Celebrating Social Work Month 2023

My dear community, 

I find great meaning in this year’s social work theme - Social Work Breaks Barriers. Breaking down barriers is a core function of what social workers provide. It has been an important thread throughout the history of our profession and it continues to be today. 

Our School began in 1918 as a great experiment to reduce the barriers to mental health care for World War I veterans. Social worker Mary Garrett had the idea of training women to deliver psychiatric care to soldiers and veterans as a way to deepen the resources available to these individuals, reducing a significant barrier of access. This continues to be one of the most important roles that social workers can play - increasing access to services, helping folks to navigate systems, humanizing processes and challenging systems when they do not serve our clients. 

I am tremendously proud of the work of our alumni who are breaking barriers everyday. 

Like Alice K. Ladas, a 1946 graduate, who has been a pioneer for body psychotherapy, educated childbirth, breastfeeding and sexuality education. Alice Ladas has worked to break down barriers of sexuality. She was a lead author of the New York Times bestselling book The G Spot: And Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality. 

Or J. Camille Hall, a 2004 graduate from the Ph.D. program. Camille Hall is the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She is breaking down barriers for faculty and students to thrive on their campus by shaping a vision and strategies around diversity and inclusion. 

Or Maki Camacho, a 2016 M.S.W. graduate, who works with the Metropolitan Peace Initiatives in Chicago working with youth and adults who are involved in street gangs or who have lost children from gang violence, and youth and families who are transitioning from incarceration. Maki breaks down barriers by bringing trauma-informed, social justice oriented healing and change work into communities. 

The work of these alums and the work of so many of you is making a difference everyday by breaking and reducing barriers. This is work that is necessary, challenging and always meaningful. This work of healing and change is the heart of our profession. 

Thank you for all the ways that you break barriers and increase access. We are so proud of all of you. 

Wishing you peace for this national Social Work Month.


Marianne R.M. Yoshioka, MBA, Ph.D., LCSW
Dean & Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor
Smith College School for Social Work