Social work students, faculty, and staff gathered at KY State Capitol for Social Work Lobby Day 

CoSW students, faculty, and staff highlighted the essential roles of social workers in shaping public policy and fostering community engagement.
Photo credit Cassie Payne / UK College of Social Work

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Photo credit Cassie Payne / UK College of Social Work

Frankfort, KY – University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) students, faculty, and staff converged with policymakers and activists at the State Capitol to partake in the 2024 Social Work Lobby Day event on March 5. This assembly highlighted the essential roles of social workers, educators, and scholars in shaping public policy and fostering community engagement. 

The agenda for the event encompassed committee hearings, interactions with Kentucky legislators, an address by Governor Andy Beshear, and involvement in the 60th-anniversary commemoration of the March on Frankfort, a pivotal civil rights march spearheaded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964. These diverse activities highlighted the persistent impact of social work across various domains, from shaping significant historical movements to influencing current policy debates, effectively demonstrating that social work is everywhere. 

Trenton Rose, an online Master of Social Work student, expressed that the Lobby Day significantly enhances his professional growth, particularly in understanding macro-social work and its relevance to his interest in sports social work. The sentiment reflects a broader appreciation among participants for the event’s role in expanding their advocacy skills and policy awareness.  

“I was so inspired to see other social workers speak up for what they stand for in this field and spark real change,”  Rose shared.  

Photo credit Cassie Payne / UK College of Social Work

Highlighting the day’s significance, Dr. ZaDonna Slay, Director of the BASW program, introduced Governor Beshear, opening with, “Governor Andy Beshear, since his first day in office, has been a true advocate and supporter of social workers”.  

Following Slay’s introduction, faculty member Dr. Diane Loeffler presented Gov. Beshear’s wife, Brittney, with the “Stars of Social Justice” award for her commitment to improving the lives of children across the Commonwealth.  

“Today we remember that compassion is who we are as Kentuckians: good people who care for our neighbors and believe that everyone is our neighbor – no exceptions,” Gov. Beshear shared in his address. 

CoSW Professor Jennifer Gamble brought a cohort of students from the SW 400 – Practice with Communities and Organizations class.  

“We talk about macro-social work in my class and the reality that policy touches everything we do in social work,” shared Gamble. “Lobby Day is an incredible opportunity for students to see real-time advocacy in action, meet other advocates and folks working for legislative change, and observe policy development first-hand. They get to ‘go behind the curtain’ and  see how things happen in a legislative setting.”  

The 2024 Social Work Lobby Day event not only served as a platform for commemorating significant historical milestones but also as a forum for fostering the next generation of social workers and advocates. By bridging the gap between education and practice, the event underscored the critical role of social workers in advocating for change, demonstrating the profession’s impact on shaping a more equitable and just society. Through these collective efforts, social workers continue to be pivotal in addressing societal challenges and advancing the common good. 

For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.  

Social work students, faculty, and staff gathered at KY State Capitol for Social Work Lobby Day