ALEXANDRIA, VA, — Darla Spence Coffey, MSW, PhD, president and CEO of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), has been presented the Political Advocate Leadership Award by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP).
Coffey is recognized for her leadership in increasing social workers’ involvement in public policy through the CSWE Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice and the Coalition for Policy Education and Practice in Social Work.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Political Advocate Leadership Award,” said Coffey. “CRISP’s partnership has helped CSWE expand the audience we reach with our public policy efforts. Our work is far from done—I look forward to continuing our collaboration in tackling both the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Coffey was presented the award March 8 at a reception following CRISP’s third annual Social Work Day on the Hill. The event honored the lifelong contributions of former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, who served 15 terms in the House of Representatives, chaired the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and created the Congressional Social Work Caucus in 2010.
“The Political Advocate Leadership Award honors everyday heroes who address social challenges that affect the society and world,” said CRISP Chief Operating Officer Angela S. Henderson. “Darla is an exemplary leader who has worked tirelessly to bring social workers into the public policy arena. We are so appreciative of her work.”
Patricia White, executive director of the Fund for Social Policy and Education and Practice at The New York Community Trust, also received the Political Advocate Leadership Award, and Senator Debbie Stabenow received the Congressional Advocate Award.
CRISP is an independent, nonpartisan organization that recognizes the importance of the Congressional Social Work Caucus. The organization aims to increase awareness of the benefits of social work in communities, schools, and workplaces to help vulnerable populations achieve self-sufficiency.
“Investing in programs such as CRISP and strengthening the connection between accredited university programs as well as directly with legislative offices is key in moving the profession of social work forward to make a public impact. Over the years, we have certainly increased impact in the academic research arena, but it needs to translate to empowerment of clients and communities. Post election cycle is an opportune time to refocus and commit stakeholders to the overall profession’s goal of client and community self determination,” said Dr. Kristie Holmes, CRISP Board of Directors.
Professional Social Workers are already equipped with many skills to navigate the world of politics, but application training for many is necessary in order to impact politics through advocacy and mobilizing communities.