2023 NASW Award Winners Announced

L-R, T-B: Pranit Lanjewar, Jonathon Henry, Joanne Lunceford, Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, Kathy Farkas headshots

The 2023 NASW Ohio Chapter Annual Conference, held Nov. 16–17, brings together 300+ social workers and 50+ sponsoring organizations from around the state of Ohio for two days of learning, resource sharing and connection. Attendees are able to earn up to 30+ social work CEUs between in-person and virtual content with over 25 workshop options to choose from on a wide range of clinical and macro social work topics. 

Each year, NASW also recognizes exceptional social workers, students and agencies whose work in service to their communities reflects the values of the social work profession.

In October, the 2023 NASW Ohio regional award winners were selected from the nominees for each of the Chapter's 8 regions and are now in the running for the statewide awards. One statewide award winner will be selected from each of the award categories by the Board of Directors and announced in Jan. 2024.

Region 3 (Cleveland area) will host a local awards celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024; regional and state winners will be recognized at the annual NASW Ohio Social Work Celebration Gala on Saturday, March 23, 2024.

Congratulations to our Mandel School award winners across the nation!

Student of the Year

NASW-OH, Region 3, Cleveland

Pranit Lanjewar

Pranit Lanjewar is currently pursuing a MSW with a healthcare specialization. He is doing his field practicum at the VA in the HUD VASH program this year, and was awarded with an Outstanding Field Practicum Award at the end of his first year. Lanjewar has achieved a few milestones during his time at the Mandel School—receiving student spotlights on our website and social media platforms, being a student representative for the Dean's Advisory Committee meetings, being invited as a student panelist for an Abroad Exchange Students Program, and being a co-chair for the school's international student's organization, LINK.

Social Worker of the Year

NASW-OH, Region 3, Cleveland

Jonathon E. Henry

Jonathon E. Henry earned his BA in social work from the University of Akron and his MSSA from Case Western Reserve University, where he specialized in Child Welfare and Adult Mental Health. He is currently working towards his PhD in social welfare at the Mandel School. Henry began his career in social work in child welfare due to his personal experience with the child welfare system. He has fostered several children and recently adopted his two sons. He formerly served as the president of the Ohio Cleveland Association of Black Social Workers and is genuinely passionate about people and serving his community.

Social Worker of the Year

NASW-OH, Region 5, Columbus

Joanne Lunceford 

Joanne Lunceford earned her DSW from the University of Southern California, her MSSA from Case Western Reserve University, and her BA from Miami University. She has worked in various capacities as a social work/criminal justice professional for over 25 years, and currently serves as the deputy director of the Columbus Office of Violence Prevention through the Office of the Mayor. In 2006 she founded a grassroots violence prevention organization, and in early 2023 she launched a racial justice company. She has taught various topics to career college students, doctor of social work students, and probation and parole officers. Her career work has focused on the intersectionality of race, social work and criminal justice.

Social Worker of the Year

NASW-IL, Statewide 

Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, LSW (MSSA ’18)

Chelsea Laliberte Barnes is a powerful advocate and storyteller who promotes compassion and justice for individuals and families needing support. After her brother's death from an unintentional overdose in 2008, Barnes and her parents launched Live4Lali, one of Illinois' foremost providers of comprehensive harm reduction and peer support services. She provides support to teens and adults in private practice, and has helped write and pass more than 25 state and federal laws to advance core social work values, such as increasing access to mental health services and addressing poverty, housing, equality, care access and criminal justice reform. 

Barnes—along with three other statewide awardees—was recognized by the NASW Illinois Chapter in September. Read the full press release.

Lifetime Achievement

NASW-OH, Region 3, Cleveland

Kathleen J. Farkas

Kathleen J. Farkas is an emerita associate professor at the Mandel School. During her 35 years on the faculty, she held a number of research, administrative and teaching leadership positions at the school and with national and international organizations. She chaired the school’s curriculum committee, the direct practice faculty and the specialization faculty for substance use disorders and recovery. Her publications include two books, 47 peer-reviewed journal articles, 21 invited book chapters, 24 review essays and numerous other monographs. Farkas holds an Ohio independent social work license with supervisory designation.

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates an Ohio social worker's lifetime of accomplishments. In honoring the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, the NASW Ohio Chapter recognizes the best social work values, strengths and accomplishments demonstrated in the social worker’s lifetime career.

Farkas was nominated by faculty members Richard Romaniuk and Zoe Wood.