Welcome New NASW WI President Emily Kenney

It’s that time of year when the NASW-WI board makes a shift from one president to another. I have spent a year shadowing this seat as president-elect, and starting in July will be taking over the reigns. During my presidency on the board, I want to focus on YOU.

Some of you have heard me speak at various events, so you’ve heard this at least once, but I’ll say it again: NASW is only as strong as its members. As a membership association, we exist because of you and for you. Our successes are the collective effort of all of us. I will focus this column on various ways that we support you, but also ways that you can support the association, and thereby, your fellow social workers.

We are in the midst of a membership drive right now, since membership is our core. I encourage you to check out the flyer in this newsletter for more information.

For this issue, I wanted to focus on our Political Action Committee (PAC). Everything- I think quite literally everything- that we do is in reaction to a decision made by legislators. Since legislators decided that mental health treatment ought to be equal to physical health treatment, more clinical social workers are able to bill for their work; since legislators decided to change the way that FoodShare was calculated, social workers are explaining to clients on FoodShare why they are receiving less than they were before, and are looking for ways to supplement that income; since legislators decided to both expand and contract Medicaid, social workers in health care are helping people get appropriate coverage. Our jobs are deeply impacted by what people do in the legislature.

For that reason, NASW had a PAC that endorses candidates for office, both new and incumbent, and, in some cases, gives money to their campaigns or organizing a canvassing drive for them. The PAC makes its decisions by putting together a survey for new candidates for office to find out how they feel about issues that are important to social workers. It also reviews voting records of incumbents and scores them based on bills that were important to us. The PAC than discusses the results and votes on who to endorse and how to support them.

Sound interesting? You could be at the table to help us decide who we endorse to make sure that your voice is heard, both at NASW and at the legislative levels. There are a couple of different roles: being a voting member of the PAC and mobilizing volunteers to help a candidate out; we need more of both! If you’re interested, contact Marc Herstand for more information.