Social Workers on Capitol Hill

June 19, 2014

Students enrolled in the social action elective SW545: Political Action and Strategies for Professional Social Workers spent a full week in Washington, DC. The course, led by Johnnie Hamilton-Mason and Kathy Lopes, is designed to help students get an in-depth learning of the policy-making process at the federal level and to develop skills for leadership and political action.

The week was filled with a rigorous schedule that included numerous panels led by key leaders and advocates in policy and lobbying. At the forefront were discussions on how social workers become effective advocates on policy issues that impact clients and social work values.

In addition to a scheduled meeting with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (shown above), students met with a healthcare staffer from Senator Elizabeth Warren's office and personally met Congressman Joe Kennedy, just to name a few.

Affirming that Washington is a place for social work, students were introduced to the work of Simmons Alumnae, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz , BA '70, NASW Policy Advisor Rita Webb, MSW '72, and Kiersten Beigel, MSW '03 from the Office of Head Start. This impressive group of women presents a diverse example of social workers shaping policy everyday in the Nation's Capitol.

Despite moments of torrential downpour, the course also provided opportunities to learn about the historical context of the African-American contribution to the city's infrastructure, civil rights movement and significance of jazz.