— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff
Democrat Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election was welcome news at NASW, whose Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE) announced its endorsement of the candidate in September 2008.
"In these troubled times, Sen. Obama is the right person to lead this country," said NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.
She added that NASW "stands ready to assist Mr. Obama in any way we can. Social workers have always been involved in helping people during tough economic times and will remain involved during these difficult times."
NASW prepared a transition document for the Obama administration and sent it to the appropriate policy staff on his transition team. The document outlines policy recommendations that benefit both professional social workers and their clients.
To help elect Obama, NASW's PACE sent weekly e-mails to members that included information about registering to vote and early voting, as well as Obama's policies on women's issues, civil rights and health care. A final e-mail reminding members in all states to vote was sent the day before the election. Beginning on Sept. 8, NASW's PACE coordinated weekly phone banks from the national office. These calls targeted voters in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Minnesota. One week before the election, NASW released a video that included members' reasons for voting for Obama, as well as a message from Clark.
"We worked to find as many ways as possible to support and encourage social workers to be involved in this election because we knew it was important to our profession and to the clients we serve," said Dina Kastner, senior field organizer at NASW. "We are grateful for all of the work done by our members."
NASW announced its endorsement of Obama during the "Women for Obama" press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in September.
"NASW worked closely with the Women for Obama outreach group to communicate that women's needs are a top priority in the Obama campaign," said Clark. "We participated in meetings and conference calls focused exclusively on the impact of current social and economic challenges on women. Social work is a female-dominated profession and the collaboration with this group of women leaders across the country was invaluable."
At the press conference, Clark predicted that women would not vote for John McCain simply because he picked a woman as his running mate. "Women are smarter than that," she said.
Support from women helped Obama beat McCain to become the nation's 44th president and first African-American president.
"Obama understands women's issues, as well as family issues," said Clark, who served on Obama's Women's Outreach Committee. "He will work with us to make sure their needs are addressed."
Clark said her belief that Obama is the right person to lead the United States was confirmed when she attended the Democratic National Convention.
"Hearing his acceptance speech was such a privilege. There was an incredible energy in the crowd," she said. "It was an experience I will always remember."