For many, it was a reunion, for others an opportunity to forge new connections. The Brown School at Washington University recently played host to the 2023 MACRO United Conference and Teaching Institute, a four-day event that brought together over 90 social work faculty, students, and practitioners from across the United States.
Co-sponsored by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, the conference fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and knowledge sharing, providing a platform for meaningful discussions on social justice and equity. From June 1-4, attendees explored the theme of “Rising Together to Protect Our Rights,” which united leading macro social work organizations and featured a diverse array of thought-provoking presentations, interactive workshops, and insightful roundtable discussions.
Gary Parker, director of the Clark-Fox Policy Institute and a conference organizer, underscored the significance of the event, stating, “The conference was not just an event; it was an occasion that united passionate individuals in a collective effort to build a more inclusive and equitable society.”
A conference highlight was the keynote speech delivered by Rebeccah L. Bennett, a renowned community builder and social entrepreneur. Bennett’s powerful address urged participants to go beyond systemic change and emphasized the essential role of restorative justice and healing in fostering lasting transformation.
Marshelia Harris, assistant professor in the Division of Social Work at Indiana University Northwest, both presented and actively engaged in the conference. She expressed her optimism about the conference’s impact, and called for increased organization and action, noting “The need to advocate more against the injustices happening across the United States. More people organizing and fighting for systemic change.”
She found the conference very rewarding, highlighting “The new friends that I met, the great conversations, hearing about the related and similarities of disadvantages, and the renewed strength to continue the fight.”
Adding to the conference’s success was a visit to Delmar DivINe, a revitalized hospital complex now serving as a hub for nonprofits, foundations and community support organizations. Maxine Clark, the founder of Delmar DivINe and Build-A-Bear Workshop, personally guided conference participants on a tour of the facility. Additionally, participants heard from a panel of local service providers on their efforts to address health, education, and economic disparities along geographic and racial lines.
Duane R. Neff, associate professor in the social work department at Winthrop University and a conference organizer, said the visit to Delmar DivIne was profoundly impactful.
“It really energized attendees and informed conversations throughout the rest of the conference,” adding “We have already started talking about ways to further integrate the Delmar DivINe and its providers into next year’s conference.”