The Orange County Department of Education honored Leslie Wind, clinical associate professor and director of the USC School of Social Work’s Orange County Academic Center, with its Outstanding Contributions to Education Award.
The awards are presented to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to education. The program, which began in the early 1980s, has made an impact in the community by acknowledging the value of giving and honoring those who have offered their time and talents to support education in schools throughout Orange County.
Wind has worked with the Orange County Department of Education since joining the School of Social Work in 2008, donating time, resources and facilities for various educational conferences and trainings sponsored by the department.
“When I first heard about the award, I was surprised and thrilled,” said Wind, who was one of four winners. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for our work and to be recognized by such esteemed and valued colleagues.”
Heidi Cisneros, an administrator for Safe Schools & Support Services within the Department of Education, nominated Wind. The two frequently collaborate with Cisneros’ team of social workers in the department’s Alternative, Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services (ACCESS) program, which is dedicated to providing quality alternative educational options in Orange County.
“We nominated Dr. Wind for her stellar professionalism and positive energy and passion,” Cisneros said. “She believes in possibilities – not barriers – which makes her an exceptional role model for all social work practitioners.”
Wind donated use of the Orange County Academic Center facilities for the ACCESS program and has hosted two gang intervention conferences, which attracted more than 800 attendees.
She believes in strong community partnerships and has made an effort to integrate the 200 students and 23 faculty members based in Orange County either as interns or mentors in the program’s classrooms.
“Dr. Wind and her outstanding students are passionate in their commitment to serving and providing support to the at-risk youth in Orange County, especially here in our ACCESS program,” Cisneros said.
Wind also assists local community-based mental health agencies in developing grant proposals that focus on trauma and building resilience in youth and their families.
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