Barbara W. Shank, PhD, MSW, LICSW, recently completed a three-year term as a member-at-large for the NASW national board of directors. She is dean and professor emerita at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She answers questions about her NASW leadership role.
What inspired you to serve on the national board of directors?
Social work and NASW have been a significant part of my identity for the past 50 years. As a social work educator, I had the honor of serving as chair of the board of directors of CSWE (Council on Social Work Education). That experience confirmed my interest in standing for election for the NASW national board. I’ve always been a player, not a spectator. As a player, I want to be actively involved and I knew serving on the NASW board of directors would provide that opportunity.
What other involvement have you had with NASW?
My primary role with NASW has been with the Minnesota Chapter. I had the privilege of serving as the board president, and valued collaboration with my Minnesota colleagues. I was also tapped by national to
serve on the Delegate Assembly Planning Committee and to chair the Practitioner Research Network Task Force. In 2016, I was honored to be inducted into NASW as a Social Work Pioneer®.
What inspired you to enter social work?
I fell in love with social work in college when I stumbled on a course on social welfare history. The history, purposes and values of the profession resonated with me and I knew then that I would become a social worker.
Why is it important for social workers to volunteer with their professional association?
If social workers are not committed to working on behalf of their professional association, who is? NASW is committed to promoting the profession and protecting our professional interests. NASW staff need social work volunteers to partner with them to advance the profession’s purpose and core values. This is critical work for
all of us, not just a few. My advice to all social workers is join NASW, support the professional association that works for you, and get involved. You will not regret it.