The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest professional association of social workers in the world.  As the only organization dedicated to advocating for the entire profession of social work, NASW strengthens the social work profession and gives social workers and clients a stronger voice.

NASW DC Metro Releases Statement for Racial Justice and Equality

June 5, 2020

The murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd May 25 was abhorrent. So was that of EMT Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. And Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia. The list of African Americans killed by police is too long to cite because it extends over 400 years and leaves out the disproportionately high number of Black victims of non-fatal but highly traumatic abuse, torture, harassment, and degradation by law enforcement nationwide.

Social workers in metropolitan DC witness the short- and long-term harm caused by these and other racial injustices every day in their jobs—in schools and hospitals, in government agencies and health clinics. As the largest number of behavioral health providers in the country, social workers receive extensive training, follow a code of ethics, and advocate fiercely for the advancement of inclusiveness, tolerance, and equality.

Now, others—having heard Mr. Floyd repeatedly plead, “I can’t breathe!” to no avail under the deliberate knees of arrogant policemen--are using their own breath with ours to scream, “Stop! Enough!” Their own breath with ours to chant in the streets, call out legislators and leaders, yell for accountability, and turn to each other for vigorous discussion of possible actions to upend embedded racism from America’s myriad social systems.

A traumatized America is finally moved from indignation to outrage to action. We as social workers see and affirm the pain of the African American community and acknowledge four centuries of past wrongs done to fellow community members due simply to skin color.

We know we have not done enough to redress past racism and promote equality, and we are angry as hell—at police in Minneapolis, at indifferent and complicit law enforcement and judicial leaders nationwide, at a largely privileged and purposely blindered American society, and at ourselves for excelling at advocating strongly for individual clients and lamenting less on the larger reasons for their concerning conditions.

Despite our shared training and values of tolerance and acceptance, we as social workers have yet to fully unite our strengths in ways that leverage our profession’s full potential to advance racial justice and equality, to take more responsibility in this newly awakened world.

As social workers in metro DC specifically—where 46% of the population is Black—we know that our African American clients feel disenfranchised. We see their demands for attention to inequities around education, housing, employment, health, and criminal justice continue without redress from generation to generation. We continue to witness the costs--in higher numbers of COVID-19 deaths among minorities due to health disparities, in lower school graduation rates, in lopsided unemployment and wage gaps, and—yes—in lives under the guise of “keeping the peace.” Black lives do matter!

As we all face our ugly past, we as social workers also pledge to look ahead and create new understanding and hope based on active listening, purposeful inclusion, and mutual respect. We pledge to be active, committed leaders who will bring our training and skills to accelerate this transformation of American democracy.

As a reinvigorated chapter, we are asking all DC Metro social workers to join with us to find a path that moves the issues forward. This statement is our launching pad. Next is our Town Hall Meeting “Advancing Racial Justice and Equity” June 10 from 6 to 7 p.m., where we will listen first to inform our actions later.

While our tactics remain unclear, our mission is not: We will do better. We as a chapter pledge to work harder to ensure that two systems of criminal justice, two systems of mental and physical health care, and two systems of education and employment are united into one country where freedom and justice is for all.

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U.S. Supreme Court Bans LGBTQ Discrimination in Landmark Employment Decision 

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision June 15, 2020, banning employers from discriminating against people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender. Such workers are now able to sue their employers on grounds that they are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

NASW Legal Defense Fund, which has worked for LGBTQ worker rights for decades, had filed papers supporting the ruling. 

"This is a day of celebration that has been a long time coming. No one should be exempt from basic protections or denied promotion opportunities in the workplace, especially due to gender identity and sexual orientation," says NASW DC Metro Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE.


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NASW Metro DC Chapter “Advancing Racial Equality and Justice” Town Hall Leads to Member Survey, Action Items

Student curiosity about defining “defund the police” initiatives. Painful sharing and “mad-as-hell” anger of racist experiences by veteran social workers. Concerns about how the NASW Metro DC Chapter will adapt and advance in a quickly changing environment.

All of these issues and more were raised in the June 10 Town Hall on Advancing Racial Equality and Justice—the first in a series of members-only dialogues that aim to listen, understand, and identify specific actions that the chapter can take to bring members’ expertise to the systemic problem of racism in America and metropolitan DC.

Stay tuned for future town hall dates, and please complete a chapter survey that will arrive in inboxes soon to identify members’ changing needs and interests in light of COVID-19 and the overdue spotlight on racial injustices. 

NASW Offers TONS of Training Through the Online CE Institute

Looking for training on a specific topic? Need to find a class fast? Want to train from the comfort of your own home or office? The Online CE Institute is a great option, because it offers hundreds of options, many free to members, that can be accessed quickly and easily. To learn more, visit the Online CE Institute here.

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Four Supervision Courses Added to NASW Metro DC Virtual Training Calendar 

Just announced! As you know, a training to become an approved supervisor for your license is not required in the District. However, consider registering to help you better support your supervisee. Choose from four virtual trainings by the NASW Metro DC Chapter that will earn you up to 14 CEUs toward relicensing this year.

Full course descriptions of each program are available here. An access code and manual PDF will be sent the day prior to training:

Sept. 18-19: Supervision: Cultural Awareness to Multicultural Competence, 14 CEUs. Instructors: J. Patrick Slifka, LCSW, and Delores Dungee-Anderson, PhD, LCSW, CTST, Prof. $275 members, $350 nonmembers. Registration deadline: Sept. 16.

October 2-3: Supervision: Crafting Successful Group Supervision AND Overcoming Games Played in Supervision. 7 CEUs per day for a total of 14 CEUs if taken back-to-back. Instructor: Delores Dungee-Anderson, PhD, LCSW CTST, Prof. $151.25 members, one day, $275 two days. $192.50 nonmembers one day, $350 two days. Registration deadline: September 30.

November 13-14: Foundations of Supervision. 14 CEUs. Instructor: Delores Dungee-Anderson, PhD, LCSW CTST, Prof. $275 members, $350 nonmembers. Registration deadline: November 11.

December 4-5: Foundations of Supervision. 14 CEUs. Instructor: Frances M. Christian, PhD, LCSW. $275 members, $350 nonmembers. Registration deadline: December 2.  


Wanted: Student Volunteer for the Metro DC Chapter Board of Directors!

The NASW DC Metro Chapter is seeking a master’s-level student to serve on its board of directors. The one-year position offers a wonderful chance to refine leadership skills, build your resumé, and experience a meaningful volunteer opportunity that will make a difference for the social work profession in the metropolitan DC area.

“We are looking for energetic social work students who will bring their ideas and passion for the profession to our efforts to reinvigorate this chapter and better serve members,” says Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “This is a tipping point time in our field in this city, and we need volunteer students to ensure we take full advantage of this crucial and historic moment of social and professional change.”

Email if interested.

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Registration Open for Licensure Exam Prep Course Sept. 19

Space is limited to the first 50 registrants for the virtual NASW DC Metro Licensure Exam Prep Course for Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Clinical levels September 19 led by nationally recognized instructor Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW, so register now.

As part of the exam prep package, registrants will experience both the six-hour intensive workshop and six months of access to Apgar’s comprehensive learning management system with a study guide ($90 value), interactive flash cards, a Game Center, self-assessment forms, a practice test, numerous tools and tips, and a popular discussion board for questions-and-answers from Apgar and other studying social workers.

“Her logic and explanations for testing/content were spot on, and the practice test with explanations on why the answer was the correct answer helped me pass the LCSW exam the first time,” says Christine Mize, LCSW, Hospice of Southern Illinois. “Her content and wording of the practice questions were the most like the actual ASWB LCSW exam.”

Cost is $222 members ($65 savings!), $287 nonmembers. Registration deadline: September 9.

Passing the Social Work Licensure Exam: Instructor Dawn Apgar Previews the Transformed Prep Course and Interactive Learning Management System 

Preparing for the licensure exam will include some innovative twists to traditional prep courses, thanks to the addition of six months of 24/7 access to a robust interactive learning management system created by award-winning instructor Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW.

“Passing the exam requires four things," she says. "One, it requires taking time out of your schedule and developing a sound study plan. Two, to pass requires commitment…. Three, learning some test-taking tips on how to analyze questions right and [avoid] common mistakes that people make [is important.] And then lastly is learning how to deal with test anxiety.”

The courses break down the exam content and help you develop customized study plans based on their test dates.

Once through the six-hour training, you can move your studies to a multimedia learning management system (LMS) where you interact via a popular discussion board, Q&A opportunities with Apgar, quiz games with a leaderboard, interactive flash cards, a comprehensive e-book, a self-assessment, a practice test, and more. You can use the LMS for up to six months, using the tools and techniques that Apgar has built into the site as a one-stop study portal. 

Apgar notes that while course registrants are often “very fearful” about testing of clinical diagnoses terms, they usually do fine with this area and instead should focus more on public policy and organizational structures, what she calls the mezzo or macro levels of practice. “Those are areas that can be difficult,” she says.

Read more about exam prep with Dr. Apgar in her full interview here! See above article for registration information. 

A Welcome Letter from Metro DC Chapter New Executive Director, Debra Riggs

March 2020

Social Work Month is a wonderful time for me both to thank you for your hard work and commitment, and to introduce myself as the new executive director of the Metro Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers!

I’ve been executive director of NASW Virginia for 22 years, but even before my grad school days studying for my social work degree, I have always had a passion for this profession. At university, I worked as a social worker for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Inc., and then later as a case manager in the juvenile justice system.

Since those early-career days, I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for 35-plus years at charitable and trade organizations and now in a professional association as leader of NASW Virginia. Along the way, I earned my Certificate of Association Executive certification, held by less than 10% of U.S. nonprofit leaders, and was given NASW’s 2012 Executive Director of the Year Award.

I strongly believe in collaboration, so I serve on many advisory boards with schools of social work—most currently as chair of Longwood University Advisory Board—and have a soft spot for social work students and professionals just starting out in the field.

However, I’m always happy when March gives me a chance to also give special thanks to our mid-career and longtime social workers, who have served their clients and families for decades under stressful and constantly changing conditions. Thank you, thank you.

March also provides the chance to raise public awareness about America’s fastest-growing profession and the diversity of nearly 800,000 social workers who work within it. Indeed, we influence everyone from babies to older adults, from city dwellers to rural families. Basically, our work touches everyone, everywhere!

The membership of NASW Metro DC reflects this vast diversity—our members work in hospitals, schools, private practice, government agencies, clinics, you name it. But while our work may differ significantly, our core ethics and our commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of our clients unite our specialties, connecting us through our passion to help people and build a more positive, just world. Thank you each again!

I am so pleased with the national theme chosen by NASW this year: ”Social Workers: Generations Strong.” As part of this initiative, I want to recognize and share stories of DC area social workers who are continuing the professional legacies of a parent or other relative. In those cases, a child witnessed and was so inspired by the good work of a loved one that he or she chose to enter the field as well. Please email me at if you are one of these generational legacies—I’d love to hear about and share your journey.

Professional development programming is a strength of mine, and I’m so excited about the possibilities of creating relevant training for NASW Metro DC members. As I enthusiastically take on this new role, I hope that any of you who may be interested in volunteering for a leadership position will email me at driggs.naswDC@socialworkers.orgThe chapter needs your ideas, candor, patience, and engagement to forge a path that best serves the unique needs of DC’s social workers.

Again, thank you for your membership and dedication to your clients and organizations. 

Warm regards,

Debra Riggs, CAE

Executive Director, NASW Metro DC

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