Appoint a Social Worker to Replace Harris in CA

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Dear Governor Newsom,

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the nation’s largest organization of professional social workers.We represent approximately 110,000 members across the country, including 9,000 members in California. We respectfully request that you appoint Rep. Karen Bass or Rep. Barbara Lee to fill the seat vacated due to Senator Kamala Harris' election to the Vice Presidency of the United States. Both Rep. Bass and Rep. Lee are both social workers and as such, they bring a valuable perspective and highly relevant skill set to Congress and to the important work of national policymaking. 

Reps. Bass and Lee are both dedicated and highly experienced public servants with exceptional track records championing individuals, families and communities in California. As social workers, they possess a unique understanding of the assets and challenges not only in their respective districts but of the state as a whole. This includes a keen grasp of human needs and behavior, health and mental health services delivery, and the many interacting systems that affect individuals and groups. Social workers are also bound by the distinctive NASW Code of Ethics.


Rep. Bass has long been a trail blazer in California. As the 67th Speaker of the State Assembly and the first woman in the United States to serve as a Speaker of a state legislative body, she exemplifies strong leadership and a commitment to public service. In 2010, then Assemblymember Bass received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her leadership during the Great Recession. In 2018, she was elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. As a member of the powerful Judiciary Committee, she has played a crucial role in crafting and gaining passage of vitally important legislation, such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Congresswoman Bass received her Master's in Social Work from the University of Southern California.


Rep. Lee is also a former member of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate and has been a member of Congress since 1998. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the use of force. She was guided in this and other decisions by the social work principles and ethics she has consistently embraced. Congresswoman Lee is the only African American woman in Democratic Leadership, serving as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She is the current Chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus. She is the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (111th Congress) and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (109th & 110th Congresses) and was a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus. Congresswoman Lee has been a staunch advocate for ending poverty, women’s rights, ensuring access to healthcare and mental health care services and she has championed HIV/AIDS legislation. She received her Master's in Social Work from the University of California at Berkeley.

The California Legislative Black Caucus and other affiliated groups are also recommending the appointment of these social work leaders. NASW-California Chapter and NASW strongly urge your support around this matter, to ensure federal leadership rooted in values of social justice and equity.