March 10, 2023

March is Women’s History Month. In its continued commitment to support Black experience, progress and feminism, this month the leadership team of the School of Social Work recognizes the outstanding contributions of School faculty members who are Black women. This is not a comprehensive list but the beginning of many highlights to come. We are deeply grateful for the immeasurable contributions of skill, dedication, expertise and innovation that these professors and so many other women give daily to enrich our community.


Sonia Duckworth, MSW

Sonia’s contributions go beyond placing and mentoring specialized Community-Centered Integrative Practice students in their practicums; she is also a visionary. Her contributions to the Office of Field Education include developing a new field opportunities website, acting as lead collaborator on revisioning of the OFE operational structure, facilitating social work/social justice conversations, and serving as a member in leadership and retreat committees. She has co-directed the Community-Centered Integrative Practice Faculty Committee for three years and is currently leading them through a revisioning process. In addition to serving on the Admission and STAR software revisioning committees, she has served on several local non-profit boards, most recently as board chair of Yoga Behind Bars.


Amelia Gavin, PhD, MSW, MPH

Amelia contributes to the School of Social Work through her research, teaching and administrative work. She has been conducting epidemiological and clinical research studies for 20 years. Her research examines the etiological pathways linking preterm birth and low birth weight to perinatal Black people. She also studies the social, structural and cultural contexts associated with mental and physical health outcomes, especially among racial and ethnic groups. She teaches courses in the macro practice concentration. Amelia serves on multiple administrative committees and as the director of the Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare Program.


Zynovia Hetherington, MSW, M. Ed.

Zynovia has been a part of the School community for more than 22 years. While serving as a practicum instructor, Zynovia became director of the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program, maintaining a multi-million dollar federally funded program and serving more than 500 MSW graduates. She directs the Ghana, Africa, study abroad program, called the Sankofa Experience, which made history as having the highest number of African Americans studying abroad from the UW. Zynovia is the lead instructor for the Social Workers for Social Justice course and teaches in the clinical concentration with a public child welfare focus. She is a faculty senator and the first African American teaching professor at the School. Founder and first vice president of the Washington State Association of Black Social Workers, she is also a member of the Black Child Development Institute Seattle.


Gerilyn Myers, MSW

As a social worker with more than 30 years of experience in public child welfare, Gerilyn is driven by her passion for serving, educating and advocating for students and families in her community as well as other BIPOC and marginalized communities. She is a UW Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program graduate and returned to the School 16 years ago as a teaching associate for CWTAP. Currently,

as an assistant teaching professor and CWTAP associate director, she supports our students both in the classroom and in their field placements with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. She has been a member of the Admissions Committee for several years and also serves two historical organizations: as a founding member and second vice president of the Washington State Association of Black Social Workers and as a member of the Black Child Development Institute Seattle.


Lara J. Thompson, MSW

Lara provides clinical supervision and instruction to MSW students in the Child Welfare Training Advancement Program (CWTAP) as an assistant teaching professor. She also develops and collaborates with BIPOC subject-matter experts to provide educational seminars on various child welfare topics. She has actively participated on the MSW Admissions Committee for more 10 years and leads the annual CWTAP Outstanding Student Scholar Award Committee. Serving the broader community, Lara is a founding member of the newly created Washington State Association of Black Social Workers. Her greatest passion is using her educational privilege to engage, empower and collaborate with individuals and families in her community to improve systems change.


Kathy Taylor, MSW

Kathy is a Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program graduate and has come full circle now, working for CWTAP. She inspires and helps shape the clinical practice of social work students going into public child welfare. Kathy also works with the Office of Field Education and has served on the School’s MLK Jr. Committee and the Admissions Committee, adding her voice to promote racial equity and inclusion. Kathy also supports students through the Association of Black Social Work Students and the Mixed/Multiracial Group. In her community work, she continues to promote racial equity and inclusion. Kathy was a part of a team that partnered with King County and the Low-Income Housing Institute to open a tiny house village in the Skyway area serving the BIPOC community where she serves on the community advisory council. Kathy received the School’s 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Recognition Award.


More resources

The University of Washington and other organizations offer opportunities to celebrate and reflect on the women who came before us. Read more here.