There are watershed moments in life, occasionally you know them when they are happening, or you hope you do at any rate. That is the feeling that was in the room at the Congressional Research Institute For Social Work and Policy‘s inaugural dinner, held last night at The Monocle in Washington DC. As the SJS team wandered around the room meeting many fine people, there was a real sense of hope in the air; perhaps most importantly, an understanding of the necessity of the direction that CRISP is bringing to social work.
For every complaint social workers have because nothing is being done to protect them, last night’s gathering represented a significant step toward bringing the policy track firmly back into the field. It also reinforced the importance of research to the social work field. Former Congressman Ed Towns was infectious as he hosted the nights events. There was sense of humor and warmth that one would expect from a social worker, but not necessarily a politician. His genuine nature is clearly behind his work in helping to found the Congressional Social Work Caucus, which has led to the thought of, and ultimate creation of CRISP. His career and current initiatives should be a beacon to any social worker who is not content to trudge away in micro practice as the funding and support of the profession is systematically withdrawn every time there is an economic downturn.
Dr. Charles E. Lewis, Jr and soon to be “Dr.” Angela S. Henderson could not have been more gracious hosts. They made the experience truly welcoming for all who attended. With these two at the controls, there is no doubt that CRISP is destined for a long and powerful run on Capitol Hill. Their efforts to bring CRISP to life is proof that social work practice can be extended into any aspect of human life, politics not withstanding.
Representative Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Representative Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Clark – Outgoing CEO, NASW, and Dean Emeritus Douglas Glasgow, Howard University, School of Social Work were all honored and spoke to the necessity and urgency of the times we face.
Also in attendance were Representative Charles B. Rangel (NY-13), Ms. Mariah Jones (Legislative Assistant), the National Association of Social Workers, Joan Levy Zlotnik, PhD, ACSW (Director of NASW’s Social Work Policy Institute), the Council on Social Work Education, the National Center for Children and Families, Dr. Sandra Owens Lawson, Professor Demetra Stackhouse-Powe (Clark Alanta University), Libby Kuffner Nealis (School Social Work Association of America), Socialworkhelper.com, Mental Health America, and the Clinical Social Work Association, and many Deans, Professors, and Students of Schools of Social Work such as Howard University, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, and others.
SJS left the dinner confident that the future of social work was being determined by the very people who brought enthusiasm to the evening. It should become a Social Work imperative that CRISP is imprinted on the social worker’s brain from the moment they enter the field until the day they retire. CRISP represents a social work leadership initiative that is needed, not just inside the profession, but for the future and prosperity of America itself.
SJS would again like to thank CRISP, especially Angela and Charles, for making us feel right at home. We would also like to extend a thanks to all the other organizations that made the evening immensely enjoyable to attend; we look forward to working with all of you in the future.
As I said at the dinner, in my recent article Falling In Love With Social Work, and will continue to say as long as there is air in my lungs, “How is this country going to heal if the healers are not the ones leading it?” CRISP represents that direction and SJS could not be more ecstatic for the exciting times that the profession of Social Work is entering.
You can find more information on The Congressional Research Institute For Social Work and Policy at the following locations:
Written By Matthew Cohen
SJS Staff Writer