In 2016, Madeleine Lee, a master’s candidate in the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), was attending a conference on public health in Denver when she spotted Elaine Congress, D.S.W, a GSS associate dean and professor. She went over and introduced herself.
“She didn’t know me at all, but she was so excited to see a Fordham student that she took me under her wing,” said Lee, who, thanks to Congress, is now interning at the United Nations. “She brought me to different meetings and introduced me to everyone.”
The incident speaks volumes about Congress’ willingness to help the next generation of social workers, said Robert Schachter, D.S.W., former executive director of the New York City chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NYC).
“That speaks to Elaine’s enthusiasm about the next generation entering the profession,” said Schachter. “She has no airs, and nobody can match Elaine’s propensity to mentor and support students and new professionals.”
On Oct. 19, NASW-NYC will be presenting Congress with its lifetime achievement award. Schachter also cited Congress’ extensive publications that focus on ethics, immigration, and diversity in the social work profession.
He said that he worked closely with Congress when she was president of the NASW-NYC from 1998 to 2000. At the time, the diversity of the field’s professionals did not reflect their clients’ diversity. At NASW-NYC, Congress made balancing the profession’s diversity a priority.
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