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Lifetime Achievement: Nomination Letter: 2013
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Randy A. Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award

Marianne Pennekamp's Nomination LetterDecember 28, 2012

Dear Dr. Alvarez:

This letter will serve as a formal nomination of Dr. Marianne Pennekamp for the Randy Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award. I have known Ms. Pennekamp as a colleague, mentor and friend for the past forty-five years.  I first met her when I was a young School  Social Worker networking with others in the field.   I became active in the California Association of School Social Workers (CASSW), the California State School Social Work organization that Ms. Pennekamp helped to start in the 1960’s.

Dr. Pennekamp came to the U.S. at the age of 17 after she and her family escaped from the ravages of the Nazis, first to France and then, with the help of the Quakers, on a ship bound for America. She attended college and later graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, School of Social Welfare, where she earned both her MSW and later, her Ph.D. She worked in the Oakland, CA public schools for twenty five years during which time she offered networking seminars and support to School Social Workers throughout the Bay Area. Through her work in the Oakland schools she became close to the District consulting child psychiatrist, Dr. Mary Sarvis, with whom she wrote her first book, Collaboration in School Guidance, published in 1970. After earning her Ph.D  in 1975, Marianne taught courses in Social Work, including School Social Work, at the University of California, Berkeley, where she became a sought after lecturer and mentor  to both graduate students and to those already working in the community. In her role as a practitioner, professor, and organizational leader, her reputation grew and she was considered the “Dean” of School Social Work in California. Many generations of School Social Workers have benefited from her experience and she has always been willing to share her knowledge and encouragement with everyone who sought her out. She made numerous presentations at conferences and offered workshops and supervision to both graduate students and practitioners alike.

In order to be closer to her family, she moved to Eureka, California, a community without a nearby School of Social Work. She worked for many years at the nearby Humboldt State University where she taught classes in the ”collaborative approach” in the  Department  of Social Work and Child Development, and as an adjunct professor in the departments of Psychology and Education. Humboldt State did not develop a graduate program in Social Work until many years after she taught there however, when the school did start an MSW program, she consulted with them to consider schools as a key site to deliver services as an integral part of the curriculum. She has remained for many, many years a “distance” fieldwork instructor and lecturer for the Sacramento State University School of Social Work, teaching the required courses for the Pupil Personnel Credential.  In this role, she has been able to develop a cadre of School Social Workers for her geographical area, while at the same time she was working with local Superintendents to develop field work placements for her students, many of which subsequently led to full time jobs.  She has also been a sought after consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services in Humboldt County, which includes Mental Health, Social Services and Public Health. She also serves on one of the First Five Commissions committees for Humboldt County.  Dr. Pennekamp has served as a Consulting Editor of the Social Work in Education journal, (now Children and Schools) and has written a number of Trends and Issues and other articles that have appeared in these journals.   

In the spirit of “joining”, which she has always championed, she collaborated with Dr. Edith Freeman to write her second book, Social Work Practice: Toward a Child, Family, School and Community Perspective   that was first published in 1988, with the second edition published in 2002. This book focuses on how workers from different venues can be joined together for the benefit of all children and youth and those who raise/teach them.  She was previously honored by NASW with the Zellerbach award which was given for her many contributions to the field throughout her life, as well as other awards at the local, state and national level. In the past twenty years her work has been as a volunteer- “pay- back time”.

Now, at the age of 88, she continues to advocate for support to children and youth in the context of their families, and remains a sought after person for her unique perspective. She plans to attend the SSWAA conference in March in San Diego where I hope she will be awarded the Randy Fisher Lifetime Career Achievement Award.


Howard M. Blonsky  


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