The American Public Health Association has recognized Robyn Golden, MA, LCSW, RUSH’s associate vice president of Social Work and Community Health, as its 2022 Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker.
In addition to leading RUSH’s community-facing social work programs, Golden is also an assistant professor of Medicine, Nursing, Psychiatry and Health Systems Management, and chairperson of the Department of Social Work in the RUSH College of Health Sciences. She received the award during the APHA’s annual meeting in Boston earlier this month.
“For me, this award means that social workers are being recognized in the public health space,” Golden said. “This is so critical, in terms of health equity. If we don’t have social workers at the table, we just do not have everything we need. We need to look at the whole picture and not let people fall through the cracks. Social workers are often the only voice for the communities we serve. And addressing health equity is at our core.”
‘Dedicated to advancing health for all’
The Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker award is named for two leaders in the field, Virginia Insley and Juanita Evans, who both played significant roles in the founding of public health social work education, research and services. Insley was the first chief social work officer for the US. Public Health Service’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. She served from 1955 to 1980 and was succeeded by Evans, who held the position from 1980 to 2000.
“Robyn’s work as a public health social worker is strongly in the tradition of the work of Virginia Insley and Juanita Evans, the trailblazing social workers who inspired the establishment of this award,” says Jeanne Marsh, MSW, PhD, George Herbert Jones Distinguished Service Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, who nominated Golden for the award. “She is active, intelligent, innovative and dedicated to advancing health for all.”
A remarkable career
Since joining RUSH in 2004, Golden has developed innovative programming to engage and care for community members, including health promotions workshops, care coordination and mental health services. Under her leadership, RUSH has been recognized for developing significant care coordination programs, including evidence-based social work care management models and interprofessional collaboration models between social workers, nurses and community health workers.
Throughout her career, Golden has worked to improve the public’s health in several ways. Before arriving at RUSH, Golden worked for a community-based social service organization, directing its clinical services, program development and provider relations. She has also sought to address policy barriers in the way of more coordinated and comprehensive care being available to all.
From 2003 to 2004, Golden was the John Heinz Senate Fellow based in the office of U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, D.C. In this role, she spent a year there working as the senator's aging and health policy advisor on issues such as Medicare, mental health, Alzheimer's disease, and the Older Americans Act. Golden is also a past chair of American Society on Aging and currently co-chairs the National Coalition on Care Coordination.
An advocate for public health
Golden’s contributions to public health throughout her career have been well recognized. She received the Gerontological Society of America’s 2017 Maxwell A. Pollack Award for Productive Aging and served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s committee that published "Integration of Social Needs Care into the Delivery of Health Care." This study has been used widely by health and social work organizations to advocate and promote the role of social work in addressing social needs, as well as increasing quality and reducing costs of health care by integrating social care into physical and mental health care.
Golden also is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and is a National Association of Social Workers Foundation Social Work Pioneer. Additionally, she has received the Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award and the Riland Medal of Public Service from the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Her work to advance U.S. public health is also reflected in her membership on several boards, including the American Society on Aging, the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, the UnitedHealth Group’s Center on Clinician Advancement and the John A. Hartford Foundation's Practice Change Leaders for Aging and Health. Golden also serves on the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network’s Scientific Steering Committee and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Age-Friendly Advisory Group.