UW Tacoma Professor Named Social Worker of the Year

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The Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers presented the award to Marian Harris in early March.

UW Tacoma Professor Marian Harris has been named Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, Washington Chapter. Harris was presented with the award during an event in Seattle on Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Dr. Harris is currently working with the Washington State Department of Corrections to support re-entry programming and services for parents during and after incarceration.Two years ago the same organization honored Harris as its Social Work Educator of the Year for her work in higher education, specifically teaching. The accolade Harris received last week recognizes her contributions to the field of social work including practice and research. “For a scholar to be recognized, that’s the greatest honor,” she said. “It means that people know what I’m doing and know that I’m doing it right.”

Two different people nominated Harris to be social worker of the year including UW Tacoma alumna Beth Van Fossen ’06 Social Work. Veronica Hinojosa from the job training program Year Up also nominated Harris. Hinojosa made sure to highlight Harris’ op-ed in HuffPo about children of incarcerated parents. “I’m really passionate about helping these children,” said Harris. “I think the person who nominated me wanted people to see that I advocate for these kids outside of an academic setting.” Her nominees could just as easily have cited another essay Harris had published on the subject in The Washington Post.

Harris recently co-edited a book on children of incarcerated parents (Children of Incarcerated Parents: Challenges and Promise, Marian S. Harris and J. Mark Eddy, Routledge, 2018). She recently completed her own book on the subject that is due out in early 2019 (Silent Victims: Childen of Incarcerated Parents, Columbia University Press). “Research drives work, work that can make a real difference,” she said.

Harris has an ever-growing list of awards and accolades for her contribution to social work, particularly her research around mothers with children in the child welfare system.  Harris’s reputation has opened doors and allowed her to speak about the subject to different audiences. On March 21, she’ll give the 24th Karen J. Honig Memorial Lecture (Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Fallacy or Reality?) at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The awards are great but that’s not why Harris does what she does. “I’ve done a lot of pro bono work with families and children,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been blessed, that I have a good life. Being able to help those who need it—to me, that’s what being a social worker is about.”

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / March 7, 2018
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu