Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.
March is National Social Work Month. The UI&U Bachelor of Science major in Social Work is a rigorous curriculum that is in demand due to its proven commitment to diverse, non-traditional aged students, working professionals, and military service members seeking to enhance their educational qualifications while maintaining commitments to career, family, and community.
Enrollment counselors will join the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Region 6 Networking Summit on April 7 to showcase why the Union Bachelor of Science in Social Work is the right program for students seeking a program that empowers adult students to apply professional knowledge, skills, ethics, and values for generalist social work with an emphasis on social justice and social change.
In recognition of National Social Work Month, Pamela J. Miller, J.D., M.S.W., L.I.S.W.-S. is featured in the Union Leaders series. Pamela is co-director of the National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter in the Cincinnati area. In the Q&A below, Pamela shares leadership insights and discusses her dedication to the social work profession.
Q. How do you define leadership?
A. Leadership is most importantly an act of service. It is not about self-promotion or ambition, but about a willingness to serve humbly, to offer one’s abilities and gifts. Leadership is producing new ideas, pushing those ideas into action, mobilizing allies and partners, creative problem solving, and forward movement.
Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.
A. One of my passions is quality continuing education for social workers, as I believe every professional should be a life-long learner and university is merely the first step in one’s educational journey. When I became co-director of NASW Region 6 (Cincinnati) I took over the continuing education program. I mobilized my professional network to take our continuing education in a new direction, and offer interdisciplinary training. I recruited speakers that included a social philosopher working on theories of oppression, a nurse anesthetist working on medication-assisted opioid treatment, a food justice scholar working to bring healthy food to people in poverty, and an education professor working for the rights of mentally ill children in schools. As a result of these efforts, I was so honored to receive the NASW Ohio President’s Award as Regional Director of the Year for outstanding continuing education, along with my co-director. This is an example of how I took my beliefs about life-long, interdisciplinary learning and engaged in leadership to put them into action.
Q. What leader do you admire most and why?
A. Jane Addams, the founder of the field of social work, is the leader I most admire. At a time when women did not even have the right to vote, she founded an entire profession of mostly women that now includes 800,000 professional social workers in the U.S. alone, and millions worldwide. Her philosophical writings create the core values, theories, and practices that have saved millions of lives over the past 100+ years. In a world where most professional fields are dominated by men, she created a profession that is dominated by women and upholds the highest ideals of human endeavor.
Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?
A. In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life. – Jane Addams
Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?
A. My identity as a leader solidified in college and grad school. In college I founded the first women’s empowerment group for survivors of sexual violence at Miami University. After personally surviving an on-campus assault (#metoo) I was stunned that there was no women’s support group or activist group regarding sexual violence. I reached out to the Women’s Center and they allowed me to use their space to start the group “Finding Our Voices”. In graduate school, my identity as a leader solidified when I founded the student organization “Advocates for Children” at UC College of Law, where I was a joint degree student in law and social work. In the first semester, I raised several thousand dollars by soliciting $5 and $10 donations at weekly bake sales and was able to put on a major event benefiting local elementary school children in the Clifton neighborhood.