By: Katherine Prull '19
The sixth core competency from the Council of Social Work Education urges professionals to "engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities." Catherine Wilson MSW '10, a longtime social work professional, exemplifies this need. She has been recognized for her commitment by being appointed on the Executive Board of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to promote and strengthen the business community through goals and programs that encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and foster a positive image of Maplewood.
Wilson's history of community service extends to her role as President and CEO of United Way of Essex and West Hudson, a position she has held since May of 2016. In this role, she provides executive leadership and vision to the organization, creating partnership and sustainable strategies to help children and families living in poverty. In this role, she led the board in revising the mission, vision and strategic focus for the organization. Previously, she designed, implemented, and evaluated programs as the program design and evaluation specialist, until being promoted to Director of community compact.
"Working for a non-profit prepared me to serve on the Chamber Board because ultimately, I’m running a business," she explains. "The business is selling impact in the community to our donors and constituents. It's also about creating lasting change in health, education, and financial stability for our the residents. That requires a solid business, revenue, and donor engagement plan-all drivers of a successful business."
Before joining United Way, Wilson spent eight years in the child welfare field, working for the Division of Youth and Family Services and the Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocates. There, she advocated for children and youth stuck in the child welfare system, and designed the first Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Transitional Mentoring Program for youth aging out of foster care.
Wilson graduated with her BA in Communications from Rowan University in 2001 and earned her MSW from Rutgers School of Social Work in 2010 after working full-time and taking classes at night through the traditional, on-campus MSW program. Wilson also holds a certificate in Executive Leadership from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government which she received in 2014.
"Take risks and follow your passions," she advises. "Sometimes, what you think you want as your career, isn't what you end up doing, but if you follow what you love, it will lead you to where you belong."
Wilson is using the knowledge and experience acquired at the SSW to make lasting changes in her community. She enjoys her work, because she is able to see where it can lead. "The greatest impact is being able to create change in environments beyond the traditional realm of social work."