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Happy Social Work Month! In these unprecedented times, it may seem odd to celebrate March this year, but social workers are some of the best crisis management professionals around—we deal with the unexpected and with emergencies every day, so our calm, our professionalism, and our training automatically kicks in.


We need to take pride in our profession and support each other more than ever during Social Work Month as Virginia citizens and officials begin recognizing social workers for the critical community leaders they are.


“I have total faith and deep pride in knowing that you all are working so hard to—as ever—help others. Thank you for your patience and understanding - and a special thank-you for all you are doing to help our state weather this temporary storm,” says NASWVA Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE.

NASW Virginia Announces Five 2020 Annual Award Recipients in Social Work

Congratulations to the five remarkable social workers chosen to receive 2020 NASW Virginia Annual Awards:

Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award: Dr. William “Bill” Spitzer, DCSW/ACSW


Social Worker of the Year: Dave Lewis, LCSW


Public Citizen of the Year: Suzie Bartel, Ryan Bartel Foundation


MSW (Master’s of Social Work) Student of the Year: John Gyourko


BSW (Bachelor’s of Social Work) Student of the Year: Emily Knowles


“The chapter’s annual awards recognize select social workers for professional excellence and outstanding achievement,” says NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “While always difficult to choose, this year’s recipients truly represent the powerful, often behind-the-scenes impacts social workers and behavioral professionals have on their clients and community. Congratulations to them all!”

Pictured L to R: Emily Knowles, BSW Student of the Year; John Gyourko, MSW Student of the Year; Dave Lewis, Social Worker of the Year; Dr. Bill Spitzer, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Suzie Bartel, Public Citizen of the Year

Act Now! Congress is Considering COVID-19 Aid Packages

Urge Congress to Ensure that Medicare Reimburse for Mental and Behavioral Health Services Provided by Audio-Only Telehealth


 Contact your Lawmakers 


Congress is developing a third package of legislation responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. We need to make sure this includes a provision to enable Medicare to reimburse for telehealth that is provided by audio-only telephone (versus a smartphone with a video chat app).  

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently broadened access to telehealth services under Medicare by allowing providers to use smartphones with video chat apps to provide services, to beneficiaries who are in their own home. This is an important step. However, many Medicare beneficiaries either don't have access to smartphones, don't know how to use video chat capability, or do not have adequate, reliable internet service to support video communications.  With social distancing likely to be required for many weeks and months, and with research showing the severe adverse effects of social isolation and loneliness, Medicare beneficiaries need to be able to pick up a phone and connect easily with mental health providers. Please take a moment to contact your lawmakers.

 Contact your Lawmakers 

NASW Virginia Annual Conference Goes VIRTUAL March 26-28, 2020

Keep checking your email or the conference website for the latest news.


Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, NASW Virginia has moved its 2020 Annual Conference

from an in-person meeting to a virtual conference March 26-28, offering new opportunities to learn and engage from the convenience and safety of your desk. The virtual meeting offers some cool features such as chat for peer-to-peer interactions and a multimedia virtual Exhibit Fair!


The virtual agenda is very similar to the in-person agenda, except for a few experiential sessions. We are still working with a few speakers to determine if their content can transfer appropriately to an online environment, but overall, the chapter’s tradition will continue of being the best professional development for social workers in Virginia, even as we pioneer a new approach.  


You still earn critical CEUs, including those for seven ethics sessions, which will help you meet CEU requirements. The Virginia Board of Social Work just extended the deadline for LCSWs to complete their 30 hours for this licensing and relicensing cycle by June 30, 2021. However, this does NOT change the next two-year cycle—LCSWs must also complete an additional 30 hours by June 30, 2022.


We are still registering attendees until midnight Tuesday, March 24, so this is a great time to invite your colleagues to join this new learning experience at a reduced rate! Here are the new registration rates. Deadline for refund requests, minus a $50 fee, is midnight Tuesday, March 24.

The virtual Exhibit Fair gives new opportunities to interact with companies and organizations offering services and products relevant to social workers. You will be able to click into the Exhibit Fair and then browse and click into virtual “booths” that include a representative, downloadable materials, videos for demos or product/service overviews, corporate information, and more! You also will have more time to interact with exhibitors since their information will be available until April 15. Note that many of the exhibitors are new, so veteran attendees will want to check them out


The planned self-care track on Thursday, March 26 is now open to even more attendees. Its lineup is the direct result of suggestions from attendees last year who were experiencing burnout and high stress. With the current crisis, ensuring that you take time to nurture yourself in whatever ways most refresh and relax you is vital to your ability to help your clients and community. And now, you can ensure even greater self-care by attending via our fun virtual environment!


“Nothing is more important than your health and safety,” says Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “Now you’ll be able to learn, engage, and connect in a new and safer way—from the convenience of your home. Thank you in advance for your commitment to the profession and the chapter.”


If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Executive Director Debra Riggs at


2020 Student Conference Cancelled

Regretfully, NASW Virginia had to cancel the 2020 Student Conference March 26 due to the pandemic and declared national emergency. Our sincere apologies to our social work students, but you can still register at reduced rates for the new VIRTUAL NASWVA Annual Conference March 26-28.

Conference Highlights

We are pleased to announce our Keynote Speakers for 2020...

Rachel Marco-Havens is a multidisciplinary “solutionary” artist. Her primary medium, communications, ignites collaborative conversations, which often lead motivated people to take inspired, regenerative action in their own communities. Learn more here and read a special interview with her here.

What will Rachel discuss during her keynote? Listen here to find out...

Katherine Gray Silvan is a performing artist, ordained interfaith minister, and a licensed Master of Social Work, whose passion is to educate, empower, and love people of all backgrounds and faiths. Katherine wrote, directed, and starred in her own one-woman show, “Full of Myselves,” has written and performed dozens of character sketches and works as a visiting preacher, sharing the message of universal love, religious tolerance and respect for diversity. Learn more here.

Hear Katherine preview her keynote talk...

Ken E. Nwadike, Jr., is a peace activist, motivational speaker, and video journalist. Nwadike Jr is the founder of the Free Hugs Project, which produces motivational videos to spread love, inspire change, and raise awareness of social issues. His ‘Free Hugs’ videos have reached hundreds of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube. In 2014, Nwadike launched the Free Hugs Project to spread love in response to the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Nwadike was featured in Google’s 2016 Year in Search video as a highlight of some of the year’s most defining moments. Learn more here.

Pete Dunlap MAED, is an expert in technology overuse and addiction. His organization, Digital Detangler, equips people with tools and strategies that enable healthier digital habits and promote well-being. He’ll look at how social media use can become a compulsion and investigate our own social media experiences. Learn about the trends that have driven us to distraction and be presented with a path forward. Learn more here.​​

Pete Dunlap introduces his keynote topic here:

Watch this short video interview with Filmmaker Scilla Andreen, who previews the Friday screening of her documentary, LIKE. The movie will be shown during the 2020 Annual Conference, which is now virtual, and will include a post-screening panel discussion with Andreen, keynoter Pete Dunlap, and several NASW Virginia leaders. No time to watch? Skim this text interview instead

NASW Virginia Training Opportunities


The many unknowns related to the pandemic mean specifics around locations and formats of NASW Virginia trainings are ever-changing. Please check the Calendar of Events for the latest information and email before registering for a course or workshop. Whenever possible, we will offer either virtual formats or webinars until told that in-person meetings are safe. Your health and safety remain a priority for us. Thank you for your understanding and patience under these extraordinary circumstances.  


Just Added! New Virtual Course: Intensive Telemental Health Training for the Coronavirus Era


In light of national progress enabling telehealth by clinical social workers, NASWVA is offering a new nine-hour virtual course, Intensive Telemental Health Training for the Coronavirus Era, April 7-9 from 9 to 12 noon daily. The chapter has heavily discounted the in-depth course by one-third to ensure the widest accessibility possible to social workers trying to get up to speed to serve clients virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cost is $100 (members), $143 (nonmembers) for the 9 CEUs.


This comprehensive TMH program will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and resources to enter into this service delivery model with a solid foundation of best-practice approaches.

The course will be taught by Psychotherapist Charles Safford, LCSW, founder of a national continuing education company called, Inc, in Roswell, Ga. Register here!

NASWVA Advocacy Update


CMS Issues Teletherapy Guidance for Clinical Social Workers with Medicare Clients


Under pressure from NASW and other medical societies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance late today allowing telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries--a victory for NASW and other advocates who have been pushing for the move in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical social workers now can provide teletherapy to beneficiaries if a new or existing client is in their home. There will be no audits to determine prior relationship. Telephone/audio-only is not reimbursable; CSWs must use a videoconferencing platform, which should be easier since HIPAA requirements are also eased. For full details, visit

Chapter Victory! Governor Signs “Conversion Therapy” Ban  

On March 3, Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law chapter-supported legislation that bans “conversion therapy” of children, marking a victorious end to NASWVA’s longtime efforts to stop the widely discredited psychotherapy practice. Conversion therapy claims to alter or repress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The NASW Virginia Chapter has worked hard to protect the rights and welfare of LGBTQ children and adults,” says Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, “The use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Virginia was an appalling and misleading practice that was not evidence-based. Thank you to all members who sent letters, made phone calls, and participated in the chapter’s Lobby Day to ensure this issue stayed on the front burner of state lawmakers.”


For background, read the NASW position statement.

Chapter Victory! Virginia Workforce Study Moves Ahead

The Virginia Chapter of NASW has successfully co-led legislative efforts to advance a study that would gather critical data about the state’s social work workforce, ranging from salary information to licensing to workforce development. The bipartisan joint resolution was unanimously reported out of the House to the Senate (SJ49) January 24 for further consideration.


The chapter and its allies, including leaders of the Association of Black Social Workers Richmond Chapter and several universities, are grateful to bill sponsor Sen. Jennifer McLellan (Richmond, second from left) for her hard work to support this unprecedented study.


"Special thanks goes to Dr. Angela Henderson (fourth from right) for jumpstarting and co-organizing these collaborative efforts, as well as for her commitment to the chapter and the profession," says NASWVA Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE (bottom left). "We also appreciate the efforts of Abigail Philips, chief of staff to Sen. McClellan (third from left). We look forward to working with the Senate to bring this resolution to full fruition soon."


Please email Debra Riggs at if you want to support this legislative effort. Follow the chapter on Facebook (@NASWVA) for the latest legislative and regulatory progress in this fast-paced General Assembly. 

CEU Requirement Deadlines Extended One Year

The Virginia Board of Social Work has extended the deadline for LCSWs to complete their 30 hours for this cycle by a year (until June 30, 2021), unless you are newly licensed and not required to complete continuing education requirements this year. However, this does not change the next two-year cycle—LCSWs must also complete an additional 30 hours by June 30, 2022.


Each LBSW or LMSW will have until June 30, 2021, to complete the required 15 hours of CE. Every LCSW is still required to complete the required 30 hours of CE for the June 30, 2022, renewal, and each LBSW and LMSW is still required to complete the 15 hours of CE by the June 30, 2022, renewal, as well. The extension does not apply to those individuals who must complete CEs as part of a Board order. If you have questions, please contact your compliance manager. 


Look online at our CE Institute for many training courses and/or at the chapter’s Calendar of Events. Local training will be scheduled continuously. Our 2020 conference  also offers numerous opportunities for ethics contact hours.

Chapter Launches New COVID-19 Site

At a time when information is either coming in fast, is still developing, or is rumor-based, NASW Virginia has created a special COVID-19 section to provide carefully curated, verified news and resources in a single location for all state social workers. The site is public, so please bookmark it and check back often. On the national level, NASW also has a centralized COVID-19 website for state coronavirus updates relevant to social workers.

Virginia Chapter - National Association of Social Workers

NASW Virginia Chapter (NASWVA) is the top provider of social work professional development in the Commonwealth, as well as a nonprofit association that advocates for professional practices and social justice  in the interest of thousands of social workers and their clients.


The chapter operates as the statewide arm of the National Association of Social Workers, which also offers events and education to enhance the skills and knowledge of its members, creates professional standards, and to advances sound social policies. All members must first join NASW to automatically become members of the NASW Virginia Chapter.

What does NASWVA do? 

  • Promotes the core value of belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each individual.

  • Endorses and advances a professional social work identity and presence.

  • Connects, educates, and defines standards that enhance and guide professional practice.

  • Assesses and addresses current trends and issues relevant to and affecting the profession.

  • Advocates and supports public policies and legislative efforts to further the profession of social work and embrace the diversity of human need.


Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 120,000 members.

contact us

National Association of Social Workers - Virginia Chapter

4860 Cox Road, Suite 200 Glen Allen, VA 23060