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Katharine Briar-Lawson, PhD, MSW

International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award

Photo of Katharine Briar-Lawson

Whether working in academia, government or communities, Dr. Katharine Briar-Lawson has become an outstanding model for social workers around the world. She has been at the cutting edge of practice and policy innovation, connecting research and practice, locally and globally. But perhaps most of all, Dr. Briar-Lawson is known for her dedication to social justice, equality and service on behalf of the oppressed and disenfranchised.

Recognized for her expertise in child welfare and aging issues, Dr. Briar-Lawson is also known for her creativity and vision. She was awarded the University of New York at Albany Foundation's highest honor: the Citizen Laureate Award, given to outstanding leaders in business and industry, government and academics, who enrich the community in distinctive ways economically, scientifically, culturally, intellectually and socially.

As current dean of the School of Social Welfare at the university, she has generated some of the most productive, locally-engaged scholars there by mobilizing faculty and students and by subsequently expanding the university's role in the community. University of New York at Albany president, Robert J. Jones, reported that programs initiated by the School of Social Welfare in 2014 received 4 out of 10 of the President's Awards for Exemplary Community Engagement. Dr. Briar-Lawson oversees these programs, which address issues ranging from aging to child welfare to mental health research to youth development and minority health disparities.

Dr. Briar-Lawson is co-principal investigator of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, which the university leads. She has been an innovator in inter-professional education and practice as well, leading several projects and co-authoring monographs going back to the mid-1990s.

Formerly president of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), Dr. Briar-Lawson recruited new deans to work with the New York Academy of Medicine's Leadership Academy in Aging, introducing ways to link teaching about how social work benefits the aging community and more broadly, the community as a whole.

Internationally, Dr. Briar-Lawson's reach extends far. She hosts an annual study program from South Korea while sending her students to conduct research in South Africa. These exchanges and partnerships have allowed for culturally inclusive, best practice sharing. Despite different social services needs and divergent resources in other countries, her academic exchanges have reaped impressive research and analysis for the social work profession internationally.

Dr. Briar-Lawson is a true partner and leader in advancing the social work profession in academic, public and private sectors. She has successfully merged social work knowledge, practice and research to support and develop communities across the globe. Her engagement skills and ability to draw community members into partnerships are legendary. She is an NASW Social Work Pioneer® and continues to serve as a consultant and advisor to non-profit organizations. Dr. Briar-Lawson's personal and work histories are impressive, but many say she her impact will be more and more evident as her students offer their own contributions in the social work profession and beyond.

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