Faculty at The University of Toledo are dedicated to improving the human condition — and Dr. Celia Williamson and Dr. Kristopher Brickman do so both in and out of the classroom.That’s why Williamson, professor of social work, and Brickman, professor and chair of emergency medicine, are two recipients of this year’s Toledo Area Jefferson Awards.
The awards, given by the American Institute for Public Service, honor people for their community and public service in the hopes that others will be inspired to become involved.
Williamson dedicates much of her free time to raising awareness about human trafficking and aiding victims. For more than a decade, she has organized and hosted the annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference at The University of Toledo.
The conference brings together researchers, practitioners and others to educate attendees on human trafficking. Discussions include those of modern human trafficking, laws that are being created, and resources for victims both locally and nationally.
Williamson has volunteered her time with many of these resources. She also founded the Second Chance program in Lucas County in 1993, the oldest program in the state that works with prostituted women and trafficked youth.
“Human trafficking affects more than just the victims, it affects the whole community,” Williamson said. “I’m honored that the community I’m serving recognizes my efforts, and I’m encouraged by this award to make an even bigger impact.”
Now she is leading the UT Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, recently established by the University Board of Trustees.Brickman, who has practiced medicine for almost 30 years, has led medical missions all over the world to help those in need after crises. He didn’t hesitate to help the people of Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck in 2010, and he was there in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.
“Even with a job that keeps me busy here at UT, I never feel like my work is done,” Brickman said. “There is always more to do, but it’s important to approach each day with a passion to make the world a better place, whether it’s mentoring local high school students or developing global health programs.”
Along with his University responsibilities, Brickman has been the team physician and part-time wrestling coach for St. John’s High School for the last 28 years. He has mentored hundreds of high school students on their careers in both sports and life.
On top of providing help to those in need all over the world, Brickman encourages his students to do the same and educates them to be better equipped to assist others. He is the director of global health at UT Medical Center, partnering with foreign medical schools to give students an opportunity to learn outside the United States.
By placing medical students in international settings, often without modern medical infrastructure, Brickman introduces them to the challenges of working in diverse cultural situations. The Office of Global Health also supports students who want to go on medical missions by providing guidance and resources.
Williamson and Brickman were two of four honorees selected from a list of 53 nominees and 15 finalists. The four winners have the potential to win national Jefferson Awards and represent the region at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C., this summer.
The Toledo Area Jefferson Awards are sponsored by The Blade, Buckeye CableSystem, WTVG-13 and Leadership Toledo.