Conference speakers announced

Bob and Lee WoodruffBob and Lee Woodruff, right, and CNN’s Donna Brazile, below, are among the speakers who will be at NASW’s “Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work” conference in July.

What does hope mean to you?

“Hope is the reason that the field of social work exists,” says Eric Rogers. “We believe that our efforts positively impact our world, our nation, our communities, families and individuals for the better. Hope is the fuel for the engine that drives change.”

Rogers has been a soldier and a social worker, and is now the executive director of Give an Hour, a volunteer program that encourages social workers and other mental health professionals nationwide to donate an hour of their time each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families.

Rogers will be among the plenary speakers for the NASW “Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work” conference July 22-25 at Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C. Registration.

“This is NASW’s first national practice conference in more than a decade,” said Elizabeth J. Clark, executive director of NASW. “Our plan is to inspire the 1,000 attendees with new concepts about hope and resilience. This will help not only the people we serve but also the profession.”

The gathering will focus on best practices, policies and research findings that incorporate hope and resilience into social work practice.

Keynote speakers include international and national personalities who have proven the value of being optimistic about the future.

Donna BrazileAt press time, they include:

  • Donna Brazile, CNN political commentator, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, author and columnist. In 2009, Brazile was chosen by O, the Oprah Magazine, as one of its 20 remarkable visionaries for the magazine’s first-ever “O Power List.”
  • Bob Woodruff, anchor and reporter for ABC News; and Lee Woodruff, journalist and author. The couple wrote the book, “In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing,” which includes details of how they persevered after Bob Woodruff suffered a near-fatal traumatic brain injury while embedded with U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Among the preliminary speakers are Roberta Greene, professor and chairwoman of Gerontology and Social Welfare at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Greene said she plans to discuss how resilience is promoted through hope.

“It is too easy for people to see the negative in situations, particularly if there is adversity or trauma,” Greene said. “We have to be able to also see the positives to remain optimistic and hopeful. That reframing applies personally and to clients.”

Give an Hour’s Rogers noted that he plans to talk about the vital role social workers play in taking care of military families.

“Social workers represent the largest group of volunteer clinicians in the Give an Hour network,” he said. “As we expand our mission through the Community Blueprint Network, social workers bring critical leadership skills to community-based initiatives. It’s an affirmation of the value of social work and also a call to action.”

At press time, speakers for the plenary sessions include:

  • Opening Plenary: Leadership and the Power of Social Work: William Pollard, president of Medgar Evers College; and Nancy A. Humphreys, director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work and professor of Policy Practice at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.
  • Plenary Session I: Building Resiliency After Trauma: S. Megan Berthold, assistant professor of Casework at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work; Ellen Minotti, director of Social Services of Cambodia; and Roberta Greene, professor and The Louis and Ann Wolens Centennial Chair in Gerontology and Social Welfare at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
  • Plenary Session II: New Understandings of Grief and Implications for Practice: Ken Doka, professor of Gerontology at The College of New Rochelle
  • Plenary Session III: Hope for our Children: Terry Cross, executive director of the National Child Welfare Association; William Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs; and Sheryl Brissett Chapman, executive director of the National Center for Children and Families.
  • Plenary Session IV: Building Hope with Honor for Military Veterans: Anthony Hassan, clinical associate professor and director at the University of Southern California Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families; and Carol Sheets, national director of Social Work at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to keynotes, panel discussions and individual presentations, the conference will feature poster sessions, exhibitors and a social work film festival on the evening of July 23. Entertainment will be provided July 24 by The Capitol Steps, a music and comedy troupe that covers national politics. Attendees will have the option of signing up for pre- and post-conference optional workshops as well.

Poet Tony Keith, who is a student-success specialist for the University of the District of Columbia’s Community College, will speak to attendees on July 22. Keith teaches the power of poetry to young people around the world, particularly first-generation, low-income, racial and ethnic minority students.