2023 Social Work Day On The Hill

Wednesday, March 8 - 11:00 am until 6:00 pm EST

March is Social Work Month

Please join us as we celebrate our 2023 Social Work on the Hill Day. Our nation’s politics remain polarized and our democracy continues to be threatened. It is important as it has ever been that social workers remain engaged in the political arena where our values, knowledge, and skills are profoundly important. We will host two virtual forums and will hold our first in-person event since 2020, our 2023 CRISP Awards ceremony.

11:00 AM EST -- CRISP Politics and Policy Forum
Virtual Presentation

Social Workers on the Frontlines of Democracy

Board members of the Social Work Democracy Project, launched last year during Social Work Day on the Hill, will share their experiences as social workers engaged in the political arena. Moderated by Dr. Darcey Merritt, these frontline defenders of democracy will discuss the challenges of operating in the political arena, the potential it has for change, and their ideas about what the profession should know about politics in the United States. We began the discussion about the need for social workers in the political arena during our 2018 Social Work Day on the Hill shortly after the publication of Nancy MacLean’s groundbreaking book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America in which the noted Duke University historian presented in great detail the plans of libertarians, led by the Koch brothers, to change the rules to ensure the will of the majority did not constrain monied interests. 

Mimi Abramovitz

Marla Blunt-Carter

Darcey Merritt

Luisa Lopez

Justin Hodge

1:00 PM EST - Young Social Workers Speak
Virtual Presentation

The Social Work Day on the Hill midday event is a panel discussion by social work students or recent graduates to bring their voices and perspectives to the table. They will give their views on the challenge for social workers to be engaged in activities that preserve and strengthen democracy while responding to the question: Can Social Workers Help Save Democracy? CRISP Director Charles E. Lewis, Jr. will moderate the panel.

Avigail Schanfield

Whitman Walker Project Manager

Avah Toomer

Howard University School of Social Work

Hannah Lefton

University of Michigan
Law/Social Work

Pilar O. Bonilla

Hunter College School of Social Work

Kenneth Hagler, II

Johnson C. Smith School of Social Work

4:00 PM EST - 2023 CRISP Awards Reception
By Invitation Only

Social Work Day on the Hill is an event conceived by former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns as a day to invite social workers to Capitol Hill to celebrate our long history of making contributions to the nation through our work with Congress and the federal government. Beginning with Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives from Montana in 1916, four years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, through such stalwarts as Jane Addams, Ron Dellums, Dorothy I. Height, Barbara Mikulski, Whitney M. Young Jr., and Barbara Lee, to name a few, social workers have had a significant influence on federal policy.

Each year CRISP presents awards to several social workers who distinguished themselves during the year leading up to our event. More than 600 cast their votes this year to choose awardees who have made a difference. We will host a small reception at the CBC Institute to present these awards. It is our first in-person event since 2020. Due to the small space, we must limit attendance to invitation only. We hope to be back on the Hill in 2024


Mayor Karen Bass Selected as Top Congressional Social Worker in 2022

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who left her seat in Congress to fulfill her dream of becoming the mayor of the City where she grew up, was selected as the Outstanding Congressional Social Worker in 2022, narrowly eclipsing her colleague and friend Congresswoman Barbara Lee who chairs the Congressional Social Work Caucus. One of her passions in Congress was improving the lives of young people in foster care. She founded the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth upon her arrival in Congress in 2011. After being elected to Congress, she earned her MSW from the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.

She introduced and co-sponsored more than a dozen bills to support foster care youth, parents, and grandparents. The Caucus on Foster Youth was one of the few with solid bipartisan membership, attracting Republicans with foster care experience. She later created the National Foster Youth Institute to ensure that youth with foster care experience would have a platform to allow their voices to be heard. In addition, CRISP worked with her office on several legislative bills under the direction of our Legislative Director, Dr. Angelique Day, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

She was sworn in as the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles by Vice President Kamala Harris on December 11, 2022, becoming the first woman and the second African American to hold the office. She started her term focusing on tackling the homeless problems plaguing the city.

The other 2023 CRISP Award winners are:

Kristen Torres, the Outstanding Congressional Social Work Staffer. A graduate of the social work program at the University of Alabama, Ms. Torres is the child welfare staffer in the office of Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA-28), who worked on the Indian Child Welfare Act. She contributed to the Strengthening Tribal Families Act as a critical strategy to address the threat against the ICWA by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dr. Viola Vaughan-Eden, the Outstanding Individual in Academia, is a professor and the Ph.D. program director at the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work at Norfolk State University and the leader of the American Professional Society on Child Abuse’s Cultural Institute. She produced several publications in 2022, including one as a co-editor-in-chief of the six-volume National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) Handbook on Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan.

Jordan Davenport, the Outstanding Social Work Student, is the Social Work Alliance President in the Department of Social Work at Tuskegee University. She spearheaded an education series for breast cancer awareness, drug abuse prevention education for rural children, donation drives for foster youth, a campus food pantry, and a peer mentor program for runaway youth as a junior and senior BSW student.

Lawanna Barron, BCD, LCSW, ACSW, the Outstanding Individual in Government, recently retired as a military social worker in the U.S. Air Force at Moody Air Force Base. She recently established Lawanna R. Barron Endowments for the Social Work Department at Tuskegee University and the University of Georgia School of Social Work to help overcome barriers to enrollment due to a lack of tuition funds. She is a past president of NASW-GA and has been a strong advocate for social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Kimberly Henry, the Oustanding Individual in Business or Philanthropy, is a Navy veteran, single mother, and small business owner. She combined her skills in social work and project management to create The Gold Beacon, PLLC, to develop sustainable nonprofits. She brought a program management approach through a social work lens, applying evidence-based practices to nonprofits’ operations and mission to assess needs and help nonprofits overcome challenges and continuing the excellent work they are doing.