USJ Student Also Honored by the Organization with Student of the Year Award
On November 15, 2022, University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Professor of Social Work and Equitable Community Practice Robert Madden, LCSW, J.D., was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter (NASW, CT).
Professor Madden, who is also interim MSW Program Director at USJ, joined the faculty in 1986. He is a licensed clinical social worker and attorney well known in New England for social work ethics and law. Professor Madden’s award was presented in person by USJ Interim School of Interdisciplinary Health and Science Dean Madeline Peréz De Jesús as the program was virtual this year. USJ MSW student Tawana Preston, of Meriden, was named NASW, CT Student of the Year and received an award too.
One of Professor Madden’s most recent activities includes Social Work and Law Enforcement (SWLE), an innovative program that brings together social workers and police officers. It has quickly evolved into a national model that has been hailed by U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. One of the co-founders of that project is USJ graduate Isabel Logan, M’96, a long-time mentee and former student of Professor Madden. She is now Assistant Professor of Social Work at Eastern Connecticut State University and brought Madden into the project, where he serves as the program’s director of Ethics and Practice Standards.
Professor Madden’s approach to teaching USJ students social work practice skills includes role-playing sessions based on actual cases that allow them to see how human dramas unfold. His legal training helps students understand the legal aspects of social work, as they must understand the constant changes in state and federal laws to work effectively.
“Our collaborative learning approach helps students apply research and theoretical issues to real-life situations,” he said. The NASW, CT chapter named him Social Work Educator of the Year in 2008.
USJ President Rhona Free, Ph.D. alluded to the depth and breadth of Professor Madden’s achievement in her comment, “Bob Madden epitomizes dedication: to the field of Social Work, to his students and colleagues, and to the University of Saint Joseph. I am very pleased to see him recognized with this honor.”
Of this most recent award bestowed upon him, Professor Madden said, “The Connecticut Chapter of NASW has been an important organization working for the needs of social workers and the clients we serve. It is an honor to be recognized by my colleagues for the work I have done to support the profession of social work over the course of my career.”
USJ Interim Dean School of Interdisciplinary Health and Science Madeline Pérez De Jesús, who helped nominate Professor Madden for the award, said, “Bob has spent most of his 40-plus-year career making significant contributions to the state of Connecticut as a licensed clinical social worker, family mediator, lawyer, social work educator, consultant, and higher education leader. The varied (and complementary) roles he has played are multiple examples of Bob’s career-long history of exemplary work representing the mission of social work as well as USJ’s Mercy Mission.”
Professor Madden has been on the faculty for 36 years and is the faculty member with the second most seniority at USJ. He is an accomplished scholar who has written three books, numerous book chapters, peer-review articles, and encyclopedia entries on social work education, legal issues facing social workers, ethics, and family law. He started his social work career as a counselor at a runaway shelter and has been working to improve the lives of people in crisis ever since. He received his J.D. from the University of Connecticut; an M.S., from Columbia University School of Social Work; and a B.A., from Providence College.
USJ Class of 2023 MSW student Tawana Preston joined Professor Madden in being honored by NASW, CT; she was named Student of the Year by the organization. Preston spoke about the honor this way: “Coming to USJ has changed my life! I decided I wanted to change my career. I returned to school in 2020 and have not looked back. My professors have challenged me to believe in myself and strive for greatness. Being selected to be the National Association of Social Workers (NASW, CT) Student of the Year is proof of what happened when I took their advice.”
USJ Assistant Professor of Social Work Christiana Best-Giacomini, Ph.D., LMSW, nominated Preston for the award and said “Tawana is a leader among her peers, providing them emotional support on a daily basis, and she plays a large role in advocating for current students, as well as recruiting future students. It’s a thrill to see her get this recognition.”
Preston credits USJ’s MSW program for not only helping her find her voice for herself, but for other students as the MSW Student Council Executive Board President. She has taken a graduate assistant position with Assistant Professor of Social Work Molly Driessen, Ph.D., who is grooming her research skills as a social worker. In addition, Preston served as a Social Work intern at A Mind’s Journey, LLC. in Hartford, CT, where her foundation for clinical social work began and prepared her for her current internship at Middlesex Community College. She also interns as a Clinical Social Work intern in the Listening Lounge providing counseling to students, an experience that led her to be hired by Middlesex Community College as a Care Specialist advocating for students’ wellbeing.
Learn more about USJ’s Master of Social Work here.