By Shirley Gentilini
As I complete my term as President, I want to thank you all for the privilege of selecting me to represent you. Our California chapter, one of the largest chapters, is inarguably “the best!”
One of the advantages of being a member of the California board of directors is the opportunity to work with a dedicated, experienced and talented group of social workers.
One important goal for our California Chapter is to recruit others to become members of our professional organization — National Association of Social Workers. We are a membership-driven organization and will only remain robust if we grow our membership and use our collective talents and skills to keep the group strong.
I became a member in 1987, when I joined as a student at California State University, Long Beach. As a member of the Orange County unit, I met and was mentored by committed and dedicated social workers that were members of NASW.
In 1996 and 1998, I joined the California board as Region F director, and continued to learn from other leaders from up and down the state. They were my role models. Like our current leaders today, they worked hard to keep our Chapter strong. That is why I encourage those of you embarking on your journey with NASW to begin at your local level; meet your colleagues and learn what regional issues they are dealing with, and how you can help.
California is one of the largest chapters with nearly 11,000 members. This is due to the hard work and creative thinking of our executive director, Janlee Wong, MSW. For 20 years he has worked diligently to help our chapter grow and remain strong. I want to extend a special “thank you” to Janlee for helping me in my role as president. I appreciate his valuable guidance and support.
This year at the National Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., Janlee received the award for Outstanding Executive Director. Congratulations, Janlee! It is an honor that is well deserved.
Although I feel sad to step down as president, I am pleased to turn over the gavel to our new president, Catharine Ralph, MSW, LCSW, PPSC. Our board will be in good hands with Catharine. She was a former board member for two terms as Region C director. She also worked for three years on the National Board as California’s Regional Representative.
I want to thank the other members of the board who are also leaving. Sylvester Bowie, EdD, MSW, vice president and chair of the Program Committee, helped keep me on track with Robert’s Rules of Order.
Sherrill Clark, PhD, LCSW, guided us in her role as director of professional development, as did Cheryl Blankenship Kupras, LCSW, for her commitment as treasurer. I thank Constance Cameron Galford, MSW, LCSW, for her hard work and dedication as Region F director for two terms. She did a great deal of driving to her regional and unit activities.
I also want to thank Sarah Cummings, ASW, Region H director. Although this is Sarah’s first time as a board member, she gained valuable experience. I encourage her to remain involved. I appreciate and want to thank Glenn Thomas, MSW, LCSW, Region B director, for his leadership. Glenn has contributed so much, and we know he will continue to do so in his second term.
Thank you to our two student directors, Christa Johnson Tipton, MSW, and Maria Waters, BSW. They both did outstanding work to support the Chapter, along with keeping up with their busy roles as students. At our Legislative Lobby Days their entertaining and lively stage presentation focused on the value of becoming student members. It was phenomenal.
At this year’s Lobby Days Event here is another example of leadership from your Board of Directors. The regional directors designed fliers with a creative logo and information about their particular region and they also visited the table to interact with possible new student members. Shelly Kalmer, Tracy Kelly Harrison, and Joni Diamond, vice president of membership, assisted Heather Pasch, membership staff, to recruit students attending Lobby Days. They signed up more than 90 new members! Again another important goal to increase membership is accomplished.
I want to thank the board members who will remain on the board. Although they have a great deal of experience and knowledge in their professional roles, I know they are open and welcome suggestions. They would like to hear from you. If you have an idea that would benefit the chapter contact your representative on the board.
The remaining board members are: Jennifer Tinsley, secretary; Martha Guerrero, vice president, legislative and political affairs; Joni Diamond, vice president, membership and organizational services; Shelly Kalmer, Region A director; Glenn Thomas, Region B director; Deborah Son, Region C director; Tracy Kelly Harrison, Region D director; Kurt Wellman, Region E director; Jose Ramos, Region G director; and Paul McDonough, Region I director.
Welcome to our new board members:
- First Vice President: Nancy Lim-Yee, MSW, LCSW
- Treasurer: Estela Andujo, ACSW, LCSW
- Vice-President Professional Development: Jennifer Torai, MSW, ACSW
- Region H Director: Shuli Lotan, MSW, LCSW
- Region F Director: Leslie Wind, PhD, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
- Student Director North: Marco Estrada, MSW Candidate
- Student Director South: Courtney Frybarger, BSW
You have big shoes to fill, but we know you’re up to the task! And always keep in mind that your predecessors are only a telephone call or email away.