The aim of the Policy Fellows Program is to encourage social workers in management to be at the forefront of policy. Social workers should engage proactively with policies that directly affect the individuals, families and communities they serve – either to redress those policies that now produce a negative impact, or to promote policy solutions in response to issues made evident in the course of doing the work.
The NSWM Policy Fellows program offers practical training in social work management for emerging and mid-career leaders seeking new experiences and skillsets. The nine-month leadership and professional development experience equips participants with core management competencies to inspire, organize, and work effectively with others to advance the public good. Dependent upon the fellow’s interest, the program will focus on the many different aspects of policy management including but not limited to policy advocacy, analysis, evaluation, and organizing the community of interest.
Policy Fellows Program Information
If you are interested in learning more about the Policy Fellows Program, please review the NSWM Policy Fellows Informational Panel Recording.
Past Fellows spoke about their participation, successes, challenges, and lessons learned during the nine-month leadership and professional development experience.
“The Network for Social Work Management’s Policy Fellowship provided me with an amazing opportunity for my professional development as a macro social worker that has since reinforced my knowledge and practical application of social work theories, the immense and diverse value of a social work degree and my commitment to my own professional development and the field.
Through the fellowship, I made a commitment to produce certain projects, including a professional poster presentation, and was both held accountable by and supported by my mentor. This format encouraged me to reflect on my professional experiences and how my perspective and values as a social worker have been instrumental in my work. In addition, my mentor was very positive and encouraging, which was just the creative push I needed to return to writing and research.
As a result of the fellowship and the support of the program and my mentor, I had the opportunity to present at the Network for Social Work Management’s annual conference and have also been invited to present at other national and international conferences in which I will engage in the important social work value of continuous learning, as well as advance the understanding of the value and contributions of social work.”
– Lindsey Bishop, MSW, 2016 Policy Fellow
“Becoming a Policy Fellow for Network for Social Work Management gave me an opportunity to connect with other social workers engaged in macro practice. This engagement and support motivated me to tackle projects that, until joining NSWM, were “back burner” ideas. The mentorship component of the fellowship was invaluable for refining my project and advancing my professional development. I only wish that I had known about NSWM earlier in my career.”
– Annie Grier, MSW, 2020 Policy Fellow
“The policy fellowship connected me to a wide range of other likeminded passionate individuals. It was really wonderful to expand my network of colleagues in the field of social work across the country and I confidently feel I could reach out to any of them in the future and be met with a warm and helpful response. In addition to connecting with and maintaining connections with other fellows, I am thrilled to continue working and collaborating with my mentor. The mentorship embedded into this fellowship is invaluable regardless of where you are in your career and so helpful in developing and implementing your policy project.”
– Lisa Castagnola, MA, MSW, LCSW, 2020 Policy Fellow
“I am humbled and honored to have served as a NSWM Policy Fellow this past year. This program provided me the opportunity to connect my passion in serving communities with other experts, ground breakers, and emerging leaders in the field. As a “middle manager” with mostly clinical experience, I recognized that I lacked much of the knowledge and skill needed to have a macro scope, but knew the importance of not only being an impactful leader for my staff, but also an effective change agent in the policy world. Without this fellowship, I wouldn’t have considered accessing the many resources I was introduced to without the guidance of my mentor. His understanding of the human services landscape aided me in learning a lot about networking, leveraging and knowledge building. Also, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the amazing work of the other fellows, whose efforts in their own projects was both inspiring and enlightening. I feel thankful to have co-written an article with them, an experience I would not have had without this program. The NSWM Policy Fellowship is an integral and central part of this organization, helping emerging leaders like myself build the knowledge and resolve needed to fight for social justice.”
– Daniel Domaguin, LCSW, 2018 2nd Year Policy Fellow
“The NSWM Policy Fellows Program was one of the most beneficial experiences that I have had as a professional social worker. It allowed me to work on a project that I am very passionate about, but that is outside of my day-to-day responsibilities at work, in a structured and supportive way. My mentor was valuable to both my personal and professional development – our relationship will undoubtedly continue after the program. I learned so much from my mentor, from other fellows, and from the Network as a whole. I am thankful for the experience, and am eager to continue to learn about and work in the policy arena. I highly recommend this opportunity to other social workers.”
– Lauren Hyre, LMSW, 2018 Policy Fellow
“The Policy Fellows Program helped to propel a demonstration project concept spearheaded by a small dedicated volunteer ad-hoc committee into a larger initiative within a Center at a School of Social Work. This advancement to a next step has enhanced the opportunity to develop, implement, evaluate, disseminate, and sustain the original work conceptualized while concurrently broadening the scope to encompass inter-related components. Specifically, the structured guidance provided by the policy fellow mentor in the first year strengthened my overall individual professional capacity and helped to infuse our work with new hope, energy, targeted fund development, and strategic partnership engagement efforts. The second year of the policy fellowship expanded my knowledge of professional writing and introduced me to the importance of, and avenues for, dissemination related to project development and research.”
– Alisa West Cahill, LSW-Adm., 2017 Policy Fellow