American Public Health Association
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Section Activities/Benefits

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If you are interested in joining this section, please feel free to contact the section chair or attend one of our Business Meetings during the APHA annual meeting.


Who should join?

We welcome anyone who is interested in public health social work to join our section and attend our events!


Why join?

You will benefit by being a member of a professional network beyond public health to enhance you professional development, receive professional support; and have opportunities to co-present at conferences and co-author publications.



The Insley-Evans Social Worker of the Year Award 



2011 Social Worker of the Year: Robert Keefe, MSW, MPH, PhD

Robert H. Keefe, PhD, ACSW was named the Insley-Evans Social Worker of the Year award at the 2011 APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Robert has been an active member of the American Public Health Association for many years.  He held various positions in the Social Work Section including program planner, section counselor, and chair.  As chair of the section, he spearheaded a book edited by the section members who co-authored the chapters; worked to develop a mentoring program for new members; endowed a student paper award; and chaired the committee that is revising the public health social work standards and competencies. 


Dr. Keefe is Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, State University of New York where he teaches courses in social work practice in health and behavioral health care settings.  His research focuses on the effects of contextual factors on disparate outcomes in health and behavioral health care for oppressed populations.


He is the author of multiple journal articles that focus on health care disparities, managed behavioral health care, third-party reimbursement, and social work education. His research has been funded by the Health Resources Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute on Aging. His practice includes working inpatient and outpatient health and behavioral healthcare settings in Ohio, New York, and New Hampshire.


2010 Social Worker of the Year: Gary Lounsberry, MSW, MPH, PhD

The APHA Social Work Section is honored to present its 2010 Evans/Insley Public Health Social Worker of the Year Award to Dr. Gary R. Lounsberry. An APHA member since 1980, Gary has served (multiple-terms) as Section Councilor and Governing Councilor, and secretary. Gary Lounsberry, Award RecipientDr. Lounsberry is an alumnus of the University of Michigan (MSW) and the University of Pittsburgh joint MPH, PhD degree program. Currently a full professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences at Alfred State College, Gary has devoted his career to the principles of public health practice.

Throughout his career, Gary has supported and sought to insure the rights of others, social justice was not a concept but away of life.  Dr. Lounsberry was a commissioned officer in the USPHS for twenty-two years. In mid-career with the USPHS, Gary assumed directorship of mental health services at the Indian Health Service Unit at Haskell Indian Nations University and part-time faculty member in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Lawrence, Kansas. After eleven years at Haskell, a transfer to Health Resources and Services Administration (DHHS-HRSA), Community and Migrant Health division sent Gary to Fort Myers, Fla.  His task in Southwest Florida was to develop mental health and social service programs at community and migrant health clinics.  While establishing clinics, Dr. Lounsberry was also addressing a shortage of mental health professionals by nurturing the development of a Masters in Social Work program under the auspices of the University of South Florida.

In 1996, Gary retired from the USPHS and became a full-time academic, he has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers (target population/area: homeless, migrant health, and Native Americans), engaged in funded research, and has been an invited speaker.  His academic career includes appointments at The University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Alfred College. Dr. Lounsberry has and continues to distinguish himself as a consummate public health social work practitioner; he has advocated for change and practiced at all systems-levels for social and economic justice while facilitating the empowerment of under-served populations. 

2009 Social Worker of the Year: Theora Evans, MSW, MPH, PhD

Theora Evans, MSW, MPH, PhD, was honored with the Insley-Evans Social Worker of the Year award at the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Theora Evans

Evans is the Associate Dean, Memphis Campus and Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. She earned her BS and MSW degrees at Loyola University of Chicago, an MPH at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her PhD at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Evans’ research agenda is the healthy transition of adolescents to adulthood, with a specific focus on the psychosocial development of adolescents diagnosed with chronic physical illnesses and disabling conditions (CID). These youth appear to be at-risk for poor emotional, behavioral and social functioning. Dr. Evans’ work not only seeks to enhance the psychosocial functioning of youth but to identify barriers that may contribute to disparities in the delivery of health, mental health and social services to this population.

Theora has been a member of APHA for more than 20 years and has served the Social Work Section in a number of leadership positions; currently, she is chair-elect of the Section and will assume the role of chair at the close of the 2009 Annual Meeting.  Evans was one of the collaborators instrumental in creating the Public Health Social Work Standards and Competencies (2005) that guide practitioners in the field of public health social work. She has been involved in public health social work at the local, national and international levels.

2008 Social Worker of the Year: Ed Saunders, MSW, MPH, PhD

Ed Saunders, MSW, MPH, PhD, was honored with the Insley-Evans Social Worker of the Year award at the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego.Edward Saunders

Saunders is the director of the University of Iowa School of Social Work.  He earned his MSW degree from St. Louis University , and he earned his MPH and PhD in the joint- degree program at the University of Pittsburgh .  Saunders joined the UI Social Work faculty in 1985.  During the past 23 years, he has been active in teaching in the multiple distance education sites of the School, including his first 12 years at the Des Moines Center .  He has taught in the BASW, MSW and PhD programs of the School.  He continues to pursue the development of a joint MSW - MPH program at the University of Iowa .  He has long been involved in research on adolescent pregnancy and other factors that put youth at risk (including substance abuse and school drop out).  In addition,  he has increasingly focused attention on the globalization of social work education as a result of his semester-long teaching assignment at Wuhan University in the People’s Republic of China in 2005.  He enjoys the distinction of teaching the first semester-long course developed to public health social work in the People’s Republic of China.


Saunders has held several elected positions in the Social Work Section of APHA, including Section Councilor (multiple terms), Governing Council representative, and chair.  He has also taken responsibility for the Social Work Section booth at the Annual Meeting for the past 10 years.  He has attended every Annual Meeting of APHA (with one exception) during the past 22 years, beginning with his first APHA conference in Las Vegas where he was enlisted into the Social Work Section.


2007 Social Worker of the Year: Bari Cornet, MS, MSW, MPH

Bari Cornet, MS, MSW, MPH, was honored with the Insley-Evans Social Worker of the year award at the APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.CBari is presently the field work consultant and a lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. She works closely with students interested in public health social work.  Bari is recognized as having expertise in public health social work and focuses on maternal and child health.  She has done extensive work in the MediCal Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program and MediCal Managed Care and in the areas of access to care and community centered planning.  

Bari received her award at the Social Work section reception at the 2007 Annual Meeting.  She is pictured (center) with Dean Lorraine Midanik (left) and Reg Hutchinson (right).






Criteria for the Insley Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year:
1. Outstanding achievement in any of the following areas in public health social work, preferably two or more areas: direct practice, organizational and planning, administration, education, research, publication, contribution to professional organizations (e.g., Social Work Section, APHA, NASW, medical Social Consultants).

2. "Outstanding achievement" is reflected in sustained recognition by peers, beyond the recipient's immediate setting and preferably including other public health disciplines.

3. Membership in the Social Work Section is preferred but not required.