Michigan Member Finds Right Fit as Chapter President


By Paul R. Pace

Fatima Salman

Fatima Salman, LLMSW, is president of the NASW Michigan Chapter. She is part of the ENGAGE team at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, which coordinates the school’s connection with communities and organizations to increase their ability and resources to meet their goals. Through ENGAGE, she is a project manager for the Employment Equity Action and Learning Collaborative.

What inspired you to serve as president?

I was working on the program committee for the NASW-Michigan annual conference, and it was my first interaction ever with NASW-Michigan. I enjoyed the professionalism and competence of the staff and board members. I had worked on several other national programs before and saw many similarities in developing the NASW-Michigan conference program. 

Shortly after, the president (at that time) approached me and asked me to run for president. I was surprised in all honesty, being that I had never had any other previous experience with (the chapter), but after looking into the responsibilities as president, I realized that I had many previous experiences on other national and state boards that would make this position something within my capacity.

What inspired you to enter social work?

I was a social worker even before entering the school of social work! I feel like my personality and all my passions always steered me into social work. I had worked for almost 10 years (not as a social worker) in different capacities and careers, and each time, I learned and utilized skills that I later discovered are social worker skills. I was a community organizer, a teacher, an administrator and after all those careers, decided I needed to home in on my skills and learn social work in the right way. 

When I got into the master’s program, I realized that I knew so much of the content, I had already implemented so many of those things in my jobs. The master's program fine-tuned my skills, it elevated my understanding, and grounded me in theory and praxis... and hopefully allows for me to be a better community organizer and social worker.

Why do you think it is important for other NASW members to volunteer for the association?

Because it is there for you. It is your organization that is working behind the scenes and around the clock to make our profession a better one. 

So many people don't realize all the work that NASW does and how it directly affects each and every social worker in the state, regardless of membership. When you do start learning more about the organization, you will come to see that your rights, your concerns, your benefits are all being worked on through this organization. 

Furthermore, we all know that the people on the ground know how to help themselves best. And this holds true for our professional association. The social workers that are in clinics, doing therapy, organizing in community, advocating for others are the ones that will know best how to help themselves as professionals. So join on!

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