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  • Writer's pictureNASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the President: April 2019

Mary Gollings NASW-Illinois Chapter President

Advocacy is a fundamental principal of social work. Our NASW Code of Ethics addresses our commitment to aid this effort, and Social Work Speaks, our association’s collection of NASW Policy statements, details broad but concise views for guidance on many topics and issues we encounter in the field. I am particularly drawn to the ethical principles in our code that highlight the values of service, social justice, and dignity and worth of the person in my own exploration of how I can best advocate and serve my community and my profession. In my time spent serving the chapter, I have repeatedly heard members question if they are truly advocating enough and question how their expertise could influence policy or social movement. I think it’s first important to view our work as advocacy. Whether we are helping a person find their strengths or standing up to an insurance denial of services, we are advocating. When we challenge practice standards or question why social work wasn’t included in an agency meeting, we are advocating. As the saying goes, “The personal is political.” So when we share our experiences through education and we stand up to injustices, we are absolutely change agents bringing notice to the need for improvement and transformation. When it comes to macro-level social work advocacy, it is common to not know how to first become involved and influence systems. In fact, Advocacy Day was created by our chapter to bring social workers and social work students together to use their voices individually and collectively to do just that.

I encourage you to attend Advocacy Day on April 3, 2019, this year and to follow our social media feeds detailing our efforts. We anticipate over 1,000 social workers and students this year. If you are looking to help with specific chapter efforts or are interested in learning about how you can help support chapter initiatives at the macro-level, please contact our chapter for information and sign up online to receive action alerts. Social work matters. And 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.

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