A time of renewal

Jeane Anastas, PhD, LMSWSpringtime is a time of growth and renewal in nature, and this spring has been a time of renewal at NASW as well.

In May, the national office of NASW experienced a major change in leadership: the departure of longtime CEO Dr. Betsy Clark and the arrival of her successor in that role, Dr. Angelo McClain.

In the 12 years she served NASW as executive director and CEO, Dr. Clark has accomplished a lot: the formation of the NASW Foundation and the Social Work Policy Institute; the transition of the former NASW Insurance Trust into Assurance Services Inc., our current insurance arm; spearheading the development of the Social Work Reinvestment Act and the Congressional Social Work Caucus; and expansion of NASW’s involvement in the development of social work internationally.

Many other important things are not on this list. However, the point here is not to name them all but to express the gratitude felt by the national board of directors for Betsy’s long, loyal and effective service to NASW in these and many other areas.

One of the most important responsibilities that a board of directors has is hiring a new CEO. National staff and national board and executive committee members have actually been planning for this transition for more than 18 months, after Betsy announced her plans.

We professionalized the process by appointing a small search committee, led by past president Dr. James Kelly, and by hiring a search firm to assist in the process. The board interviewed the finalists and then made its choice: Dr. Angelo McClain.

I will not attempt to describe here all of Dr. McClain’s past accomplishments. However, highlights include serving as the commissioner of the Department of Child and Family Services in Massachusetts under Gov. Deval Patrick; prior leadership in the private sector providing behavioral health care for children and youth; and a strong commitment to and belief in the social work profession that goes back to his undergraduate education when he majored in social work (both of his graduate degrees are also in social work).

Among the qualities that impressed all of those involved in the selection process were Dr. McClain’s understanding of social work practice and the importance of the profession; his commitment to serving vulnerable families and youth throughout his career; his financial acumen; his listening skills; the creativity of his thinking; his mission-driven style of leadership; and his commitment to building positive collegial relationships even when change is needed.

The board is delighted that Angelo accepted the CEO position, and we have high confidence in his ability to lead us toward continuing improvements in our services to members, addressing challenges and opportunities successfully. We also know he will be an excellent representative of NASW and of the social work profession on national and international levels.

Dr. McClain’s first full day of work at NASW was May 13. He will take the next few months to make his assessment of the association, reporting his findings to the NASW board in September. At that time, we will set priorities for changes going forward.

I have received many suggestions that affect different parts of NASW’s work. To them and to you I ask for patience. Every conversation and interaction that I have had with Angelo since his appointment has shown him to be wise, thoughtful and unafraid of the challenges and opportunities that await him.

NASW welcomes Dr. McClain as our new CEO and looks forward to the many contributions he will make to our organization and the profession.