The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers is pleased to announce that the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2013 is Karen McGrath BSW, MBA,RSW.
Karen graduated from Memorial University with a BSW degree in 1975 and at the time of nomination was employed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Central Health. Her colleagues assert that throughout the variety of senior leadership positions which she has held, “Karen has been first and foremost a social worker striving always to exemplify the values of the profession and demonstrating excellence in leadership”.
Her career path has focused on a variety of areas of social work practice beginning as a program director at the YMCA/YWCA working with individuals, groups and communities. This experience shaped her commitment to citizen engagement. She has contributed significantly to the area of mental health having been employed in director positions with the Waterford Hospital, St. John’s in programs such as Work Therapy, Volunteer Services, Therapeutic Recreation and Community Care and as the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Ontario.
In 1995, Ms. McGrath graduated with an MBA and combined her social work and business education to provide senior leadership to mental health, public health, human resources and health information management programs in Newfoundland and Labrador. She held the positions of CEO of Health and Community Services St. John’s and Health and Community Services Central. In 2007, Ms. McGrath was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer, Central Health, responsible for delivery of all health services in the region including hospitals, long term care facilities and community based programs. She retired from this position on January 31st, 2013.
Karen has maintained a strong social work identity throughout her career. She provided field instruction to approximately 40 social work students and mentored many colleagues. She was actively involved with the Newfoundland Association of Social Workers in 1975 working with a group of dedicated volunteers to promote the profession and advocate for social work regulation. Karen served two terms as President of NLASW in 1992 and 2000-2002. Throughout the past thirty-five years, she has been an active volunteer with several community organizations, most recently as the President of the Kiwanis Club, Grand Falls-Windsor.
She continues to lend her experience and knowledge to other health care organizations throughout Canada through her work with Accreditation Canada. Karen states that her social work degree aided her understanding of who she is as a person. “The core of who I am is a social worker; everything else was built from that”. Karen McGrath continues to contribute greatly to her profession and to the populations and organizations that have the good fortune to work with her thus illustrating the essence of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award.