NASW leaders network, learn

Carol TrustCarol Trust, executive director of the NASW Massachusetts Chapter, receives the Outstanding Chapter Executive of the Year award during the Annual Leadership Meeting in April.

— Rena Malai and Paul R. Pace, News staff

Conference features workshops, Hill visits, award ceremonies.

NASW chapter executive directors, presidents and presidents-elect traveled to Washington, D.C., in April to participate in the 2013 Annual Leadership Meeting held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.

The four-day meeting, with the theme “A Profession of Leaders in a Leading Profession,” offered an opportunity for NASW leaders to network, learn about national office activities, participate in workshops and meet with their members of Congress. (See related article in this issue.)

Ceremonies were held during the conference to honor the recipients of several awards, including the NASW National Awards and the Rhoda G. Sarnat Award.

ALM also featured keynote speakers and a reception and dinner to honor NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark, who left the position last month after 12 years of service. (See related article in this issue.)

Clark and NASW President Jeane Anastas welcomed participants to ALM in an opening plenary, including a State of the Association report that Clark delivered. The report mentioned association highlights over the past year, including the reintroduction of the Social Work Reinvestment Act in the U.S House of Representatives; working closely with Jill Biden on veterans’ issues; international social work efforts through Social Workers Across Nations; and changes implemented through the Affordable Care Act.

Clark also announced that Angelo McClain had been chosen as NASW’s new CEO. (See related article in this issue.)

“It has been a privilege to be at NASW,” Clark said. “And in social work, we do have challenges ahead of us, but as social workers we rise to those challenges.”

Karin Moran, director of policy at NASW’s New York State Chapter, received the Gilman-Wells Award, which was established in 1997 and honors one special area of chapter activity. Moran was recognized for her leadership skills, developing strong community advocacy and helping put veteran mental health training initiatives in place.

“We (NASW-NYS) have achieved results far beyond our expectations,” Moran said. “As social workers, we can redefine ourselves and ignite our passions.”

Carol Trust, executive director of the NASW Massachusetts Chapter, received the Outstanding Chapter Executive of the Year Award for her chapter leadership, responding to unexpected crises in a timely fashion and helping the chapter in its efforts to get a social work safety bill passed in the first legislative session.

“This award is for all of us,” Trust said. “It’s so neat to be a part of this community, and this chosen profession is indeed a way of life.”

Anastas and Clark also encouraged plenary attendees to move thoughtfully forward as social work leaders.

“We’re here as leaders in the profession,” Anastas said. “We must be creative, thoughtful and innovative in how we lead the profession, and move forward in a fruitful way.”

Keynote Speakers

Sharon Parrott, MSW, vice president for budget policy and opportunity at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Parrott discussed deficit reduction and the Sequestration Order that President Obama signed April 10. Since the end of 2010, a lot has been done for deficit reduction, she said, and most economists say that the main goal is to increase employment and bolster economic regrowth.

“It’s most important to do things in the near term to facilitate economic growth and stabilize the economy,” she said.

Seventy percent of recent deficit reductions have come from program cuts, with nondefense discretionary spending receiving the majority of cuts, she said, adding that these cuts will go even deeper under sequestration.

Sequestration affects so many things, and threatens low-income families — something many people at ALM care about, Parrott said. With core low-income

programs subject to big cuts and harmful structural changes in place for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, things could get to a point where resources won’t be available, she said.

Frederic ReamerFrederic Reamer, MSW, professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College.

Frederic Reamer, a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College, gave the Sarnat keynote address during ALM after receiving the Rhoda G. Sarnat Award.

Reamer gave the Sarnat keynote address after receiving the Rhoda G. Sarnat Award, which recognizes the significant contributions an individual has made to the public image of the social work profession.

Reamer spoke about technology and ethics in social work. Some things in the ethics world do not change, he said, but the landscape is very different today.

“A few years ago, we didn’t talk that much about digital,” Reamer said. “In a recent presentation I gave at the Taiwan Association of Social Workers, I asked how many have Facebook accounts, Facebook requests from clients, and how many contemplated seeing clients digitally — and almost every hand in the room went up.”

With text, email and clinicians burdened by the elasticity of boundaries, Reamer said standards are needed for electronic communications.

“Ethics is a moving target,” he said. “It’s my belief that everyone in this profession needs to know what is out there. It’s a complicated landscape. Social workers should learn all they can about it.”

Steven J. Stein, CEO of Multi-Health Systems in Toronto, Canada, and a clinical psychologist.

Stein explained that social workers need to take credit for the leadership skills they have learned in school and on the job.

“What you have learned is critical to leadership management,” he said. “You know more than you think about leadership management.”

Research proves that effective leaders make the difference when it comes to successful organizations, Stein said. And the public’s definition of what leadership is changes over the course of generations.

Today’s leaders need to be adaptive, intelligent and driven, but they also should possess emotional intelligence, he said, because the feelings of the employees in an organization have a positive effect on the organization’s success.

“The ability to perceive emotions is a skill,” Stein said. “You’ve got to manage your emotions as opposed to them managing you.”

He said social responsibility will be a key character trait of tomorrow’s successful leaders.

Lloyd Doggett, Karon Konner, Raymond Monsour Scurfield, Jeffrey B. FordNational Awards

Recipients of NASW’s 2012 National Awards pose for a photo during the Annual Leadship Meeting in April. From left, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Public Elected Official of the Year; Karon Konner, Social Worker of the Year; Raymond Monsour Scurfield, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Hon. Jeffrey B. Ford, Public Citizen of the Year.

The recipients of the 2012 National Awards for Social Worker of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Public Citizen of the Year, and Public Elected Official of the Year were recognized during an evening ceremony and reception held during ALM.

Karon Konner, LICSW; Raymond Monsour Scurfield, DSW, LCSW; Hon. Jeffrey B. Ford; and Rep. Lloyd Doggett D-Texas, received their respective awards from Anastas.

“As NASW president, I have the privilege of presenting the National Awards,” Anastas said. “The honorees have done the extraordinary, championed causes, and advocated tirelessly.”

Konner is a clinical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, and is recognized for her commitment to working with the most vulnerable patients. On accepting her award for Social Worker of the Year, Konner acknowledged her belief that every individual deserves equal rights and opportunity.

“Social work is ingrained in Massachusetts General,” she said. “We’re making a difference throughout the ward and I’m so proud to call myself a social worker.”

Mississippi resident Scurfield spoke about the importance of using humor to get through a crisis. The University of Southern Mississippi named him the “Hero of Katrina” in recognition of his assistance and leadership role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also is noted for his dedication in helping veterans and their families.

As the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Scurfield said he realized during Katrina that material things are not what matter. Family, friends and faith — that’s what’s important.

“Katrina was a lesson learned,” Scurfield said. “To quote country singer George Strait, ‘I ain’t never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.’”

As a judge receiving the Public Citizen of the Year Award, Ford spoke about his dedication to educate himself on the substance abuse problems of offenders who were tried in his court. It was key to addressing the critical issue of drunk driving, he said.

“Everybody is an individual, but in the law sometimes everyone is treated as the same person,” Ford said. “It’s important that people are treated with dignity and respect as individuals.”

Ford founded the Champaign County Adult Drug Court in Illinois, where he has served for the last 13 years.

A discussion about the status of America’s middle class has been a recent choice topic among all political parties, said Doggett, who received the award for Public Elected Official of the Year. Honored for his commitment to advocating for equity and social justice in Texas and nationally, Doggett has a special focus on helping low-income, disadvantaged, elderly, and youth populations.

“I think it’s really important, even in adverse circumstances, to not let that adversity impair our vision of what American can and should be,” Doggett said.

Anastas closed the ceremony by thanking the recipients for their inspirational work.

“Congratulations to all of our awardees,” she said. “We leave here inspired by each of your stories.”