NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark was among the members of the National Coalition for Women’s Appointments (NCWA) to visit the White House on Feb. 11 to speak with the Office of Personnel.
The meeting was the latest step in NCWA’s efforts to promote women to appointments in President Obama’s Cabinet and executive office.
Clark noted that the coalition has been in meetings since last fall. Members gathered at NASW’s national office in Washington, D.C., in January to fine-tune its list of nominees and the nomination process. At the February event at the White House, the coalition submitted names for consideration and also discussed with staff the importance of achieving gender balance. “This has been a great venue for us to showcase the value of social workers as well,” Clark said.
Clark used NASW’s Twitter account to offer up-to-minute details of the meeting. The group met personally with Don Gips, White House director of Presidential Personnel. He told attendees he appreciated their efforts. At the time of the meeting, Gips noted that while only three secretary positions have been given to women, Obama is devoted to promoting diversity in his administration.
Clark said an endorsement by NCWA adds validity to the nominee and helps narrow the selection process for White House personnel staff. The competition for jobs is tight as more than 350,000 applications were filed with the White House by the end of January.
“The meeting highlighted the importance of NCWA’s collaboration — and it helped show that we want our concerns taken seriously,” Clark said.
The White House event was arranged by NCWA member Irene Natividad, president of the Global Summit of Women. She said that in only a few weeks after the meeting, it appeared the suggestions made by NCWA were being utilized as evidenced by some recent White House appointments. “We’re pleased that the number of women appointments has improved since that meeting,” she said.
“The White House has been appreciative of the unified and professional way we are providing names,” Natividad said.
Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women’s League (OWL), also attended the White House event as an NCWA member. She said being part of NCWA is important as OWL works to represent issues that affect women who are older. “One of the key areas we focus on is economic security for older women,” she said. “We do what we can to get more women in high-level positions because we feel those women will pay more attention to the needs of women. At OWL, we would like to see as many women in the president’s administration as men.”
Carson said NCWA not only will help enable more women to serve in the administration, but it can also encourage women to apply for administration jobs that they are qualified to perform.
Natividad said NCWA will continue to examine nominees for appointments. “It’s an ongoing process in any administration since the average tenure for an appointment is 18 months,” she said.
“There is a continuing need to find talent. It’s also a challenge for the administration to find these people. We’re intent on locating names that meet the needs of the administration for the long term,” she said.