UNC School of Social Work alumnus Drew Pledger, MSW ’88, has been named the 2017 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC). The award is given annually to a social work professional who has demonstrated commendable social work practice and involvement with NASW and other professional, civic, and community organizations.
As a school social worker and coordinator of mental health services for the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), Pledger provides support around best practices, supervision skills, crisis response and prevention. As the Crisis Response Team lead for all of Wake County’s 177 schools and 160,000 students, Pledger coordinates the mental health response for emergencies, such as student and staff deaths and weather related events that disrupt student learning. In this role, he also assesses how best to communicate with families about follow-up and mental health support.
“He has an unwavering desire to positively impact our world and help those in need,” said Darlene Johnson, director of School Social Work for WCPSS. “Drew is always the voice of reason.”
Pledger has prior experience in foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health but began his career in a group home for a mental health center. After receiving his MSW, he worked in private practice providing psychotherapy for more than 20 years.
Pledger has served as a board member on the National Association of Social Workers, was a founding member and board member of the National Clinical Social Work Association and is a former president of the North Carolina Society of Clinical Social Work (NCSCSW). He also previously served as chairman of the juvenile justice committee of the Governor’s Crime Commission.
His previous awards include the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is awarded for service to the state, and NCSCSW Clinical Social Worker of the Year.
“It remains inherent for all of us to remain committed to our core social work values to support all people regardless of their status or any other issues that might cause them to be identified as different,” Pledger said of the social work profession. “I am so very proud to identify myself as a social worker and proud of NASW’s leadership. This organization provides a beacon of hope and a reference point around which we can rally and at times check our own moral compass.”
Press release from the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers