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NASW-NC Mourns the Loss of Representative MaryAnn Black

Friday, March 27, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
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The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina chapter is deeply saddened by the passing of social worker and North Carolina Representative MaryAnn Black. NASW-NC worked closely with Representative Black since her appointment to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2017 by Governor Roy Cooper. Representative Black was a primary sponsor on the “Amend Social Work Practice Act” that was signed into law in 2019 that saved Clinical Social Work Licensure in North Carolina.

“Representative Black was a true social worker and consummate advocate for the social work profession,” says NASW-NC Executive Director Valerie Arendt. “She fought for access to quality and affordable health care and clean air and water for every North Carolinian. Representative Black has inspired many social workers to become more involved in policy and advocacy, a core tenant of our NASW Code of Ethics.”

Kay Castillo, NASW-NC Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation says, “Working with Representative Black at the North Carolina legislature was an absolute joy. She always thought about others, how would this bill impact this population, how can we make this stronger for that population, and what are we missing in this legislation. She wanted to know who she could talk to and how she could learn more about a bill before voting on it. She worked across the aisle to get things done. Her time as an elected official was never about politics, it was about serving her community and her state. Her spirit will be greatly missed.”

Representative Black received her Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Arts from Benedict College in Columbia, SC. She provided Durham families with professional service for more than 30 years as an accomplished clinical social worker. In 1994, she was named “Social Worker of the Year” by NASW North Carolina and later the same year by the National Association of Social Workers.

Her experience was further heightened in the political arena during her lengthy tenure and strong leadership as a Durham County Commissioner from 1990 to 2002, and as the Chair from 1996 to 2002.

NASW-NC Legislative Committee member and former Durham County DSS Director Dan Hudgins says of Representative Black, “I have known MaryAnn for over 40 years. First as a clinical social worker when I was DSS Director in Durham and she was treating children in our child welfare system. She was a member of the DSS Board and was always a strong advocate for the work of our agency and lead an effort to place social workers in most all of the Durham Public Schools. In her later career she worked as an administrator in the Duke Health System where she supported expanding health services to our uninsured population to include our large population of undocumented immigrants. MaryAnn left her mark on Durham and we are a much more caring community because of her life's work. Her leadership and advocacy will be missed here in Durham and in NC General Assembly.”

When NASW-NC interviewed Representative Black for the “Social Work and Politics in North Carolina” book, Representative Black shared with us that “When working in a politicized environment, social work skills and values help you work together, understand group dynamics, management, and how the mind works. All of those teachings give you skill set that allows one to observe and figure out how to work with others for the greater good of the people.”

Representative Black also offered the reminder that “When being politically active, it is not about who’s right or wrong, the winner or the loser. The real win is when you do something good for the people.”


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