Legislative Education & Advocacy Day (LEAD) is an annual event hosted by NASW-NJ, which brings together hundreds of social work students and professionals from across the state to the capital of Trenton. LEAD is designed to further social workers’ knowledge of the legislative process, grassroots advocacy, and major current statewide policy initiatives. Attendees hear from an array of passionate speakers from elected officials, the government sector, community organizers, and advocates.
This year's event, held on March 5th, was attended by nearly 100 Rutgers students thanks to the generosity of donors Maury Lieberman MSW'66 and Leslie Scallet. Lieberman and Scallet also fund a similar experience in Washington D.C. for School of Social Work students. Their inspiration comes from a desire to foster student activism and the importance of policy awareness by making these annual trips and other related activities, a staple in the culture of the School. This year, social work students, professionals and educators rallied on the statehouse steps to call on lawmakers to re-fund the Social Services Student Loan Redemption Program. The program, originally authorized in 2005, has been unfunded since 2011.
“Today, we are calling on legislators to acknowledge the contributions social workers make to our lives and our communities by funding the Social Services Student Loan Redemption Program in the amount of $750,000 and to commit to annual support of at least that amount,” said Jennifer Thompson, social worker and Executive Director of NASW-NJ. “It’s the least we can do to limit the crushing impact of student loan debt on those who work daily to help us all succeed.”
Also among the speakers were DuWayne Battle, Associate Professor of Teaching, Director of the Baccalaureate Program and Coordinator of the Camden Program.