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Friday, May 30

2014 NASW Illinois Chapter Statewide Awards

Nina Nguyen, NASW Illinois Chapter Manager, Membership and Communication

Congratulations to this year's 2014 NASW Illinois Chapter Statewide Award winners! This year's awardees were selected from the pool of nominees received for the chapter district awards (View district award winners here: http://naswil.org/news/chapter-news/featured/2014-nasw-illinois-district-awards/) The individuals below were selected by the chapter awards committee as people whose work in their professional and personal life have worked to uphold basic tenets of the social work profession-giving voice to those who are without voices. An awards ceremony will be held later this fall to honor this year's statewide award winners.

Congratulations to this year's winners!


Public Citizen of the Year: Judge James Wexstten (Southern District)

Judge James Wexstten (JD, Southern Illinois University) recently retired as 5th District Appellate Judge, holding thirty-seven years in the legal profession and serving twenty-five of those as judge. He served as president of the Illinois Judges Association, the Legislative Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Judicial Ethics Committee. Judge Wexstten served on the Legislative Committee for Juvenile Justice which redrafted the Illinois Juvenile Code, the board of Prevent Child Abuse-Illinois, and was a founder of the Southern Thirty Adolescent Center, providing emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. He currently serves on the board for the Lawyers Assistance Program, providing help to those with substance abuse or mental health issues, and the Illinois Equal Justice Campaign for legal aid.

Social Worker of the Year: Evelyn J. Diaz (Chicago District)

Evelyn J. Diaz (AM, The University of Chicago) was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011 to lead Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services where she administers an annual budget of $300 million to deliver social service programs to over 300,000 residents in the areas of children, youth, homelessness, domestic violence, aging, workforce development, and human services. She has also served as Mayor Richard M. Daley's deputy chief of staff, overseeing the city's initiatives on poverty, jobs, and economic security. Before working in government, Evelyn served as a policy advocate and associate director at the Chicago Jobs Council, and as a direct practitioner providing domestic violence counseling and managing community-based programs for disadvantaged women.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Phyllis B. Mitzen (Chicago District)

Phyllis B. Mitzen (AM, The University of Chicago; ACSW) consults with Health and Medicine Policy Research Group on long-term care reform policy and sits on Illinois State Advisory Boards to the Department on Aging, State Ombudsman Program, and Illinois Housing Development Authority. She coordinates the Older Adult Studies Program for The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Phyllis formerly worked for the Council for Jewish Elderly developing and managing home and community-based social services. She and Martha Holstein co-edited, Ethics in Community-Based Elder Care. Phyllis is board president of Rembrandt Chamber Players, Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, and founding president of Skyline Village Chicago, a collaborative neighborhood organization designed by older adults to create friendships, community, and a network of resources.

Emerging Leader Award: Tania Diaz (East Central District)

Tania Diaz (MSW; LCSW) is Division Manager of Acute Residential and Crisis Services at Heritage Behavioral Health Center in Decatur, Illinois. Tania has worked in a wide variety of treatment settings including crisis residential units, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient, and community settings. As a behavioral health professional with more than seventeen years of experience, Tania has held positions working with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and substance use disorders in various roles including case management, crisis intervention, and as hospital liaison. In 2013 Tania transitioned to a leadership role to manage the crisis response team and 30-bed acute residential programs to treat individuals experiencing mental health crises or needing detoxification or substance abuse residential rehabilitation. In addition to being a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Tania is also certified in Critical Incident Stress Management.

Posted on 05/30/14 at 10:16 AM

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