Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
2012 Social Work Award Recipients
Share |

2012 NASW/Texas Award Recipients

The NASW/Texas Awards seek to honor the achievements of NASW/Texas Members throughout their professional careers, as well as honor the contributions of publicly elected officials, public citizens, and members of the media to the values and mission of social work. Award recipients are nominated by their branches and selected through a review and voting process by the NASW/Texas Board of Directors. The 2012 Awards Recipients will be honored during the President’s Awards Reception at The Westin Galleria in Houston on September 8 in conjunction with the 36th Annual State Conference.


Congratulations to the 2012 NASW/Texas Award Recipients and to everyone recognized by their local branches for their contributions to the goals and mission of the social work profession.


2012 Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Birdsong


Mary Birdsong has been a member of NASW since 1980. Over her professional career as a social worker Mary has touched the lives of thousands who may not have a voice to be heard, understood, or seen. She has a rare passion for the people she serves. She is known and admired for her attitude of "how can we make this work for the consumer and family?”


Mary’s 38 years as a state employee has allowed her to develop community resources and then return to use the resources she assisted in developing. Her historical knowledge and formation of state laws and relevant rules has led to her serving as the state-wide Acting Admissions/Placement Coordinator on three different occasions. Mary currently serves the Austin State Supported Living Center completing special projects for the Assistant Director of Programs.


As Director of Community Services for persons with intellectual developmental and physical disabilities for 14 Central Texas Counties her responsibilities included the development/operation of Continuity of Care, Case Management Services, Family Support Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, and an array of vocational services and residential services. The lasting effects of Mary’s efforts are not always directly seen but are experienced by those she educates, provides linkage, and mentors as social workers under her supervision. Her tireless dedication, endless efforts, and belief in correcting social injustice through systems change have been demonstrated by the countless protections in our regulatory system for people who are vulnerable.


Through the bold risks Mary has taken, she became recognized not only at the state level, but regionally and nationally with her work and best practice model development such as the "Social Work Instrument.” This recognition and others allowed her the opportunity to present at national conferences and serve on a national work group with Partners in Justice, to develop techniques and training for individuals with developmental disabilities to prevent victimization as they are mainstreamed into school and society beyond school.

Through Mary’s continuous contributions to the social work profession her positive image has led to her being personally recognized beyond our profession for numerous state and regional awards. All of the risks she has taken to create change while improving the lives of those she serves would not be possible without the support of her husband of 52 years and five sons. Mary has served her children through involvement in PTA, as a room mother, Cub Scouts den mother, Band Sponsor and honorary coach of the high school wrestling team. Mary’s faith has led her to use her leadership skills in church as a board member, Sunday school teacher, and a Vacation Bible School leader.


Ms. Birdsong takes great pride in her profession. She has such an innate sense of ethics and right and wrong it would be impossible for her, as a social worker, not to speak out against injustices and inequities in the system of human services.


Mary Birdsong proves that Social Work Matters!


Capital Area Branch
Nominated by: Mary Bishop, Barby Bowles, Donnie Wilson


2012 Social Worker of the Year

Ellie Saucedo


"The social worker should contribute time and professional expertise to activities that promote respect for the utility, the integrity, and the competence of the social work profession… The social worker should contribute to the knowledge base of social work and share research knowledge and practice wisdom with colleagues…” (NASW Code of Ethics)


A primary reason for the Alamo Branch’s selection of Ellie Saucedo as its 2012 Social Worker of the Year comes from her outstanding manifestation of this tenet from the profession’s Code of Ethics. She has shown her commitment to this value on both the Branch and Chapter levels. Her commitment comes from a very personal quest to see that high quality continuing education is made available to Texas social workers.


Ellie has just rotated off a seven year tenure on the NASW/Texas Conference Planning Committee, including serving two terms (2008-2011) as its chair, appointed to the position by 2 different presidents. She has also been an active member of the Alamo Branch Education Committee for ten years, contributing ideas for content, presenters, location of presentations, and adherence to Texas continuing education requirements.

While continuing education has been a major focus, Ellie’s commitment to her profession has manifested itself in a number of other ways. When the Alamo Branch was languishing in the early 2000’s, she stepped forward to become branch chair and with Meg Bloch rallied a number of her peers to help breathe life back into the branch. Activities included establishing a new steering committee, sponsoring Social Work Month events, and offering lunchtime brown bag CEU events.


Attendance and interest in participating gradually improved to the point that the branch is fully functional – the fastest growing branch in Texas, manifested partially in its ability to foster leaders for not only local and state leadership positions, but national leadership as well. During her tenure on the NASW/Texas Board of Directors, Ellie not only provided her outstanding service on the previously mentioned Conference Planning Committee, but she also served on the Membership and Organization, and Professional Development Committees. She also served the Board as Secretary – a statewide elected position.


In terms of employment, Ellie has been both a mentor and case manager for Communities in Schools. In a federally funded program in response to the Columbine School Crisis, she worked in a special cross-disciplinary program in the San Antonio area’s biggest, most affluent school district. The program included the planning, design and implementation of a project to assist at-risk children and families. More recently, Ellie has worked in an innovative Collaborative Law Divorce process in San Antonio, fostering better use of mental health professionals on multi-disciplinary divorce teams. This approach offers the opportunity for healthier handling of feelings, stress, problem resolution and family conflict. Also, through the Bexar County Domestic Relations Office, she provides custody evaluation social studies and adoption home studies.


Ellie graduated with a MSSW in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1998. She has since served on advisory committees for both the Worden School of Social Service and the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Social Work. She has been a part-time instructor at UTSA. Continuing education expert; mentor; teacher, case manager; community consultant; NASW leader and organizer; collaborative law divorce facilitator; custody and adoptive home expert; curricula designer; adherent to the NASW Code of Ethics; service to her profession – these all point to the fact that for Ellie Saucedo Social Work Matters!


Alamo Branch
Nominated by: Berenice Escobedo, Travis Peterson, and Aurora Carreon


2012 Social Work Student of the Year

Daniel Clinton Hocutt


Daniel Clinton Hocutt, "Clint,” is a December 2011 graduate of the BSW program at Texas A&M University–Commerce (TAMU-C) and is currently in his first semester of the MSW program.


As a BSW student he demonstrated his commitment to the profession as an active student member of NASW and takes the position seriously. Daniel leads, guides, and directs "budding” social workers to join NASW and become active participants in their professional organization. He is the organization’s greatest advocate!

He lobbied state representatives personally, as well as through email, to support NASW’s legislative agenda. Daniel raised the funds and coordinated the efforts for our students to attend Student Day at the Legislature for two years. He served as the President of the Advocates of TAMU-C, better known as the A-Team, during which time his advocacy continued to focus primarily on those in need, but also in the legislative realm as well! Daniel raised money for toys so that every child in the foster care system in Lamar, Delta, and Red River counties had toys at Christmas, provided fund raising for the United Way of Lamar County, and delivered food baskets to needy families throughout Red River County. He also coordinated the effort to raise over 1000 toothbrushes for children in Bolivia.

While maintaining a 4.0 average in his BSW classes, Daniel wrote a grant funded through Home Depot that benefitted CASA for KIDS in Lamar County. The grant was to turn an empty parking lot into a playground that could be used for visitations between children and their parents from whom they had been removed. He garnered community support, went door to door to local businesses to raise additional funds and organized the volunteer workers to build the playground.


As in intern with CASA, Daniel completed a 460 hour field practicum with the agency AFTER having completed the project. He continued to work with his assigned children and families for several hundred additional hours until those cases were resolved. He would not desert his clients until he was certain the children were safely placed.


As an active member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), he advocates for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, provides on-going community education for PFLAG and continues to support legislative action for LGBTQ issues by visiting state representatives and policy makers regularly. As a result of his work, he was granted the coveted, competitive field placement with Project Pride working collaboratively with the community to reduce recidivism with juvenile offenders.

Daniel Hocutt may still be a student, but he knows that Social Work Matters!



Northeast Texas Branch
Nominated by Dr. Brenda Moore, Sharon Eubanks, Brian Brumley


2012 Public Elected Official of the Year

Rep. Jessica Farrar


Representative Jessica Farrar is a true champion for not only the disenfranchised, but for all Texans. She performs her job with a great deal of passion, intelligence, common sense and empathy. Her eye is always on furthering social justice.


Standing up for the poor and vulnerable is not always an easy thing to do, and it can be especially daunting to do so in the Texas Legislature when the typical reaction to most issues is to simply cut spending and tell people to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”


Rep. Farrar has, over her career, consistently promoted legislation related to health care, public education, higher education, mental health, antidiscrimination policies, services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, and many other areas that are of interest to social workers throughout the state. She has received multiple awards for her advocacy and service.


As founder of the Women’s Health Caucus and the Women’s Health Foundation, Representative Farrar continues to be one of the most vocal supporters of women’s health. She is also a true friend to the social work profession, and values the unique skills that social workers have to offer. She consistently uses social workers as legislative and district office interns, staff, and during her campaigns.

Representative Farrar also regularly sponsors legislation that will benefit social workers. This past legislative session, she sponsored HB 823, which would enact liability protections for social workers who serve as volunteers during a disaster. This bill passed out of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, but unfortunately died on the House floor on a point of order. Despite the defeat, Representative Farrar is sure to continue to draft legislation and advocate for the social work profession.


She has taken time out of her hectic schedule to meet with social service organizations, both individually and in larger groups, to share some of the extensive expertise built in her nine terms in the Texas House of Representatives. She is also an ally that health and human services organizations can count on to vocalize the needs and concerns of the people they aim to serve, who, for many reasons, may lack a voice of their own in Austin.


She has demonstrated profound leadership on behalf of her constituents, particularly in the social welfare aspects of our communities. She understands that many individuals, children and the disadvantaged are faced with extreme difficulties and often lack the necessary resources to help themselves. She knows that without social workers, social agencies and community organizations help these vulnerable people; they will live a much harder and difficult life.


Representative Farrar is a voice for not only the vulnerable population who need social services, but is also the voice for the professional people who provide social services.


For Representative Farrar, Social Work Matters!


Houston Branch
Nominated by Januari Leo, Laurie Glaze, and Turner Wright


2012 Public Citizen of the Year

Susan Frank


Susan Frank, Founder and Executive Director of Hearts for Homes, demonstrates outstanding leadership and exemplifies our social work values and ethics as she works with courage to enhance the lives of senior citizens in our Denton County community. Susan says that Hearts for Homes is "challenging, heart-breaking, and rewarding.”


Some people are just natural born social workers. Susan Frank’s education is in secondary physical education, but when you hear about the vision she had and the work that she does, you are going to think she sounds more like a social worker than a phys ed teacher.


In 2005, Susan set into motion the development of a not-for-profit agency that became Hearts for Homes. She left her good, comfortable, long-time teaching and administrative position with Liberty Christian School to courageously begin to implement her vision to help senior citizens who chose to live in their own homes. This support of the principle of self-determination is a core value of our profession.


Thus began an incredible story of plumbers, roofers, builders, and volunteers coming together to help at-risk, vulnerable home-owners in need who could not afford to pay for repairs to their homes. Referrals were generated through the city, through home health and community agencies, the Senior Center and word of mouth. Hearts for Homes is an all-volunteer organization that relies on the generous contributions of individuals and businesses within the Denton community. Partners include plumbing and electric supply companies, flooring businesses, pest control companies, and roofers who donate their time and materials. Volunteers to assist come from the universities, church groups, service organizations and corporate offices. Restaurants, car dealerships, Denton County businesses, churches and individuals donate money to fund the many projects. Typical work includes clean-ups, caulking, painting, plumbing repairs, HVAC repairs, roofing, and more. Most of the work is completed by non-professional volunteers.


Susan and her work team have made significant repairs to over 120 family homes since 2006. It’s more than a job: It is building relationships in the community and offering a safety net that the recipients of Hearts for Homes had never before experienced. Susan continues to be in awe of the responsiveness and generosity of the community at large and the support of the Hearts for Home Board of Directors.


Susan Frank understands the work of the social work profession and believes that Social Work Matters!


Texoma Branch
Nominated by Geri Sams, Bettye Myers, Vicki McMurray


2012 Media Award

Bryan Hlavinka


Bryan Hlavinka’s dedication to social justice, his selflessness in extending himself to others as an advocate and his tireless work as a media personality working towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality and recognition has led to this nomination and award.


Since 2008 Bryan, a chemical engineer by education and profession, has been the volunteer co-host of Queer Voices, a weekly radio show on Pacifica’s KPFT 90.1 in Houston which is dedicated to broadcasting news, concerns and events as related to Houston’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) community, a community that has not traditionally been well represented by most media outlets. Bryan consistently seeks out community agency representatives, including social workers, as guests on the show, with expertise in GLBT, HIV/AIDS and mental health issues. Topics on the show cover a wide range of ages and diverse populations and include topics such as aging, the impact of state policies on GLBT persons, health and wellness, domestic violence and human trafficking awareness.


Bryan exemplifies many of the core values inherent in the social work profession, but there are two values in particular that stand out. The first is his dedication to service, working pro bono not only as co-host of Queer Voices, but also by maintaining the World AIDS Day Houston website and through his service as a member on three Boards of Directors in the GLBT community. This adds to his knowledge of the community, as well as his ability to attract experts on a variety of topics, including social workers, to share their knowledge on Queer Voices.


The second is his commitment to social justice as he offers advocacy, information and education focused on a population which is mostly ignored by mainstream media. His work in this area often leads directly to individuals seeking counseling. With the high suicide rate in this community, this is a critical service. He takes a holistic approach that concentrates not only on advocacy and activism, but also validates the diversity inherent in the GLBT community as well as focusing on its strength and resilience.


Bryan Hlavinka knows that Social Work Matters!


Houston Branch
Nominated by Brian Riedel, Sally Huffer, Lou Weaver


more Calendar

Ethics & the Texas Social Worker - Houston

Developing a Trauma-Informed Practice Approach - San Antonio

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal