The Catholic University of America

Sept. 9, 2011

NCSSS Dean Honored with Prestigious Award

  James Zabora

James Zabora, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS) at The Catholic University of America, has been awarded the 2010 Ruth Knee – Milton Wittman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health and Mental Health Policy.

The award, given by the National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF), recognizes an individual or group that has made a significant impact on national mental health public policy, professional standards, or program models. Zabora was selected by a panel of social work leaders.

The annual award is named for legendary social workers Ruth Knee (1920 – 2008) and Milton Wittman (1915 – 1994), who guided the development of social policy and standards. Their lifelong commitment to social values and the effective provision of services to those who are disadvantaged are reflected in their careers with the Public Health Service and in their leadership roles with professional social work, public health, and mental health professionals.

Zabora came to Catholic University in 2002 after a 20-year career at the Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Prior to Johns Hopkins, Zabora was known for his innovative work in establishing inner-city drug treatment programs. His subsequent work has been in the area of cancer treatment and prevention, with a special focus on community outreach programs. His research has focused on cancer prevention and control, psychosocial screening, problem-solving education, and quality of life among cancer patients and their families. He is the author of more than 70 papers and book chapters on these topics. And he is an in-demand speaker at national and international conferences.

In 2002 his research team received the Annual Quality of Life Research Award from the National Office of the American Cancer Society. In 2007, at the annual meeting of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, Zabora received the Holland Distinguished Leadership Award based on his “outstanding contributions in clinical practice, education, research, and leadership.” This is the highest award delivered in the field of psychosocial oncology. In 2009, he received the Ida Cannon Award for Distinguished Leadership from the Society of Social Work Leaders in Health Care, and he was inducted into the Social Work Pioneer Program of the National Association of Social Workers Foundation.

"Jim Zabora’s accomplishments as a social worker, scholar, and dean are a matter of record. To me these are due to a singular combination of breathless energy and unbridled optimism,” said Barbara Early, associate professor, and assistant dean and chair of doctoral studies at NCSSS. “He does not hold to himself this simple assumption that everything is possible; rather, he projects it onto his faculty, his school, and his University. He is a born leader who makes his faculty smile; he also leaves us tired."

Zabora will be presented with the Knee-Wittman Award later this year.

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