May 23, 2022

Three UW School of Social Work graduates, each at a different point in their impressive career paths, will receive alumni awards for their innovation, leadership and impact. 

Awardees are: Karen I. Fredriksen Goldsen (MSW ’86) who will receive the 2022 Moya M. Duplica Distinguished Alumni Award; Roxana Norouzi (MSW ’10), honored with the Bright Star Award; and Bella Luz Mendez (MSW ’18), the recipient of the inaugural Emerging Leading Award.

“These award recipients exemplify what is best among School of Social Work alumni—outstanding leadership, exceptional service, significant impact and an unwavering commitment to social justice and equity,” said Edwina S. Uehara, Ballmer Endowed Dean, School of Social Work. “We are thrilled to recognize these extraordinary individuals and thank them for their many contributions. And a big thank you as well to the selection committee members who spent considerable time reviewing a large, impressive group of award nominations this year.”

Moya M. Duplica Distinguished Alumni Award: Karen I. Fredriksen Goldsen 

Karen I. Fredriksen Goldsen (MSW ’86), a professor at the UW School of Social Work and director of the Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence, has devoted much of her career to researching the health and well-being of historically marginalized communities. Her landmark research on LGBTQ midlife development and aging brought her international recognition and earned her ‘world leader” status in the field. Another innovative project on older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers is the first federally funded study to develop and test interventions for this vulnerable population. 

A popular and highly regarded teacher, she is also a generous mentor to junior faculty and students interested in studying aging and marginalized populations. She is the author of more than 100 publications in leading journals as well as seven books, including Families and Work: New Directions in the Twenty-First Century, the most comprehensive study to date of caregiving across the lifespan. She has given presentations at conferences and briefings sponsored by the White House, National Academies of Sciences, U.S. Congress, United Nations and numerous professional organizations. As a UW student and junior faculty member, Fredriksen Goldsen was mentored by Moya Duplica. 

In being nominated for the award, she was cited for her “exceptional leadership and creative innovations in research, policy, scholarship, education and mentoring. Over the course of her career, she has distinguished herself as a nationally and internationally recognized scholar addressing equity and the intersections of aging, health and well-being in resilient, at-risk communities.” 

About the award: The Moya M. Duplica Distinguished Alumni Award honors a School of Social Work graduate for exceptional service, social innovation or professional leadership -- locally, nationally or internationally. Established in 1989 as the Distinguished Alumni Award, it was renamed in 2015 to honor Moya M. Duplica, a gifted teacher and generous mentor who died in 2014. Past award recipients include Tina Orwall, Sue Eastgard, Lynn Behar, Amnon Shoenfeld and James Herbert Williams.

Bright Star Award: Roxana Norouzi 

Roxana Norouzi (MSW ’10) has more than 15 years’ experience in organizing, advocacy and social justice work with immigrant and refugee populations. As the daughter of Jewish immigrant parents from Iran, she was drawn to a career that would strengthen the influence of immigrant communities and communities of color in the fight against xenophobia, racism and inhumane immigration policies. Currently, she is executive director of OneAmerica, Washington’s largest immigrant rights organization, which has grown in size, influence and budget under her leadership. Together with her staff, she has stayed laser-focused on a quest to develop leaders, naturalize immigrants, register and educate voters, amplify voter turn-out and develop a broad range of candidates of color for appointed and elected office. She is also a clinical instructor at the UW School of Public Health. 

In 2010, Norouzi received a Bonderman Fellowship which allowed her to travel to 20 countries exploring post-conflict regions, migration trends and identity. This life-changing experience, and her own background as a first-generation American, helped inform her passion and commitment to racial equity and immigrant justice.  “Roxana is deeply relational, values-focused, and strategic with an uncanny level of emotional intelligence,” according to the award nomination. “She holds herself and others to a high level of accountability while also demonstrating grace and adaptability in her work.”

About the award: The Bright Star Award (previously known as the Early Career Achievement Award) recognizes alumni who, within 5 to 20 years of receiving their last School of Social Work degree, are carrying out innovative work, demonstrating influence in the field and making a notable impact on the social work profession. 

Emerging Leader Award: Bella Luz Mendez

Born in Mexico, Bella Luz Mendez (MSW ’18) immigrated with her family at the age of three to Washington state.  In 2008, she earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Washington and worked in community mental health, where she saw opportunities to create programs to prevent trauma, improve access to mental health services, and expand community resources. In 2018, she received her MSW at the School of Social Work, and two years later, when the pandemic was just starting, joined the Washington State Department of Health as an equity and social justice strategist where she provided culturally and linguistically appropriate services related to the pandemic. For two years, she operated the state’s only Spanish-language blog, BienestarWA, that provided information about COVID-19, and she served as the professional voice for the Department of Health on several Spanish-language media outlets, bringing needed updates about COVID-19 to the Spanish-speaking community.

About the award: The Emerging Leader Award is a new award that recognizes School alumni who have emerged as exceptional leaders within their organizations and communities since graduating within the last five years, showing dedication and impact in the field of social work.