State Rep. Liz Malia is co-sponsoring and participating on a panel at the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-MA) annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) on April 2.
Nearly 700 social work students and professionals are registered to attend the event, beginning at 9:30 am with a plenary session at the Emmanuel Church of Boston before marching across the Boston Public Gardens and the Boston Common to the State House at 10:45 am. There, students will attend panels starting at 11:15 am featuring legislators and advocates to discuss NASW-MA priority legislation.
During the morning plenary session at Emmanuel Church in Boston, social workers attending LEAD will hear from Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders who is a social worker, Massachusetts' First Lady Lauren Baker, and state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, one of the event’s co-sponsors.
In preparation for the event Sudders stated, “As a social worker committed to social justice, I am proud to stand with my professional community at LEAD and to work together each and every day on the many issues that impact the lives of individuals, families, and our communities.”
“Lobbying is a critical component of the legislative process, and LEAD is a great opportunity for our next generation of social workers to learn about how they can help shape public policy,” said DiDomenico. “It is a pleasure to co-sponsor this annual event that brings together hundreds of social work students and professionals from across the Commonwealth to the State House to collaborate with legislators and do what social workers do best – advocate for our state’s most vulnerable residents.”
Nationally and in Massachusetts March is Social Work Month. This year’s Social Work Month theme celebrates social workers’ roles as leaders, advocates, and champions. LEAD is an extension of Social Work Month and its theme, and will be recognized as such by both Sudders and Baker during their remarks. This event is designed to educate social workers about current legislative issues affecting social workers and clients in Massachusetts, and create opportunities for social workers to engage in the legislative process and experience lobbying and direct advocacy first-hand.
Assistant Commissioner for Foster Care, Adoption, and Adolescent Services at the Department of Children and Families, Kathy Lopes, LICSW, will provide the event’s keynote titled, “The Time is Now: Social Workers as Leaders, Advocates, and Champions.” Special guest Tiziana Dearing, professor at the Boston College School of Social Work and known anti-poverty advocate, will speak on the important role social workers have as advocates in society.
“I always look forward to LEAD as one of the largest gatherings of current and aspiring social workers in the Commonwealth. This year’s ‘March for Social Work Values’ across the Public Gardens and the Common will be an incredible display of unity and solidarity,” said Rebekah Gewirtz, NASW-MA Executive Director. “In this unprecedented political climate on the national level, more than ever we need social workers as leaders, advocates, and champions here in Massachusetts working on the front lines and giving voice to issues of justice and fairness, particularly for the most vulnerable. LEAD provides a tremendous opportunity for social workers to collectively advocate while learning about key legislation, connecting with legislators, and sharing best practices for effective advocacy with each other.”
During the afternoon, attendees will participate in panels centered on legislation related to social work professional practice, promotion of human rights, social and economic justice, and unimpeded access to services for all.
Bills and legislators being featured include: Criminal Justice Reform (SB2185/HB2308) with state Sen. Brownsberger and state Rep. Balser, Social Work Loan Forgiveness (SB683/HB643) with state Rep. Pignatelli, the Fight for $15 (SB1004/HB2365) and Paid Family and Medical Leave (SB1048/HB2172) with state Sen. Friedman and state Rep. Gordon, the LGBTQ Conversion Therapy Ban (SB62/HB4014) with state Sen. Lewis and state Rep. Khan’s office, End of Life Options (SB1225/HB1194) with state Sen. Jehlen and state Rep. Kafka, Lift the Family Welfare Cap (SB34/HB85) with state Rep. Decker and DiDomenico, and Addiction Treatment (SB610/HB596) with Malia.
Following the panel breakouts attendees will lobby with their own legislators. For more information on this event and to see the full agenda, please visit: www.naswma.org/LEAD.