Silver School Honors Distinguished and Recent Alumni

The NYU Silver School of Social Work recognized the work of distinguished and recent alumni during this year's Alumni Day on Saturday, October 23. The Second Annual Dean's Luncheon and Alumni Awards featured a keynote speech by Susan Nayowith, PhD '00, president of NASW-NYC, and a talk by Dean Lynn Videka on the state of the School.

"I have never regretted my decision to become a social worker," said Nayowith. Eight years ago, she switched from the nonprofit world to government, a change Nayowith never thought she would make. "Government represented bureaucracy, waste, and mismanagement." As a result, she only agreed to a position for only one year.

Nayowith learned that working for the government is hard, and that outsiders are often quick to judge even small mistakes. She also found her colleagues to be dedicated, hardworking, and sincere. In the end, she learned that government and nonprofit work "complement each other." She now runs the Office of Client Advocacy for the NYC Department of Homeless Services.

Nayowith became involved with NASW to network and learn how other social workers were handling changes in the field. She encouraged her colleagues at the luncheon to tell NASW what is happening in the field and to make suggestions as to how the organization can be relevant. And how can the multiple organizations representing social workers get together? "To be successful for everyone, we really need to work together."

Luncheon attendees also heard from Videka, who welcomed attendees and gave an update on the state of the School. She addressed faculty research; fundraising efforts; and the School's strategic plan, on which alumni will be able to comment in the spring semester.

Recipients of the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award are:

Vincent Schiraldi, MSW '83, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. He is a national leader in the field of rehabilitation, with more than 25 years of experience and a record of reform and success. His professional experience includes work as director of the District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, founder and executive director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, DC, and western regional director of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives in San Francisco.

Cenie J. Williams Jr., MSW '68, (1939-1983) the first elected president of the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW). He served as president from 1970 to 1974 and as executive director from 1974 to 1982. He organized over 80 NABSW chapters in the United States with affiliates in South Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. He developed many community programs that brought positive changes in the New York community, and built the New York City Chapter into the organization's largest chapter.

Honorable Mentions for the Distinguished Alumni Awards are:

Arnold Korotkin, MSW '72, who has maintained the "9/11 list-serv" since September 2001. The list-serv distributes daily e-mails with newspaper articles and other relevant information on issues of interest to 9/11 families, organizations, and interested individuals. He is also active in community affairs and serves on his township's Grants and 9/11 Memorial Committees, his township's Alliance for a Better Community (as vice president), and his town's Historical Society's executive board.

George Polsky, MSW '99, founder and executive director of StreetSquash, a Harlem-based youth enrichment program. Over the past 12 years StreetSquash has grown to serve over 400 children annually with a $1.2 million operating budget and 13 full-time staff. Since inception, 100 percent of StreetSquash students have graduated from high school; 100 percent have matriculated in college; and to date, 86 percent have graduated or are on track to graduate from college.

Recipients of the 2010 Outstanding Recent Alumni Awards are:

Katherine Barrow, MSW '08, founder of the RISE Conference. Barrow's vision for RISE was a daylong social justice conference with multiple workshops and an interdisciplinary approach; in September 2009 the first RISE Conference was held. The 2010 RISE Conference will take place in October and will have doubled its participants. Barrow's long-term vision is for RISE to become a national movement with social workers addressing the three touchstones of education, training, and community.

Marissa Sappho, MSW '06, one of the original co-founders and president of the New York State Coalition of Social Workers, Inc. The Coalition is responsible for many changes in New York state social work licensure laws, including protection of numerous clinical agencies and psychotherapy training institutes. Sappho maintains a private practice in New York City, treating adolescents and young adults. She is the chair of the Young Professionals Committee for the Children's Tumor Foundation and a PhD candidate at the Institute for Clinical Social Work.

View photos from Alumni Day at: