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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Alumni Awards recognize outstanding social work graduates

Every March, the National Association of Social Workers celebrates Social Work Month to recognize the invaluable contributions social workers make to society. And each March, the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) presents Alumni Awards to graduates who embody the best of the profession.

GSSW recognized the following alumni:

Kristi Mock, MSW '83, LCSW—Robert L. Hawkins Social Work Achievement Award

This award is presented to a GSSW graduate who has demonstrated professional achievement by being named executive director, manager, chairperson of the board, or to a similar leadership position within a social work agency or organization; or by reaching a level of prominence in education, practice, politics or another type of service; or by receiving national recognition in the field of social work. The award is named in honor of Robert L. Hawkins, MSW '67, who rose through the ranks at Colorado Psychiatric Institute in Pueblo, eventually becoming the first social worker appointed as its Superintendent.

Kristi Mock is vice president and chief operating officer of the Mental Health Center of Denver, where she serves as a primary advisor to the CEO on matters related to internal operations and is responsible for operations to ensure efficient, effective, and high-quality mental health services. In her former role as vice president of Adult Recovery Services, Mock was responsible for administering all adult services for persons with serious mental illness. Her 33-year career with the Mental Health Center of Denver has promoted community-based behavioral health service delivery for persons with mental illness, including access to service, outpatient treatment, intensive case management services, housing/residential services, trauma-focused treatment, integrated substance use treatment, and integrated treatment services for offenders.

Renee Conway, MSW '89—Community Service Award

This award is presented to a GSSW graduate who has demonstrated significant and continuous volunteer involvement in major community activities and/or charitable causes, above and beyond his/her employed position.

Renee Conway worked in the Denver Public Schools system for more than 30 years and has coached cross country, basketball and softball. As the wife of a pastor in Aurora, Colorado, she's mentored, counseled and encouraged parishioners. She has joined with other churches to help with community outreach, has been a supporter of the NAACP Youth Counsel, and has joined with them to feed homeless people and provide arts, crafts and encouragement in shelters. Conway currently sings with Gospel Harmony, a group of women from 10 different churches who perform around the city, at nursing homes, and at senior-citizen locations.

Stephanie Lechuga-Peña, MSW '05, PhD '16—GSSW Service Award

This award is presented to a GSSW graduate who has contributed to, or served, the Graduate School of Social Work in a noteworthy and significant fashion through personal effort and/or financial contribution.

While at GSSW, Stephanie Lechuga-Peña co-developed the Your Family, Your Neighborhood intervention in low-income Denver neighborhoods. She continues to work with GSSW Associate Professor Daniel Brisson to test the intervention. She is an assistant professor at Arizona State University, where her research focuses on parent engagement and school attachment in low-income communities. Lechuga-Peña has more than 15 years of experience in social work practice, working with low-income youth and families. She was a fellow with the Council on Social Work Education's Minority Fellowship Program, which provides professional development training, mentorship and support to racial/ethnic minority social work doctoral students who are preparing to "provide leadership in practice, research, teaching, and policy promulgation in government and private organizations serving underrepresented and underserved persons."

Also in March, the Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work presented its Most Distinguished Clinician Award to alumna Margaret Roath, MSW '68, LCSW. Andrew Mrkvicka, MSW '04, LCSW, received the Distinguished Affiliate of the Year Award from the Metropolitan State University of Denver Department of Social Work.