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2020 NASW/Texas Award Recipients
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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 whose work upholds 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.


Congratulations to the 2020 NASW/Texas Award Recipients featured below and to everyone recognized by their local branches for their extraordinary work in our profession.








2020 lifetime achievement award

D. Lynn Jackson, PhD, LCSW, ACSW


Watch Dr. Jackson's acceptance video!


Each year, the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers selects a social worker for this award to celebrate a lifetime of accomplishments. In honoring the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, NASW/Texas recognizes the best social work values and accomplishments demonstrated throughout the social worker’s lifetime. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards demonstrate repeated outstanding achievements, make contributions of lasting impact, exemplify outstanding creativity, and receive recognition beyond the social work profession.


Dr. Lynn Jackson, LCSW, has over 30 years of professional social work experience, working in numerous practice settings, including with offenders, children in a crisis mental health unit, and older adults in home health and long-term care settings. Dr. Jackson has been a member of NASW since 1983 and has served in many roles with NASW/TX including as President, President-Elect, Delegate Assembly Representative, and the Chair of the NASW/TX Conference Planning Committee. She collaboratively developed a student leadership institute through NASW, to give students the opportunity to grow their skills. She has also served as a member of the steering committee and as branch chair for the North Texas – Fort Worth Branch of NASW, where she was recently awarded the Social Work Lifetime Achievement Award.


Dr. Jackson has a proud history of volunteerism, including terms on the boards of the National Network of Abortion Funds, the Texas Equal Access Fund, the Leon County Humane Society, and Health Services of North Texas and countless others. She currently serves on the College & Career Committee for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and on various committees at Texas Christina University. Dr Jackson has been recognized with multiple honors and awards for her efforts as a volunteer, citizenship, leadership, teaching, and social responsibility. Among these are the distinctions as a Women's Health Hero and recognition by the CSWE Women's Council for Mentorship. Most recently, she was nominated for the TCU Social Work Department's Dean’s Teaching Award.


Dr. Jackson is an exceptional educator and her contributions leave a lasting impact on those whom she teaches, supervises and mentors. Dr. Jackson is skilled at organizing learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom and these are often the opportunities that allow students to truly apply what they are learning in the classroom. In her role as the Director of Field Education in the Department of Social Work at TCU, Dr. Jackson has created and sustains productive partnerships with over fifty social service agencies to ensure students have optimal field placement opportunities. She also mentors adjunct faculty to ensure that they are knowledgeable and feel supported.


Dr. Jackson has also been extremely engaged outside the classroom. In her role as the Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives, she oversees the IPE initiatives for the College, promoting Interprofessional Education (IPE) learning opportunities for students in both the department and the college. Dr. Jackson partners TCU with other universities to bring students from different professions together, to learn from one another. Dr Jackson is also the key faculty on a Health Resources Services Administration Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program Grant, where interprofessional teams from health care organizations develop and implement quality improvement projects for older adults.


No matter what Dr. Jackson is currently working on, she dedicates fully her time, energy, and ingenuity to supporting and educating students and colleagues, thus furthering the profession. Dr. Jackson’s legacy will continue to pave the way for the social work profession.


Nominated by the North Central Texas-Fort Worth Area Branch.



2020 Social Worker of the Year

Hadidja Nyiransekuye, PhD, LMSW


Watch Dr. Nyiransekuye's acceptance video!


The Social Worker of the Year Award honors a member of NASW/Texas who exemplifies the best of the profession’s values and achievements. In honoring the Social Worker of the Year, NASW highlights superb accomplishments in the practice of social work. The Social Worker of the Year demonstrates outstanding leadership, advocates for clients, and takes risks to achieve outstanding results.


Dr. Hadidja Nyiransekuye, LMSW is a social work practitioner, educator, and scholar at the University of North Texas in the Department of Social Work. A native of Rwanda, Dr.

Nyiransekuye received her MSW and PhD from the University of Denver Graduate School of

Social Work and later her LCSW from Massachusetts. Her research interests are in the area of

forced migration, African indigenous healing practices and issues of genocide and genocide

prevention. Her publications include a memoir: The Lances were Looking Down: One

Woman's Path Through the Rwandan Genocide to Life in the States. Dr. Nyiransekuye

demonstrates outstanding national leadership in the field of social work as a member of the

Council on Global Social Issues, a subcommittee of the Council on Social Work Education

(CSWE), and a member of the Refugee Congress, an initiative of the United Nations High

Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).


Dr. Hadidja, as she is known to students, colleagues and clients alike, exemplifies the best of the social work profession’s values in action. As a social work educator, Dr. Hadidja teaches students by example about policy advocacy. Under her guidance, her students’ Letters to the Editor advocating for social justice issues are consistently published in local newspapers. She has the ability to embrace complex global socioeconomic and political processes with a peculiar storytelling style that transforms these intricate scenarios into a very clear analysis and

understanding. She is active in social work research, contributing to the knowledge base of our profession with published journal articles, book chapters, and presentations at regional, national and international conferences. Her presentation, Refugee Mental Health Services, was lauded by a standing-room only crowd at last year’s 43rd Annual NASW/Texas State Conference.


Dr. Hadidja epitomizes advocacy in action. She has participated in visits with members of

Congress, traveled to Austin to meet with state legislators, and served as an organizer and

speaker at a number of community events, including workshops, panel discussions, and vigils, all to raise awareness about the refugee experience and how much refugees have contributed to our community. She recently served as a keynote speaker for the Refugee Mental Health &

Wellness Conference in Houston, TX. Not only is Dr. Hadidja’s work influencing the knowledge

base professionally, her work reaches a broader audience as she changes the narrative around

refugees in the United States. She has worked to make refugee experiences more accessible to

the general public through her work including the creation of a documentary “Seeking a Safe

Haven: DFW Refugee Stories.”


Dr. Nyiransekuye is well-respected throughout the social work discipline in the United States

and the world as an authoritative voice on refugees. At this time when refugees and

immigrants are under attack throughout our nation and state, Dr. Hadidja continually advocates

for policies and services that more holistically and humanely respond to the needs of this

vulnerable population. The impact that Dr. Hadijia’s critical work and advocacy has, places Social Work at the forefront of impactful policy changers, which our local, national and global societies are so much in need for. Dr. Nyiransekuye’s professional trajectory embeds the holistic “transformative” position that Social Work aims at in the arena of social justice.


Nominated by the Texoma Branch.




2020 Social Work Student of the Year

First Lieutenant Jamie Webb


Watch First Lieutenant Jamie Webb acceptance video!


The Social Work Student of the Year Award honors a student member of NASW/Texas who is enrolled at least halftime (as defined by their school) in a graduate or undergraduate Social Work Program and has made an outstanding contribution to the goals and mission of the profession. The Social Work Student of the Year demonstrates leadership, a commitment to social justice, the profession of social work, and clients, and the integration of social work knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values.


1LT Jamie Webb displays the primary mission of social work in her life and in everything she does. There are those who serve others as they live; Jamie lives to serve others. 1LT Webb is in an extremely demanding, accelerated program, in which she is completing a two-year program in 12 months with a 3.9 GPA. ILT Webb is a selfless individual who works tirelessly to achieve academic excellence while supporting peers and the community. Jamie has made a profound impact upon her MSW program and the San Antonio and Fort Sam community with her never-ending desire serve, mentor, and advocate for the needs of others.


Examples of some of the things she has accomplished are things such as spearheading a school supply drive in which our graduate students collected over $10,000 worth of school supplies for a low income elementary school in San Antonio; she created nearly 450 goodie bags to entertain elementary school teachers and students in San Antonio; she volunteer over 200 hours with patients and family members whose loved ones were receiving care a local hospice agency; she also continues to serve as a mentor for a teenage girl with the San Antonio Big Brothers and Big Sisters.


Jamie is a true living example to us all as to what the social work mission is all about. She lives it every day in school, the community, and her home. Jamie is a mother, who works hard to ensure that her daughter understands and experiences the joys of serving others. She and her 13-year-old daughter serve as part of the welcome wagon to every student who attends the military Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Sam Houston. Since last year, Jamie and her daughter have delivered over 10,000 cookies to BOLC members.  In addition to all the volunteer service she provides to the community, she also makes every effort to support other students with cards, letters, visits, and other supportive services during their times of need.


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she coordinated a massive support event for the 875 active duty Soldiers and National Guardsmen, as well as dozens of civilian first responders assigned to the field hospital located at the Javits Convention Center in New York, NY while they cared for an overflow of COVID-positive patients from local hospitals. Jamie volunteered to be a part of a Pandemic Operational Stress Control (POSC) team with the Army’s Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) that was tasked to gather resources and develop strategies to combat psychological hardship during the quarantine. Once she relocated to Fort Hood, TX, she coordinated a three-day event to support 32 local, junior-enlisted families who were struggling with significant financial hardship during the current lockdown.


Jamie Webb, without a doubt, is a daily testimony of the primary mission of social work.

Her efforts demonstrate the epitome of what social work stands for, finding the balance between striving towards the betterment of one's self, while improving the world around us.


Nominated by the Alamo Area Branch.




2020 Public Citizen of the Year

John Garland


The Public Citizen of the Year Award honors an outstanding member of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values and mission of the profession of social work and who has acted with courage to make a significant contribution to an area or population of concern to the social work profession such as: at-risk or vulnerable populations, quality of life in communities, or social issues.


Reverend John Garland, pastor of the San Antonio Mennonite Church, is and has been a key figure in providing care and refuge to thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers that have surged into San Antonio, Texas from 2016 through 2019 to the present. A leading member of the Interfaith Welcome Committee (IWC) – an organization that brings together people of many faiths to meet the needs of asylum seekers, refugees, and at-risk immigrants in conjunction with the San Antonio Food Bank, city government, etc. In 2019 alone, the IWC and its partners provided services to 32,379 migrants, including: sheltering 22,376 for one or more nights, preparing and donating 25,577 travel packs for those headed to other parts of the U.S. on buses and planes, and served 85,521 meals.

Rev. Garland first started as a teacher with a desire to use agriculture and business as a model for impoverished communities to become their own microenterprises. Simultaneously feeling called to the ministry, he became pastor of a small church in a poor farming community, Iglesia Menonita Nuevas in San Juan, Texas. There he preached sermons on Sunday, and demonstrated to impoverished congregants by both word and deed how to improve domestic agriculture for sustainability. In addition to managing his own small farm, Garland working with the local public school system in the Rio Grande Valley to develop organic farming that could serve both educational and practical purposes.

Located two miles from the Rio Grande, the small church and Rev. Garland were often approached by recently crossed migrants and asylum-seekers asking for assistance – food, water, rest. Shortly after moving to San Antonio in 2015 to pastor a Mennonite congregation there, Rev. Garland applied the lessons learned at the border when in December 2016 hundreds of asylum-seeking and immigrant families were released from U.S. federal custody onto streets of San Antonio. Rev. Garland worked at various levels, with the IWC, with city government, and other non-profit organizations, to respond to the crisis. Church sanctuaries and classrooms were converted into lodging quarters and meals were served out of the church kitchen.

Over the past four years, Rev. Garland has become one of the leading figures in the migrant assistance movement. Not only has he directly influenced many migrants themselves, but his background has given him the wherewithal to improve migrant mental health care and the "street creds" to reach out and build bridges with some in the community who have opposed helping the migrants (or stood ambivalently on the sidelines). His actions have softened hearts and positions, and provided new allies in the efforts to care for migrants and asylum-seekers.


Nominated by the Alamo Area Branch.




















































2020 PUBLIC elected official OF THE YEAR

Mayor Ron Nirenberg


Watch Mayor Nirenberg's acceptance video!


The Public Elected Official of the Year Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions of an elected official who has shown leadership in the formulation of public policy, particularly policies that affect social justice, health care, education, civil and human rights, and social practice. 


Mayor Ron Nirenberg has spent years working with social workers across San Antonio to ensure that all residents can get ahead and thrive. He has shown leadership in the formulation of policies that affect social justice, health care, education, civil and human rights, and social practice. Mayor Nirenberg has been called the “Right mayor at the right time — and the time to come,” by the San Antonio Express-News for his handling of the recent COVID19 health crisis in San Antonio. From receiving American evacuees from China in early February at Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine before they could return home, to welcoming hundreds of cruise ship evacuees in early March,

Mayor Nirenberg has steered a steady ship before the U.S. public had yet to fully

glean the coming impact. From the moment that San Antonio began recording its first COVID-19 cases, Mayor Nirenberg has highlighted the need for compassion and delivery of services for our most vulnerable populations. In an effort to reopen San Antonio slowly and cautiously, Mayor Nirenberg joined Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to form a Health Transition Team and Economic Transition Team to provide local leaders with data-driven policy measures and an equitable, safe plan for reopening the economy. Throughout this challenging and unprecedented time, Mayor Nirenberg has highlighted the many disparities in our region, and has leaned on

local medical experts who understand the unique advantages, attributes, and challenges of our community.


One of the first resolutions brought by Mayor Ron Nirenberg in his first term, and approved by City Council in June 2017, was the Charter for Compassion. It established an “ethos of compassion” for policy in San Antonio, which is meant to guide governments, businesses, congregations, individuals and other signers to practice compassion in decision-making and policymaking. To name one of many examples guided by this ethos, the City opened a Migrant

Resource Center on March 30, 2019 to provide needed services to the surge of Central American asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio after being released by Border Patrol and legally on their way to host families and cities.


In an effort to combat the effects of global climate change, Mayor Nirenberg spearheaded a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in October 2019. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Nirenberg joined the Climate Mayors Steering Committee, a group of 24 mayors who will serve as a leading voice in efforts to further climate action in the more than 400 cities across the U.S. making up the Climate Mayors coalition.


Mayor Nirenberg is the Chairman of Sister Cities International, a nonpartisan organization that connects cities across the globe through civic, educational and cultural exchanges. The City of San Antonio enjoys active and productive Sister City relationships with 11 cities worldwide and Mayor Nirenberg has been an active participant in establishing productive, people-to-people relationships through global community partnerships and

volunteer action.


Prior to his public service, Nirenberg was the founder of two small-

businesses, worked as the general manager of KRTU-FM San Antonio, and as a program director for the Annenberg Public Policy Center where he developed and directed award-winning civic engagement programs. Mayor Nirenberg graduated summa cum laude from Trinity University and received a master’s degree in Communication magna cum laude from the

University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife First Lady Erika Prosper, are the proud parents of their son, Jonah.


Nominated by the Alamo Area Branch.









































2020 media award

Angel Covarrubias


The Public Elected Official of the Year Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions of an elected official who has shown leadership in the formulation of public policy, particularly policies that affect social justice, health care, education, civil and human rights, and social practice. 


Mr. Angel Covarrubias has over 15 years’ experience in news broadcasting. His expertise includes, talent development, news casting, and personnel management. He is currently the regional news director / content manager for Entravision Communications. He supervises over 30 journalists through daily operations and broadcasting execution across South Texas.

Angel Covarrubias has been an indispensable partner to the community. As news director for

Entravision Communications, which encompasses English and Spanish television and radio stations, his unique position helps act as a springboard for important information disseminated into the farthest reaches of the service area. Not only has he focused on breaking news stories, but he’s also focused on promoting local nonprofits and slice of life segments that help local individuals.


Throughout the past five years Angel Covarrubias has been able to provoke change in the

community with a variety of initiatives, programming and promotional campaigns. His

contributions have led to recognition not only by peers through the Lone Star Emmy awards,

but resulted in more than 20 awards and numerous recognitions from local communities. What

motivates Mr. Covarrubias the most is seeing the faces of hope, joy and tranquility he has been

able to produce in community members.


Mr. Covarrubias has been able to produce special reports, expert interviews, phone banks, and

newscasts that focus on topics that are affecting our communities like domestic violence, drug

addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen dating violence. The consequences of Mr. Covarrubias efforts have been very positive and have provoked more initiatives and a year-round effort from his news team to engage, determine and understand the community as it changes and identifying what the needs are.


His efforts have helped thousands of people, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but also in

Laredo, Corpus Christi, Houston, El Paso, and Mexico. The help has come from organizing and

executing community drives that have helped people during a variety of adversities our

neighboring communities have faced. As a Journalist, Mr. Covarrubias has worked in several communities in Texas, including San Antonio, Laredo, Austin, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley. During this work, he saw a great need as an anchor and reporter.


The ability to now lead journalists throughout South Texas and having them embrace that ‘provoking’ change through community service, is at the fundamental base of the mission as a journalist. Social justice is defined as: “The objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matter, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest”. Mr. Covarrubias takes this definition seriously and prides himself on helping make a difference because he knows that can spark others to do the same. His objective has and will always be to provide and help those in need because every community member matters.


Nominated by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Branch.

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