The National Association of Social WorkerNorth Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) is pleased to select Lauren Zingraff, MSW as the 2015 Myrna Miller Wellons Advocacy Award Recipient. Ms. Zingraff is a current employee of Independent Living Resources, Inc. in Durham NC. Ms. Zingraff is the Executive Director of SaySO (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out) and coordinates programs for youth ages 14-24 in foster care. Ms. Zingraff goes above her call of duty to help children find their voice and works to create opportunities and forums for youth to speak with their local officials, Departments of Social Services, and at the North Carolina General Assembly.
Ms. Zingraff utilizes her advocacy skills regularly in her role with the SaySo program, specifically advocating for older youth in substitute care. She has been actively seeking to raise the age of incarceration in an adult prison in North Carolina from 16 to 18-years-old since 2009, she trains foster youth to be legislative pages which allows youth to work side-by-side with policy makers, she trains youth to speak with her at legislative committee meetings in the North Carolina General Assembly, and voluntarily coordinates an annual statewideMake A Difference Day campaign to collect suitcases for foster youth.
In her nomination, Ms. Zingraff was noted as someone who “appreciates the saying ‘No benefits without risks’ and sees opportunities where most see barriers.’ This is the fabric of an advocate’s heart. This is the heart of Ms. Zingraff.” Ms. Zingraff is a true advocate both in policy and grassroots organizing and is an inspiration to many.
About the Award
The Myrna Miller Wellons Advocacy Award, formally the Advocate of the Year, is named after past NASW-NC Government Relations staff and social worker, Myrna Miller Wellons. Mrs. Wellons was a tireless advocate for many issues and was a mentor to social workers across the state. The award is given annually to someone who is a champion for impacting policy both for the social work profession and the clients served by social workers.
The Award will be given at NASW-NC’s annual March Ethics Conference and Awards Luncheon on March 6th, 2015 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, NC.
Nancy Carter, Executive Director of ILR says: "On behalf of ILR and SaySo, we are so proud of Lauren. Her tireless efforts are displayed everyday in the wonderful accomplishments of the young people with whom we are fortunate to work. Young people transitioning to adulthood have Lauren backing their efforts and sometimes, that's enough to make a difference in their lives. Her faith in them is endless and they know it. Well done Lauren!"