Welcome to the Fall of 2023, I hope you had a great Summer!
I want to thank everyone for their continued support of the Society. The second of many Membership Town Halls was held on August 5, at which time the Society’s Needs Assessment was presented and discussed. The second half of the Town Hall provided an opportunity for participants to discuss and process thoughts and emotions surrounding the events leading to the resignation of the then President as well as any resulting fall out. I want to extend another thank you to Melanie Hood, our DEI consultant, for her skillful facilitation of our Town Hall which enabled and maintained a safe space for an open and honest conversation. As the Society moves forward from the events of last Fall, I encourage anyone still having thoughts and concerns to feel free to contact me. I will be happy to talk about any and all concerns.
There are many member events planned for the Fall. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Membership Cocktail Party to be held on September 10, at Pinstripes in Bethesda. Be sure to register and attend. The 2023 Legislation & Advocacy Brunch will be held on September 9, at Maggiano"s Little Italy. Come and learn about how each of us can help to facilitate the passage of the Interstate Social Work Licensing Compact. The Education Committee has planned several interesting workshops for the upcoming Fall, including Healing Racial Trauma, A Buddhist Approach to Psychotherapy, and The Ethics of Intimacy: The Cost of Care Without Caring. Please check our website for upcoming educational programming. Members are encouraged to contact the Education Committee with any suggestions, or if they are interested in presenting a workshop. .
As always, the Society continues our mission to advance the field of social work, including:
I continue to welcome and encourage your feedback. What would make the Society more inviting and appealing to you? Of course, not every suggestion can be enacted, but I believe helpful information will emerge from your feedback. What would be helpful? What would be enjoyable?
As I end this note, I would like us all to remember our mission as social workers, and the benefits we provide to our clients and others with our knowledge and humanity. I would also ask that we remember this in responding to our colleagues and their inquiries and comments.
As always, I want to continue to foster a feeling of connection and the sense that this is a Society for everyone.
Thank you for your support of me and the Society!
Karla Abney, GWSCSW President
It has been a busy year for the Society. I want to thank everyone for their continued support of the Society and participation in the workshops, seminars, and the Members Town Hall held April 22, 2023. The Education Committee is in the process of planning interesting workshops for the upcoming fall, including an Anti-Racism workshop tentatively titled Anti-Racism for Social Workers: Healing Racial Trauma. Planning is also underway for the Members Cocktail Party to be held in early fall, so please watch your email for its announcement.
The Members Town Hall was successful in that it provided a forum for open and honest dialogue between the members and the Board. This was the first of what I hope are one Members Town Hall to be held at least once per quarter, so if you missed the first, there will be others. I would like to extend a thank you to Melanie Hood-Wilson, our DEI consultant for her skillful facilitation of our Town Hall, which enabled and maintained a safe space for an open and honest conversation. Melanie is completing the first phase of the Society Needs Assessment, with members speaking with her individually and answering a survey. Once compiled, the next steps are for dissemination and discussion of next steps with members. Please look for this in the next quarter. Melanie will continue working with the Society on the needs assessment and creating a strategic plan for the Society.
I continue to welcome and encourage your feedback. What would make the Society more inviting and appealing to you? Of course, not every suggestion can be enacted, but I believe helpful information will emerge from your feedback.
As I end this note, I want us all to remember our mission as Social Workers, and the benefits we provide to our clients and others with our knowledge and humanity. I would also ask that we remember this in responding to our colleagues and their inquiries and comments.
As always I want to continue to foster a feeling of connection and the sense that this is a Society for everyone.
I want to wish each and every one a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
As 2023 begins full of hope and promise, so are we, your Board of Directors. As the Society moves forward on the anti-racism continuum, we are excited to let you know that we are interviewing a very promising and well-respected DEI Consultant to perform a Society needs assessment and assist us in creating a strategic plan for the Society. The consultant will also facilitate our first Society Town Hall Meeting, slated for March of this year. Additional details will be available once our consultant is hired.
I would encourage you to check all the opportunities available to members, be it a workshop of interest, a networking event or other opportunity to connect socially, or volunteering on one of our many committees — the sky’s the limit.
I continue to welcome and encourage your feedback. What would make the Society more inviting and appealing to you? Of course, not every suggestion can be enacted, but I believe some very helpful information will emerge from your feedback. What would be helpful? What would be enjoyable?
I would like to foster a feeling of connection and the sense that this is a Society for everyone.
Thank You for your support of the Society!
Karla J. Abney
As many of you know, I am currently serving as the Interim President since October 20 and am serving in my second term as the Vice President of GWSCSW. Serving as the Vice President has allowed me to become familiar with the many complex tasks involved in being a leader in our wonderful Society.
I would like to share with you a bit of my background. I was born and raised in Washington DC. Yes, I am a true Native Washingtonian! I am a graduate of the University of Virginia, where I earned a BA in American history, all with the intent of attending law school. I attended the University of the District of Columbia, graduating in 1992 with a BS in Nursing (BSN). I earned my MS in Nursing (MSN) from Catholic University’s Conway School of Nursing. After working in the profession of nursing for over 30 years, I decided to reinvent myself in 2017 and pursue an MS in social work (MSW) from Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS). Graduating in this May, I am an LMSW, working at Sheppard Pratt Outpatient Mental Health Center – Gaithersburg. Ever the eternal student, I am back at NCSSS pursuing my PhD in social work
After joining the Society as a graduate student, I met several members who made me feel welcome, and encouraged me to volunteer. Taking the plunge, I decided to run for Vice President. With a deep interest in social justice, I joined the Anti-Racism Taskforce and began to bring the message of anti-racism and social justice issues to the forefront of the Society. I am happy to announce the Social Justice Branch is now an official part of the Board. The Social Justice Branch will continue to address issues of antiracism and institutional racism as are currently being addressed with the recent ASWB report, and other social justice concerns including issues of importance to the LBGTQ+ community, women, and other marginalized communities.
Priority for my tenure will be to continue and increase the number of Society networking events and opportunities to connect socially, as well as offering our mentorship program, low-cost therapy for MSW students, and continue plans to establish a low-cost supervision program. There are plans to hold a GWSCSW Town Hall in the new year and establish regularly scheduled listening sessions between the Board of Directors and the membership.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage and welcome your feedback. What would make the Society more inviting and appealing to you? Of course, not every suggestion can be enacted, but I believe some very helpful information will emerge from your feedback. What would be helpful? What would be enjoyable: I would like to foster a feeling of connection and the sense that this is a Society for everyone.
As I step into my new role as the Society’s President, I’m grateful for the dedication of the former President and our Board. Our recent past President, Lynn Grodski, shepherded the Society over the past two years through many challenges. During Lynn’s tenure, the Society not only survived, but thrived, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the paradigm shift it required. The Society is in excellent financial health, innovating in the way we meet for workshops, networking, and business. Though physically distant, Lynn’s leadership ensured that we remained a cohesive and collaborative body. Her dedication to the Presidency, combined with her business savvy, has had a tremendous positive impact. I am grateful and humbled to follow in her footsteps.
As I write this, I can’t help but think of my initial conversation with Lynn about running for President. “But I’ve never been on your Board,” “Who recommended me?” “Won’t it be weird to be led by someone who’s never been active?”
“That’s fine,” she said, “Many of our leaders were never active before they served.”
Still, this was a stretch. I am a mother with two young children, I have a thriving practice and not much time. As I contemplated the decision, it sat with me that the only clue I had about why I’d been selected was that it was due to my commitment to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion.
I kept returning mentally to the Society’s workshop with Dr. Ken Hardy in February 2021 and one I attended through the American Group Psychotherapy Association in February 2022. I kept hearing him say that to heal the racial wounds in America, those with privilege had to take on more.
“To whom is given, much is expected,” he said. Repeatedly.
Though by no means an expert, I am committed to anti-racism, and to applying its principles to structural decision-making. I have observed, worked with and learned from several psychotherapy organizations struggling with these changes, which often generates uncomfortable internal conflict–something I’m oddly able to tolerate.
Becoming the Society’s President, specifically with this request as my guiding star, seemed an opportunity to do what was expected. I am someone to whom much has been given. I am white, have had excellent educational and social opportunities, and am comfortably financially situated, which grants me flexibility in my practice to devote to this work.
I relay all of this for two reasons:
I have been active in the Society for only a few months, and have already been energized by our Board’s passion and commitment. My anxiety about taking on this role has quickly morphed into excitement, and I look forward to the next two years. Please consider joining us!
As of June 2022, my term as President will come to an end. I will still be on the Board in a mentoring role, as past-President, to help provide a smooth transition for our new President, Lisa Kays.
I am very glad that I had a chance to serve the Society for the past two years. Despite the challenges of Covid, I had the good fortune to work with a stellar group of therapists on the Board. We accomplished a lot of important goals for our association’s viability and future development.
As President, I am aware of the effort and dedication of those on the Board. We are a volunteer-run Board and most of our membership are not aware of the commitment that the small core of Board members exhibits to keep the Society alive and well. While attending monthly meetings and lending energy and expertise to resolve the many and varied needs of our Society, the Board works hard. I am grateful to all of those who joined with me in our efforts during the past two years. I also appreciate the talents and commitment of Donna Dietz, our paid Executive Administrator, who is diligent and excellent in her job.
I want to mention a few of the areas of focus for our 2020-22 Board during the past two years. We worked well and collaboratively in order to:
Connect our members via programs, the listserv, the newsletter, policies and events to find help and support to stay strong and safe, while working with an increased demand for services during the worst of the Covid pandemic.
Improve and enhance our Educational Branch process. We developed our CEU offerings via Zoom, including welcoming nationally-known presenters to offer programs for our membership. As a result, our educational offerings have become a strong source of income for the Society, in addition to our membership dues. We are able to provide a full host of high quality CEU courses online, at a very low fee for our members.
Begin a process of becoming a more diverse, anti-racist, social justice organization. We coordinated with our Anti-racism Task Force and began to educate ourselves within leadership, with the goal of making the Society a more welcoming, open and brave space for all members.
Continue outreach to new and existing members. With our university liaisons, new member get-togethers on Zoom, and other events, we increased our presence on social media sites. Our Communications Branch Director also worked to improve and update our website.
Focus on essential legislative and advocacy goals and work with our paid lobbyists to advance our priorities and interests in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.
Build morale, make the work of leadership rewarding, maintain a caring and respectful culture with the Board to help our Society be a place where all can feel welcome.
I thank all of you for your support and advice and good wishes during this time. I look forward to our 2022-24 Board continuing these efforts and moving forward in important ways.
As I write this, in January, I have just had a small dinner party at my home with four boosted and tested friends, the first social event I have been part of since the weather turned cold. I am reminded of how isolated many of us feel, both personally and professionally. We, in the leadership team, wish that we could move off of Zoom and resume our monthly meetings together; I have never met most of my hardworking leadership team in person. The meet and greets that used to take place in living rooms around the tri-state region have moved online and all of our programs are done with us facing screens. I miss the immediacy of real-life connection with my team and all of our membership.
But since we are still Zoom-bound, let me share that our Society is working well on many levels. We are staying on top of the new legislative issues that affect our practices, like the no-surprise measure and coordinating with our sister societies and our home base association, the CSWA, to find solutions. We are focused on new bills that are coming before our local state legislatures and coordinating with our lobbyists. Our listserv is active, relevant and immeasurably valuable for keeping us informed about changes quickly. I always say that our membership is our greatest asset, and let me thank those of you who use the listserv to find and receive referrals, or share needed information. You are a treasure!
We are using social media (for the first time, finally) to boost greater interest, awareness, membership and program attendance in GWSCSW. It’s working! Our new website redesign also makes life easier and connects us better to our public.
We are also hosting solid, clinical, cutting-edge educational programs and proud that our first ever “Trauma Treatment Conference” in February features two nationally-known experts, who are both members of our Society! Lisa Ferentz and Deany Laliotis stepped forward to share their current thinking and teaching during this time of trauma as the new normal. We are thrilled at the response from members in registering for the programs and salute the generosity of Lisa and Deany to give back and present for us.
It is also time for me to begin to reach out to the membership to find my replacement. My term as your President will be over this summer and our elections for a new Board take place in April. I welcome the chance to mentor the next person who moves into this position. We will be actively recruiting members to consider running for open positions on the Board and I hope you will think about stepping forward to join in the governance of the GWSCW. It’s a wonderful way to meet others and to have a say and impact in the important social work issues we face right now.
I will stay on the Board as “past President” to help guide whoever comes next, so that your transition can be as easy and seamless as possible. Please let me know if you have interest in this or any other position and I will help you learn about the process of running and be glad if I can help welcome you to consider being a part of the next GWSCSW leadership team.
During this past challenging year, we are very proud of what we accomplished in support of our members as well as strengthening our outreach. We will continue to provide innovative programming, advocacy and networking for clinical social workers in Maryland, DC and Virginia – now and in the future. Below are some of the important advantages of your GWSCSW membership:
A special note to the Maryland clinical social work community: We are the only organization that pays for a Maryland lobbyist who looks after legislation of interest to and impacting clinical social workers – this covers you no matter where you are in the state!
We do all of this and more each year. GWSCSW is the only local social work organization that focuses its efforts primarily on the needs of clinicians—from graduate school through retirement and beyond! Membership is the best way to keep us all working together to promote our values and vision with strength and safety. Thank you again for your commitment and partnership.
Lynn Grodzki, LCSW-C
During 2020-21, the Board moved forward with energy and intention to promote clinical networking, education, connection, protection and advocacy. I am especially proud of how we expanded our vision to become a more inclusive and diverse Society, one that is in alignment with anti-racism values.
Toward that end, GWSCSW took several new actions: Our Anti-Racism Taskforce (ART) helped the Board further anti-racism goals and facilitated two “Brave Space” workshops, one for members and one for the Executive Committee. These Brave Space experiences allow members to share honest, respectful and sensitive thoughts and feelings about race and other social issues. More of these Brave Space workshops will be offered to members in 2022.
In September, GWSCSW also hosted Dr. Kenneth Hardy, noted speaker and author, to present a 3-hour Zoom workshop: Tips and Tactics for Talking About Race: A Toolkit for Clinicians. In this workshop, Dr. Hardy demonstrated a model for talking about race within a clinical setting, including how to listen deeply, stay relational, be caring and when needed, directly challenge bias.
In the way that the best therapists make the theoretical tangible, within the first fifteen minutes Dr. Hardy created a dynamic conversation with attendees about race. As people virtually raised their hands to ask him questions, difficult topics were voiced and argued, topics that could easily surface in our offices and cause a therapist anxiety: What to do when someone insists that systemic racism is false? How to respond to the use of hurtful, invective language? When should we intervene to address implicit or explicit racial bias? Dr. Hardy didn’t just tell us what to do, he showed us. He dealt with these issues and others using a process that was relational, respectful and yes, sometimes confrontational. He was inspiring in his willingness to stay present and mindful, even in the face of conflict.
Dependent upon the ongoing interactions, there were moments that the conversations about race felt grating, frustrating and even painful to me. From the evaluations we received, I recognized that I was not alone; others valued the teaching but had strong emotions and reactions, too. As our Vice President, Karla Abney, said when she and I debriefed the workshop: “Maybe everyone, black and white, has to be uncomfortable for these conversations about race to take place.”
I deeply appreciate Dr. Hardy’s courage to show, not tell. I recommend that in the future, we add in more time after workshops for attendees to share and debrief our experience together. It helps. I also hope we become increasingly sensitive about what we say, how we say it, and the effect it may have on others even as we are learning how to talk about race. I welcome your thoughts on this.
In closing, please consider taking an active role in the Society this coming year. We welcome all to participate in the running of our Society, by joining committees, attending programs and taking on leadership roles. Thank you for being a member. Happy Holidays to all.
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