Transcript for EP44: 2019 in Review & 2020 Preview

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast

[background music]

Cat McDonald: So let's start and then we'll pause or whatever.

Greg Wright: But let's start it. Go ahead.

Aliah Wright: I feel we should film this since it's for posterity.

Greg Wright: Oh, please. Let's just get on with this. Because I was in a crazy mood yesterday. Go ahead.

Cat McDonald: Yesterday? Okay.

Greg Wright: And today.

Cat McDonald: Right? Okay, so, Aliah, why don't you start like with the welcome and then we'll each say...

Greg Wright: Who we are. Go ahead, Aliah.

Aliah Wright: Welcome to Social Work Talks. I'm Aliah Wright.

Greg Wright: My name is Greg Wright, of no relation to Aliah Wright.

Cat McDonald: And I'm Cat McDonald, and it's just us today.

Aliah Wright: We're going to take a brief look back at 2019 and offer a sneak peek at what we'll be bringing to you in 2020.

Cat McDonald: You sound phony. Sound like yourself.

Aliah Wright: Okay. We're going to take a brief look back at 2019, and offer a sneak peek at what we'll be bringing you in 2020.

Cat McDonald: First, we'd like to thank those guests who we had the honor and pleasure of speaking with on the podcast this year. We really appreciate their willingness to share their expertise and their thoughtfulness as they delve into these topics.

Greg Wright: Some of the topics we were able to cover this year were social work salaries, domestic violence, suicide prevention, and how social workers can support people who are transgender. Social work is such a varied profession. We never run out of good topics to cover.

Cat McDonald: Yeah. Cause social workers are everywhere. So whenever it's in the news, you know that there's a social worker there somewhere. So, as of December we have more than 280,000 downloads.

Aliah Wright: Wow.

Cat McDonald: Yeah. Excited. So, our most downloaded episodes in 2019 include those on topics that are close to social workers' hearts like social work salaries, claw backs, practice mobility and self-care.

Greg Wright: Some of our other popular programs were on suicide prevention, human trafficking, and child immigration, which was really a big, big topic this year. Both with NASW and the wider social work profession.

Aliah Wright: And on social media, episodes that generated a lot of engagement in 2019 were about social workers in unexpected or emerging fields like library social work and social workers who work with animals.

Greg Wright: Now, one of the reasons why we actually launched this program is that NASW has over 100,000 members, and a lot of these members have interesting stories to tell. So, we really wanted to create a vehicle to let our members shine.

Cat McDonald: I think also we want to use this as an opportunity to educate folks who may be interested in the profession, but are not really sure exactly where they want to fit in. So this is a way for potential social workers to sort of explore and learn a bit more about the work that social workers do in the various areas they're working in.

Aliah Wright: And one of the things I think that's really surprising is even though we have mostly social workers who are listening to our podcast and following us on social media, they express surprise, too, when they see themselves in fields that never occurred to them. For example, working with animals or working in libraries. And so that resonates when you decide to go into the field of social work. You may not think of yourself as working in that particular area or industry. And so we're opening a window into a world that many of them may never even have considered careers in.

Greg Wright: Yeah. So how has this podcast evolved? At first, we wanted it as a vehicle to let folks know what this great association's working on, but then we soon found out that our listeners are more interested in interesting things that social workers are doing there. So, we are trying to make it a bit more topical, interesting, and also conversational

Aliah Wright: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And we're also paying attention to current events as well. Social workers are very passionate about the things that they do, and we're trying to draw attention to areas that people really, really care about. And we're opening, like I said, a window into the world of social work.

Cat McDonald: So, what do you guys think is missing in the podcast, and how do you think we can build on what we've started in 2020?

Aliah Wright: Well, nothing of course.


Greg Wright: Right.

Cat McDonald: Done, finished, complete!

Aliah Wright: I think we're covering the gamut of what people do, but there's so much more that we can do. So we're hoping that listeners who are listening to our podcast will actually email us, contact us, and let us know if they have ideas, things that they're doing or things that they've seen, things that they think other people might want to know about, or even if there are things that they're curious about that we haven't touched on.

Greg Wright: Gotcha.

Cat McDonald: Right. Yeah. So I'm thinking in terms of, not just topics but maybe our approach, I don't know.

Greg Wright: Yeah, yeah.

Aliah Wright: Well, we did see a lot of success with the sound effects.

Cat McDonald: Right. The sheep or whatever, and the dog. Yeah. You guys loved that.

Aliah Wright: Yeah.

Cat McDonald: And I think also so far in 2019, we were super tied to the studio. So it takes more time to get out, and go visit folks where they're working, but that could be a thing that we could do.

Aliah Wright: Especially with the conference coming up next year. So, hopefully we may have some opportunities. We did do one podcast at the conference that we had year before last. Was that 2016 or 2018?

Greg Wright: 2018.

Aliah Wright: 2018.

Greg Wright: Was when we had the last conference, and we actually did a few shows there, but at our 2020 conference, which will be in June coming up, I think that it's a wonderful opportunity to actually interview our social workers live and in the moment. So I'm really, really looking forward to that.

Cat McDonald: So, if you're there...

Greg Wright: If you're there, walk up to us. It's either Aliyah Wright, Greg Wright. Cat McDonald from NASW.

Cat McDonald: Mm-hmm. Or definitely email us in advance and maybe we could set something up. But I'm also thinking, not just, you know, in person but also on-site, like where folks are working.

Aliah Wright: Oh yes, certainly.

Greg Wright: Yeah, that's an excellent idea.

Greg Wright: Yeah. And another topic, our Social Work Month theme will be "Social Workers, Generations Strong." So I think a good idea would be for us to interview social workers from all ages, from our Silent Generation all the way to Generation Z, to ask them why they are in social work, what's their generation offer, and what is advice that they would give to other social workers?

Cat McDonald: I think Greg just gave me an assignment for social work month.

Greg Wright: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Cat McDonald: Yeah. So what are we looking at in 2020? What are you working on, Aliah?

Aliah Wright: So, we're going to be tackling support for unaccompanied child immigrants, and social workers in the military. We're hoping to get someone from Sesame Street to talk to us, because they're actually using social workers to help them inform what they do in their work with children, and we're going to be looking at a number of other topics as well. But what are you working on, Cat?

Cat McDonald: So I'm working on looking at... We haven't heard from our folks in Puerto Rico. We do have a chapter in Puerto Rico, and I would love to hear from them and hear what social workers there are doing in the post-hurricane Maria era. And with the economic crisis there, what are social workers doing to help folks? Because I know a lot of folks are hurting in Puerto Rico, so that's one thing that I'd like to do. And also the refugee crisis. We just put out an issue brief about the refugee crisis. So I'd like to see if we can work on that, too.

Greg Wright: One thing that I think that we really need to focus more on is a child welfare area. Now, only one out of five social workers are actually in this area. But social workers, when there is a child abuse case, a death, a social worker is often blamed for it even when there isn't really a social worker in that role. So, that's really an area that I want to delve into a bit more. There's also a social worker urging young folks all around the nation to help out neighbors. So, he has actually gone around the country mowing lawns. We've had a conversation, but our stars just haven't aligned yet. So, I'm really, really looking forward to doing that show in 2020.

Aliah Wright: And Greg, you're also looking at safety for social workers too, right?

Greg Wright: Yes, we are a supporter, this association, of two bills that actually deal with the issue of social work safety. Social work, if you look at the numbers, is one of the most dangerous fields out there, and there aren't a lot of protections built in. Oftentimes it really depends on your workplace.

Cat McDonald: And there are a lot of other topics that we'd like to cover. Like I said before, social workers are everywhere. So if you see a story in the news, and there's a crisis somewhere, chances are there's going to be a social worker there. So, some of the topics that we have in our back pocket that we are sort of working on also: environmental justice, preventing gun violence, end of life issues, aging. There's a lot more, obviously, to cover. So, it's never been an an issue where we didn't have a topic in any given week or month. It was just more, sort of, like Greg says, getting the stars to align so that we can get the host and the and the guests to meet in the right moment in time so we can interview and get it out to folks listening.

Greg Wright: Cat, I was also wondering if you tell our listeners how often that our shows are out, and also the email that they're able to send in ideas.

Cat McDonald: Nope, not going to do that. [laughs] Just kidding. Sure. Yeah.

Greg Wright: I work with a fun, fun group, here. Believe that.

Cat McDonald: I know.

Greg Wright: It's very fun.

Cat McDonald: We put out episodes twice a month, and during social work month we've been putting them out four times, so once a week during social work month. I think we'll do that again in 2020. We'll see.

Greg Wright: Yeah, we'll see.

Cat McDonald: We're always open to hear from you, the listeners, about what topics you'd like for us to explore. And we're looking for inspiring social workers from every walk of life who are doing amazing work. So, who's a great social worker that you'd like to hear from or what social work or social justice topics would you like to learn more about?

Aliah Wright: We hear that some faculty are using Social Work Talks to spark classroom discussion too, which is really fascinating for us, and we'd like to know where you listen to social work talks. Wherever you're listening, please know that we really, really appreciate your listenership, and we appreciate you telling your friends about our podcasts. We're doing this to inform, educate, and inspire you, so please send us your feedback and your show ideas as well and you can send that to us at

Greg Wright: As always, we are asking you to leave a review on iTunes. That actually helps us gain even more listeners. So, we want to wish you a very, very happy 2020.

Aliah Wright: Happy New Year!

Cat McDonald: Happy New Year!

Greg Wright: And we want to thank you for listening to Social Work Talks.

Aliah Wright: Thank you.

Cat McDonald: Thank you. Thanks for listening. Bye.

Aliah Wright: Bye.

Greg Wright: Bye.

Aliah Wright: [inaudible]. Okay. This is NASW Social Work Talks. I'm your host Aliyah Wright.

Cat McDonald: Can you do... That was perfect, actually. Yes. Perfect. Go on.

Aliah Wright: Are you recording?

Cat McDonald: Yeah, I am.

Aliah Wright: Want me to start over?

Cat McDonald: Sure, yeah.

Aliah Wright: Okay. That way we get it all together. You don't have to edit. I'm going to try and do it in one take.

Cat McDonald: It doesn't matter. [inaudible]

Aliah Wright: Today we're speaking about this talk... This taco. [laughs]

Cat McDonald: This taco. You're thinking about that lunch you're fixing to have!

Aliah Wright: I am hungry. [inaudible]

[sounds of sheep bleeting]

Aliah Wright: Stop making me laugh!

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Announcer: You have been listening to NASW Social Work Talks, a production of the National Association of Social Workers. We encourage you to visit NASW's website for more information about our efforts to enhance the professional growth and development of our members to create and maintain professional standards and to advance sound social policies. You can learn more at And don't forget to subscribe to NESW social work talks wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks again for joining us. We look forward to seeing you next episode.