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Dr. Jill Biden Joins Leymah Gbowee, Bob and Lee Woodruff, Dr. Kenneth Doka, Donna Brazile and Roberto Pacheco for National Social Work Conference in Washington

Press Release

July 19, 2012      

Gail Woods Waller or 202.336.8236

Dr. Jill Biden Joins Leymah Gbowee, Bob and Lee Woodruff, Dr. Kenneth Doka, Donna Brazile and Roberto Pacheco for National Social Work Conference in Washington

National Association of Social Workers Conference Held July 22-25

WASHINGTON, DC (July 19, 2012)—Professional social workers play a critical role in nationwide efforts to support American troops and their families. On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, Dr. Jill Biden will join the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) at their national practice conference, Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work, to announce a new professional initiative aimed at educating all social workers—regardless of practice area or focus—on the challenges facing the nation’s veterans and military families.  Dr. Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, military mom and lifelong educator, started Joining Forces with First Lady Michelle Obama last year to encourage all Americans to support and honor our veterans and military families in their own communities.

NASW Conference participants will also hear from other dynamic keynote presenters Sunday, July 22, through Wednesday, July 25, on issues ranging from peace mediation, family trauma and recovery, to disenfranchised grief, youth empowerment and political advocacy.  They include:

Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient (July 23, 4:00 p.m)

Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker, and women’s rights advocate. She is founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative and co-founder and executive director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She is also a founding member and former Liberia Coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). Gbowee’s leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003.

You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.” – Leymah Gbowee –


Bob and Lee Woodruff, ABC and CBS Journalists, Authors, Veterans Advocates  (July 23, 9:00 a.m.)

Bob Woodruff was named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight in December 2005 and Lee Woodruff was a public relations executive. On January 29, 2006, while reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Bob was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. One year later, the Woodruffs co-wrote a bestselling memoir, In an Instant, chronicling Bob’s injuries in Iraq and how their family persevered through a time of intense trauma and uncertainty. Lee Woodruff now contributes to CBS This Morning, has written Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress and will publish Those We Love Most, a novel, this fall.  The Woodruff family established the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury (BWFF) to raise money to assist members of the military with cognitive rehabilitation and care following a traumatic brain injury suffered in service to their country.

“Our children remind me every day of the resilience and hope that resides in the human spirit.”               -Lee Woodruff-


Dr. Kenneth Doka, Gerontology Professor and International Grief Expert  (July 23, 1:30 p.m.)

Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, is a Professor of Gerontology at the Graduate School of The College of New Rochelle and Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America. A prolific author, Doka’s books include Beyond Kübler-Ross: New Perspectives on Death, Dying, and Grief, Spirituality and End-of-Life Care; Grieving Beyond Gender: Understanding the Ways Men and Woman Mourn; and numerous other books in the areas of illness, death, dying, and grief. In addition to the books he has written, Doka has published over 100 articles and book chapters. He is editor of both Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying and Journeys: A Newsletter to Help in Bereavement.

“Grief is a reaction to loss. We can experience it when we lose any significant form of attachment, not just death.”   – Dr. Kenneth Doka –  


Donna Brazile, Political Strategist, Analyst, CNN and ABC News Contributor  (July 25, 11:45 a.m.)

Donna Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC. She has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, and became the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign. In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Brazile as one of its 20 remarkable visionaries. She has also been named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. She is a frequent contributor to both CNN and ABC news programming.

“Politics was something to do – and it could have an immediate impact, not just on me, but on my family and my community.”  – Donna Brazile –


Roberto Pacheco, Centro Cultural Waly Salomão, AfroReggae Cultural Group (June 24, 8:30 a.m.)

Roberto Pacheco is one of the coordinators of the largest cultural centre in favelas in Latin America—“Centro Cultural Waly Salomão” in Vigario Geral—which encompasses “Grupo Cultural AfroReggae.” The goal of Grupo Cultural Afro Reggae (GCAR) as a major non-governmental organization is to promote cultural and artistic endeavors in the favelas, with the objective of offering their underprivileged residents alternatives besides guns, drugs, and a life of crime.  Pacheco develops and runs a variety of programs, as well as choreographs the artistic groups Makala & Akoni. The group has performed in Australia, Caribbean, United Kingdom, and the U.S.


NASW President Jeane Anastas, PhD, LMSW says that due to the worldwide economic crisis, many people are living with great uncertainty and without much needed services and supports.  “It is during these times that social workers are needed most,” she says.   “This conference is about harnessing the collective power of social work to best serve citizens, our communities and our country. We are honored to have allies, such as Dr. Biden and the First Lady, for our efforts.”

NASW’s national practice conference shines a spotlight on many issues important to the social work profession.  Plenary panels, breakout sessions and pre-and post-workshops feature social work leaders from academia, government, nonprofits, businesses, foundations, associations, schools and hospitals, as well as the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Attendees represent more than 650,000 professional social workers in the United States.

Conference Plenaries:

Sunday, July 22 Leadership and the Power of Social Work (4:00 p.m.)

For over 100 years people have been attracted to social work as a profession. How do social work skills and expertise help create community leaders?

William Pollard, PhD, MSW, President, Medgar Evers College

Nancy A. Humphreys, DSW, Director, Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work,

Professor of Policy Practice, University of Connecticut School of Social Work


Monday, July 23Building Resiliency after Trauma (10:15 a.m.)

Increasingly, throughout the world people experience trauma and have experienced torture. Perspectives of refugees seeking asylum, holocaust survivors, and developing nations are critical.

S. Megan Berthold, PhD, LCSW, CTS, Assistant Professor of Casework, University of Connecticut, School of Social Work

Ellen Minotti, MSW, Director, Social Services of Cambodia

Roberta Greene, PhD, MSW, Professor and the Louis and Ann Wolens Centennial Chair in

Gerontology and Social Welfare, School of Social Work University of Texas at Austin


Tuesday, July 24 HOPE for our Children (9:30 a.m.)

During this time of fiscal constraint and competing policy priorities, social work efforts on behalf of children and youth are more important than ever.

Terry Cross, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, Executive Director, National Indian Child Welfare Association

William Bell, PhD, MSW, President and Chief Executive Officer, Casey Family Programs

Sheryl Brissett-Chapman, EdD, ACSW, LICSW, Executive Director, National Center for

Children and Families


Tuesday, July 24—Building HOPE with Honor for Veterans and Military Families  (1:30 p.m.)

With over 2.3 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are significant opportunities and challenges facing our nation’s service members, veterans, and their loved ones.

Anthony Hassan, EdD, MSW, Clinical Associate Professor and Director, USC Center for

Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, University of Southern California

Carol Sheets, LICSW, ACSW, National Director of Social Work, U.S. Department of

Veterans Affairs

LTC Jeffrey S. Yarvis, PhD, MSW, MEd, MS, Deputy Commander for Behavioral Health,

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital


“Hope is an important concept, not only for the social work profession, but for society,” says NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH. “Hope is a way of thinking, feeling and acting. It is an essential function in solving both individual and community problems.”

The presenting sponsor for the NASW National Conference is NASW Assurance Services, Inc. and the University of Southern California School of Social Work is the event’s gold sponsor. Other supporters include the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, the John A. Hartford Foundation, Monahan Law Group, LLC, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Novick Group, Inc., Silver School of Social Work at New York University, University of Maryland School of Social Work, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Corporate Color, and Watkins IT & Watkins Meegan.

For information about the “Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work” conference, visit For Joining Forces, visit

# # #

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with nearly 145,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.  The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is a charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the advancement of social work practice.


  1. These topics are great, but I wish the NASW would somehow address the issue of federal title protection for social workers. Non-social workers are stealing our jobs. It’s not right that people without a social work degree can simply run around and call themselves “social workers”. Drives down morale, wages, and opportunities in our profession.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  2. Most states have some type of Social Work licensure, which include title identification/protection. It’s up to the states to define scope of practice, title identification, etc.

    Title identification and licensure has done little to stop people from calling themselves “social workers” here in Florida. I admit, this irritates me to no end. The loophole is how to prosecute a Bachelor’s level person for a misdemeanor when the Bachelor-level person’s practice doesn’t fall under state licensure law.

    NASW Florida Chapter will probably continue to pursue multi-level Social Work licensure when the climate is ripe for such in the future.

  3. Hello! I am trying to locate a now-retired social worker and social work mentor from the Detroit area named Mary Jo Early. She would have been born in 1928, was a member of St. Martin of Tours parish, lived on Lenox Street and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Detroit in 1949. Can anyone help me? Please send an email to me at Many thanks!

    • Ms. Borsheim:

      Unfortunately Ms. Early is not in our records. Have you contact the University of Detroit? Perhaps she was a member of their alumni association.

      Greg Wright
      NASW Public Relations Manager

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