2019 Conference Theme Announced: (EM)POWER UP!


The National Association of Social Workers – New York State Chapter (NASW-NYS) Statewide Conference is one of the largest gatherings of social workers and like-minded professionals in New York. This three-day conference event will consist of acclaimed keynote presenters, continuing education workshops, networking opportunities, award ceremonies, and more! Taking place in Saratoga Springs, NY, the 2019 conference will connect you with the newest trends, innovations, and practice, and is a rare opportunity to network with other social workers across all professional levels.

This year’s conference theme is (EM)POWER UP: Social Workers as the Vanguards of Change.

Theme: (EM)POWER UP: Social Workers as the Vanguards of Change

Throughout our history, social workers have been leaders of developing solutions and strategies for change. Our longstanding tradition of working at the forefront of some of the most important social issues can be traced back to when Jane Addams founded the Hull House – a vital community center that provided numerous services to ease urban problems (such as poverty) experienced by poor immigrant communities. The vision of a single woman to better her community was so innovative and effective that many came to learn how they may duplicate the efforts in their own communities. The Hull House of Jane Addams became a beacon of social change and prompted changes in laws and public programs throughout the country. More importantly, it introduced the central tenets of social justice and reform that are now core to the field of social work.

Since then, our profession has only continued to yield new pioneers – from Jeannette Rankin, a graduate of what is now the Columbia School of Social Work and the first woman to be elected in the U.S. Congress, to Alice Walker, who worked as a social worker, teacher, and lecturer, and became known for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple, and her work with the Civil Rights Movement, fighting for equality for African Americans. Whether you are a social work student, a private practitioner, or a lobbyist advocating at the state capitol, you are an agent of change who pulls from a strengths-based practice to promote human wellbeing and confront complex situations, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.

As our world becomes more interconnected and complex, the problems we confront as social workers are only becoming more diverse and sprawling. But as the challenges experienced by communities continuously evolve and grow, so do our competency threshold and our strategies and interventions to drive bigger socioeconomic changes. Part of being at the forefront of innovation is the willingness to dive deep into the more nuanced realities of emerging social issues, and oftentimes that comes with great deal of frustration and exhaustion. But as proven by the likes of Jane Addams, Jeannette Rankin, Alice Walker, and many more, social workers have the potential to impact legislation and improve the quality and delivery of social services for the betterment of the human condition – but it starts with taking that first step forward.

(Em)Powering YOU

Despite our professed enthusiasm for empowerment, many of us still feel oddly put-out by the reality of seeking and obtaining meaningful power in our position. We are a profession that impacts millions of people on a daily basis and are often the “first responders” to socioeconomic problems, but the power in our profession often gets lost as a lot of what we do is invisible. We’ve often heard, “We are a profession that is everywhere, but nowhere.” Let’s change that.

To promote innovative practices, we need to start with developing a spirit of inquiry and learning that is rooted in professional growth. As the leading social work association in the state, NASW-NYS is committed to fostering a culture of innovation and change by supporting an environment where social workers can learn new ideas and initiatives, share and build upon creative ideas, and be receptive to collaborations across diverse spectrums to address the challenges that impact all social workers. This concept serves as the foundation of the 2019 NASW-NYS conference theme: (EM)POWER UP: Social Workers as the Vanguards of Change.

As social worker Dorothy I. Height once said, “We hold in our hands the power to shape, not only our own, but the nation’s future.” The 2019 Conference is a critical opportunity for social work practitioners, researchers, advocates, and students to reclaim and recharge our power that often gets lost in the long hours and false vow of poverty we take upon graduation with our social work degree. The goal of the conference is to provide attendees with the resources, information, and confidence they need to make the profession of social work more visible in their communities and continue being at the forefront of finding solutions to society’s most complex social issues. We truly believe you will leave the conference (em)powered up! and ready to empower those around you.

Amelia Lochner Malavé
Author: Amelia Lochner Malavé