Field Instructor Yvette Rolon Wins Mid-Career Exemplary Leader Award

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – New York City Chapter has honored Yvette Rolon, an NYU Silver School of Social Work field instructor, with its Mid-Career Exemplary Leader Award. Peggy Morton, Silver School clinical associate professor and assistant dean of field learning and community partnerships nominated Ms. Rolon for this award.

Rolon serves as program administrator in the social work department of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and an educational coordinator for MSW students. While she’s held administrative positions for over 15 years, Rolon didn’t always think she’d find herself here. "It was a hard decision leaving a clinical role, but I felt I would have a bigger impact on staff, policies, practices, and standards. I saw the opportunity for collaboration on a higher level," Rolon explained. Rolon’s career includes work in adoption and children’s services, behavioral health, and most recently, medical social work with families.

Rolon believes that both opportunities and pressures are developing for social workers in the medical field. She observes more people recognizing the opportunities for a social work approach within the medical field, she believes it is absolutely necessary for social workers to bring "a certain level of confidence in yourself and what social work brings to the table."

While more attention to coordination of care is on the rise, Rolon still recognizes the challenges in her line of work. "There’s a shrinking safety net, a multitude of barriers to accessing services and benefits, and more challenges in advocacy." Rolon has come to understand the importance of seeing what’s in front of her as well as the bigger picture of social issues and policies. As an administrator, "you need the core social work abilities, compassionate clinical skills, creativity, flexibility, a capacity for critical thinking, and also some business skills."

It was challenging for Rolon to pick just one moment from her career as her proudest, but she shared that the positive impact she has on others is most meaningful. "It always takes a team," advised Rolon. She is proud of her ability to bring people together to affect positive change and especially loves helping other medical professionals learn a social work approach, drawing their attention to the psychosocial factors contributing to clients’ unique situations. Additionally, coordinating the MSW student program at the hospital allows her to have a hand in fostering the next generation of social workers and field instructors. "Seeing students grow into leaders in the field is extremely rewarding," shared Rolon.

She sees her involvement in NASW as a key contributor to her professional development. Rolon credits the organization with providing her with a platform to help make significant strides in the field and to explore different leadership styles and roles. "You’re missing out if you don’t get involved," she urged. Rolon previously served on the NASW board and other organizations, co-chairing various projects and committees.

Rolon especially values her colleagues at the Silver School. She sees them as partners in providing an excellent MSW education for the students with whom she works. "It’s a real partnership with mutual benefits," she explained. She is grateful to NASW for the strong relationships that she has developed in her professional network. Rolon humbly emphasizes, "That’s what makes this honor so meaningful—being nominated by my peers."