Recipients of the 2017 National Social Work Month Distinguished Service Awards are listed below.

Vanessa Rankin

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

This year’s theme for National Social Work month is more than fitting for our nominee, Vanessa Rankin.  Vanessa has, without question, demonstrated the ability to motivate and create change within our Association following a challenging period.  Vanessa innately and professionally encompasses the core values and principals of social work practice; modelling on an ongoing basis to the members her passion for the profession and what it stands for.

Vanessa, without hesitation, has always stepped to the forefront, taking on roles and responsibilities beyond her requirements and worked tirelessly to promote the profession across all three territories, with this year having all Board positions filled in all three territories.  Vanessa is engaging, energetic and remains at the forefront of social justice issues in the north.  We would like to honour Vanessa for her leadership, dedication and her “Power to Empower.”


Pamela Miller, BA, MSW, Ph.D

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

BCASW is pleased to announce that Dr. Pamela Miller is awarded the BC CASW Distinguished Service Award for 2017. Pam is known as an insightful and effective leader, a strong advocate for the profession of social work, and a kind, generous, humble, and compassionate person. Her lengthy social work career focused on teaching and a scholarly interest in eLearning and use of information technology in practice, ethical decision making, community development, and leadership in human services.

    A strong commitment to professional social work practice and the promotion of the profession led Pam to serve at the executive level in two provinces.  Pam served as Vice President of the BCASW from 2008 to 2009, President from 2009 to 2011, and Past President from 2012 to 2016. Prior to moving to BC from Alberta in 2008, Pam served as an elected member of the Alberta College of Social Work Council from 2001 to 2003 and as President of the Alberta College of Social Work from 2004 to 2007. Pam's leadership skills and recognition among her peers led her to the role of Chair, Canadian Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work from 2009 to 2012.

     During her time on the BCASW Board, Pam facilitated the Association's engagement in lobbying the Government of British Columbia to:

•         Increase housing options for people with complex health care needs,

•         Restore the BC office to combat trafficking in persons,

•         Include the use of social workers through WorkSafeBC,

•         Increase social assistance rates, and

•         Heed recommendations made by the Representative for Children and Youth in BC.

     Pam's contributions to practice are evident in the dozens of scholarly publications and delivery of professional development workshops. Her publications include an article describing the benefits of online chatting for single moms (2007), a book on ethical decision making in social work (2012), and an article on leadership in social work (2011).

    Pam retired as a full professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Victoria in 2016.



Fred Nelson, MSW, RSW and Megan McLeod, MSW, RSW

Manitoba College of Social Workers

In February 2016, experienced Social Workers, Fred Nelson and Megan McLeod, agreed to delay their retirement plans to assist in the development and implementation of interdisciplinary services related to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).  Mr.  Nelson and Ms. McLeod quickly and competently began providing clinical support  to the MAID  team and its clients, navigating  through  uncharted  territory in their  effort  to  ensure that  patients  and clients  were both  informed  of their  rights and all of their  end of life treatment options, while respecting the inherent  worth  and dignity of all individuals and supporting client self-determination and autonomy.

Both Mr.  Nelson and Ms. McLeod are exemplary social workers, demonstrating skilled ability to show compassion, empathy and commitment to assessing and addressing the non-physical elements of distress.  They both put the patient and family first while being balanced and cognizant of their own needs, supporting each other, the multiple team needs and the needs of the community.



Ian Shortall, MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Assocation of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2017 is Ian Shortall MSW, RSW.  This award recognizes his significant contribution and unwavering commitment to the social work profession provincially and nationally.

Ian holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Memorial University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto.  Over the past 31 years, Ian Shortall has contributed substantially to both clinical and management practice.  He began his career as a child and adolescent mental health clinician and family therapist, later moving to the positions of division manager within the health care system and Professional Practice Co-ordinator for social work with Eastern Health.  Throughout these years, he maintained a clinical private practice. His current role is the Director of the Employee Assistance and Respectful Workplace Program with the Public Service Commission, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ian exemplifies the values of the social work profession on a daily basis.  He is described as “professional to the core” bringing competence and integrity to both his clinical practice and his leadership roles.  Ian approaches every person and situation with respect and fairness working tirelessly to support clients and guide the many social workers and students whom he has supervised.

Ian has provided leadership within the social work professional community.  Throughout the 1990s he volunteered his knowledge and skills to the NLASW Professional Issues Committee providing ethical consultations to social workers in practice serving a term in the role of Chair.  This committee received the CASW Distinguished Service Award in 1999 for significant contribution to social work in the province.  From 2006- 2008 Ian Shortall was the President of the NL Association of Social Workers spending a total of six years contributing initially as President Elect (2004-2006) and later as Past President (2008- 2010).  These years were times of significant growth and change for NLASW which included transition to new legislation.  Throughout the process, Ian’s steady leadership and support was of tremendous value to the board of directors and staff. Following his term on the NLASW board of directors, Ian served two terms on the board of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (2010 – 2015). While serving on the board he also contributed to the CASW Private Practice Interest group.

Ian continues to be an inspiration to all who have the pleasure of working with and learning from him.  His colleagues at the provincial Public Service Commission state: “He models competent, professional practice and will inspire you to do your absolute best.  He will support you when you struggle and celebrate with and for you when you succeed.  Ian was operating from a strengths based perspective in his leadership long before we were calling it that” 

Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Ian Shortall, the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for this province.


Andrea Reid, MSW, RSW

New Brunswick Assocation of Social Workers


Geoff Hood, BSW, RSW

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Geoff Hood resides in Halifax with his partner and two year old son. He is a Graduate of Acadia University where he completed a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy. It was through these early studies that he first became interested in Ethics and Social Justice. He went on to complete a B.S.W. from Dalhousie University. Geoff began his career working at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Center, where he supported the well-being of both children and adults living with developmental and mental health related challenges. These early opportunities to practice in supportive alliances and meaningful connections with service users helped solidify his long-term commitment to social work practice.

Geoff has gone on to provide services to children and families at risk through his work in the child welfare sector. Geoff’s efforts have focused on addressing the complex socio-political issues that impact the needs of children and families. His practice has focused on child wellbeing and family centered interventions designed to empower service users and build resilience. Geoff has recently moved into a position with Staff Training with Child Youth and Family Supports, a division of the Department of Community Services, which has allowed him to provide new social workers with up to date training in order to further their skills.

In addition to everyday practice, Geoff has contributed time to foster the learning of social workers entering the field. Geoff has provided field instruction to students completing their B.S.W. program at Dalhousie University, and has provided Candidacy Supervision for newly practicing social workers. Geoff has also worker as a member of the Dalhousie Alumni Association (2006-2009.)

Further to this, Geoff has made a significant contribution to social work practice in Nova Scotia. Geoff served on Counsel for the NSASW (now NSCSW) while chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee (2008-2010) and again after becoming the chair of the Board of Examiners (2014-2016.) Geoff has also chaired the Complaints Committee on behalf of the Board of Examiners. Geoff also served on the Child Welfare Interest Group.

Geoff has worker with both the Board of Examiners and the Counsel to move the NSCSW forward under a new operating model designed to strengthen the profession while focusing on the protection of the public.