Letter From The NASW President And Executive Director

Gary Bailey

Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH



There is a common misconception that the only people whose lives are touched by social workers are welfare recipients and abused or neglected children. While these are critical and valuable aspects of social work, this belief is far from the truth. In fact, at one time or another, social workers — uniquely trained and positioned to address a huge array of issues and problems ranging in scale from global to individual — touch each of our lives.

Many people encounter social workers as they help older parents or loved ones move into nursing or assisted living facilities. Others benefit from therapy they receive from social workers in private or group practices. There are social workers on Capitol Hill, shaping policies and voting on legislation affecting every one of us. Social workers provide hope and help, employing a holistic approach that considers all aspects of a person: biological, psychological, spiritual, and social. Our role at NASW is to support and advance this crucial profession, while helping promote and enhance the quality of life for those served by social workers.

Through increased membership, NASW has continued to gain influence with legislators and policymakers, and has garnered well-earned respect among professional social workers, social work educators, and social work employers around the world. Over the past year, the Association's membership increased by more than 4,000. This substantial growth is especially meaningful since, due to the economic climate, very few other professional associations have reported similar increases. And we are confident that our numbers will continue to rise throughout the coming year.

Collaborations and memoranda of understanding with other social work organizations not only help to better position NASW to promote its mission, but also to build strength and unity among social workers. In December 2002, NASW convened Social Work Summit II, attended by more than 68 leaders representing 42 national social work organizations. Through the exchange of ideas and experiences, we moved one step closer toward our goal of building greater influence for the social work profession.

NASW continues to make significant contributions in the areas of social work research, practice, and advocacy. In addition to active participation in several high-profile court cases and ongoing government relations and legislative efforts, NASW's Blue Ribbon Panel on Economic Security commissioned and published a series of papers supporting the Association's position on Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization.

NASW is now embarking on what may be the most exciting and challenging year in the Association's history. We have taken the initial steps toward implementing a multimedia, multiyear Social Work Public Education Campaign, and are currently conducting opinion research to determine the most effective ways to educate the public, business, and academic sectors about the realities, importance, and value of social work.

Gary Bailey, MSW

Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
Executive Director