University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work faculty member named national social worker of the year
July 17, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Darlene Grant, a University of Texas at Austin researcher who focuses on incarcerated women and their children, has been named 2006 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in Washington, D.C.
Grant, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and an associate dean of graduate studies, will receive the award Aug. 5 at the annual meeting of the association in Washington, D.C. She also specializes in women with addiction problems, family systems and sexual abuse of children.
Grant has been involved for several years with “Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars,” a project examining the relationships between incarcerated women and their children. The program has been featured in local and national media and in a PBS documentary.
“Through Dr. Grant’s research into incarcerated women and their children, we are able to better understand how their relationships are forged and strengthened,” said Dr. Elizabeth Clark, NASW executive director. “She goes to Gatesville prison once a month to visit with the mothers of these girls and serves as a role model to both.”
As a faculty member in social work, Grant has created a safe classroom environment for students “to explore their responsibility to address sensitive and controversial issues,” Clark said. “It is with great honor that NASW recognizes Darlene Grant as 2006 Social Worker of the Year.”
The NASW is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 150,000 members. Its mission is to promote, develop and protect the practice of social work and social workers.
“Darlene is a gifted social worker who has acted as mentor and colleague to hundreds of emerging social workers,” said Dr. Barbara White, dean of the School of Social Work. “She has made significant contributions to the profession by developing systems to address cultural diversity issues, social justice and recruitment of social work students of color—a critical need in the social work field.
“While Darlene holds many titles—professor, associate dean, Ph.D.—she always goes by social worker first.”
In the Graduate School, Grant oversees recruitment and outreach with a goal of enhancing student diversity in more than 100 graduate degree programs. She also served as chairwoman of the university’s 2004 Racial Respect and Fairness Committee.
The committee called for the creation of a “vice president for diversity and equity” position, new programs and initiatives to enhance relationships between students and university police, and renewed emphasis on the recruitment of underrepresented students, faculty and staff.
For more information about Grant and the “Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars” visit the 2004 feature story Beyond Bars: Special Girl Scout troop helps young women connect with their mothers in prison.
For more information contact: Nancy Neff, School of Social Work, 512-471-6504.