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Does It Make a Difference Who is at the Top?
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Does It Make a Difference Who Is at the Top?
55 MSWs in Agency Leadership in New York City

April 2010


Being educated as a professional social worker and having direct experience with clients can shape how a human services organization is run. This is what social workers who are CEOs and Executive Directors in New York City’s non-profit sector are telling us.

There are enormous forces shaping agencies, including how services are paid for and what outcomes are expected, and in the following pages, six leaders share how being social workers makes a tangible difference.

In preparing for this issue of Currents, NASW staff set out to identify all of the social workers who are running agencies in New York City. On page two we list 55 social workers who are either CEOs or Executive Directors. They reflect that the social work profession is continuing to be in a leadership role in providing services.
However, we all need to be aware that many social workers have retired from leadership positions in recent years, and Boards of Directors have increasingly looked outside of the profession to fill vacancies. Given this reality, social workers need to recognize the many strengths and perspectives that these leaders bring and that we can create effective partnerships to enhance service delivery, and each other. Relationships with professionals outside of social work will be increasingly valuable in future years.

While most social workers have career ambitions to specialize in direct client services, NASW-NYC encourages social workers with interest in macro practice to aim for the top of service organizations. Clients, communities, staff, and the profession will benefit.

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