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2011 Annual Meeting Awardees
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2011 Annual Meeting
May 12, 2011 

Succeeding On The Strength Of Our Convictions In Social Work: 
Breaking Through In Extraordinary Times

Chapter Service Award

Madelyn Miller, LCSW, ACSW, CGP

Adjunct Lecturer/Associate Professor, Hunter College and NYU Silver
Schools of Social Work; Chair, NASW-NYC Disaster Trauma Committee 

As a clinician, educator, and consultant, Madelyn Miller has been working over the years with a focus on issues of trauma and loss, and their inevitable impact on those engaged in providing support to survivors and their communities. Her psychotherapy practice with adults across an array of issues includes those surviving childhood sexual abuse, other sexual violation, human-made and natural disasters, as well as refugees, and those seeking asylum. Ms. Miller also provides training, support, and consultation to colleagues, community groups, task forces, and organizations regarding these diverse issues. As a member of the adjunct  aculty at New York University Silver School of Social Work, and Hunter College School of Social Work, she has designed and has been teaching clinical practice courses on trauma and accompanying losses. She is a doctoral candidate at New York University Silver School of Social Work.

Since 1997, Ms. Miller has chaired the Disaster Trauma Committee at the Chapter—bimonthly meetings developed to provide continuing learning, support, and community to those social workers engaged in or interested in disaster work. These meetings include presentations on disaster experiences within a global context, related trauma and loss issues, and attention to the impact of immediate and long-term disaster work. Collaborations and presentations with Chapter committees and other organizations over the years have extended the committee’s focus. Ms. Miller is a former NASW-NYC Board Member-at-Large, and received the 2002 Special Recognition Award for Leadership after 9/11. Among active engagement with professional societies and entities, she presently chairs an American Group Psychotherapy Association subtask force. She is past chairperson of the Public Education Committee, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Ms. Miller’s presentations and publications consider the experience of the clinician and provider working with survivors of trauma and loss, as well as the student and instructor of such studies, and also address considerations of both the complex clinical issues of this work, and a community-focused perspective regarding mass disaster. Her commitment to social workers and social work students who inevitably work across the broad issues of trauma and loss, underlines the importance of creating ongoing contexts of collegial support and specialized learning.

2011 Social Work Image Awards

Obiageli Blessing Okoronkwo-Egwu, LMSW, ACSW

Child and Family Specialist, Administation for Children’s Services

Blessing was born in Achi town, Enugu State of Nigeria. She graduated from Girl’s High School Ngwo and Women Teacher’s College Enugu. She went on to Touro College State University of New York where she obtained her Bachelors degree in Social Sciences, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Her Masters degree (MSW) was granted by Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, where she was Valedictorian and received a monetary award for outstanding academic achievement. Blessing’s passion in the helping professions started at a very young age.  Within her family and in her community church, elementary and high schools, she advocated and motivated the young and youth, using her poems as therapeutic tools. Blessing has continued to make a difference in the lives of New York children and their families which is evidenced in her awards for outstanding Social Work Service from Queen’s Borough Council for Social Welfare, United Way and NASW, New York City Chapter. Blessing has also received awards from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Union Employees, Social Services for dedicated service as a social worker in the public sector.

In the field of social work, we have the past, we have the present and we have the future. It is with great appreciation that I come here today with the support of my honorable Commissioner, John Mattingly; our Deputy Commissioner, Jan Flory; Commissioner M. Kellam; my manager N. Johnson and my able colleagues from ACS to receive the Social Work Image award for outstanding social work practice for New York people. I am humbled but not deterred to continue my work in this unique but challenging profession.

José R. Ortiz Ortiz, LCSW

Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Elderly Council—RAICES

José R. Ortiz Ortiz is the Executive Director of the Spanish Speaking Elderly Council-RAICES, a not for profit organization dedicated to addressing the unmet needs of Hispanic, Black, and low income families in Brooklyn and Queens.  Mr. Ortiz Ortiz is a founding member of the New York City Latino Alzheimer’s Coalition, served as the Budget Chair for the State Society on Aging from 1985 to 1987, and is the President of the Board of B.H.R.A.G.S Home Care, Inc. In 1995, the South Brooklyn Neighborhood Area Partnership for a Drug Free Community recognized Mr. Ortiz Ortiz for his work in the Red Hook Community and more recently he received the Community Star Award from N.Y.S. Senator Velmanette Montgomery; the Latino Social Work Task Force Leadership Award; VISIONS’ Community Service Award, the “Rising Star” Award from the Statewide Association of Minority Businesses PAC, and the New York State League of United Latin American Citizens Leadership Award. Mr. Ortiz Ortiz holds an Associate Degree from the College of Staten Island, a Bachelors from the University of Puerto Rico, a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College and is licensed to practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of New York.

I would like to thank my friend and mentor, Edwin Mendez-Santiago for his support, trust and guidance; my management team for their dedication, commitment and devotion to the principles of cultural competency, and to my wife, Ada and children, Julio Enrique and Juan Carlos for their patience and understanding. Mil Gracias.

Joanne N. Smith, MSW

Executive Director, Girls for Gender Equity

Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), Joanne Smith is a Haitian American Social Worker and unapologetic feminist born in New York City. Smith founded GGE in 2001 with the support of the Open Society Institute to end gender-based violence and promote gender, race and socio-economic equality. Honored by a number of prestigious organizations, Smith was awarded the Union Square Award, inducted into the New York City Hall of Fame, honored by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, recognized by the WNBA with an Inspiring Women Award, and the Stonewall Women’s Award from the Stonewall Democratic Club in recognition of her leadership and dedication to women’s and LGBTQ rights. With the 40 under 40 Award, the Feminist Press recognized her work representing the next generation of those who promote social justice and gender equality. A Lead the Way Fellow of Women of Color Policy Network, NYU Wagner, Smith is an alumna of Hunter Graduate School of Social Work and Columbia Institute for Nonprofit Management. Smith recently co-authored her first book, Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets published by the Feminist Press.

I’m honored to have been nominated by a radical activist, Mandy Van Deven. Thank you Mandy and NASW-NYC for your support and belief in my work. I’d also like to thank all of the fearless young people from GGE’s Sisters in Strength, Urban Leaders Academy and Health and Fitness programs, as well as the GGE staff that treat the work as a labor of love. Last but not least, thank you Sippio Small and Laurie Kaplan for your social work guidance and leadership during my days at Ackerman.

2011 NASW-NYC Student Awards


Cara Aloisio
Fordham University Graduate
School of Social Service


Michele Grier
Columbia University
School of Social Work


Adam Lukeman
Touro College Graduate
School of Social Work


Julie Danziger
Adelphi University
School of Social Work


Shelley Gramms
Long Island University
School of Social Work


Maryam Toloui
New York University Silver
School of Social Work


Anna M. Erlbaum-Rumelt
Yeshiva University Wurzweiler
School of Social Work


Wendy Kaplan
Lehman College
School of Social Work


Tammy Williams
Hunter College
School of Social Work


Georgia McMurray Award

Contessa Pou
Fordham University Graduate
School of Social Service

NASW-NYC PACE Scholarship Winners

Onlielove Alston
Miriam Dinerman Scholarship
Columbia University School of Social Work

Joan Hunt
David Roth Scholarship
Hunter College School of Social Work


Read about our 2010 awardees here.

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