Scenes from the Social Workers for Social Justice Conference





By Shantel Vachani, JD, MSW, NASW-USC Unit Chair

On behalf of the NASW USC unit, a local unit within NASWCA Region I that represents students, staff, faculty and alumni affiliated with USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, we would like to thank Dr. McClain for taking time out of his very busy schedule to write us a personalized message for our conference “Social Workers for Social Justice: A Toolkit for Community Organizing and Advocacy in a Changing Political Landscape,” which took place on February 4, 2017 at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

His letter was included in our conference welcome packets for all attendees. In addition, Dr. McClain’s holiday message to members was shared as part of our welcome address to help frame the goals for the conference.

We are thrilled to report that our conference had almost 200 in person attendees (in addition to our livestream attendees), which included social work students, faculty/staff from USC, social workers from across Southern California and community advocates. Reverend James Lawson delivered the keynote for our conference in which he echoed the call to action expressed by Dr. McClain in his video.

This theme was further highlighted by USC’s Dean of Social Work, Marilyn Flynn, who provided attendees a six-point “framework” for social workers to engage in social action.

In addition to our powerful keynote, we had speakers from many important community advocacy groups, including the ACLU of Southern California Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA),  Black Lives Matter-LA, National Lawyers Guild-LA, and the LA LGBT Center.

We were also fortunate to have our legislative representatives from NASW-CA, Rebecca Gonzales and Martha Guerrero, join us to discuss the state legislative landscape. In addition to our panels, we also hosted 13 skills-based breakout sessions to equip our attendees with additional tools for the advocacy toolkit.

Here are a few photos from the event. In addition, we have posted many pictures of the event on our public Facebook page, which can be accessed at