2020 Alumni Awards Recipients

Learn more about each of our alumni awards and information on how to nominate someone here.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Kathryn Wehrmann, PhD, MSW, LCSW

In the late 1990’s, Kathryn Wehrmann spearheaded efforts to bring child welfare services in Romania up to 21st century standards and practices, which under a dictatorial regime was institution-based, primitive, and often punitive. Her work began when she was the program coordinator for a Romanian Child Welfare Administrative Study program, undertaken by Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. In 2001, on the faculty of Illinois State University, she was selected as a Fulbright Senior Scholar to teach child welfare policy and conduct child welfare reform research at the University of Bucharest. In 2006 and 2007 she taught courses in program evaluation, led supervision seminars and lectured on child welfare at Babes-Bolyai University of Social work in Ciuj and at the University of Bucharest, Romania. She served as an associate professor and BSW program director at the Illinois State University School of Social Work until she retired in May, 2019. She currently serves as the President of the National Association of Social Work.

Outstanding New Social Worker Award

Annie Bruno

“Born and raised in Champaign, I knew I wanted to remain in this community for my future career as a social worker. I attended the University of Illinois for both undergrad and graduate school, earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work. Through my schooling experience, I completed internships at the Autism Program of Illinois and at Skill Sprout, working with children and adults with autism.

Upon graduating, I began work at Community Choices, a human services cooperative that supports individuals with disabilities, providing direct support to families. After a few years, I transitioned to my current role as an Independent Service Coordinator at Regional Planning Commission. Here, I monitor and oversee services for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities who receive state-funded supports. I assist individuals with disabilities to acquire state-funded supports, choose from provider agencies, and develop their personal plans.

I grew up with family and friends in the field of social services and I learned from an early age what I wanted to do professionally. I feel very grateful that I found such a welcoming professional environment at RPC that allows me to do the work I love, each and every day.”

Whitney Freund

Whitney earned her MSW in 2018 from UIUC and began working as a school social worker in the Palos Heights 128 school district following graduation. She currently works at Independence Junior High and services students with IEPs, 504s, and also works to proactively educate the general education population on SEL. She started off her career as an educator in a high school in Decatur, Illinois and then transferred to teach in the alternative education program there with middle and high school students. Whitney is in her second year of supervision to obtain her LCSW and has a deep passion for helping others.

Community Achievement Award

Meghan Golden

Meghan received her MSW from UIUC in 2011 and began working in child welfare and community mental health. After obtaining her LCSW she transitioned to the healthcare field with SIU School of Medicine and has worked there almost six years in the areas of integrated care and more recently providing psychotherapy for PTSD and co-occurring addiction. Meghan was a founding member of SIU’s Student HotSpotting Interdisciplinary Team in partnership with the National Center for Complex Care and Social Needs. She has assisted with several community programs, including bringing trauma therapy groups to local shelters, bringing PTSD individual and group therapy to drug court participants, and starting a co-responding program with local police. She is working to earn certification in Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing therapy. She graduates with a DSW from University of Tennessee in May 2020. Meghan currently serves as the Director of Education for SIU’s Office of Community Initiatives & Complex Care.