NASW’s new CEO has eyes on the future

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

NASW’s new CEO, Angelo McClain, said he is eager to build on the foundation that social work pioneers have worked hard to achieve.

“There are many of us who were around 30 plus years ago when the social work profession did not get the respect it deserved,” said McClain, who started work as NASW’s top administrator on May 13.

NASW’s new CEO, Angelo McClain, left, stands with Betsy Clark, who recently stepped down as head of NASW after serving in the position for 12 years.

“The clout and influence we have as a profession today were not gained easily and they won’t be strengthened or maintained easily,” McClain said. “The pioneers are the people who made NASW what it is today.”

Building on that tradition is a goal, he said.

“We all have an obligation to make the profession the most it can be — and that’s what social workers have been doing since our founders started,” he said. “I’m excited to take our traditions and make them better. I am excited about the blue skies on the next horizon. As the CEO, it’s up to me to find out where we have been, where we are and where we need to go.”

For the past six years, McClain was commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, a position appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick. He oversaw an $850 million budget and 3,500 employees that addressed reports of abuse and neglect for the state’s most vulnerable children, partnering with families to help them better nurture and protect their children.

McClain was recently awarded the Betsey R. Rosenbaum Award for Excellence in Public Child Welfare Administration for his leadership and contributions in public child welfare, which have led to successful innovations and improved outcomes for children and their families in Massachusetts.

Prior to his commissioner role, McClain was vice president and executive director of Value Options New Jersey, where he built and oversaw administrative, clinical and quality management program infrastructures that increased access to behavioral health services for children and youth, including those in the juvenile justice system.

As vice president of network management and regional operations for the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, McClain managed a provider network capable of delivering high-quality, responsive services to 450,000 MassHealth members.

Gary Bailey, president of the International Federation of Social Workers, former president of NASW and professor at the Simmons School of Social Work, said he knows McClain from his Massachusetts commissioner efforts and as an adjunct faculty member at Simmons School of Social Work where McClain taught in the Urban Leadership Certificate program.

“Dr. McClain has been in a number of leadership roles in his career that I believe will serve him well in this new endeavor,” Bailey said. “NASW is a very complex organization that requires someone who is able to ‘get out on the balcony’ if you will and take a comprehensive view of the entirety of its operations and to maximize its impact at the local, national and international levels. Dr. McClain, in my mind, is just that type of individual.”

Bailey added that McClain is someone who is a dedicated social work practitioner, who in addition brings a firsthand knowledge of how social work service delivery systems work.

“He also has experience dealing with elected officials and that will serve him well on Capitol Hill,” Bailey said.

McClain grew up in Texas and is an alumnus of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. He earned a Bachelor of Science in social work from West Texas State University, a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Ph.D. in social work from Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.

McClain also is an adjunct faculty member in the Urban Leadership Program at Simmons College Graduate School of Social Work.

He said he looks forward to the future of NASW and the social work profession.

“Together we will help make the profession all it can be so we can bring as much hope, recovery and healing to individuals, families and communities as we can,” McClain said.

From the June 2013 NASW News.

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