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Tuesday, August 1

From the Pen of the President: August 2017

Mary Gollings
NASW-Illinois Chapter President

New NASW-Illinois Chapter President Mary Gollings began her two-year term on July 1, 2017. Below is a brief question and answer session we had with her. We hope you'll take the time to get to know your new chapter president! 

When did you get involved with NASW? How has your involvement in the chapter helped your professional career? 

I first joined NASW in 2003 while in graduate school. After completing my MSW, I took a job out of the national NASW office as a field organizer and was stationed at the NASW-Illinois Chapter office.

In 2005 I started working in a clinical role in the community but remained involved in NASW as a member. Over the years, I have served the chapter by serving on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Political Action Committee (NASW-IL PAC), presenting at conferences and workshops, working on various task forces to advocate for policy, serving as the conference chair for the chapter statewide conference, and serving in various capacities on the chapter board of directors. It is a true honor to serve our chapter and our members as president.

Tell us about your field of practice.

I recently received my "10 Year Pin" from the Veterans Healthcare Administration where I currently work as a clinical social work supervisor. I consider myself truly fortunate to serve our nation’s heroes. Most of my time as a social worker, here and in the community for a few years prior to my federal service, has been spent working with patients in physical rehabilitation settings. I focused mainly on working with patients with strokes, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. I enjoy working within an interdisciplinary team where I can learn from other clinicians and other practices in order to best serve the patient, while meanwhile emphasizing how psychosocial approaches to care would help meet the patient where they were at and where they were going. As with most things in life, we are stronger when we work together. My true interest in this particular area was driven by the fact that the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation is about helping patients set meaningful goals. Social work compliments the mission of helping people be as independent as possible and to maintain their dignity.

What are your views on leadership?

I believe leaders must be accountable, ethical, approachable, committed, and transparent. I believe leaders are not only able to adapt with constant change, they embrace opportunities to improve, advance, and they are willing to dream and to imagine the true possibilities ahead. Integrity plays such a role in leadership. As does humility. C.S. Lewis said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."  I have been fortunate to have several marvelous mentors, and it has always struck me how much they give to their team, to their clients, and to the profession. Their goals were always aimed at what can we do for the greater good, for the clients we treat both individually and systemically. Being a leader requires consistent evaluation of where we are at, what we need, and how we can get there. I often tell my teams that there is always a way to help, we just have to figure out how. Being a leader requires being steadfast in one's beliefs. Eleanor Roosevelt said,  "Don't let someone tell you no who doesn’t have the power to tell you yes." Questioning a “no” is imperative. And hearing no does not mean there is not a way to accomplish the goal.  Leaders fight for what is just and advocate for those who need to be heard.  

What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies or interests that help round out your work as a social worker?

My husband and I love to travel. And thankfully, we travel well together. The world is beautiful, and so are the people and cultures found throughout. Travel not only rejuvenates me, it makes me a better social worker. I feel that I always come back with wider viewpoints and greater understanding. I have a case of permanent wanderlust.

Most of the time, though, you will find me on my bicycle in my free time. I love long distance cycling. I feel fluid with the mechanics of my bike and can ride for hours with my thoughts or with anyone who joins me. I am passionate about curing Type One Diabetes. I have volunteered for JDRF since 1989. I fundraise for research, advocate for healthcare access, and mentor children and families who are fighting Type One.  

Mary Gollings (MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LCSW) is currently social work supervisor at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, IL, overseeing clinical social workers in medicine and surgery services, primary care, and specialty clinics. Prior to serving the profession as supervisor, Mary worked in the VA system’s Geriatric Extended Care services and inpatient medicine service. She then served for several years as program coordinator and clinical social worker for veterans with sinal cord Injuries. Prior to joining the Jesse Brown VA, Mary worked at the Captain Lovell Federal Health Care Center. Mary has served on local, regional, and national committees to help with efforts on system redesign and process improvement as well as promotion of patient-centered care. She has also served on local and regional professional standard boards and continuing education committees to ensure that the highest level of professional standards in social work are met. Mary serves as field instructor for second-year MSW students and as mentor for social workers new to the professional field to assist them in their professional growth. Mary served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors since 2010 as member at-large and served as treasurer for the chapter’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Mary also served as chair of the 2015 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Conference. She is an active volunteer with JDRF, mentoring children with Type One Diabetes and their families, as well as fundraising for research in the field.

Posted on 08/01/17 at 07:00 AM


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