NASW embraces change

Jeane Anastas, Ph.D., LMSWAs my term as NASW president comes to an end, it is a moment to reflect on the experience and to celebrate how NASW is now poised for the future.

My term as president has brought me many joys, chief among them working with two different and very talented executive leaders. Dr. Betsy Clark’s 12 years of service at the national office of NASW were marked by increased financial viability, greater national visibility than in previous years, and tireless advocacy for the profession of social work.

I learned an immense amount from Betsy in the years before I became president and during the 18 months we worked closely together before she retired, and I am deeply grateful for that experience.

Assisted by NASW’s board and an incredibly able search committee of member leaders, I have had great pleasure in bringing Dr. Angelo McClain to NASW as CEO.

Angelo has administrative acumen and vision for the profession, both of which have been evident in how he has shaped the strategic planning process since coming to NASW a little over a year ago.

His administrative skills help board members and national staff to feel safer in taking risks on new initiatives, which is also helped by his calm demeanor and his listening skills.

He has also put in place an impressive leadership team in the national office to assist him in serving our members in new and continuing ways.

President-elect Darrell Wheeler, whom I have known for many years, is going to make a terrific NASW president. He has tremendous insight, creativity and wisdom about the interpersonal processes that are the medium through which organizations function. He has long experience on the national board, which will complement Angelo’s fresh perspective.

Knowing that a leader of Darrell’s caliber will be the next president makes this time of transition far easier for me.

One of the things I will miss most is spending time with the immensely able and dedicated volunteer leaders who comprise the NASW board, the ASI board and the major committees that carry out so much of the work of NASW.

Even when we have not agreed, we have found ways to work together because we share a love of the profession of social work. Able volunteer leaders with similar talents contribute at the chapter level as well. In my travels to chapters, I have met many inspiring social workers from all fields of practice.

If you are a member of NASW who has not yet offered to play a leadership role in the association, please think about doing so. You will grow professionally while you contribute to our professional association — and you will get to know other amazing social workers along the way.

Change is in the air at NASW. In August, the Delegate Assembly will meet and make some major decisions about the shape of NASW’s governance, which needs to become more nimble, streamlined and participatory for the individual member.

There is also a modernization task force looking at new ways we could organize ourselves at the local and national levels to get the most value for members out of each part of the association. We are re-crafting government relations at the national level to build on the gains made with the Social Work Reinvestment Act and the Congressional Social Work Caucus.

Membership is on the rise again, and the new budget — tied to the strategic plan — is geared toward investments that will make membership in NASW even more rewarding in the future.

It has been an immense honor to serve as NASW president these last three years, representing our membership and the profession of social work here and abroad.

Whatever the changes that lie ahead, some things will remain constant: NASW’s commitment to advancing the social work profession and social workers everywhere; its commitment to preserving and funding essential social and human services; and its work advancing social justice for all.

I predict a great future for NASW as an organization embracing constructive change.