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UNC Professor Iris Carlton-LaNey named NASW-NC Social Worker of the Year

The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) has named Professor Iris Carlton-LaNey the 2018 Social Worker of the Year.
The NASW-NC Social Worker of the Year Award is an annual award given to a social work professional who has demonstrated commendable social work practice and involvement with NASW and other professional, civic, and community organizations.
For more than 40 years, Carlton-LaNey has taught in social work programs in three North Carolina universities: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina A&T State University, and currently as the Berg-Beach Distinguished Professor of Community Social Work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has made a career of educating and mentoring the next generation of social workers, including by challenging students to think critically about oppression, institutionalized racism, microaggressions, racism and privilege.
“Dr. Carlton-LaNey is a nationally renowned scholar in working to promote social and racial justice in North Carolina and beyond,” praised Gary Bowen, Dean and Kenan Distinguished Professor at the UNC School of Social Work. “Over the course of her lengthy and luminous career, her scholarly and practice efforts have made an enormous impact on both professional and client communities—both directly and indirectly through the work of the thousands of students she has taught.”
As a teacher, Carlton-LaNey expects much from her students and with good reason, agreed MSW students Meredith Odinak and Nina Honeycutt.
“She understands the awesome responsibility of educating North Carolina’s next-generation of social workers,” the students noted in a letter to NASW-NC supporting Carlton-LaNey’s nomination. “By engaging students in difficult, thorny discussions, she has prepared us to engage in the difficult, thorny undertaking of social work. By demanding better of her students, she teaches us to demand better of ourselves, each other, and our institutions.”
Over the course of her career, Carlton-LaNey has published four books, in addition to chapters and articles relating to African-American aging, social work in the American South, African-American breast cancer survivors, and training African-American social workers, among many other topics of relevance.
Carlton-LaNey was recently appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to serve on the North Carolina Social Services Commission.
In addition, she has received numerous accolades and awards for her professional contributions, including the Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education Award from the Council on Social Work Education and the Hortense K. McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Black Alumni Association. In 2012, she was honored as one of “50 Heroes for Justice” by the University of Maryland School of Social Work and in 2015, she was selected as a NASW Social Work Pioneer, the profession’s highest honor.
Carlton-LaNey said she is “incredibly honored” that the NASW chapter chose to recognize an academic for such a prestigious award.
“In doing so, they are acknowledging the immutable link between social work education, advocacy and future professional performance,” she said.
Carlton-LaNey will be honored as Social Worker of the Year at the NASW-NC Annual Ethics Conference and Awards Luncheon at the Durham Convention Center on March 23, 2018.
The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) is a membership organization that promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW-NC also seeks to enhance the effective functioning and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities through its work and advocacy.