School of Social Work alum wins distinguished award for elder care advocacy

Faiza Najar graduated from Wayne State University with a Master of Social Work in 2001. Since then, she has been serving the elderly and positively impacting the quality of lives for senior living communities in the Detroit community. Recently Najar received the Kathleen M. Graham Distinguished Service in Elder Advocacy & Abuse Prevention Award from the Coordinated Community Response Coalition of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties.

“I was happy and surprised to have received the award,” Najar said.

Faiza Najor obtaining her award
Faiza Najar receiving her award at the Elder Abuse Conference held at Madonna University in Livonia in June 2023.

Najar, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from an American university run by the Jesuit fathers in Baghdad, Iraq, credits her upbringing there as the reason she pursued her career path.

“Empathy for others and seeing how our community in Baghdad cared for one another, inspired me to pursue a career in social work,” she explained. 

“After immigrating to the U.S. from Iraq where she was well established professionally, Faiza chose to pursue graduate school as she adjusted to the new culture and cared for her family. She persevered, graduated and gave back to the school by serving on the Alumni Board for several years. It was her struggles and overcoming these and wanting to help that really made her an outstanding social worker who advocates for her clients at every opportunity,” said Anwar Najor-Durack, WSU Social Work assistant dean for student affairs.

Najar said it was a privilege working with Najar-Durack, calling her, as well as the late Alice Lamont, “instrumental in shaping my career.”

Currently, Najar serves as a local ombudsman and advocate for nursing home residents at the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA).

“Faiza is an outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsman. She is highly sensitive to the needs of individuals and families residing in skilled nursing facilities and/or long-term care residences. She is tireless and well-respected in the community and long-term care industry. Faiza is a true asset to the DAAA, our community, and individuals residing within care facilities,” said Ronald Taylor, President & CEO of the DAAA.

During COVID, Najar advocated for many patients, including her late husband, Ishan Aziz Jabero who suffered from kidney failure and Parkinson’s Disease. Jabero passed away in 2020.

At the height of the pandemic, Najar wasn’t allowed into any nursing homes.

“To me, the isolation, the depression—it’s worse than COVID,” Najar said.

Najar has also been a Social Work Practicum Instructor at WSU for many years, helping student interns learn, grow in preparation for professional practice.

“We are fortunate to have her as an alum and social worker in our community!” Najor-Durack said.

When Najar isn’t working, she enjoys cooking and caring for her family, exercising, and looking after her grandchildren.

Author: Laura Hipshire, Editor: Betsy Vanderstelt 

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