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Alumni, Community Impact

Champaign Public Health Leader/SSW Alumna Awarded Public Citizen of the Year by NASW-IL

September 01, 2021

image of Julie Pryde with Public Citizen announcement

Julie A. Pryde, BSW '90, MSW '92 for her work in the past year to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Champaign County and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Social workers are essential to community well-being. As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups, and entire communities. In continuation of this year’s National Professional Social Work Month theme, “Social Workers Are Essential,” the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is honoring the work of some exceptional Illinois social workers and individuals whose work promotes social justice and social change with and on behalf of the people and clients they serve.

One such exemplary Illinois social worker being honored this year is 2021 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Public Citizen of the Year awardee Julie Pryde. Julie A. Pryde (MPH, University of Illinois at Springfield; MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LSW) is administrator of Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) in Illinois. In the past year, her work for Champaign County guided it through the pandemic through organization of a highly effective contact tracing program. Despite facing public criticism from many quarters, Ms. Pryde persisted in ensuring organized access to vaccines and kept in regular communication with the public in order to push back against misinformation. Her work resulted in world class modeling, contact tracing, and testing opportunities and as a result, Champaign County was one of the safest places in the state.

Ms. Pryde serves in advisory roles to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work, the YMCA’s New American Welcome Center, and the CU Fresh Start violence prevention initiative. She is a member of the Illinois State Board of Health. She has also been published in professional journals and presented at national conferences on topics related to public health and social work.

In support of their nomination of Ms. Pryde, Robert J. Jones, Chancellor of UIUC, and Andreas C. Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost wrote: “[W]e strongly believe that the choices Ms. Pryde and her team made and her careful, thoughtful implementation of mitigation protocols, testing and vaccination programs and constant, public, real-time information about the status of the virus in our county dramatically reduced hospitalizations and loss of life in our community…. The only word we can find that adequately describes Ms. Pryde’s efforts to protect every member of our community this year is ‘heroic.’ And the only word that our university can choose to express our appreciation is ‘grateful.’”

The NASW-Illinois Chapter is proud of the work of Julie Pryde and others like her who work every day to effect positive changes in their communities and beyond. Ms. Pryde is one of four individuals being honored as this year’s NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awardees. To learn more about the other statewide awardees, please visit the NASW-Illinois Chapter website ( or contact Joel L. Rubin, executive director, at

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. The NASW-Illinois Chapter is one of the association’s largest chapters and advocates for over 20,000 social workers in Illinois alone. NASW strives to advance social work careers, grow social work businesses, and protect the profession while seeking to also enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through advocacy.

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