A Welcome Letter from Metro DC Chapter New Executive Director, Debra Riggs
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 driggs.naswDC@socialworkers.org 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.org. The 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.
Debra Riggs, CAE
Executive Director, NASW Metro DC