Wednesday, December 30, 2009

historical social work leadership

Check out an amazing story on NPR

In the 1940s several conscientious objectors began volunteering at the state psychiatric hospital in Philly. The conditions were so horrific they secretly took pictures, went to the media and made change happen. They all subsequently became social workers.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Below is a commentary on WCHL, which involves a call for local leadership.

With the new year approaching, I’ve been thinking about what I’m hoping for in 2010. And, since I’m a social worker, lots of it has to do with changes I hope to see this coming year.

Along with global hopes, like world peace and affordable healthcare, I also have some local hopes for our community. Some are the hope that this is the year people will finally get off their cell phones and Blackberrys and drive. But one is big, and I’d like to share it.

As you’ve probably heard, North Carolina’s mental health system is a shambles. Parents can’t get help for severely depressed kids, adults can’t find services so they can function and raise their families...People are hurting, or dying, and the state is finally facing a lawsuit.

Former Mayor Foy put together a task force to look at this issue locally. The task force reported its recommendations to the Chapel Hill Town Council, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the County Commissioners. Though there was a proposal for a committee to look at this in Chapel Hill, not much else happened.

So my hope for 2010 is that our local leaders will develop a strong sense of righteous indignation and moral outrage at the conditions people with mental illnesses face...and that this outrage will lead them to act, to figure out ways to pool resources, be creative, and get folks the help they desperately need.
That’s my hope for 2010. And, I hope you and yours have a peaceful and joyous holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leadership training

NASW is offering a members-only Lunchtime Series Webinar: How Leaders Lead: Guiding Principles for Social Workers in Evidence-Driven Environments (2.0 FREE CEs) — January 26, 2010 1:00 PM-3:00 PM (ET). Go to for more information


It's been a while since I've posted to this blog. The end of the semester, the holidays, other demands...they have a way of crowding out other important things. So here's a question: Leaders have multiple competing demands, fires to put out, people in their faces. How do good leaders separate out the important from the urgent? Something may be urgent in the moment, but not important in the larger scheme of things. Particularly in social work, where we are underfunded, understaffed, and dealing with constant crises, how do we continue to work on important long term projects and issues?

New year's resolution--before I jump to do something, I will ask "Is this an important request, or simply an urgent one?"

Happy holidays all. Peace and joy.