March 20, 2019
A panel of social work students and early career social workers addressed the question: Can Social Work Help Save Democracy? This question was the subject of a panel discussion during the recent national meeting of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work (NADD) when a panel of deans and directors responded to issues raised in Dr. Nancy MacLean’s book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and an award-winning scholar of 20th century American history details the libertarian quest for dominance in American politics and governance.
Today’s headlines are filled with billionaires seeking to occupy the White which she describes as a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots taking over the U.S. government. According to MacLean, the capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance.
The panel explored the viewpoint of young social workers who will be faced with these challenges in the years ahead, and included the following; Kendall Bentsen, Organizer, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), Daryl Campbell, Clinical Social Worker Intern and Certified Addiction Professional, Justice for Life, Ali Lozano, Graduate Student, University of Houston, Aretha Pereira, MSW Candidate, Columbia University, José Rodriguez, Board Chair, GLSEN New York City Chapter and MSW Student, NYU Silver, and Suge Zhang (BA & BS '18), Founding Member, Ideation Worldwide and MSW Student, NYU Silver.
Kendall Bentsen is an Organizer for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), a non-profit organization that works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all people, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women. A sixth-generation Texan who plans to run for elected office, Kendall received her MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work. While there, she was a Policy Fellow for the National Organization for Women and co-authored a 28-page report for members of Congress on the need to reauthorize and expand the 2018 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Daryl Campbell is a Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern and Certified Addiction Professional who is employed as a substance abuse therapist and has a private practice in counseling that focuses on addictive behaviors and mental wellness in children and adults. In 2018, he was appointed to Broward County's Substance Abuse Advisory Board. A recent graduate of the Ellen Whiteside McDonnell School of Social Work at Barry University, Daryl attended the inaugural CRISP Political Boot Camp in 2017 and worked as a campaign organizer for Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Senator Bill Nelson during the 2018 elections.
Ali Lozano is a second-year graduate student at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work specializing in Macro Political Social Work. Most recently she served as Outreach Director for Laura Moser’s congressional campaign in Texas’ 7th district. She is the former political manager of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and former outreach coordinator for the Texas Freedom Network. Since moving to Houston in 2013, Ali has been named a Rising Star by the League of Women Voters of the Houston area, was included in OutSmart Magazine’s list of Top LGBTQ Women Leaders, and has served on three boards for organizations dedicated to advancing LGBTQ equality and reproductive justice. Ali is an alum of the George Washington University (2012), the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University (2015), and CRISP Political Boot Camp (2018).
Aretha Pereira is an MSW candidate at Columbia University with an emphasis in policy practice and contemporary social issues. She is the 2018-2019 recipient of the Fisher-Cummings Washington D.C. Fellowship and is currently interning with the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Services for Veteran Families office. Aretha has a strong interest in the role social work can play within the policy arena and has a specific interest in social justice oriented urban planning and development. Aretha believes that change happens from the ground up and hopes to bridge the gap between policymakers and the communities in which they are making the policies for.
José Rodriguez is currently enrolled in the Extended One-Year MSW Program at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. He serves as the board chair for the GLSEN New York City chapter where the mission is: creating safe and inclusive K-12 school environments regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. His work at the Grace Institute revolves around destigmatizing women in the workforce with a focus on social equity across race, age, religion, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic status.
Suge Zhang is an advanced standing MSW student at the New York University Silver School of Social Work. She has diverse experience in immigration affairs and educational equity, working with the New York City Council, New York Courts, U.S. Congress, and UN-Habitat. Suge is a founding member of Ideation Worldwide, a non-profit social innovation organization dedicated to sustainable community development efforts. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work and dramatic literature from NYU.