Where were you 29 years ago today? For some, you may have been established in your career as a school social worker. Others may have been in high school or middle school at the time. Some of you may not yet have been born.
For 64 individuals, the answer to "Where were you 29 years ago today?" is "In Edwardsville, Illinois forming a national organization named the School Social Work Association of America."
Today is a special day! Yes, 29 years ago today, SSWAA was born! On July 22, 23 & 24, 1994 in Edwardsville, Illinois 64 participants from 20 states came together to form an organization exclusively representing School Social Workers. Four task forces were established to assist with the organizational structure and Constitution and Bylaws. In the fall of 1994, the first SSWAA Luncheon was held at the Midwest School Social Work Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin named in honor of I. Lorraine Davis for her long commitment to furthering the cause of School Social Workers. In July of 1995, SSWAA's first annual meeting was held in Minneapolis and was attended by 60 School Social Workers from 26 states as we continued strategic planning. In October of 1995, SSWAA held its first elections and Randy Fisher was elected as our first President. December of 1995 saw SSWAA hire its first Governmental Relations person to advocate for School Social Workers in Washington, DC. The 2nd annual meeting was then held in Washington DC. After several meetings, on February 23, 1996 SSWAA leadership and the NASW School Social Work Section signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the 2 organizations acknowledging the role each plays in promoting the profession of School Social Workers and outlining parameters of collaboration between the associations.
This is an exciting time and marks a milestone in SSWAA's history! Today we enter our 30th year as an organization. Some say that 30 years of an organization marks a transition from youth into middle adulthood. SSWAA, like most organizations, has faced challenges, trials, and setbacks. But SSWAA has also seen incredible growth, increased membership and professional impact, and has faced challenges with resilience and dedication to the school social work profession.
Today offers an opportunity to reflect with gratefulness to those school social workers and SSWAA members who have invested so much time, expertise, and energy into our National organization. Today especially, I am grateful to the 64 individuals who undoubtedly made sacrifices to attend the meeting in Edwardsville. I am grateful for the investment of their time, ideas, hard work, and thoughtful planning that gave birth to SSWAA.
Traditionally, the 30th Anniversary is the "pearl" anniversary and the color associated with 30 years is green. Throughout this year, SSWAA is going to take time to pause and celebrate our organization. Please be on the lookout for monthly blogs in a series titled "Pearls of Wisdom". These blogs are written by founding members of SSWAA. Through these blogs, these founding members will be sharing their experiences that led up to and were impactful in the founding of SSWAA and the early work of the association. We hope these blogs enrich your understanding of and appreciation for the development of our association.
Additionally, SSWAA will enjoy sharing history and will celebrate together at the 27th National School Social Work Conference, March 12-15, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. SSWAA will welcome many founders back to the conference event and will host a SSWAA 30th Birthday bash at the conference, inviting all attendees to wear green and pearls in celebration!
Happy 30th year! #SSWAA30years
Rebecca K. Oliver is the Executive Director of the School Social Work Association of America. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Mrs. Oliver served on the SSWAA Board of Directors and has over 20 years of experience working as a school social worker. In her current role with SSWAA, Rebecca is able to support school social workers across the nation and advocate for the profession about which she is so passionate. When not working, Rebecca enjoys traveling with her husband Jon, singing, running, reading, doing home improvements, and outdoor activities including walks with her two dogs, Abby & Buddy.