February 22, 2024

The Washington state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has named UW School of Social Work Associate Professor Gino Aisenberg as the 2024 Social Work Educator of the Year and Lecturer Kendra Roberson as the 2024 Social Worker of the Year. 

“It is a distinctive honor to be named Social Work Educator of the Year,” said Aisenberg. “It is a privilege to teach, mentor and equip our students to be culturally responsive and reflexive practitioners as well as building and exercising their agency in promoting health, living just relationships and advancing equity.” 

In her nomination letter, Mary O’Brien, a social worker and community partner at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, wrote of Aisenberg: “He is a social worker who understands the connection between the role of our education institution and the importance of engagement with the communities that future students will live and serve.” 

Aisenberg is the founding co-director for the School’s Latino Center for Health, an interdisciplinary research center that provides leadership across the university's schools of health sciences to improve the health of Latinx individuals, families and communities in rural and urban settings. 

“It is a special joy for me to provide leadership in growing a workforce of skilled bilingual and bicultural practitioners who are having a transformative impact now and for future generations,” says Aisenberg, citing a project that has trained Bachelor of Social Work students at Heritage University and bachelor-level staff at several community-based organizations to deliver mental health care by telephone to Latinx individuals struggling with depression and access to care.

Kendra Roberson, a licensed clinical social worker, uses contemplative and body-based methods in her private practice. She teaches courses on mental health assessment, diagnosis and body-based trauma interventions and has taught numerous clinical courses during the past 20 years. 

“For me, direct practice is a pathway to individual and collective healing. It allows us to find internal and relational safety when, for so many of us, safety in the world is an illusive fantasy,” says Roberson. Her approach to teaching also reflects her past research and interests in attachment and trauma as well as identity development. Roberson most recently served as the president of the Clinical Social Work Association, a national advocacy organization for clinical social workers with 14 state chapters, including Washington state.

The honorees will receive their awards at the chapter’s March 22 virtual Social Work Month Celebration