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NMSU social work faculty, state professionals prepare for February Summit Forum

ALBUQUERQUE - Social work leaders from across New Mexico met recently in Albuquerque at the second annual New Mexico Social Work Summit, and made plans for an upcoming forum on issues important to the profession.


The meeting, which was convened by state Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Bernalillo, and Rep. Antonio Lujan, D-Dona Ana, was at the New Mexico State University-Albuquerque Center.

"The summit process is all about the future of the social work profession in New Mexico, and how to work together even as we share diverse interests," said Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome, NMSU assistant professor of social work at the Albuquerque Center.

The five task teams created at the first summit meeting reported on the preliminary work they have done over the previous year. The groups self-selected into areas of common interest - licensure and education, recruitment and retention, new behavioral health plan, elevating the practice of social work and loan forgiveness.

"The teams have worked on the preparatory steps to opening the discussion to the entire profession," said Whittlesey-Jerome. "During the New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers' annual conference in February, all members of the profession are invited to the Summit Forum to come and participate in the discussion."

New Mexico's conference is typically one of the best-attended events nationally, she said.

"We expect 600 to 800 social workers from a variety of rural and urban New Mexico settings," she said.

During the 2008 Summit Forum, Whittlesey-Jerome will present a legislative update on issues impacting the social work profession. The forum will also include a panel of the summit task team leaders discussing the work that has been done and an open microphone discussion for questions from the audience.

"The forum will take the work of the core leadership accomplished through the summit to the profession at large, which then will return to direct the future path of the Social Work Summit's work," Whittlesey-Jerome said.

The forum will be from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North Conference Center, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, prior to the state conference that will be held at the same facility Feb. 13-15. For further information about the conference, call (505) 247-2336.