Remembering Margot - February 2023
It is with great sadness that we announce that our long time Deputy Director of Policy and Practice, Margot Aronson, passed away on January 30. We are honored to have been a part of Margot's legacy and send our deepest condolences to her loving family and extensive network of friends.
Margot's family has requested that donations be made to her favorite charities in lieu of flowers. They are the Erin Levitas Foundation, Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and DC Appleseed Center.
In Margot's honor, the Clinical Social Work Association has newly established the Margot Aronson Legislative Warrior Award. The recipient of this annual award will be given to someone from the State Societies who manifests the same kind of energy that Margot had for being an advocate for Social Justice and a leader in engaging legislative action. CSWA will award this honor every year at the Fall Summit for State Affiliates.
Please see below for two special tributes to Margot.
Margot Aronson: A Remembrance
by Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice
I first met Margot at the Clinical Social Work Federation meetings in 2004. She was President of the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work and I was working on the CSWF Government Relations Committee. We were just getting to know each other when CSWF morphed into the Clinical Social Work Association in 2006; I was asked to lead the CSWA Government Relations Committee. Living in the “other” Washington, I quickly realized I would need someone in Washington DC to attend MHLG meetings, briefings, and other DC based events. Knowing that Margot had spent about 5 years doing advocacy for GWSCSW, I asked her if she would like to serve as my Deputy in DC. She quickly agreed and our partnership blossomed. We wrote papers together (she was a master editor), developed policy positions, lobbied together during my quarterly trips to DC, and often talked daily about the many issues we covered. We worked with about eight CSWA Presidents and created the Policy and Practice Committee where she also served as my Deputy.
I loved Margot for many reasons, including the times my husband and I spent with her and her late beloved husband, Ed Levin. Losing Ed five years ago left a hole in Margot’s life that led to a deepening of our personal relationship. I encouraged her to get involved with PsiAN, a new organization in Chicago, where she joined the Board and became as indispensable to them as she was to me.
I never gave up hope that Margot would recover when she started having health problems a year ago, but it was not to be. Her daughter Stephanie (a social worker) did a wonderful job taking care of her for the past year. Her son, Jeff, and other daughter, Ali, were also devoted to her.
A light has gone out in the world, but I hope we all can recognize the incredible gifts that Margot brought to our field and the ways she made clinical social work stronger. I will miss her more than I can say.
A Tribute to Margot Aronson
by Judy Gallant, LCSW-C, GWSCSW Director of Legislation and Advocacy
There are many people our Society is indebted to for our success in achieving legislative goals, but, sadly, we have lost one of our most committed, beloved and active members, Margot Aronson, who passed away on January 30, 2023, at the age of 81, after a year of coping with various illnesses.
As several of our members have commented, she was “a force to be reckoned with.” From her ability to encourage, cajole and support members to become more active in the Society’s work, to her enthusiasm for progressive and social justice causes, and to the detailed work she would do to make sure Clinical Social Workers were included in Federal legislation, she was always able to move things along in the right direction.
Margot’s experience growing up in New Jersey was the basis of her lifelong interest in and support of a group dedicated to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Her parents were teachers whose goal for their family was to live in a house built by Wright. Now called “The Richardson House,” it is a “Usonian” house. These homes were built for the working class, with the goal of building affordable, functional homes for those with more limited budgets. Margot’s mother and father wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright with their wishes, and they collaborated with him to get the home built.
After attending college in NY, Margot worked for a number of years with the Peace Corps and treasured those experiences, including editing their magazine at the time. This helped her feel comfortable with taking on her first major role in our Society, editor of our newsletter.
After marrying and starting a family, she eventually found her way to Social Work, graduating with a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. She worked for many years with children, adolescents and their families at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA) in Montgomery County, MD. She also joined GWSCSW, where in addition to being our newsletter editor, she became President (2002-2005), and Vice President for Legislation and Advocacy (currently named Director of L&A).
It was in this last role that Margot tapped on my shoulder and drew me in to working on our MD Legislation and Advocacy Committee. We drove to Annapolis together countless times, thought through strategies to accomplish our goals, and discussed how best to write testimony together with our lobbyist at the time, Alice Neily Mutch. I learned that I could actually talk to legislators (they are people!), as well as provide testimony in committee hearings. I was nervous, but Margot was a calming, informative, and for me, a necessary presence.
When Margot became more involved with CSWA, becoming the Deputy Director for Policy and Practice, she and then-President Nancy Harrington asked that I step into the role of Director of L&A. I did so and continued to consult with Margot for her sage advice and experience, which was vast.
Margot would do things like sit with a Congressional bill for several days, painstakingly marking up the bill in every place where a Clinical Social Worker should have been included (It passed in that form). In 2014, along with Janice Berry Edwards and Eileen Dumbo, Margot organized a “Training for Cultural Competency: A Colloquium for Social Work Educators.” Along with her other accomplishments, Margot pulled people in to collaborate and form coalitions to get things done.
She also shared other parts of her life, including her and her husband at that time, Ed Levin’s, involvement in the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Ed, along with Ralph Nader, was a founding member of the national Appleseed network. Margot and Ed were strong supporters of the DC Center and their efforts to make DC a better place to live, including supporting DC statehood, and providing pro bono legal assistance to achieve many of their goals.
Margot’s support of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, as well as her family raising her in a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house, were of importance to her. They show an overarching theme in her growth and thinking about social justice from exposure to those ideas even at an early age. Margot was a many-faceted, strong, and principled woman, a staunch friend, a “woman of valor.” She was formally recognized as such in different ways, for example, as the NASW Social Work Advocate of the Year and as the first recipient of the GWSCSW Frances Thomas Award for Legislative Excellence. I will always carry her with me, treasuring her principles, joie de vivre and her love.
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