Wind’s Career Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

NASW-CA Chapter President Shirley Gentilini, left, Dean Marilyn Flynn of USC School of Social Work, Leslie Wind, and NASW-CA Region F Director Cameron Galford

Leslie Wind, clinical associate professor and associate dean of academic programs at the USC School of Social Work, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter’s Region F for decades of work dedicated to improving lives all over the United States.

More than 50 of Wind’s colleagues, students, alumni, friends and family surprised her with the award at the NASW-CA Orange County Unit’s annual Social Work Month celebration. NASW-CA Region F Director Cameron Galford presented the award to Wind for a career that spans more than 40 years as an educator, licensed clinician, researcher, advocate, community organizer, activist, author and mentor. 

“Dr. Wind exemplifies the importance of continued professional development. Despite her vast knowledge on a variety of specialized topics, she is often found perusing journal articles, attending trainings, workshops, webinars and conferences, and networking with her colleagues to study the latest trends within the social work profession,” Galford said. “When her colleagues refer to Dr. Wind, there is an acute ring of respect, credibility and admiration for her leadership, professionalism and character. She is a constant source of encouragement to others, and is the first to offer a hand when others need assistance.”

Wind said that one of the reasons she enjoys being a part of the social work profession is that it allows you to follow your passion and to grow both professionally and personally.

“Receiving this award reminds me of the tremendously diverse opportunities I have had as a social worker to make a contribution,” she said. “To be recognized by our amazing profession for my achievements is an honor. But, none of us do this work alone; this journey is always in partnership. My success is because of those who helped and joined me along the way.”

Wind joined the USC School of Social Work in 2008 as clinical associate professor and director of the Orange County Academic Center. She now oversees the programs at all of the school’s four academic centers. Prior to joining USC, Wind was an assistant professor and chair of the children, youth and families specialization and subspecialty in trauma and violence at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. She also directed the Massachusetts Coalition of Child and Family Disaster Mental Health Education, a statewide interdisciplinary training in disaster mental health research conducted in collaboration with the Terrorism and Disaster Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Wind has also been part of the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, where she developed and directed a graduate-level field unit for the City of Austin. Before focusing on academia, she served as a clinical social worker for 18 years, working in private practice, two rape centers, a child and family mental health agency, and a residential treatment facility.

Wind has also participated in numerous funded research opportunities and collaborations across the United States, managing millions of dollars in grants in the areas of disaster, violence and trauma, with a special focus on multicultural contexts, coping and resiliency. She has authored dozens of scholarly publications and book chapters, presented and given testimony at conferences, and has been invited by a wide variety of organizations to provide formal trainings and consultations across the globe.

In 2012, the Orange County Department of Education honored Wind with its Outstanding Contributions to Education Award for donating significant time, resources and facilities for various educational conferences and trainings sponsored by the department. She is currently chair of the Community Family Guidance Center Foundation and chair of the NASW Orange County Unit.

“Many social workers devote their lives to helping at an individual person level or a public policy/education level. Few like Dr. Wind have given so much back to the profession through her work with the National Association of Social Workers so that our own professional standards and ethics are upheld and strengthened,” Janlee Wong, executive director of NASW-CA, wrote in a letter of support. “NASW is deeply grateful to Dr. Wind and proud that she is the very best of what a professional social worker represents.”