Social workers have played critical roles in guaranteeing the right to vote, and their contributions have never been more important.
This event featured developments in the Voting Is Social Work campaign amid evolving threats to voting rights. Tanya Rhodes Smith, director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work in the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a leader in the campaign, shared the campaign’s strategies for the road ahead and offered ways for participants to engage.
Gena Gunn McClendon, director of Voter Access and Engagement in the Center for Social Development, moderated the discussion.
April 13, 2022
12:00–1:00 PM (CST)
Tanya Rhodes Smith is the director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work and instructor in residence at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.
As director, she leads the Institute’s Campaign School for Social Workers, which has trained over 2,400 students, social workers, and advocates from across the country to lead in politics; develops evaluated training models on voter engagement as a social work intervention; supports political participation and voter turnout in communities; and advocates for expanded voting rights and access. In 2015, she cofounded the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign (Voting is Social Work), which works to integrate voter engagement into social work education and practice.
Tanya’s teaching experience includes political advocacy, political social work, and program development and evaluation. She has collaborated on numerous journal publications.
She is a proud political social worker, voting rights advocate, and campaign volunteer. Her experience includes legislative advocacy, community organizing, research, and leadership development. She serves on numerous coalitions and committees, including the Hartford Votes~Votas Coalition.
Gena Gunn McClendon, PhD, is Director of the Voter Access and Engagement initiative and Co-Director of the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative at the Center for Social Development. Her work primarily involves policy research analysis and consultation with community-based programs, academic institutions, state and federal policymakers, and advocacy groups. Dr. McClendon’s program development and policy work focuses on issues related to voter suppression and civic participation of low- and moderate-income households and marginalized populations. Through her research, she works to identify and advance practice and policy strategies that support an inclusive democracy and the professional training of social work students. She co-leads the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative, which focuses on the development and research of a postsecondary curriculum in financial social work.
Connecting Voting and Social Work was sponsored by the Center for Social Development; Voting Is Social Work; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Omega Chapter; In Every Generation; the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis; the Grand Challenges for Social Work; the St. Louis Area Voting Initiative; the St. Louis Area Voter Protection Coalition; the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy; and the National Association of Social Workers.
Voting Is Social Work, the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign, integrates nonpartisan voter engagement into social work education and practice. The Campaign began in 2016 with the first launch of the VotingIsSocialWork.org website crafted by Influencing Social Policy, the Nancy A Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work, and the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy with funding by the Fund for Social Policy Education and Practice. The new website and current leadership team include the Humphreys Institute, the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Many people are involved in the more significant task force.
For 100 years, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Omega Chapter, has transcended time in the Metropolitan St. Louis community by enriching lives through scholarship, community betterment, and sisterhood. The original Chapter goals were to: (1) Vitalize the ideals of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., (2) foster civic and educational movements, and (3) encourage young women to attain a college education. The Chapter has maintained these timeless goals with adaptability, resourcefulness, and updated objectives to improve and expand programs to enhance and augment the community through “Service to All Mankind.”
In Every Generation (IEG) provides the training materials and strategies to enable nonprofits and churches to implement effective voter registration and engagement programs right away. In partnership with these community organizations, IEG also tailors programs to meet the specific needs of a given community and help engage those voters on the importance of voting the whole ballot in every election. Engagement can also expand to offering information about serving on boards and commissions and opportunities to run for elected office. This engagement will provide the cornerstone for general power-building in currently under-served communities.
The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis is an affiliate of the national League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The Metro St. Louis League is a 501(c)3 organization with two separate and distinct roles:
Voters Service/Citizen Education: We present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues.
Action/Advocacy: We are also nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.
The Grand Challenges for Social Work, the flagship program of the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW), is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. It’s a call to action for social work researchers and practitioners to harness social work’s science and knowledge base; collaborate with individuals, community-based organizations, and professionals from all fields and disciplines; and work together to tackle some of our most challenging social problems.
The St. Louis Area Voting Initiative (SLAVI) envisions Black communities in the St. Louis area that are informed, energized, empowered, motivated, and committed to sustained civic engagement.
The St. Louis Area Voter Protection Coalition (SLVPC) maximizes access to the ballot because a strong democracy depends on a guarantee that all Americans deserve and have the right to vote. Every vote has the power to change the world.
The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 organization established in 2012 to complement the mission of the Congressional Social Work Caucus and to raise social workers’ knowledge of the federal legislative process. Founded by Dr. Charles E. Lewis Jr. with the assistance of Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, the Institute hosts the annual Social Work Day on the Hill and Student Advocacy Day events, as well as Congressional and White House briefings, lectures, and other events. Visit crispinc.org for more information.
Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.
Empowering Voting and Democracy
A virtual education series
Empowering Voting and Democracy features insights from leading experts on voting rights and the democratic process. Events in the series will elevate the work of those fighting for democracy and engage the public in the work of expanding equitable access to democratic institutions in the United States.
The series is organized by the Center for Social Development, in collaboration with partners across the United States.
Events in This Series
March 9 & 10, 2022
Social Work Day on the Hill
On March 9, join the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work & Policy for the 2022 Social Work Day on the Hill events, including the launch of the Social Work Democracy Project. Convened annually, Social Work Day on the Hill and Student Advocacy Day offer opportunities to engage policy makers in the nation’s capital. Social Work Day on the Hill is scheduled for March 9, and Student Advocacy Day is scheduled for March 10.
The Center for Social Development is cosponsoring the 2022 Social Work Day on the Hill events, which are organized by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Additional cosponsors include the Council on Social Work Education; the Association of Social Work Boards; the Columbia University School of Social Work; the Boston University School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health; the University of Washington School of Social Work; the Clark-Fox Policy Institute in the Brown School at Washington University; the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work; the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice; and the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
March 30, 2022
Barbara Arnwine, Transformative Justice Coalition
Elizabeth Hira, Brennan Center for Justice
Denise Lieberman, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition
Moderator: Gena Gunn McClendon, Center for Social Development
April 13, 2022
Connecting Voting and Social Work
Tanya Rhodes Smith, Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work, University of Connecticut; Voting Is Social Work
September 7, 2022
Voting, Misinformation, Disinformation, and Manipulation
Shireen Mitchell, Stop Online Violence Against Women
Jennifer Lohman, St. Louis Area Voter Protection Coalition
September 13, 2022
Voting Is Social Work: Researchers Speak Out
The Center for Social Development is cosponsoring this event, which is part of the series The Power of Macro Social Work: Forging Pathways, to be hosted by the Open Classroom at the Brown School at Washington University, in collaboration with Influencing Social Policy.
Mimi Abramovitz, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College
Cheryl Aguilar, Hope Center for Wellness
Gena Gunn McClendon, Center for Social Development
Shannon Lane, Yeshiva University
Gary Parker, Clark-Fox Policy Institute
Jenna Powers, University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Adelaide Sandler, Marist College
Moderator: Jason Ostrander, Sacred Heart University
September 28, 2022
Voting in Missouri, Civic Education, and Engagement: Local Voting, Community Action, and Impact
Louis Damani Jones, Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement
Gena McClendon, Center for Social Development
Eric Frey, St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners
D. Benjamin Borgmeyer, St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners