What led you to become a social worker?
Stereotypically, I wanted to “help people” and didn’t really know what that could look like. I attended UW (I’m a Madison Alum) and frankly couldn’t take one more animal behavior psych class (my major at the time). I wound up crying in the academic advisor’s office. She called immediately over to the school of social work and had me walk directly over to speak to social work advising. I was convinced!
What class(s) do you currently teach at UW Madison?
SW840 – Macro practice. I’m also teaching two classes at UW-Milwaukee, Intro to Social Policy and Advocacy & Empowerment.
What is your current social work position?
Besides teaching, I own a consulting business, BW Ventures LLC, that helps nonprofits grow, develop programs & staff, and serve the community.
How long have you been a social worker?
Good grief, 33 years!
What areas of Social Work have you worked in?
I have done county social work (CPS, Juvenile Justice, Divorce Mediation), case management (with teen moms & their kids), in-home family therapy, and prevention education on human growth & development/HIV/LGBTQIA issues. I moved into administration and have developed/run programs focused on HIV/AIDS, LGBTQIA concerns, and Runaway/Homeless/Trafficked youth.
What excites you about social work?
I love that there are so many levels of intervention to address social problems. There’s plenty of room for everyone, whether you want to work with individuals/families or dig into systems with communities, society, or policy. ALL of it is needed! Those multiple opportunities keep social work fresh and exciting.
How has social work changed for you during the pandemic?
I think social work is extra challenging during a pandemic where much in-person interaction has ceased. It’s all about relationships and they’re harder when you need to start and continue using technology. That said, I think in terms of access, technology is a blessing for so many that couldn’t get help they needed previously. Now if there could be a remedial technology course for those of us who aren’t native to computers!
What knowledge or information has been provided to you to promote self-care that you have found helpful?
I’m a proponent of managing your energy (Tony Schwartz and theenergyproject.com) and the energy assessment in this article was life changing: https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time. Now I make sure I keep these spheres in mind (Body, Emotions, Mind, Spirit) and do an inventory annually, to see how I need to adapt. I am the instrument of my work and that means I have to take care of me!
What message would you want to give or highlight right now to all social workers?
OWN being a social worker. Talk it up. Tell people what you believe and stand for. Tell them what you do. Regardless of what your position description says, you are a social worker — be PROUD of it. We see things and do things in a unique way — and the world needs us!
Please tell us a little about the photo:
The photo was from when I finished an online training for the Salvation Army of WI and Upper MI. They wanted to know more about Runaway/Homeless/Trafficked youth. Since the last 16 yrs of my professional nonprofit work had focused on Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) I provided them a 90- minute basics workshop.
Thank you Julie for all your contributions to the social work profession and to the
UW- Madison Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work!