Dr. Maha Younes Named 2009 Nebraska Social Worker of the Year

Dr. Maha Younes
Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work, 308.865.8741

Dr. Maha Younes, professor and chair of the University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Social Work, has been named 2009 Social Worker of the Year by the Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NE).

The award was presented during the NASW-NE fall conference in Omaha. The presenter noted, “No matter the challenges or barriers that face her, any project Dr. Younes undertakes is met with dedication, persistence and commitment until the goal is reached.”

Dr. Younes, who joined the UNK faculty in 1991, holds a bachelor’s of social work and psychology from Kearney State College/UNK, a master’s degree in educational psychology from KSC/UNK, a master’s of social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Ph.D. in adult and community education from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

In addition to teaching and research, her professional work includes more than 20 years of clinical experience working with survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, eating disorders and relationship dysfunctions. Her clinical experience began at Hastings Regional Center where she worked as a psychiatric social worker. She served as a clinical social worker at South Central Behavioral Services from 1986-1991. She also maintained a private practice agency from 1986-2001.

For the past few years, Dr. Younes has led the Nebraska Consortium of Social Work School and worked closely with policy makers and leaders from the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (NDHHS) to promote the professionalization of the child welfare workforce in Nebraska. Through her advocacy and leadership, she has stressed that improvements in child welfare services in Nebraska will only emerge through the professional preparation and hiring of graduates with social work degrees.

“In their time of need, Nebraska’s most vulnerable children and families deserve the help of those who are most qualified and dedicated to their service,” she said.

In 1999, she developed the International Social Work Experiences Program at UNK with the goal of promoting cultural competence and global engagement. In addition to extensive sightseeing, the study experiences that Dr. Younes creates focus on social policy and programs related to children, families, the elderly and minority groups. She has led students and professionals to destinations in Israel, the West Bank, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, China, Australia and Ireland. The study experiences have focused on health care, education, social welfare and criminal justice. She has described the international study experiences as “life-changing” and has published research on the impact of international study on college students.

In 2005, she was one of only 14 scholars from universities across the nation selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).

“My ultimate goal is to promote the cultural competence and global awareness of students, and increase their efficacy as citizens of the global community,” Dr. Younes said. Among her research interests are global social policy, cultural competence, advocacy and social action, immigration and child welfare.