Volunteering to Serve at NASW Leads to Transformative Experience


By Paul R. Pace

Dorothy Saxon Greene

Dorothy “Dottie” Saxon Greene has been a member of NASW since she was an undergraduate student.

“I have been very appreciative of the work NASW does for us as a profession and for what they do for us as social workers, which translates into practice,” Greene says. “The people we serve ultimately benefit the most.”

Greene said she wanted to give back to her professional association, and did that by volunteering to serve a three-year term on the NASW national board of directors as the Region X representative. Her term expires this June.

“I just love NASW,” she says. “I feel like my service to the association is the least I can do to extend my gratitude for what NASW does for social work and the people it serves.”

Greene, an associate professor at the department of social work and coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counseling at East Tennessee State University, says her experience serving on the board has been “amazing.”

“I have been blown away by colleagues on the board and their commitment to social justice,” she says.

“When I share with other people in the world about my experience, I say these are some amazing social justice warriors that I serve with. The commitment my colleagues have to social work, to social justice, to anti-racist practice, to ending discriminatory policy—it's phenomenal. It’s been quite an honor to serve with the folks I have served with. I have been transformed by the experience.”

In addition to her board role at NASW, Greene volunteered her time on the NASW Specialty Practice Sections committee on Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs for seven years, including serving as chairperson for the last few years. Addiction recovery, in fact, is her area of expertise.

“I am a person in long-term recovery,” she says. “I have spent my whole career working in addiction (recovery) in one form or another.”

Greene has worked in academia for the last 15 years, where she developed graduate certificates in addiction counseling at two universities.

“I know recovery is not only possible, but it is likely—given the necessary recovery support,” she says. “I have passion for addiction recovery.”

Greene also is executive director of the Johnson City Recovery Center in Johnson City, Tenn. “We are 100% peer-led and operated,” she says. “Everybody that works here are people in long-term recovery. All of our services are free.”

Greene has a straightforward message about why NASW members need to consider giving their time for their professional association.

“We can’t survive as an association without our members supporting us and volunteering,” she said. “I would take a quote from 12-step (recovery) programs: ‘We can only keep what we have by giving it away.’ When we give back, dedicate our time to something bigger than ourselves, it feels good. It’s how we cultivate community and support each other.”

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