Run Allison Run!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 @ 8:42AM

Allison Berkowitz has championed many causes and now social workers and others can support her efforts to win a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates representing the state’s 7th District. You can learn about her on her campaign website and donate to her campaign on her fundraising website. Allison is a special breed of social worker—a political social worker who understands the need for more public officials with the values, skills and knowledge social workers bring to the political arena. She and her husband Steven moved to Harford, Maryland after meeting in Anchorage, Alaska while Allison was plying her skills as a mental health therapist. They have grown to love their community and Allison wants to work on behalf of her neighbors and residents of Maryland.

Allison is pursuing her doctorate at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California in the DSW program fashioned to respond to the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work. She believes her political action fits precisely into the Grand Challenge to Achieve Equal Opportunity and Justice. She is also an adjunct instructor at Simmons School of Social Work where she teaches online courses in the MSW program. Allison led the team of volunteers for CRISP’s 2018 Student Advocacy Day on the Hill in March and she helped manage our social media platforms. Now she is leading a team of volunteers who she believes will help her win a seat in the Maryland General Assembly.

Allison Berkowitz

She is one of two Democrats who will be on the ballot in the June 26 primary. A total of 13 Republicans are vying for three places on the ballot in November’s general election, including two incumbents. The third incumbent Republican chose not to run. Allison is likely to be on the ballot with the three Republicans in November with a good chance of garnering enough votes to win one of the three seats in the 7th district—one of 47 districts in the state of Maryland. Each district will elect three representatives to the House of Delegates—also known as the lower chamber—and one representative to the State Senate.

Allison’s fundraising efforts received a boost back in February as a result of her social action during the campaign. She led a protest against one of the Republican candidates vying to represent the 7th District when the would-be delegate raffled off AR-15 rifles as a campaign fundraiser shortly after the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Her demonstration drew media attention and campaign contributions started pouring in. Raising campaign funds was not her motivation. Allison often lends her voice to causes as she did in a recent op-ed piece advocating for more funding for tuberculosis research and treatment.

Social workers are running for elected offices. Kathy Tran who earned her MSW at the University of Michigan, became the first Asian American woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. She was joined at the time by Elizabeth Guzman who became one of the first two Latina women to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Guzman earned her MSW at the USC School of Social Work. Social worker Kara Eastman pulled a surprise by outpolling a former congressman to win the right to challenge the incumbent Republican congressman in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Peter Jacob, a 2010 graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis will be running in the New Jersey primary on June 5 for the Democratic nomination in the 7th Congressional District. I am certain there are many other social workers running for office at all levels.

On July 8 – 11, CRISP will host its second Political Boot Camp and Media Training designed for social workers and others who have a desire to participate in electoral politics or become a better spokesperson for a candidate or a cause. The idea of political social work as an accepted practice is taking hold now that a textbook has been published. Last year, Shannon Lane, an associate professor at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut and Suzanne Pritzker, an associate professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, published Political Social Work: Using Power to Create Social Change. I had the honor of writing the forward. Former NASW president and University of Connecticut School of Social Work dean emeritus Nancy Humphreys is quick to say she did not create political social work, but she gave it meaning and worked diligently to promote it. Allison is carrying the torch this year.

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