The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award (NL) for 2015 is Suzanne Brake PhD, MSW, BSW, RSW.  This award recognizes Suzanne’s significant and lasting impact on the social work profession in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Suzanne graduated from Memorial University with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1979 and a Master of Social Work degree in 1998; in 2010 she earned a PhD from the University of Calgary. Over the past 35 years, Dr. Brake has worked in direct practice, management, research, policy development and teaching.  She began her career in acute and long term care. She worked with the School of Social Work at Memorial University in a variety of positions including teaching, research, and accreditation coordinator. In 2005, she joined the provincial government as director of the Aging and Seniors division with the Department of Health and Community Services.  In 2010, she was appointed Director of Neglected Adults and has taken the lead role in the implementation of the newly proclaimed Adult Protection Act (2014).  Her current role is Director of the Seniors and Aging Division of the recently created Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development and the Provincial Director of Adult Protection.

The majority of Suzanne’s career has been spent working with seniors and older adults. She has worked tirelessly to challenge ageism and paternalism in its various forms.  Her daily work exemplifies the importance of respecting the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals.  She demonstrates this consistently through her collaborative person-centered approach. 

Suzanne is described as an ambassador of the social work profession. Throughout her career, she has championed the invaluable role of social work as part of the interdisciplinary team.  This is evidenced most recently through her work leading to the development of the Adult Protection Act in Newfoundland and Labrador.  This legislation recognizes the social work skill set as an essential component necessary for the delivery of services under the Act.

Suzanne consistently sets high standards for herself and the other social workers with whom she works as she promotes, celebrates and defends the rights of individuals to self determination.  She is described as an engaging and respectful leader who invites and welcomes participation from team members. Throughout the course of her career, Suzanne has supervised numerous students at the undergraduate and graduate level and has mentored many social workers by her example.  Through a genuine and warm approach, she demonstrates a balance between empathy and expertise and inspires critical thinking. 

She contributes to her community and profession through her volunteer work with numerous organizations.  Not for profit groups organizations including Planned Parenthood and Emmanuel House have benefited from Suzanne’s community involvement.  She serves on the PhD Committee of the Memorial University School of Social Work, has been an active volunteer with NLASW for many years and is currently Chair of the NLASW Disciplinary Panel.  Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Suzanne Brake, the recipient of the 2015 Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for this province.