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Friday, February 1

From the Pen of the President: February 2019

Mary Gollings
NASW-Illinois Chapter President

We are only one month out from our yearly celebration of social work, and I am truly enjoying the planning stages. This year’s theme, Elevate Social Work, speaks to my heart and to my mission. Elevating social work is the cornerstone of developing and promoting our workforce and our profession. Elevating social work also keeps us a competitive force in the marketplace for service providers and clinicians who may provide similar services through different approaches.

To me, elevating social work is educating on what social workers do but also advocating for why we are irreplaceable to the communities, institutions, agencies, and corporations which we serve. Furthermore, I promote hiring social workers for additional positions and duties where social work has traditionally not been included in the hiring pool. I have read countless job announcements that call for another professional degree when a social worker would excel in the position and bring a new perspective to it. We deserve to be considered. Therefore, I truly believe in promoting our skills as well. Social workers solve problems. Social workers use theory and resources to give perspective and paint options. We see inclusivity as a strength, making us strong and valued teammates. We hear what our clients are asking for, and we start where they are at¬—which I believe is efficiency and effectiveness at its best for the customer and the company. For companies, offering opportunities and promotions to social workers (as well as competitive salaries) helps demonstrate that we are valued and needed where we work, and that is truly important when we are giving so much of ourselves to our endeavors.

I encourage exploring the NASW offerings for Social Work Month. From the toolkits to the podcasts, there are great ways to help elevate social work. I also encourage you to bring your ideas and your successes forward to our own chapter here in Illinois. Recognition and support are two things social workers excel at as well. Let’s do this for ourselves! Join us in celebrating our profession and our efforts at continuing education events and networking events through March. We are stronger together. 


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 02/01/19 at 07:59 AM

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