Silver School Recognizes Alumni Day Awards Honorees

The NYU Silver School of Social Work honored its Alumni Day Awards recipients on NYU Alumni Day 2012. The NYU Silver Alumni Awards -- the Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Recent Alumnae, and the Making a Difference Awards -- and the Acton Medal were handed out during the Dean's Luncheon on Saturday, October 20.

Dean Lynn Videka gave a state of the school address and spoke about the developments of the School over 2011-12. She noted the School's growth into a research-intensive School and the expansion of global learning programs. The School has also created a presence at NYU's new portal campus in Shanghai through the establishment of the NYU-ECNU Social Work and Social Policy Research Institute, which will serve as a nexus for comparative research and collaborative education programs.

Continuing the tradition started last year, the Silver School honored three Making a Difference awardees.

Howard J. Aibel and his late wife, Katherine, MSW '72, have supported a range of initiatives at the School, including the Poverty Reduction Initiative and the endowed Katherine W. and Howard Aibel Visiting Professorship. 

Elinor Seevak, MSW '85, has served on the NYU Silver School of Social Work Dean's Advisory Council since its first meeting on December 11, 1996. She has given tirelessly as a volunteer and philanthropist ensuring the future of social work education at New York University. Her work and dedication speak to helping students learn and live a meaningful life. 

Keisha Berglund, MSW '13 and a recipient of the Elinor A. Seevak Fellowship, presented Seevak's award and accepted on her behalf. "The day I found out I received this scholarship, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders," said Berglund. "I won more than the lottery, I won validation." She said all her challenges in life leading up to that point were worth it as she was reminded that hard work does pay off.

Nancy Wender, MSW '96, is a member of the Silver School of Social Work Dean's Council and created the 291 Foundation Scholarship, which has supported 21 NYU Silver students since 2009. She is a New York City-based psychotherapist practicing in Tribeca, who brings an eclectic approach to her work and draws upon different theoretical models to inform her treatment hypotheses and style.

"The Silver School experience to me was unsurpassed," said Wender as she received her award. "I'm very grateful to provide help and assistance to these students so far and in the future."

The Silver School recognized two Outstanding Recent Alumnae. Both awardees gave TED-style talks about her organization's work.

Clare Morris, MSW '09, is the founder of iGotITtoo, a nonprofit organization that strives to ensure that those who reside in undeserved communities are equipped with the tools, training, and access to support 21st century skill development. The program administers services in 14 locations in the New York area, with over 175 volunteers who have logged over 20,000 total volunteer hours in helping communities traverse the digital divide. 

Sarah Tarshis, MSW '09, is the co-founder of RISE, a grassroots collective of social workers, students, and activists that organizes community-based social justice conferences, events, and trainings. Currently, she is the senior economic empowerment specialist at Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit dedicated to serving domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children.

This year's Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Dr. Jayne M. Silberman, PhD '85. She is member of the Silver School's first doctoral class and is a social work scholar, practitioner, and champion. She served for many years as co-vice chair of the Lois and Samuel J. Silberman Fund, Community Funds Inc. She is currently chair of the Faculty Awards Advisory Committee for the Fund. She has just released her first book, In the Herd: A Photographic Journey with the Chincoteague Ponies and Assateague Horses.

"This feels like coming home," said Silberman. She called coming back to campus to hear about the growth and innovation at NYU Silver "extraordinary." She said the Silver School provided her the opportunity to teach when Professor Eda Goldstein called her soon after graduation with an offer to become an adjunct assistant professor.

"I don't think I would have considered it if I didn't have a group of extraordinary faculty to model from," recalled Silberman.

Paul Stanford was awarded the Acton Medal, making him a member of the prestigious Sir Harold Acton Society, NYU donors who have made gifts of $1 million or more. Videka noted that Stanford's gift will support the School's highest priorities.

"It is I who should be saying thank you to you," said Stanford as he received his medal. He said he was introduced to social work by his childhood friend Dr. Constance Silver, BS '78, MSW '79. "There is no greater work than what you do."

Other Silver School-related Alumni Day activities included a morning lecture by Professor Mary McKay on social work response to poverty. The School also hosted a reception, Visually Speaking: Disabilities and the Artist. About 45 alumni, faculty, and students gathered in Hopper Studio to hear a presentation by Silver with comments from Videka; Dean's Advisory Council member Tondra Lynford; and Matthew Murphy, curator from LAND (League Artists Natural Design) Studio & Gallery in Brooklyn. LAND is a nonprofit organization that showcases the work of artists with developmental disabilities.