Lifetime Achievement Award
Nancy Amidei, MSW
Nancy exemplifies social work values and ethics and has demonstrated the ideals and commitment to diversity and cultural inclusiveness throughout her life. Nancy’s quest for civil rights and social justice have come through her public service as well as her civic and social action as a teacher, trainer, community organizer, advocate, and activist.
While we know Nancy best for her work in Washington State, her service reached to the other Washington as well. After graduating with her MSW she headed to D.C. Perhaps, where she solidified her position as a self-described “Democracy Junkie.” She first worked for the US Senate and President Carter’s Administration. She then went on to impact change as a citizen activist as Executive Director of an anti-hunger organization, the Food Research and Action Center where she fought the Reagan Administration on many policies. One particularly proposed policy would have drastically cut the school lunch program. Knowing how imperative that school meal is for many of our nation’s most marginalized kids, she worked to stop these efforts. One part of the bill included redefining ketchup as a vegetable. Using her signature humor, she devised a clever public education campaign that included having ketchup placed on the congressmen’s desks, with a message, imploring them to eat their vegetables. This caught the eye of the public and brought to light the absurdity of the legislation. It inspired people to take action and thankfully, the legislation failed. Our kids still have access to Free and Reduced school lunch, and ketchup continues to be considered a condiment, not a vegetable.
In 1992, Nancy trekked across the country and joined us in the west coast Washington when she joined the UW School of Social Work faculty and continued her work as an impassioned citizen advocate as a teacher, trainer, collaborator, community organizer, leader, and chocolate distributor.
Social Worker of the Year
Meghan DeGallier, MSW, MHP, LICSWA, SUDPT
Meghan works in rural community mental health as a clinical manager and therapist as well as a mother of two. She carries a mental health caseload of clients that all enjoy her service. Meghan's nomination outlined that she goes above and beyond in her work: She acts as human resources, provides supervision, develops and enforces agency policies and Washington State behavioral health regulations, and manages to keep an agency open during extreme state policy changes and COVID. Meghan is collaborative with staff and clients and consistently advocates on their behalf. Meghan is recognized for her approach to her work with integrity, competence, and representing the social work profession with the highest regard.
Social Work Educator of the Year
Deisy Haid, MSW, LCSW
Besides being a mother of two, a wife, and a teacher, Deisy worked tirelessly with other social workers in the Walla Walla area to found an entirely new health clinic with the focus of bringing wraparound health services, including walk-in behavioral health services, to an underserved area. In addition, Deisy is using this as an opportunity to boost available positions for students to receive field practicum opportunities in a holistic health setting. She was involved in the fundraising, policy writing, and clinical foundation of the clinic as one of the founders. In addition, Deisy continued to work to find her students who were forced to learn remotely practicum placements around the state in communities she was completely unfamiliar with, cold calling organizations and agencies to find an available remote position. Deisy is an amazing example of an educator who goes above and beyond for her students and for social work.
Public Citizen of the Year
Rep. Jesse Johnson
The Chapter honors Representative Jesse Johnson as the Public Citizen of the Year for his advocacy and legislative work on public safety reform. Rep. Johnson has demonstrated a commitment to work with stakeholders and the families of those impacted by police violence to adjust and to clarify laws. Rep. Johnson’s work has focused on de-escalation, accountability and limiting unnecessary use of force, as well as a continuing commitment to making sure social workers and other first responders have the clarity and support they need to do their work effectively.
Outstanding Recent Graduate
Ruby Townsend, MSW, LSWAIC
Ruby Townsend exhibits outstanding leadership. She joined Bellevue Fire Department's CARES101 unit in 2017, shortly after receiving her MSW degree from Portland State University. Apart from the supervisor, Ruby was the most senior of the team. She rose to a position of leadership within the organization and recently wrote the training manual for the program. She has mentored many students in the program, as well as participated with the Bellevue Police in their trial of pairing mental health social workers with police officers responding to dangerous mental health crises. Ruby is a strong leader, and has a clear understanding of the role that social workers can take and the role that is needed in the emerging field of social workers working as mental health first responders. Ruby recently joined the NASW-WA's Legislative Action Committee to bring her knowledge and skill set to the Chapter's discussions and recommendations for the role of social workers in "Reimagining Public Safety'' in Washington State.
Yunuenn Garcia is a senior bachelor of social work student at Heritage University. Yunuenn completed half of her practicum at the Sunnyside High School helping students succeed in their assigned classes. Yunuenn's second half of practicum is at a domestic violence agency advocating for survivors. Yunuenn is an exemplary student with a high GPA. Yunuenn also volunteers at the Sunnyside High School, and is an active volunteer for the girls wrestling team. Yunuenn works full time to help support her family, and is a full time student.
Taylene Watson President's Award
The Center for Justice Social Work
This year the Chapter received separate award nominations for two different employees at the Center for Justice Social Work (CJSW), an agency dedicated to working with communities to enhance the way in which individuals receive emergency care from first responders. We were thrilled to see so much enthusiasm for the work of CJSW. Strengthening social workers’ ability to be mental health crisis responders, bridging the gap between behavioral health and emergency services, mental health for the responders themselves, and reforming a fractured crisis response system is extremely important work. It will be instrumental in how Washington creates a better safety net for those in crisis.