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2008 NASW-MA Chapter Award Recipients
Gaetana Aliotta, 2008 Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice Honoree

Gaetana Aliotta

Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice

Gaetana Aliotta is an Adjustment/Substance Abuse Counselor for the Westfield, Massachusetts Public Schools. As a clinical social worker she also maintains a private practice in psychotherapy. Her crowning achievement is the founding of the Cancer House of Hope, Inc. in Westfield, MA. Recognizing the need for supportive services while she was undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, Ms. Aliotta acted upon her awareness of the gap in services for a home-like setting where people could come for psychological, emotional, and educational support for themselves, their families, and their friends. The services are free. As a result of her efforts, Noble Hospital donated the Cancer House of Hope, renovated by the numerous contributions of Westfield, West Springfield and Springfield businesses, organizations and individuals. Established in 1997, the House has served hundreds of people in western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. In May 2005 the Cancer House of Hope opened its second house in Springfield. Ms. Aliotta, now a 2-time cancer survivor, continues to play a vital role in the activities of the Cancer House of Hope and serves on its Board of Trustees.

Ruthann Dobek, 2008 Social Worker of the Year Honoree

Ruthann Dobek

Social Worker of the Year

Ruthann Dobek has been working at the Brookline Council on Aging for over 25 years. She has made a dramatic impact on the lives of seniors and the community since 2001 when she was appointed Director of the Brookline Council. Over twenty percent of the population of Brookline, MA has been directly affected through the work and efforts of Ms. Dobek.

In her position she has created and implemented numerous innovative programs for Brookline’s senior citizens. Under her leadership such activities as HELP, a program of Home and Escort Linkage has been established. She has also developed the BETS, a Brookline Elder Taxi Service, which enables seniors to attend programs at the Senior Center, attend to medical needs, all at a reduced rate. Additionally she has created a senior shuttle which transports seniors to the Senior Center on a scheduled basis. Under her guidance a JOBS program for older people has been developed which has placed many older persons in meaningful employment. Of particular importance has been a Careers in Aging Program benefiting both young people and elders which has been recognized as a model for action across the state. Along with all these activities, she has responded to the needs of the numbers of Russian and Asian elders who may be new to Brookline with creative programs at the Senior Center geared to the requirements of these special populations.

In 1997 Ms. Dobek was the responsible liaison during construction of a 4 million dollar senior center. This required countless hours negotiating with “passion, precision, and integrity” with the owner of an elderly housing complex, Town Selectmen, and many of the citizens that opposed the plan. Since the building of the Center, she has negotiated to extend the Center hours with the occupants of adjacent housing with tact and understanding to the admiration of the entire town.

Ms. Dobek supervises 20 staff members and 250 volunteers. She has demonstrated extraordinary skills as a clinician, supervisor, advocate, community organizer and representative of the social work profession. A Boston University School of Social Work graduate, Ms. Dobek received the Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Social Work Award in 2001 from the BUSSW Alumni Association.

Kathi Paige, 2008 Social Worker with Less Than 5 Years Post-degree Experience Honoree

Kathi Paige

Social Worker with Less Than 5 Years Post-degree Experience

Kathi Paige, a 2004 graduate of Simmons College School of Social Work and its Urban Leadership Program, is a social worker for the Brockton Area Department of Social Services Adolescent Unit. Prior to her graduation from Simmons as part of her clinical internship, she developed “The Brockton Area Child Witness to Violence Project”, a collaboration of various public agencies invested in the safety of children at the Brockton Police Department. Since Ms. Paige came to social work school with significant professional experience as a public sector social worker, her first job upon graduation was as Supervisor of the Adolescent Unit. And, she continues her collaboration with the police department as Supervisor, Consultant and Trainer to police department staff and social work interns from several programs as part of the Brockton Area Child Witness to Violence Project. Recently, she entered into an additional collaboration with Bridgewater State School of Social Work on the Witness to Violence project, which has won several state recognition awards.

Ms. Paige received the Iris McRae Award for outstanding Second Year Clinical Practice while in the graduate school, and as a member of the Brockton Area Child Witness to Violence Project-Recipient of Excellence in Public Safety Award from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety in 2006. Ms. Paige is a passionate advocate for troubled families and children.

Clementina M. Chery, 2008 Public Citizen of the Year Honoree

Clementina M. Chery

Public Citizen of the Year

Clementina M. Chery is President & CEO of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and the Director of its Outreach Services. In 1994 she and her husband Joseph founded the Institute, dedicated to carrying on their son Louis’ legacy of working towards preventing violence in their community. Louis David Brown was murdered at age 15 in a crossfire of a gang shootout in his Dorchester neighborhood; he had been on his way to a party sponsored by the group Teens Against Gang Violence, of which he was a member.

The Institute seeks to achieve its mission in part through the Louis D. Brown Peace Curriculum for students K-12. This curriculum encourages the avoidance of violence by young people by creating activities that instill values and enrich the community. The curriculum was commended in 1996 by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as contributing to Boston’s reduction in juvenile crime. In addition to the curriculum, the Institute assists and trains survivors of violence, develops strategies and programs that teach and instill values of peace, and educates the public about the consequences of violence on the individual, family, and community. Community events include Mother’s Walk for Peace, Teachers Peace Conference, Peace Zone Community Celebration, Ride for Peace, and Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month.

Ms. Chery has received many awards, including the Lady in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, bestowed by Pope John Paul, the Search for Common Ground 2001 International Service Award, and the American Red Cross 1998 Clara Barton Humanitarian Award.

Scott Miyake Geron, 2008 Beverly Ross Fliegel Award for Social Policy & Change Honoree

Scott Miyake Geron

Beverly Ross Fliegel Award for Social Policy & Change

Scott Miyake Geron is Associate Professor of Social Welfare Policy and Research at the Boston University School of Social Work (BUSSW), where he has taught Masters and doctoral level courses in social welfare policy, research, aging, health policy, and sociology of the social work profession. Dr. Geron is Director and Principal Investigator of the Institute for Geriatric Social Work (IGSW) at BUSSW, a national leader dedicated to strengthening the workforce of social work professionals caring for an aging society through educational innovation, workforce redesign, and research. Dr. Geron and IGSW staff have provided training in “aging issues” to over 18,000 social workers and other social service professionals, with most receiving distance learning and self-study courses on topics such as diversity, elder abuse, end of life care, and mental health and aging.

Dr. Geron has also served in leadership and Board roles with the American Society on Aging, Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work, Mass Gerontological Association, and Visiting Nurse Association. In addition, he was a Founding Board Member of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, and since 2004 he has been the Commissioner on Law and Aging for the American Bar Association. Through his teaching, publications, organizational leadership, and directorship of a nationally recognized Institute on Aging, Dr. Geron has made an enormous contribution to social policy and change in the field of aging.

Ann Fleck-Henderson, 2008 Greatest Contribution to Social Work Education Honoree

Ann Fleck-Henderson

Greatest Contribution to Social Work Education

Ann Fleck-Henderson is a professor at the Simmons College School of Social Work where she has taught since 1983. Dr. Fleck-Henderson has excelled in teaching a wide range of courses, redesigning the curriculum for the Human Behavior in the Social Environment sequence, developing a doctoral course on how to teach, and writing articles about post-modern curriculum. In addition, Dr. Fleck-Henderson has been a social work leader in promoting and writing about training in the area of domestic violence. She is well known for her Fathering After Violence work with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, and her contributions in the child protective system in getting initiatives around domestic violence established. As one of the founders of the NASW Committee on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault she led the committee in developing one of the first online continuing education programs on domestic violence that serves as a model for other professional groups such as Judicial councils, nurses, police, health professionals, program administrators, policymakers, advocates, researchers and employers. The project was a partnership between Simmons College School of Social Work and the MA Chapter of NASW.

In addition to her national reputation as a social work educator, she is beloved by students, faculty, alumni and professionals for her intelligence, dedication, rigor, and creativity. She is one of the most sought-after professors in the Simmons doctoral program with a reputation for expecting excellence from her students and supporting them in achieving that level. Dr. Fleck-Henderson has published widely on a number of subjects (domestic violence, ethics, and gender issues in treatment, teaching and curriculum approaches). Dr. Fleck-Henderson has distinguished herself as a scholar, teacher and mentor for excellence.

Thomas Cornu, 2008 Employer of the Year Honoree

Thomas Cornu

Employer of the Year

Thomas Cornu is both a Methodist minister and a real estate developer. Currently he is the President and Director of Cornu Management Company, offering specialized services to the affordable housing real estate community, including project and property management, rental marketing programs, financial analysis, and resident social services. His company manages 19 housing developments plus provides management related services to 3 other housing developments, which serve thousands of low income Massachusetts residents.

In 1998 Tom had the foresight to hire Jane Mayer, former NASW MA Chapter President, to develop a Resident Social Service Division for the Company, which now employs 15 social workers plus manages a social work internship training program. The social workers work closely with residents, property owners and community organizations to provide a comprehensive care coordination and case management program that includes: health, wellness and prevention programs; a summer youth leadership development program, a domestic violence intervention program, and computer learning centers. Tom is the immediate past Chair of the Board at Judge Baker Children’s Center, where he was instrumental in finding a new building for the Baker and chairing the construction committee.

Thomas Cornu has distinguished himself, not only for his business acumen, but for his wisdom in recognizing the human, social and educational needs of the residents who live in his housing developments. His vision and his work embody the goals and values of the social work profession.

Sophie Freud, 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Sophie Freud

Lifetime Achievement

Sophie Freud’s contributions to the social work profession as a scholar, professor, presenter, writer, activist, consultant, supervisor, mentor, volunteer, book reviewer, and staunch feminist are enormous. Her countless publications cover a wide range of topics that include parenting, social work practice and theories, gender issues, ethics, and evaluation research. Having retired from 21 years as a professor at Simmons College School of Social Work and 9 additional years as adjunct professor at the School, Dr. Freud is currently Professor Emerita. Besides being a long time member of the Chapter’s Ethics Hotline Committee she has served on the Board of Directors in numerous capacities. Dr. Freud holds 2 honorary doctorates—a Doctor of Social Service from Simmons College and a Doctor of Human Letters from the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco.

Her awards include the Distinguished Career Award from the Simmons College Social Work Alumni Association, the NASW Award for the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Education, and 3 Maida Solomon Awards for best papers submitted to Simmons College School of Social Work Alumni Association.


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