Spotlight (March 2013)

Barbara MikulskiU.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who is also a social worker, was named chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations in December. She is the first woman to hold the position. The committee has jurisdiction over all discretionary-spending legislation in the Senate. It is one of the most powerful Senate committees, allocating federal funds to numerous government agencies, departments and organizations annually.

“With a strong social work and community organization background, Senator Mikulski has been known to push for spending on social programs and expanded federal research,” NASW says in an advocacy blog post.

Mikulski was first elected to the Senate in 1986 after serving 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the Dean of the Women, mentoring other female senators when they take office, according to a statement posted on the committee website. “As the dean, she builds coalitions — proving that the Senate women are not solo acts, but work together to get things done,” it says.

On March 17, 2012, Mikulski became the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress. She has noted that her experiences as a social worker and activist provided valuable lessons that she draws on as a senator.

Ellen E. GrantSocial worker Ellen E. Grant was appointed deputy mayor for the city of Buffalo, N.Y., in December. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown appointed Grant, who recently served as commissioner of the Erie County Department of Senior Services.

Brown said he selected Grant because of her strong educational background and proven governmental track record in management and innovative leadership, as well as her vast experience in the health care industry, having previously served in executive positions at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Buffalo General Hospital and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Grant “is more than capable of continuing the progress this administration is making to expand and diversify Buffalo’s economy, and foster even stronger community partners to further strengthen our city’s educational system,” Brown said in a statement.

Grant will oversee and coordinate the mayor’s educational initiatives, including Say Yes to Education Buffalo, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, Neighborhoods of Choice, Reading Rules! Mayor Brown’s Summer Reading Challenge, and the City of Buffalo School Safety and Security Programs. She will also serve as the liaison to the Buffalo Board of Education, area colleges and universities, and oversee all school neighborhood and infrastructure improvements.

In addition, Grant is the point person for the mayor’s economic development efforts as they pertain to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. She will work closely with the health care organizations and hospitals in Buffalo, as well as oversee the city’s various employee benefit programs.

Grant holds several degrees, including a Ph.D. in communications and organizational behavior from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an MSW. She is a licensed private therapist.