Washington University’s Brown School honored three distinguished alumni and two distinguished faculty members during its annual alumni awards celebration on April 28 at 6 pm at Whitaker Hall on Washington University’s Danforth Campus.
The 2009 alumni award recipients are Rita Montgomery Hollie, BA ’69, MSW/JD ’73; Barth A. Holohan III, MSW/MBA ’01; and Suda Nair, MSW ’91. F. Brett Drake, PhD, and Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD, received the 2009 Distinguished Faculty Award.
Looking for the most effective way to be a change agent for the poor, Rita applied to the Brown School and enrolled as its first student in our MSW/JD dual-degree program. She started her career at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where she applied consumer protection legislation to the problem of lead-based paint; she also helped form the adoption agency Friends of African American Families and Children Service Center. She has taught law courses and served as a St. Louis municipal judge, where her primary focus was on adoptions, guardianships, and child advocacy. Today she is a founder and partner of Montgomery Hollie & Associates, LLC, a St. Louis-based law firm specializing in all aspects of adoption and family law.
Barth is committed to ensuring a greater quality of life for older adults. In addition to being the co-founder and co-owner of Family Partners Adult Day Services, Barth is the founder and president of St. Louis-based Continuum, which provides private duty home care, nursing, retirement community programs, personal emergency medical response systems, and geriatric care management. In addition to serving on many boards, Barth was a 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year finalist and in 2007 he was awarded the St. Louis Business Journal 40 under 40 Award and the SSM Health Care Stewardship Award.
Dr. Nair has provided leadership in creating, testing and improving many of Singapore’s community-based social services and public policies. She also has been a leader in addressing the problem of domestic violence, serving as the founding director of Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence, the primary Singapore organization focused on this issue. She is also a leading scholar studying problem gambling in Singapore. Among her many recognitions, has been named Social Worker of the Year in her country. Currently she is a member of the faculty and deputy head of the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore. She also directs the Centre for Social Development, Asia – the sister to Brown School’s Center for Social Development.
This year the social work school selected two faculty – Brett Drake and Melissa Jonson-Reid - to receive its Distinguished Faculty Award. Both Drs. Drake and Jonson-Reid bring a shared passion for child welfare and evidence-based practice to their research and teaching at the Brown School. Their latest venture – a new book titled Social Work Research Methods: From Conception to Dissemination – provides students with a practical guide for conducting social science research projects from start to finish. They currently are collaborating on research that extends their work in child welfare to address issues facing young adults. The research, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, represents the first direct CDC grant to our School.
Although clearly a powerful pair, each has made great individual contributions to the field and to our School. Dr. Drake’s research has focused on early intervention cases of child neglect and the connections between socio-environmental conditions and child neglect. He is also one of the faculty leads on the School’s CSWE reaccreditation initiative. Dr. Jonson-Reid studies outcomes associated with child adolescent abuse and neglect, with a specific interest in policy and professional development in the area of school social work. She also recently submitted a CDC grant to start a Brown School Center for Violence and Injury Prevention.