Michael Francum has been the executive director of NASW’s D.C. Metro Chapter for about a year, but his NASW journey started well before that when he began as an intern in the national office.
“I knew NASW was the place for me to apply the social work skills that I want to apply,” he said.
Francum obtained his BSW at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and worked in direct practice in HIV prevention and case management. He said he was drawn toward the area of HIV prevention, as it wasn’t talked about much when he was growing up in rural North Carolina.
“I’ve always seen myself being in a helping profession, and social work resonates with my core values which are, namely, believing that every person has value, worth and dignity,” he said. “I enjoyed the work, and I felt getting an MSW would allow me to reach more people.”
Francum then moved to Washington, D.C., to work in public policy on comprehensive sexuality education prior to attending the University of Maryland School of Social Work , where he began interning in NASW’s government relations office during his advanced practicum. During this time, he realized a deep passion for advocacy and getting involved in political advocacy work.
“Doing policy advocacy work is very dear to me,” Francum said. “It’s a skill set that expands to helping communities and seeing the bigger picture.”
Now at the helm of the D.C. Metro Chapter after years of holding different positions at the chapter and national office levels, Francum is working to expand networking activities, engaging young professionals and increasing member interest in social justice issues.
With the chapter’s unique position in Washington, there is a lot of activity going on and plenty of opportunity to get involved, he said.
“We have about 1,400 members, and it’s a small community with a large network with social workers at the federal, local and agency level,” Francum said.
Engaging social workers from all backgrounds is important for the chapter, he said, as it brings together a solid community and the chance for members to connect with each other.
“There has been a lot of engagement from our members in the past few months in a diverse range of social justice areas at the national level, including the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage and voter rights,” he said “The diversity we have at the chapter makes it possible for members to find a common ground, and they are right at the heart of everything here in DC.”
Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of profiles of NASW’s newest chapter executive directors.