The Newman University School of Social Work presented two awards at a National Association of Social Work – Colorado event March 12 in Denver.
The Colorado Springs center honored Gayle Christensen, MSW, LCSW, and Moya Smith, MSW, LCSW, at the organization’s annual Social Work Month celebration.
Associate Professor of Social Work and Field Coordinator Barry Koch, Ph.D. bestowed the Distinguished Field Instructor of the Year award to Christensen and the Distinguished Alumna of the Year to Smith.
Christensen has more than 35 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He co-founded The Family Center of Colorado Springs in 1989. He became the clinical director for Kids Crossing, a not-for-profit child placement agency, in 2004. Christensen served as the director for 10 years and still works at Kids Crossing as program director for the Juvenile Sexuality Program, supervising the treatment of children with sexual behavior issues.
Since 1987 Christensen has been a field instructor for a variety of universities providing clinical supervision to master’s level therapists including Newman University students.
“He is recognized by many as one of the most sophisticated clinical minds in Colorado Springs,” Koch said in his remarks. “He is a great teacher of psychotherapeutic processes, and makes his knowledge accessible to students through illustrative stories from his vast practice experiences. Gayle is the one everybody goes to when they are confounded by a complicated or troublesome client situation.”
Smith ’11 was considered an excellent student in her MSW program. She excelled academically and also demonstrated excellence in her field placement. Smith was placed with Maple Star of Colorado, which allowed her to continue her passion for working with families in foster care and adoption.
Smith’s passion grew from her own experiences. After completing undergraduate coursework and an eight-year career in public relations, Smith stayed home to raise her family. Eventually she and her husband decided to adopt children from China. Her journey included collaborating with other parents and a Denver adoption agency to build a relationship with a Chinese orphanage to help improve care and increase adoptions.
Smith opened a private practice called Hawthorn Trauma and Adoption in 2013. She has a passion for children who suffer trauma through adoption, medical issues or events, and their parents. She is executive director and co-founder of Dianjiang Kids International. She is a board member for Temple Grandin School, a school for children with Asperger’s and similar learning profiles. She is adult workshop coordinator at Chinese Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families.