On the evening of April 26th, UCLA Luskin Social Welfare held its 2012 Joseph A. Nunn Alumnus of the Year Award Reception. Over 90 Social Welfare alumni joined faculty, staff, student volunteers, and esteemed guests in honoring Dr. Jorja Leap, recipient of this year’s Joseph A. Nunn Alumnus of the Year Award, and the Honorable Sheila Kuehl, recipient of the Social Welfare Community Service Award. It was a festive evening as old friends, colleagues, and teachers reminisced, told stories of personal and professional lives, networked, and shared plans for the future. Guests mingled and networked while enjoying live music, cocktails, a bountiful buffet catered by Loteria Grill and Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert.
In presenting the Social Welfare Community Service Award to Senator Kuehl, Professor Rosina Becerra spoke about the senator’s long history of public service in both elected and appointed positions. Whether serving as the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California Legislature, first woman in California history to serve as the Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly, Founding Director of the new Public Policy Institute, or in countless other important roles, Senator Kuehl has been, and continues to be, a compelling and committed voice of advocacy for social justice. In accepting her award, Senator Kuehl spoke of her long history with, and commitment to, UCLA, and as she is currently serving as a University of California Regents ’ Professor, our students and faculty are members of yet another community that will benefit greatly from her service to others.
The Alumnus of the Year Award is named in honor of Dr. Joseph A. Nunn, alumnus and former Vice Chair and Director of Field Education of the Social Welfare Department. This award recognizes outstanding social work professionals who have contributed leadership and service to the school, university, and/or community, and who have distinguished themselves through their commitment to a particular area of social work practice and/or scholarship. This year’s award recipient, Dr. Jorja Leap, has been a member of the UCLA faculty since 1992, with research interests focused on gangs and at risk youth. She has committed tremendous time, effort, and energy towards the reduction of community-based violence and the promotion of pro-social attitudes within violence-plagued neighborhoods. Presenting the award to his old friend and colleague, Dr. Nunn spoke with great warmth, humor and respect of Dr. Leap’s passionate commitment to her work and the tremendous contribution she has made to our school, university, and larger community. In accepting her award Dr. Leap’s remarks were typically irreverent, but also poignant and incisive, and they reminded everyone present of why she is such a beloved and well-respected figure both on and off campus.