California Social Work Hall of Distinction Inducts New Pioneers

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The California Social Work Hall of Distinction inducted seven new members, five posthumously, in a ceremony on Oct. 9 in Los Angeles, recognizing their unique contributions to improving social and human conditions.

"These individuals were influential in shaping the direction of our profession for future generations," Colleen Friend, committee chair, said. "We honor them for seizing opportunities to improve systems and offer alternative solutions that opened up new pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged."

Sponsored, in part, by the USC School of Social Work and the National Association of Social Workers, the event attracted more than 200 guests paying tribute to the lifetime achievements of a new crop of social work pioneers.

"This is one of the stellar events of social work in California," said Janlee Wong, executive director of NASW-California Chapter. "It's so exciting to see all of these great social workers coming together to commemorate a legendary list of inductees."

The 2010 class of honorees includes:

• Tessie A. Cleveland, a medical social worker and community activist who developed more inclusive and culturally responsive networks of county social services
• Jeanne M. Giovannoni, a child welfare advocate whose research served as a foundation for defining child abuse
• John G. Milner (USC School of Social Work professor emeritus), a distinguished teacher and child welfare advocate who founded the USC Delinquency Control Institute and oversaw USC's Head Start Training Program
• James Yukihiro Miyano, MSW '60, a tireless advocate for the Asian-American community whose work influenced the movement toward community-based services
• Dolores I. Rodriguez, an innovator of culturally relevant social services for the Latino community
• Barbara J. Solomon (USC School of Social Work professor and vice provost emerita), a gifted scholar who introduced the concept of black empowerment as a framework for social work practice
• John M. Wedemeyer, Jr., an advocate of community-based social services who established one of the first shelters for runaway youths and wrote legislation seeking funding to help juveniles.

The California Social Work Hall of Distinction was established within the California Social Welfare Archives, which, with support from the USC School of Social Work, maintains oral histories of social work leaders and collections of some of the most historically significant documents in the development of social welfare in the state. The Hall of Distinction honors the contributions of social work leaders, innovators and pioneers who have been instrumental in the betterment of society.

For additional biographical information about this year's and past inductees, or to nominate a social work leader, visit the organization's website at

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