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School of Social Work celebrates merit and commitment at Awards Luncheon

Posted May 1, 2017
Reported by Laurie Anderson,

Judy Fitzgerald, Charles Stewart
Judith Fitzgerald (MSW '94) and Dr. Charles Stewart, first dean of the School of Social Work

Athens, Ga. -- Day in, day out, members of the School of Social Work bring their passion for improving lives to bear on the world around them. Often unheralded, the accomplishments of many alumni, faculty, students and staff may go unnoticed, but each year the school provides a special opportunity to praise outstanding individuals. On Thursday, April 27, school members and supporters gathered for its annual awards luncheon to recognize excellence and exceptional commitment to social work values.

"I have no problem bragging about how wonderful the School of Social Work is,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in opening remarks. “I am personally so grateful for all of those who are in the social work profession, and also those who have decided to teach future social workers."

Judith Fitzgerald (MSW ’94) received the 2017 James "Jim" Dodd Distinguished Alumni Award. The award was created in 2011 in honor of James Lee Dodd (MSW ’70), who passed away in 2010. Dodd was regional director of the Georgia Department of Mental Health in LaGrange, a founding member of the School’s Board of Visitors, and a champion of mental health issues.

“It is really special to receive an award in Jim Dodd’s name,” said Fitzgerald, who serves as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). “Jim was a mentor, a colleague, a dear friend and really the essence of social worker. The university was an incredible launching pad for the social work that I do and I want to thank you all for this really amazing honor.”

Fitzgerald has spent her career focusing on behavioral health and public service delivery systems. Prior to joining DBHDD, she served as vice president of strategy for View Point Health, one of Georgia’s twenty-six community service boards. She has also worked as a consultant on child and adolescent services in several states and was the executive director for the Mental Health Association of Georgia. Fitzgerald began her career at The Carter Center, working for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter on domestic and international advocacy and policy efforts to promote mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

“It is so fitting that Judy receive this award,” said Dean Anna Scheyett, “because her entire life has been committed to serving individuals who struggle with mental health issues.”

Charles “Charlie” Stewart, the school’s founding dean, joined the celebration, as did Betty Bellairs (MSW ’66), a member of the first graduating class. Also in attendance were Russell Mumper, vice provost for academic affairs, Linda Kirk Fox, dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Paul Brooks, associate vice president for public service and outreach, and scholarship supporters Jerry Loyd, Kat Farlowe, Betsy Vonk, and Dr. Stephen and Delores Wright.

The luncheon, held at Trumps on Milledge Ballroom, was sponsored by Ken Chrzanowski (MEd '89) and the Georgia United Credit Union.

A complete list of honorees is listed below. To view more photos, visit the Flickr album at


2017 James "Jim" Dodd Distinguished Alumni Award: Judith A. Fitzgerald

2017 BSW Student of the Year: Hannah Mapes
2017 BSW Teacher of the Year: David Meyers
2017 BSW Field Instructor of the Year: Solomon Smothers

Foundation Student of the Year – Athens Campus: Dashawna Fussell-Ware
Concentration Students of the Year – Athens Campus: Olivia Amato, Deja Thomas
Teacher of the Year – Athens Campus: Rebecca Matthew
MSW Student of the Year – Gwinnett Campus: James Stinchcomb
Teacher of the Year – Gwinnett Campus: Diane Harvey
Field Instructor of the Year – Metro Atlanta: Priscilla Faulkner
Field Instructor of the Year – Athens: Paige Campbell

Student of the Year: Elizabeth Butgereit
Teacher of the Year: Joan Prittie

Student of the Year: Tenesha Littleton
Teacher of the Year: Larry Nackerud

Staff Member of the Year: Kerri Lewis
Staff Citizen of the Year: Kat Farlowe

Endowed Assistantships
Tisha Abolt Memorial Graduate Assistantship: Jessica Smith
Pauline Berger Memorial Graduate Assistantship in Family and Child Welfare: J. Lloyd Allen

Scholarship Recipients
Joanne T. Emerson Nonprofit Leadership Award: Emily May
James D. Horne Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship: John Burch, Hannah Mapes
Helen Elizabeth Huey Scholarship: Deja Thomas
Wilbur P. Jones Scholarship: Dashawna Fussell-Ware
Pauline D. Lide Scholarship: Brittany Talkin
Elizabeth B. Loyd Scholarships: Chelsea McElveen, Modupe Olufosoye
Joe and Diane Perno Scholarship: Madison Winchester
David and Helen Rasmussen Scholarships: Danielle Bright, Kacy Brown
Sue Stephenson Single Parent Support Fund Scholarship: Heather Albert
Robert A Vonk Scholarship: Molly Tucker
Kenneth Whiddon Scholarship: Maizonne Fields
Heather Christina Wright Memorial Scholarships: Hannah Boyd, Allison Carton