California Social Work Hall of Distinction: A Force for Positive Social Change


In 2002, the California Social Work Hall of Distinction was created to honor those involved in bringing about the betterment of society and to preserve the legacy of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to California social welfare and the social work profession. Inductees distinguished themselves by identifying a vision of how things could be better in our communities and pursuing that vision with consistent and concerted action for change. The inductee biographies and interviews found in the Hall provide the basis for research projects by social work students throughout California.

In the featured clip above, introductory remarks by Esther Gillies, David Kuroda, Mariko Yamada, Colleen Friend, Marilyn Montenegro, Fernando Tores Gil, Janlee Wong and Rino Patti at the 2014 induction ceremony, describe the importance of gathering to celebrate with colleagues, and why they keep coming back to these ceremonies. Each year the ceremony inspires, reminds colleagues of why they made the commitment to social work, recognizes real people who do work within and for their communities, and honors valuable contributions to social welfare. 

The Importance of Social Workers

In every society, there are those who help alleviate pain and suffering by identifying needs, inventing solutions, and implementing changes.

The first step in improving social welfare is often a single person’s recognition of a situation that is imbalanced or under-serving a segment of the population. In most cases, there emerges in that individual a fervent belief that something can and must be done. Very often, that person is a social worker or a pioneer for social welfare and justice.

In the clip below, from the 2018 Induction Ceremony, remarks by Joe Nunn and Suzanne Dworak-Peck demonstrate how important it is to recognize peers who have made contributions to the profession and in their communities. 

California Social Work Hall of Distinction Ceremony

The Hall of Distinction Induction Ceremony honors and preserves the legacy of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to California social welfare, and the social work profession. It is a tribute to the positive impact of social work practice, policy and research addressing health and welfare problems in California's most vulnerable communities. The ceremony provides the opportunity for colleagues, friends, family, mentors and mentees to reflect on the importance of social work, inspire future leaders and social workers with continuing the fight for social change, and celebrate with each other.

The 2020 virtual Induction Ceremony honors the service, commitment and contributions of the following seven extraordinary individuals:

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