National Social Work Month is celebrated annually in March to recognize the social work profession and mark the important and significant contributions social workers make on society. The Department of Social Work Education (DSWE) at Fresno State commemorated the month with a few key events, including:

Legislative Lobby Days

A total of 27 undergraduate and graduate social work students attended the annual Legislative Lobby Days in Sacramento on March 11th and 12th, with some activities taking place at the State Capitol building.

The two-day event, sponsored by the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, engages and educates students and professionals about the legislative process with a focus on social welfare policy.



Students were given the unique opportunity to get hands-on experience in lobbying and speaking with state legislators about important policies.


“Lobby Days is an opportunity for students to shape government policies,” said Dr. Gyanesh Lama, assistant professor in the DSWE and co-coordinator of the Fresno State Lobby Days effort. “Through this experience, they are able to build networks with colleagues from other campuses and directly engage with elected officials and advocate for public policies.”

Students comprised of social work programs from all over California participated, including UCLA, San Jose State University, Humboldt State University, CSU Northridge and USC, just to name a few.

The DSWE has been participating in Lobby Days since 1999. The trip was made possible through the University’s Instructionally Related Activities Grant.

*Photos courtesy of: Social Work Student Association at Fresno State

Department of Social Work Education Conference 

The DSWE hosted their annual conference on March 16th, entitled “Advocating for Human Dignity During Challenging Times: So What’s Holding You Back?”. The conference focused on current political times, particularly as it affects the Central Valley. Workshops and speakers focused on the necessity to uphold and protect the dignity and worth of the individuals that social workers serve.

DSWE faculty and staff. Photo Credit: Lisa Casarez

Dr. Otrude Nontobeko Moyo, chair and associate professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Michigan – Flint, served as the keynote speaker. Moyo teaches social policy, diversity and social justice, with research that encompasses the experience of African immigrants in the United States and United Kingdom.

A series of key workshops, facilitated by DSWE faculty and local social workers, rounded out the rest of the day’s events. Workshops included:

  • “Working with the Diversity of LGBTQ+ Identities” – presented by Dr. Kris Clarke, professor in the DSWE
  • “Revisions to the Code of Ethics, Technology, Social Media, and Immigration” – presented by Janlee Wong with the National Association of Social Workers
  • “Indigenous Health in the Central Valley” – presented by Dr. Helda Pinzon-Perez, professor in the Department of Public Health at Fresno State
  • “Poverty: A Challenge to Human Dignity in the Central Valley California” – presented by Dr. Gyanesh Lama, assistant professor in the DSWE
  • “Social Work and Post-Truth Politics” – presented by Dr. Kerry Dunn, assistant professor in the DSWE
  • “Potentially Harmful Practices, Using the Diagnostics Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) with People of Color” – presented by Dr. Iran Barrera, associate professor in the DSWE
  • “Advocating for Respect Regard and Human Dignity for All” – presented by Margaret Jackson with Cultural Brokers, Inc.
  • “Thriving in Troubled Times While Taking Action” – presented by Herman J. Barretto, part-time faculty in the DSWE
Keynote Speaker, Dr. Otrude Nontobeko Moyo. Photo Credit: Lisa Casarez

Celebrating Cesar Chavez

Many social work student organizations took part in the 17th annual Cesar Chavez Celebration on March 21st, which was held at the Henry Madden Library and the Peace Garden on campus. The event, hosted by the Latino/a Programs and Services, honored the life and work of Chavez, a civil rights leaders and labor rights advocate.


Members of Trabajadores De La Raza and the Social Work Student Association at Fresno State, participated in the garlanding ceremony and also hosted information booths.

Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, community advocate and professor emeritus in the DSWE, is closely involved in the event and was one of the founders of the Peace Garden at Fresno State, where statues of Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Addams and Gandhi are enshrined.

In an article in the Fresno Bee, Kapoor said of Chavez, “He was committed to nonviolence and nonviolent social change. He restored confidence and fearlessness — keep that in mind, fearlessness — in farm workers who deserve to be treated with due respect and dignity, for they put the food on our tables.”

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, granddaughter of Cesar Chavez and California state director for the office of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, was the keynote speaker.


*Photos courtesy of Trabajadores De La Raza and the Social Work Student Association

Join the Department of Social Work Education on April 5, as the Gerontology program hosts their second annual “What Gives Your Life Meaning” event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the Henry Madden Library and the University Student Union. Students in Gerontology 10S: Journey of Adulthood – Planning a Meaningful Life, will coordinate and facilitate the event, which will include information on wellness resources on campus. For more information, contact Dr. Helen Miltiades at

On April 6, the Title IV-E Child Welfare Program will host the 19th annual Harry Specht Memorial Title IV-E Child Welfare Symposium, entitled “Know the People: Enhancing Tribal Engagement Through Understanding”. The symposium will focus on the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted to stop abuse within child protection measures applying to Native American Children. A movie screening of “The Tachi Yocuts – The Story of of the Santa Rosa Rancheria” will be played, followed by a panel discussion, luncheon, and keynote address by Heather Hostler, director of the Tribal Affairs California Department of Social Services. For more information, contact the Title IV-E office at 559.278.3076.