JANUARY 21, 2015
The Distinguished Alumni Awards honor Boston College School of Social Work MSW or PhD alumni who have made significant contributions to the social work profession. This year, two awards were handed out during a ceremony held on January 9th at McGuinn Hall, to Colleen Fitzgerald, MSW '11, and James A. Martin, MSW '70.
Fitzgerald, the recipient of the recent alumni award, currently works for the International Rescue Committee in Beirut, Lebanon, and specifically, on the Syria Refugee Response. Her role is to lead a nationwide child protection case management coaching program, where she focuses primarily on training social workers from the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs, international NGOs, national NGOs, and United Nations bodies to support vulnerable Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese children and families. See full bio »
Fitzgerald was unable to attend the meeting in person due to her work commitments in the Middle East, but she submitted her acceptance speech via a video recorded in Beirut. Her mother Kathleen Fitzgerald was in attendance to receive the award.
In her speech, Fitzgerald cited Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson as an inspiration to her, and specifically, to her devotion to social justice work in a part of the world so seemingly different from the community in which she was raised. "If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time," said Watson. "If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."
Martin, who received a distinguished alumni award, is a Professor of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, and a LICSW with more than 40 years of social work practice. He is a recognized national leader in the area of military community and family services, and has served as a subject matter expert for numerous Department of Defense and other federal as well as state-level policy, program development, and research initiatives. He is currently engaged in program development initiatives involving services to returning veterans and their families, survivors of military death, as well as Air Force and Marine Corps resilience initiatives. See full bio »
Martin said that he was delighted to be back on the campus of Boston College, and he encouraged those gathered to "remember the people in our lives," because it is the personal relationships we encounter, in school life and in work, that provide the context for our greatest successes.