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Distinguished Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni Awards and Distinguished Recent Alumni Awards honor outstanding UNC School of Social Work alumni for their leadership, passion, commitment, and contributions to the field of social work each year. The awards are presented annually during our School’s commencement ceremony in May.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have achieved distinction in the social work field, who embody social work values and who carry our mission of service into the world. To qualify, a nominee must be a graduate of the School and meet a combination of the following criteria:

  • Have demonstrated outstanding leadership and have made significant contributions to the field of social work.
  • Have demonstrated a deep commitment to high ethical social work standards.
  • Have developed and/or implemented major innovations that have improved the quality of life for members in the individual’s community.
  • Have benefited an individual’s clients, the professional community, and the social work profession through special contributions, advocacy, and involvement in professional, civic, or community organizations.
  • Have worked as an effective advocate for social work issues.

The Distinguished Recent Alumni Award to recognizes recent graduates for achievements that have brought credit to the school, the social work profession or society. To qualify, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Have demonstrated accomplishment in the social work profession or society.
  • Have demonstrated a high level of community involvement.
  • Have graduated within the past 10 years.

The Nomination Process

You are invited to help identify and nominate candidates for recognition. Nominees must be a graduate of UNC School of Social Work (either MSW or Ph.D.) to be considered for this award. Nominations must be received by March 29, 2024 to be considered for the award presentation in May.

How to Nominate

To nominate an individual, please use the nomination form linked from the button below. You may submit more than one nomination by submitting each nomination separately via this form.

Past Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award

In some years, no award was presented.

Michelle Chambers-Rollins, MSW ’08 (Distinguished Alumni Award)
Yazmin Garcia Rico, MSW ’18 (Distinguished Recent Alumni Award)

Karen Randolph, Ph.D. ’00 (Distinguished Alumni Award)
Charity S. Watkins, MSW ’13, Ph.D. ’19 (Distinguished Recent Alumni Award)

Prior to 2023, all awards were Distinguished Alumni Awards:

Lori Messinger, MSW ’96, Ph.D. ’99
Nora El-Khouri Spencer, MSW ’17

Sydney Batch, MSW ’06
Tanya Smith Brice, Ph.D. ’03
Bobby Cagle, MSW ’98
Ebon Freeman-James, MSW ’02
Jill Gammon, MSW ’72
Charrise Hart, MSW ’13
Rick Miller-Harraway, MSW ’89

Susanna Stepp Birdsong ’08
Noel Sebastian Bost ’96
Jessica Nakell Burroughs ’98
Mia Ives-Rublee ’09
Marcia Lynn White ’78

Veronica Creech ’98
Constance Fraser Gray ’91
Mark A. Oliver ’98
Anna Marie Scheyett ’89
Jovetta L. Whitfield ’95

Sharon Warren Cook ’95
Dana Courtney ’74
Karen McLeod
Phyllis Thomas-Thorpe ’82
Irene Zipper ’73

Gary Bowen ’76
Desdemona Faison ’85
Justin Perry ’09
Stephen Douglas Trantham ’92

Easter Maynard ’97
Michael Newton-Ward ’84

Seanee Garris Alexander ’99
Mary Deyampert-McCall ’80
Chris Estes ’00

JoAnn McCatchern Swart ’78
Myrna Miller Wellons ’96

Bobby Boyd ’69
Ella Craig ’50
Michelle Hughes ’95
Constance Renz ’74

Diann Dawson ’74
Debra Jenkins ’77
Amanda Stone ’94

Holly Bowles Blanton ’77
Isabel Geffner ’02

Connie Bonebrake ’86
Louise Coggins ’80
Robert Gorman ’78

Edwin Chapin ’67
Gay Morris ’81
Matt Sullivan ’97
Gail Varley ’80

Sarah Austin ’64
Andrea Bazan Manson ’95

Molly Barker ’89
Sonja “Yvette” Murphy ’90
Robert Stump ’69

McCray Benson ’90
William Pollard ’69

Bill Brittain ’65
Marilyn Maxwell ’72

Linda Miller Summer ’48

Ruby Demesme ’79

Frank Raymond ’65

Martha Beach ’75

Yangcha Crabb ’74

Sandra Mastin Cook ’74