Larchmont Village resident Karen Gilman was named California’s 2012 Social Worker of the Year at a luncheon in October hosted by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
“A lot of people express sympathy for those in need, but Karen springs into action,” said Jody Porter, who has worked with Gilman for the past 20 years on a variety of social justice projects.
Gilman, who was named a 2010 Woman of Larchmont, in the Larchmont Chronicle, is best known for reaching out to the community and assisting both English and Spanish-speaking families who have children with developmental delays.
As a social worker with the Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF), she works with parents of children with developmental disabilities and provides training to graduate students in social work and other mental health fields.
In addition, she has worked on Shane’s Inspiration to help create handicapped-accessible playgrounds and facilitates parent support groups. Gilman also provides individual, group and legislative advocacy and training regarding special education, social security, MediCal, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and regional centers for the developmentally disabled.
Her work has garnered her recognition from USC for her outstanding services to the School of Social Work field education department, as well as the city of Los Angeles for her “dedication to making our community a better place for all its residents.”
Despite all her accomplishments, those close to her, including her husband Mike, say her biggest achievements are her modesty and her desire to give back to those she works with and the community. “Karen never loses an opportunity to help others and to encourage other people to do the same,” said Porter. “She isn’t just a social worker in her professional life. Karen is a sterling example of the kind of person who really makes a difference, day by day, individual by individual.”