The Diana R. Garland award for Social Work Practitioner Excellence has been established to honor Diana R. Garland, a lifetime member of North America Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW). Nominations for this prestigious award must be social work practitioners who have worked in the field for at least five years in direct social work practice and have demonstrated the thoughtful integration of Christian faith and social work in their work.
This year’s winner, Annette Ward, serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Appalachian State University. She has worked as a social work practitioner, supervisor and/or educator for almost twenty years in the Appalachian Mountains where she was born and raised. Over the years, Ward worked in direct practice and/or supervision with the community mental health center, hospital, health department, hospice, two Christian-based private non-profit agencies, and a local Christian church ministry. According to one of her nominators, “Ward bridges the world of social work and the world of Christianity in a beautiful way. She truly lives her Christian values and exemplifies these in her words and actions as a social worker and social work educator.”
Another nominator spoke of Ward’s ability to bring her considerable practice expertise to the classroom, “Ms. Ward is an excellent teacher who brings her Christian and social work values to the classroom, but does so by exemplifying and living them, not talking about them. She seeks to help students’ voices to emerge in respectful dialogue and creates the space for students who are questioning how they might reconcile their personal religious and spiritual beliefs with social work values and/or practice.”
The award was presented to Annette at the annual convention of NACSW, which was held in Charlotte, NC this year. This is only the second Diana R. Garland Award presented by NACSW at their international conference. As part of her award, Annette was a featured presenter at the conference and talked about faith-based approaches to the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training for substance use. She is currently the lead coordinator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) SBIRT grant at Appalachian. Congratulations Annette on your well-deserved recognition!