Joan Upshaw Award

The Joan Upshaw Award was established in 2014 as a fitting way to honor the memory of SSWLHC leader Joan K. Upshaw. Joan was a social work leader in health care, a longtime member of the Society and a pioneer in social work enterprise. This award honors the memory of Joan’s entrepreneurial spirit.

In 1988, Joan founded her own social work company, first known as Joan Upshaw & Associates, a clinical social work agency, which later became Social Work p.r.n. As the Founder and President of Social Work p.r.n., Joan pioneered the field of social work staffing. Her entrepreneurial drive built Social Work p.r.n. as a nationwide company.

Joan mentored so many social workers throughout her career and was a lifetime member of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care.

Award Purpose, Expectations of Nominees

This award honors an individual who demonstrates the application of entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship principles in their role as a formal or informal leader in social work in health care, including identifying and starting new ventures, increasing the efficacy and efficiency of social work interventions, generating new social work products and services and advocating for the profession of social work.

Award Criteria

In addition to demonstrating the characteristics of candidates for all Society awards (established by the SSWLHC Board in 1981) an individual must demonstrate a commitment to diversity in their role as a leader in social work in health care, including strengthening efforts targeted at increasing diversity within social work in health care and employing practice interventions that promote cultural humility. The individual must demonstrate the following characteristics: Innovative application of new thinking and practice in the arena of health care social work leadership

  • A commitment to promoting and advocating for social work in their role as a formal or informal leader in social work in health care, including growing practice opportunities for social workers
  • Enhance the public image of social work, and increase access to social work services for vulnerable populations
  • Demonstrate a mentorship for emerging social work leaders in health care
  • Offer opportunities for growth and development for social workers in their role as a formal or informal leader in social work in health care.

Winner Receives

  • Personalized, specially engraved award presented at the morning plenary session with two minutes to accept
  • $300 award check
  • Bulletin board at the conference

Previous Recipients

2014Alice Kitchen
2015June Simmons
2016Melissa McCool
2017Paula Crombie
2018No Recipient
2019No Recipient
2020Sheldon Shelling