RIC Social Work Students and Faculty Member Earn Prestigious NASW-RI Awards

Exterior of School of Social Work Building
Rhode Island College Impact

RIC’s School of Social Work has a statewide reputation for producing superior graduates taught by exceptional faculty.

Widely recognized in Rhode Island and throughout southeastern New England as a center of excellence in education, training and advocacy, Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work continues to produce highly employable and passionate social workers.

This year two RIC social work students and an adjunct faculty member have been recognized by the Rhode Island chapter of the National Association of Social Workers for their achievements, dedication and endless support to the social work community.

Maria Cimini, adjunct faculty member and director of the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging, has been honored with the NASW-RI’s 2023 Social Worker of the Year Award. She is a two-time RIC graduate, who earned her B.A. in political science in 2002 and her M.S.W. in 2005. Her lifework has focused on policy and advocacy. As director of the Office of Healthy Aging, she works to amplify the voices of older adults and identify gaps in services for the elderly. Cimini leads a team responsible for investigating elder abuse and self-neglect, connects seniors to home-care services and builds community partnerships to support senior health and nutrition and to connect seniors with their peers throughout the state.

Prior to her directorship, Cimini served as associate director of policy at the Rhode Island Department of Human Services. She is a former state representative, who served two terms. And she worked for 15 years in the nonprofit sector to assist people who were experiencing homelessness by moving them to housing. She also expanded SNAP access and provided direct services to low-income families.

Honored with NASW-RI’s Promising Practitioners Award is Douglas McCormack, currently enrolled in the accelerated B.S.W./M.S.W. program at Rhode Island College. McCormack also serves as the scholarship coordinator for the RIC Foundation. His passion lies in philanthropy, financial planning, policy development and research.

Growing up in a small rural town, McCormack said he witnessed the normalization of prejudice and it fueled a visceral reaction within him. It also played a pivotal role in helping him identify and solidify his core values, which are firmly rooted in justice, equality and compassion. These values led him to his calling in social work. His ultimate dream, he says, is to establish a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing individuals with the tools and skills they need to effectively manage their finances. He says, by offering easily accessible resources and education, people will be empowered to take control of their financial futures and break the cycle of financial hardship.

Also honored with the Promising Practitioners Award is Christine Wagner. Wagner is in her last semester of the M.S.W. at Rhode Island College and has worked with a wide variety of client populations, including adults and children with disabilities, individuals in the correctional system, DCYF-involved youth and older adults. She is currently interning at Social Sparks, where she provides therapy for individuals and groups. Wagner also designed a curriculum to assist clients in practicing social skills and socio-emotional thinking. Her passion, she says, is to work on the front lines and her ultimate goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker with her own private practice.

Rhode Island College congratulates the 2023 recipients of the NASW-RI awards.