USF Professor Named Social Worker of the Year 

March 17, 2022,

Dr. Judy Zimbelman, associate professor of social work at USF, has been named 2022 Social Worker of the Year by South Dakota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-SD). This special honor is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the social work profession. 

“I’ve known Judy for over 10 years,” said Terry Werner, executive director of NASW-SD. “She is an extremely conscientious social worker, especially when it comes to working with her students. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of being named NASW Social Worker of the year.” 

On March 17 at 12 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, NASW-SD will present Dr. Zimbelman with the award at the annual NASW-SD Conference. The conference lands in the middle of Social Work Month—a time that recognizes those who dedicate their lives to social change and the empowerment of people and communities. 

“I am passionate about social work because of the difference it makes in the world,” Dr. Zimbelman said. “Social work cares about all people, advocates for those who do not have a voice and answers the call to help those who are ignored in society.” 

Zimbelman carries her passion for the profession into the classroom at USF as she instructs the next generation of social workers from her own experience in the field.  

“Watching the development of social work students grow into professionals is so rewarding,” Dr. Zimbelman said. “There is a strong need for social workers throughout our community and society. Our mission at USF, Culture for Service, is demonstrated in social work, and our students continue to demonstrate this mission throughout their careers in social work. Knowing that the development of students will have a ripple effect in society is so rewarding.” 

Survey data going back as far as six years at USF show a 100% placement rate for social work graduates, which means 100% of graduates found job placements or attended graduate school within six months of graduation. Job placements included titles such as social worker, case manager, economic benefits specialist, treatment coordinator and support specialist. 

“Dr. Zimbelman excels in her roles as associate professor of social work and director of field experiences at USF,” said Dr. Joy Lind, vice president for academic affairs at USF. “She brings a wealth of social work experience to the classroom, and students benefit greatly from her superb teaching. Her extensive professional network enables her to connect students to field opportunities, internships and jobs.” 

Learn more about the Social Work program at USF. 

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