Aliyah Vinikoor, assistant director of the School’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program, received the 2023 Mary Grembowski Staff Recognition Award.
In nominating her, Maureen Marcenko, Charles O. Cressey Endowed Professor Emerita, and Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Val Kalei Kanuha highlighted Aliyah’s initiation and support of numerous innovative changes in the MSW curriculum. One of these involved streamlining advanced MSW specializations from four to one, allowing students to better tailor program requirements to meet their learning goals.
“Aliyah’s work is informed by her years of practice experience, her continued pursuit to keep current about emerging practice modalities, her leadership within professional organizations in the field, and her dedication to social justice efforts in her own community,” said the co-nominators.
To implement the curriculum change, Aliyah conducted a faculty survey and worked with the social work community to determine electives that would support new clinical social work specializations. She also introduced an integrative seminar to enable students to bridge classroom work and practicum. The focus on direct practice, particularly with underserved, socially marginalized populations, is popular with both students and faculty and has improved student readiness for professional social work practice.
Aliyah was also a key contributor to the recent reaccreditation self-study with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – a massive undertaking that involved more than a year of sustained work. “Aliyah’s ability to hold the larger mission and purpose of our School, programs and student support services while attending to the details regarding integration and measurement of student competencies, was invaluable,” said the nomination document.
Her leadership, commitment to diversity and social justice, and her deep grounding in social work values and practice were commended by colleagues. “Aliyah is very attentive to how decisions and policies are congruent with professional values,” said Michael Spencer, incoming dean. “She continues to work closely with students, faculty and staff in a cooperative, respectful and timely manner.”
Aliyah joined the School of Social Work in 2016. She received a BA in 2001 from Barnard College and an MSW from Hunter College in 2009. Before joining the UW School of Social Work, she worked as a program manager at the University of Washington Bothell.
Each year, the School honors an outstanding School employee with the Mary Grembowski Staff Recognition Award. To qualify, nominees must promote the social justice mission of the School; demonstrate extraordinary performance in service to the School, UW or greater community; and contribute to supporting positive working relationships within the School community that encourage a respectful, diverse and collaborative work environment.
The School staff award has been given since 1993, but renamed for Mary Grembowski in 2014. Mary worked at the School for more than 30 years; before her retirement, she was the School’s human resources director. During her long tenure, she set the foundation for excellence in service and commitment to both the School and the University.