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Senator Gibson (2nd from left) was awarded the NASW-FL Big Bend unit's Social Work Elected Official of the Year.  She was presented her award on March 13 in Tallahassee.  (L to R) Tracey Aittama, MSW, NASW-FL Big Bend Unit Chair LCSW, Senator Audrey Gibson, Vicky Rose, MSW, Carol Edwards, LCSW, NASW-FL Board President and Jim Akin, ACSW, NASW-FL Executive Director

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Jamilla Abughali, MBA, MSW, Registered Clinical Social
​Worker Intern, Unit Chair


2021 LEAD Day (Legislative Education & Advocacy Day)  is just around the corner and NASW-FL administrators, legislative chairs, and LEAD coordinators are working diligently to provide a virtual forum by which we can train those interested in the legislative process and find ample time to advocate for those we serve with our local and state representatives and senators. To add to the amazing line up of bills and areas of focus for NASW-FL and the Big Bend Unit, is the implementation of the Race and Justice Task Force. Our first interest meeting was in August 2020. Now under the umbrella of the Diversity Committee, the Race and Justice Task Force has been able to target several areas of focus to forge a multi-pronged task force that will foster critical thinking on behalf of race and justice issues and develop programming and future curriculum that will make cultural competence and respect for diversity a priority. These focus areas are included below with their group descriptions:

Education/Awareness: The Education & Awareness Group discussed strategies to approach decision makers in K-12 public schools (as well as CSWE-accredited colleges and universities/ Field Instructors) concerning educational policies and practices that promote anti-racism and inclusivity; include Field Consortium as a subcommittee of informants; collaboration with USFs College of Public Health to raise awareness on the Lynching Project &  its impact on Black people today (researchers as an established sub-committee). Two local groups of retired Black Police Officers have also agreed to support our cause.

Institutional Racism: The institutional racism group discussed working on cultural competency for licensure, supporting social workers in institutions, partnering with organizations like the NAACP, K-12 education, etc.

Legislation/Policies: The Legislative Policy group discussed how to look at legislative bills and policy decisions to determine their impact on people of color and support of racism.  The subcommittee will invite others to participate to help to develop a framework to do analysis of legislation and policy to discover language or plans which can be used to enforce or support racism. The goal of which is to develop more culturally inclusive language and plans.

Police Reform/Policing: Develop assessment tools looking at police culture, training, and values for indicators of level of authoritarian relationships with citizens; violence and the use of force; hierarchical structure; and racism. Create partnerships with social workers already working in police departments as well as police officers and administrators to complete assessment.  Develop strategies with “experts” for dismantling and building anti-racist, anti-violent culture in each individual police department.

We are thankful to all the participants from professional social workers to social work faculty and students at state universities who have helped over the months to create the Race and Justice Task Force and develop the focus areas. We will be calling upon all of you and your constituents to move forward once we have successfully completed LEAD Day 2021. Co-Chairs: Carol Edwards & Jacquelyn McMillan.

Our Call to Action: NASW

by Jacquelyn McMillan, PhD, LCSW

We stand in solidarity with the Black and Brown community. • We acknowledge the need for real reform in this country. • We will assume responsibility for our words, thoughts and actions. • We will speak out on the issues of racial discrimination and injustice. • We will challenge racist remarks that occur in our presence. • We will vocalize the absence of Black and Brown people in civic and organizational leadership gatherings. • We will view racism and discrimination as our collective responsibility to change. • We will support leaders, businesses, and organizations that practice anti-racism. • We will listen and learn from experiences of Black and Brown people. • We will engage in community activism that supports anti-racist values. • We serve as allies for Black and Brown people. • We will take the responsibility to vote for Leaders that support equality and the elimination of racism. • We will not succumb to fear. • We will not continue with business as usual. • We will not look in the other direction. • We will not wait for others to act.

2020 Big Bend Social Work Unit Awards:

  • Social Worker of the Year: Jacqueline Barksdale, BS, MSW, LCSW
  • Social Work Student of the Year: Holley Nicholson
  • Social Work Educator of the Year:Robin Perry, Ph.D., MSW
  • Public Citizen of the Year:Senator Audrey Gibson
  • Social Work Citizen of the Year: Rev. Candace McKibben

Big Bend Unit Leadership:

Thank you to all who have volunteered to be a part of our unit leadership committee. I you have any input for our unit please contact Tracey Aittama.

Jamilla Abughali, MBA, MSW, Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern, Unit Chair

Rebecca Carter, LCSW: Continuing Education Co-Chair

Jacquelyn McMillan, PhD, LCSW: Legislative Chair

Kristyn Robinson: Membership Chair

Josette Georges, MSW Membership Co-Chair

Sonnie Mayewski, MSW: Communications/social Media Chair

​Alisah Lauderdale, MSW: Event Chair

Open - CCNLI

Erykah Tharpe: Secretary/Treasurer

Open: FSU BSW Student Representative

Erykah Tharpe: FSU MSW Student Representative

Open: FAMU MSW Student Representative

Open: FAMU BSW Student Representative