Jordan Wildermuth was a first-year college student when one of his instructors observed that his passion for helping others made him well suited for a career in social work.
“That stuck with me and I was very lucky to have professors who cared deeply about me and were able to help me see how I could infuse my interest in politics with social work,” said Wildermuth, who recently became the executive director of the NASW Kentucky Chapter.
NASW News is profiling new chapter executive directors in an ongoing series.
As an undergraduate at Wartburg College in Iowa, Wildermuth said, he eventually discovered NASW and fell in love with the profession.
“My passion stems not just in the groups primarily associated with social workers, but in what social work stands for,” he explained. “My philosophy has always been to stick with the roots of social work, specifically the Jane Addams/Hull House era because they truly knew how to infuse practice and policy and that continues to be my mantra.”
Wildermuth said what he enjoys most about being an NASW member is the fellowship and the network of people.
“Social workers are a unique group and being a member of your professional organization is something to be proud of,” he said. “At my age  I also have this urge to make an impact and sometimes it is hard to pull back, but my goal is that every member sees that I also view myself as a member — and that is how I go about my job.”
Wildermuth said he is impressed with the Bluegrass State and its great tradition of BSW and MSW programs. “I also believe that the diversity of Kentucky challenges social workers to be at their best because the different regions ... are completely opposite from each other.”
Social workers in the state are passionate about their efforts, he noted. “They are also very interested in nurturing other social workers, which I think makes it a great place to be a young professional or student.”
Prior to NASW, Wildermuth worked at the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America as program manager of its St. Louis Chapter. He interned at the Iowa NASW Chapter and has a BSW from Wartburg College and an MSW from Saint Louis University.
He said his goals include discovering ways to reinvigorate members about their work and to assess their needs. “If we take stock in ourselves and build that relationship among members, then we can go into the community with a united front,” he said. “After that, I will bridge students and members to work collectively together and help build a network of folks that will benefit from being engaged with each other.”
He said he hopes these efforts will lead to success in the chapter’s legislative efforts as well. “I am encouraging members to contact me with issues they are facing in the workplace so that we can address them and ensure that social workers have the tools and the infrastructure needed to provide services,” he said.
“In the long run,” Wildermuth added, “all I want is a vibrant membership who takes ownership of their profession.”