Photo credit: Gary Grobman
Linda Grobman Pioneer Induction
Linda May Grobman, Social Work Pioneer Induction
by Linda May Grobman, MSW, ACSW, LSW
I had the honor of becoming an NASW Social Work Pioneer® last week. The Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, DC, was the setting for the October 29, 2016, event, where 16 colleagues and I were inducted. It is incredibly gratifying to be recognized by my peers and to be among my most esteemed colleagues in this designation. I cannot fully express what this means to me. I do what I do out of a labor of love, and yet, it is nice to think that what I have done has made an impact and been appreciated. I am grateful.
I am somewhat reluctant to write about this, at the risk of seeming self-centered or self-promoting. A colleague suggested that I do so, however, and it is an opportunity to spread the word about something pretty remarkable that exists within the social work profession.
So, let me tell you a little about the Pioneers. According to the NASW Social Work Pioneers website, "The Social Work Pioneer Program was created to honor members of the social work profession who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession. The Pioneer Program identifies and recognizes individuals whose unique dedication, commitment and determination have improved social and human conditions." In addition, the Pioneer program is a program of the NASW Foundation, which supports projects such as scholarships and fellowships for social work graduate students.
Some NASW Social Work Pioneers are icons of the profession, such as Jane Addams. Others are social workers who work quietly and behind the scenes in their own communities to make a meaningful impact on the local level. One of the new Pioneers inducted this year is Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who was born into slavery and later was involved in the founding of the NAACP. Being in a room filled with members of this group, hearing the biographies of my fellow inductees, and reading more bios on the website, I am in awe of the collective wisdom and impact of these members of my profession.
The 17 new NASW Social Work Pioneers who were inducted in 2016 are:
- Capt. Barry D. Adams
- Hermila Anzaldua
- The Rev. Peter Earl Bauer
- Rosemary Chapin
- E. Aracelis Francis
- Colleen Galambos
- State Rep. Joseph Gallegos
- Catherine Goodman
- Linda Grobman
- James A. Martin
- State Rep. Elliott Naishtat
- Travis Peterson
- Frederic G. Reamer
- Martha Spinks
- Martha Adams Sullivan
- Tommy Wells
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett
I congratulate each one and encourage you to visit the Pioneer website and read about their unique accomplishments.
Photo credit: Linda Grobman
Pioneer Program Sign
In addition to the induction ceremony, the 2016 Annual Program and Luncheon of the NASW Social Work Pioneers was a full day of programming on the theme, "Spirituality, Racism, and Poverty: The Conversation Starts With Me and Us."
The day's events were chaired graciously and elegantly by Dr. Bernice Harper, who prior to the day of the event, called me to personally welcome me as a new Pioneer and make sure any questions I had were answered. This was a much appreciated gesture by someone whose work I have admired.
In the morning, we heard a panel of clergy, social workers, and healthcare professionals, who each spoke to the three themes (spirituality, racism, and poverty) from their respective perspectives. One thing that stood out for me was the idea that everyone has a spirituality, whether relating to a specific religion or a world view that offers a way of making one's life meaningful.
The luncheon keynote speaker was Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch. Dr. Lynch spoke on the theme from a personal point of view. One point that stood out for me was that growing up as a young Black man, he was never asked what he wanted to do, and it has only been recently, later in his long social work career, that he is truly doing what he wants to do!
Dr. Lynch encouraged all the 100 or so attendees to consider what our legacy will be and what our next steps will be. Sitting in a room surrounded by Pioneers, who have already made significant and unique contributions to the social work profession and society, and imagining what more each has to offer, was inspiring. As Dr. Lynch pointed out, we can all do more.
In fact, this is a good question for all social workers. What will you contribute? What will your legacy be? It's something to think about.
Linda May Grobman, MSW, ACSW, LSW, is the founder, publisher, and editor of The New Social Worker. She was the PA NASW 2014 Social Worker of the Year and is an NASW Social Work Pioneer.
Special thanks to SaraKay Smullens, Becky Corbett, Jonathan Singer, Betsy Clark, and Susan Mankita for their support.