Five alumni of the Florida State University College of Social Work will be honored for exceptional commitment and dedication to social work service, research and practice at the college’s annual Student Scholarship and Distinguished Alumni Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 16.
The 2014 award recipients are Robert Disbennett (Distinguished Emeritus Alumni Award), Jerrold Jackson (Distinguished Young Alumni Award), William Meezan (Distinguished Social Work Educator Award), Paula Clark (Distinguished Alumni in Social Work Practice Award), and Dominic Calabro (Distinguished Alumni in Social Policy and Administration Award).
The Distinguished Emeritus Alumni Award is given to alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made outstanding contributions to social work. Robert Disbennett of Tallahassee earned his Master in Social Work degree from the FSU College of Social Work in 1963. He became a licensed clinical social worker with an extensive career working for the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Children’s Home of Tampa (Fla.), Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg (Fla.) and Big Bend Hospice as well as teaching part time at the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College before retiring in Tallahassee. Disbennett also has been an active member of the National Association of Social Workers, the United Way outreach in Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Schools Enrichment Program.
The Distinguished Young Alumni Award is given to alumni who graduated less than 10 years ago and have demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to social work. Jerrold Jackson of Atlanta exemplifies this as a current National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded postdoctoral fellow, director of retention data analytics and adjunct assistant professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. The FSU Alumni Association also recognized his accomplishments this year as one of its Thirty Under 30 award winners. Jackson earned his Master of Social Work from the FSU College of Social Work in 2008. Afterward, he worked as a licensed clinical social worker in New York City for five years in school-based clinics throughout Harlem and South Bronx, and completed his doctoral degree in clinical and translational research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2013.
The Distinguished Social Work Educator Award is presented to alumni who have held or currently hold teaching/leadership positions within an educational organization or institution and have made significant contributions to social work education. William Meezan of New York City has held numerous educational, instructional, research and administrative positions over his 40-year career. Most recently, he was the Mary Ann Quaranta Chair in Social Justice for Children and distinguished visiting professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York City. The National Association of Social Workers named him a Social Work Pioneer, and he was inducted in 2005 into Columbia University School of Social Work’s Hall of Fame. He earned his Master of Social Work from the FSU College of Social Work in 1969.
The Distinguished Alumni in Social Work Practice Award is given to alumni with a deep commitment to highly ethical social work standards and to improving the quality of life of the community members and clients they serve. Capt. Paula Clark of Tallahassee epitomizes this in her role as a licensed clinical social work with the U.S. Air Force. Clark has earned numerous medals for her service, which includes deployments with the Marines and Army to Asia and throughout the United States. She earned her Master of Social Work from the FSU College of Social Work in 2003 while serving in the Florida Air National Guard.
The Distinguished Alumni in Social Policy and Administration Award is given to alumni who have made dedicated efforts to serving the social work profession in policy making. Dominic Calabro of Tallahassee stands out in his role as president and CEO of Florida Taxwatch, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog that works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Calabro earned his Master of Social Work from the FSU College of Social Work in 1979 and joined Florida Taxwatch in 1980. Through his leadership, Florida Taxwatch has earned and maintained the respect of Florida’s most highly regarded and influential leaders and has earned the credibility and respect of the citizens of Florida. He also serves as the president and CEO of the Prudential Productivity Awards, which recognize, reward and work to replicate government productivity and innovative cost-saving achievements.
In addition to the five award presentations, more than 60 social work scholarship recipients will be honored for their accomplishments during the event.