extends far beyond the professional setting as she is actively engaged in grassroots organizing and personally devotes time outside of the workplace to address social issues such as racism, implicit bias and disconnection with ourselves, our communities and society at large. She often does the job of holding space for the “hard work” to be done; contributions big and small that accumulate to the advancement of equity and sustainable change. Sherronda empowers budding professionals and creates space for them where traditionally their voices have been silenced or historically forbidden.”

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