June 4, 2021

Associate Professor Emiko A. Tajima, executive director of Partners for Our Children, a School of Social Work-affiliated research center, was selected to receive the 2021 Lewayne Gilchrist Doctoral Mentor Award. This honor recognizes faculty members who have dedicated their careers to the promise and success of their students.

“It’s especially meaningful to me to receive this award named for Lew Gilchrist as she was a mentor to me early on in my own career,” says Tajima.  “Lew mentored from the heart, with grace and humility and I will always remember that.”

Reflecting on Tajima’s selection, Taryn Lindhorst, Behar Endowed Professor of Oncology and Palliative Social Work and PhD program director, added: “This award highlights Emiko’s steady, problem-solving approach to the challenges doctoral students face. This past year, she has been at the forefront of our program's efforts to create meaningful avenues for student participation and support, especially during the Covid pandemic.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by the students who nominated Tajima, noting that she “works tirelessly as a mentor and cares deeply about our wellness and success. She is kind, diplomatic, and compassionate.” Another student said: “I appreciate Dr. Tajima’s ability to listen deeply and illuminate subtext with diplomacy. She has provided consistent, stabilizing and supportive mentorship to doctoral students.”  

Tajima joined the School faculty in 1999. She served as the MSW program director from 2006 to 2011 and as the associate dean for academic affairs from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, she joined Partners for Our Children as executive director. There, she continues her commitment to prevention and intervention efforts that improve child and family well-being, especially for marginalized groups such as racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant and refugee populations. 

Her approach is shaped by her interdisciplinary background, which includes a BA in sociology, MS in criminology and PhD in social work. Her scholarship has centered on intimate partner violence, child welfare and measurement issues in family violence research. 

Tajima has a practice background as a legal advocate for victims of domestic violence in family court where she helped clients navigate across complex systems to obtain mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, housing, immigration assistance and many other social services.  

The doctoral mentor award is named for Lewayne Gilchrist, who was known for her commitment to student mentorship and teaching. Gilchrist was affiliated with the School for some 30 years, starting in 1988 when she was its inaugural associate dean for research until her death in 2018.