Celebrating and Honoring the Profession: Jenny Braunginn

Social Work Month Highlight

Meet Jenny Braunginn, MSSW, CISW (she/her/hers)

Activism doesn’t Build character, it Reveals it” — quote from Janaya Kahn, when they spoke at our 2019 Social Workers Confronting Racial Injustice conference.

Jenny and Steve sitting at resturant table
Jenny Braunginn and husband Steve

When I approach my life as a social worker, I see is as an evolving process of growth and focus where numerous people have affected my work and my life.  As social workers, we are all social and racial justice advocates, and it is important to understand our backgrounds and identities as we tackle the various forms of injustice. It is this intersection of all our identities and privileges that we need to bring into consideration when we approach our work, it is what we bring to the table.

I have worked as a social worker since the mid 1970’s (yes, I am really that old :), but certainly my childhood, teen, and college life all have influenced who I have become.  My early social work experiences: community outreach worker, human services program focusing on mental health and disability issues and was a co-founder of Passages- a program in Southwest Wisconsin that provides support for people who experience domestic violence and sexual assault. I have spent many years involved in community organizing for social change, anti-racist, and political issues. My last 30 years in social work have been working as a school social worker for several school districts.

In 2012, I joined the faculty at the Sandra Rosenbaum School o Social Work as one of the Field Faculty teaching SW 800/801 for “Social Work Practice in Child and Family Welfare: Public, Private and Educational Settings.” I also teach several courses for the School Social Work focus area and licensure for both MSW students and a new option for post-MSW people who want their license in schools. Recently I have added being a project manager for Federal School Based Mental Health Professionals Grant Program. I am one of the faculty advisors for the student Radical Social Work Group and have been conference co-chair in the past for our yearly Social Workers Confronting Racial Injustice Conference. I am proud to have co-authored a chapter in a new book, The Art of Becoming Indispensable, What School Social Workers Need to Know in Their First Three Years of Practice by Oxford University Press.

Although I enjoy presenting at conferences, organizing, and leading events, what I love the most is teaching, especially at the School of Social Work!  I believe we need to keep pushing ourselves to be constant learners, focus on critical thinking, and growth. In addition, I try to encourage students to identify their strengths and build on them. I learn so much from my students every year!

Combine your passion with your strengths and then keep challenging yourself.  That is how I approach teaching and social work.

Jenny standing next to kayakI am not the best at always taking a break, but do enjoy the outdoors, gardening, hiking and kayaking (as you can see in my photo) and spending time with my family, especially our five-year old granddaughter!  That is what keeps me going!

Try to keep yourself focused for the “long haul” to keep making changes, accompanying others, and pushing for racial justice as a social worker!

Thank you Jenny for all your contributions to the social work profession and for allowing the UW- Madison Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work to highlight you!

Thanks to Michelle Helmer, MSW, LGSW, Eau Claire Site Director, Part-Time MSW Program for organizing this series celebrating social workers!