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NASW Virginia Chapter Honors Sen. R. Creigh Deeds with 2021 Legislator of the Year Award

Richmond, VA (March 30, 2021) - Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-25th District) has received the 2021 Legislator of the Year Award from the Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers for his long commitment and advocacy to advance mental health and improve mental healthcare systems statewide. The award was officially presented at a ceremony Saturday, March 27 at the virtual NASW Virginia Annual Conference.

An attorney for 37 years, Sen. Creigh has been a respected leader in the General Assembly for decades, emerging as a vocal advocate for improving mental and behavioral health funding, oversight, and organization in Virginia.

His commitment to public service has been called “exceptional” by admirers, who cite his extensive across-the-political-aisle collaborations and leadership of numerous influential committees, commissions, subcommittees, and study groups. These include chairmanship of the Senate Privilege and Elections Committee and active leadership in the committees of Commerce and Labor, Finance and Appropriations, Judiciary, and Rules. In addition, he chairs the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Twenty-First Century and is an ex-officio member of the Involuntary Commitment/Emergency Services Work Group.

“Senator Deeds’ dedication, committee work, and strong reputation have led to substantive changes that help some of Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens,” says NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “In fact, he has worked alongside many social workers and other behavioral health professionals in working groups and coalitions over the years.

“By listening carefully to those of us in the trenches, Sen. Deeds has been able to craft policies that can and should be adopted in the field,” she says. “That trust and communication has ensured that his efforts can be practically applied to truly help our clients and communities.”

Most recently, Sen. Deeds fought for and won increased funding for mental health systems and introduced and advocated successfully for creation of a Behavioral Health Commission to serve as a permanent oversight entity for continued study of mental health issues. He also has been a longtime supporter of loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals and for discharge planning for jails with high numbers of inmates with mental health issues.

“Sen. Deeds is a champion in the eyes of social workers and behavioral health providers,” says Riggs. “We are thrilled to recognize him with our highest award for policy leaders.”

NASW Virginia is the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. It represents nearly 3,000 social workers in Virginia, providing them with education, advocacy opportunities, and a professional community in which to network and support each other. Learn more at naswva.org.

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