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Before there was SSWAA

By Frederick Streeck

I have always joined. I have always participated. I have always enjoyed and wanted to be in a leadership role with groups, associations and organizations that were important to me.

This quest started early. My first brush with boards, committees and leadership took place in a church youth group of High School age members. I was elected President of the group and found myself at the start of a lifetime journey.

Setting up social events, religious events, field trips, running a meeting. All these things were important and required attention and detailed planning. I had none of that experience but did have a good group of members who helped me, and we worked and learned together. It was on the job training I suppose.

In subsequent years, I was elected President of my college fraternity, President of my Washington State Social Work Association, Chaired the Western Alliance of School Social Work Associations, joined various community organizations, political causes, and efforts. Eventually I became involved with SSWAA as it was being formed prior to 1994, then after our founding, served on the SSWAA Board as Treasurer and Member at large for the Western Region.

Being involved, actively involved, requires a passion for the cause and the cause must be worth it in my view. There are a lot of good causes out there and if anything, the difficulty is in picking one and staying with it.

My affiliation with SSWAA started out innocently enough. When attending a NASW conference, I came upon a flyer sitting on a table announcing an upcoming Midwest School Social Work Conference which was being held in Indianapolis. I was President of the Washington Association of School Social Workers at the time and got their OK to attend on behalf of the association. My School District paid my expenses out of the travel budget because I could not afford to attend otherwise. I was intrigued that this was a regional School Social Work Association comprised of Individual State SSW associations.

While in attendance at the Indianapolis Midwest Council conference, I was invited by Loraine Davis, the Midwest Council President, to join a “Business Meeting” of state delegates. As a state president (WA), I was graciously welcomed into the meeting and realized after listening to the various state reports, it could be possible to create a “Western Alliance” of state SSW associations and set about to do so. I knew that the different western state organizations were not coordinating with each other but basically, just like the Midwest council, we were “more alike than different.”

Again, with the help from my school district, a grant was written to bring a representative from the 10 Western state organizations to a meeting in Seattle where we learned about the Midwest Council structure and processes from selected Council leadership members who were also invited. Everyone had their expenses covered by the grant. With this guidance and financial support, the Western Alliance was created.

Several years later, as conversation was beginning within our profession about creating a National Association, a “listening” committee comprised of Lynn Lewis from Kentucky, Bob Goodwin from Kansas, and myself, representing the three regional associations at that time (Southern, Midwest, Western) attended as many state and regional associations as possible to advise, discuss and solicitate feedback from conference attendees about the notion of creating a National SSW association. The feedback helped guide and inform school social workers about this ongoing discussion.

Randy Fisher has documented and written about the significant steps and milestones that took place in the final organizational efforts that led up to the creation of SSWAA in that summer of 1994. My contribution is minor compared to the collective effort of others and it has clearly taken years of focused effort and hard work, to create and sustain SSWAA over the last 30 + years. Like many other founding members, I have found something that is important to me, and I stayed with it.

I encourage you, the reader of this piece, to reach out to your state SSW Association and to SSWAA, our National SSW Association, to seriously consider running for office as a member of your state/national Board of Directors. You might find that it is important, you might find it is rewarding, and you too might end up staying with it!


Frederick Streeck - SSWAA Founding Member and Retired SSWAA Executive Director

Frederick Streeck, MSW, BA, is a founding member of the School Social Work Association of America and also served as the Executive Director from 2009 through 2014. Throughout his career, Frederick served as a school social worker, district administrator, and held various leadership positions in his state, region, and nationally. Now retired, Frederick enjoys time to relax and pursue various hobbies but continues to advocate for school social work.

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