Previously Featured Figures:
Michelle Obama is an American attorney and author who served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. As first lady, Obama served as a role model for women and worked as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, and physical activity. She also is known for her support of military families.
Michelle Obama, born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to her role as first lady, Michelle was a lawyer, Chicago city administrator and community-outreach worker. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Michelle worked as a junior associate at Sidley & Austin, before leaving to seek out a more public-service-oriented career path.
After leaving her law firm, Michelle rose through the ranks of Chicago public service, then becoming an assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. From 1992 to 1993 Michelle was the assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, and the following year she founded the Chicago branch of Public Allies, a leadership-training program for young adults.
As an organization that understands and believes in the power of education, we honor Michelle Obama’s commitment to academics through her Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn initiatives.
For more information on the life and work of Michelle Obama, check out this Britannica article.
At-a-Glance: Michelle Obama
- Born January 17, 1964 in Chicago, IL
- Studied sociology and African American studies at Princeton University (B.A., 1985)
- Attended Harvard Law School (J.D., 1988)
- Became vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center in 2005.
- Was the first African American first lady.
- Focused her attention on social issues such as poverty, healthy living and education while she was first lady
- Inducted into the national women’s hall of fame
- Her memoir, “Becoming,” sold millions of copies worldwide and an audio version earned a 2020 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album
- Launched her own podcast in 2020
National Social Work Month
Over the last year, social workers and other frontline workers have demonstrated an ongoing, sustained presence in the lives and the communities of the clients with which we work and partner. To that end, we recognize and appreciate the efforts of social workers here at Children’s Home & Aid this month.
March 16th, World Social Work Day, is an opportunity for social workers across the country to turn the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions they make to society. This year’s theme for World Social Work Day highlights Ubuntu: I am Because We Are. On this special day, which takes place during Women’s History Month, we choose to honor the many trailblazing women who have advanced the field of social work through the years. Some of these include:
- Social work pioneer Jane Addams was one of the first women to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded in 1931. Known best for establishing settlement houses in Chicago for immigrants in the early 1900s, Addams was a dedicated community organizer and peace activist.
- Frances Perkins, a social worker, was the first woman to be appointed to the cabinet of a U.S. President. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Perkins drafted much of the New Deal legislation in the 1940s.
- Dorothy Height: Height focused on issues of gender, economic and racial equality. She is credited as the first leader in the civil rights movement to recognize inequality for women and African Americans as problems that should be considered as a whole. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years
- Jeanette Rankin became the first woman to hold national office in the United States when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916. She played a critical role in the creation and passage of the 19th Amendment, which prohibited the states or federal government from denying the right to vote based on gender.
Check out this article for more information on the many women pioneers who have helped to shape and advance the social work field.
World Social Work Day is celebrated as a part of National Professional Social Work Month in the United States. Our nation’s almost 700,000 social workers confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.
As an organization that works to strengthen children and families through both direct service and advocacy, we applaud the profound contributions of social workers in the United States and worldwide.
For more information on the history of the social work profession, check out this timeline!
- The American social work profession was established in the late 19th century to ensure that immigrants and other vulnerable people gained tools and skills to escape economic and social poverty.
- There are more than 700,000 professional social workers employed in the United States, and more than three million worldwide.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies social work as one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S. The field is expected to grow by 11 percent by 2028.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are more clinically trained social workers providing mental health and behavioral health services than any other professional discipline in the U.S.
- The policies and programs created by social workers throughout U.S. history seek to give more people—regardless of life circumstances—the opportunity to cope with and overcome obstacles.
- National Professional Social Work Month is celebrated in the U.S. each March. The official theme this year is “Social Workers are Essential.”
- Five trailblazing women social workers are Dorothy Height, Jeannette Rankin, Thyra J. Edwards, Nazneen Sada Mayadas, and Ruby Gourdine. For more information on the contributions of these pioneers, check out this article.
International Women’s Day
The 8th of March is the day the world celebrates International Women’s Day (#IWD2021). On this day, the global community reflects on the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This day also serves as a call–to–action for accelerating gender equality.
IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD is not country, group or organization specific. It belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is Choose To Challenge.
As an organization that believes equal rights are foundational, we maintain our commitment to building a more inclusive world as we #ChooseToChallenge gender bias, discrimination, and stereotypes on #InternationalWomensDay.
For more information on the history of International Women’s Day, check out this IWD timeline.
- Download and print out the #ChooseToChallenge Selfie Cards to promote action via social media.
- Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. The colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK in 1908.
- The first IWD gathering took place more than a century ago in 1911 with over a million people attending. Learn more about the history of IWD.
- The internationalwomensday.com platform was launched in 2001, to provide more guidance and resources for IWD.
- IWD campaign themes are collaboratively developed each year with a range of stakeholders and widely adopted by groups and organizations worldwide.
Kamala Devi Harris
Kamala Devi Harris is an American politician and attorney who is currently serving as the 49th Vice President of the United States. Harris is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President. Throughout her career, Vice President Harris has proven herself to be a champion of the people.
In 1990, Harris joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault. Over the next 14 years, Harris rose through the ranks of public service, becoming the District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004 and creating a ground-breaking program to provide first-time drug offenders with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find employment. In 2010, Harris was elected Attorney General of California, making her the first female and the first black person to hold the office. In her role, she established the state’s first Bureau of Children’s Justice and advanced criminal justice reforms for more transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system. During this time, Harris was also a leader on issues of healthcare, education, and marriage equality.
When Harris became a U.S. Senator in January 2017, she became the first Indian American serving in the Senate and just the second Black woman. As a U.S. Senator, served on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Judiciary Committee, and her Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. During her tenure, she participated in hearings for two Supreme Court nominees and championed legislation to combat hunger, provide rent relief, improve maternal health care, and address climate change.
Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, CA to parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica. After studying political science and economics (B.A., 1986) in Washington, D.C. at the historically Black university, Howard University, where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Harris later earned a law degree in 1989 from the University of California – Hastings College of Law.
As an organization that supports children and families, we celebrate Vice President Harris’ longstanding commitment to the people in breaking barriers and advocating for family rights.
At-a-Glance: Vice President Kamala Harris
As an organization that supports children and families, we celebrate Vice President Harris‘ longstanding commitment to the people in breaking barriers and advocating for family rights.
- Born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, CA to parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica.
- Harris is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President.
- Studied political science and economics (B.A., 1986) in Washington, D.C. at the historically Black university, Howard University, where she became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
- Earned a law degree in 1989 from the University of California – Hastings College of Law.
- In 2010, Harris was elected Attorney General of California, making her the first female and the first black person to hold the office.
- In January 2017, she became the first Indian American serving in the Senate and just the second Black woman.
- Harris has written three books: a personal memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (2019), an illustrated children’s book, Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), and Smart on Crime (2009; cowritten with Joan O’C. Hamilton), which was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism.
- Her motto comes from her mom: “You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.”