Leadership Qualities of Social Workers: Case Study of Lilly Sheldon
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dership Interview: Lilly Sheldon
Social worker Lilly Sheldon is truly a leader among urban social workers. Currently 94 years old and still working in a volunteer capacity, Ms. Sheldon became a social worker in 1940. Social work was not her first choice for a career. In fact, Ms. Sheldon really wanted to become a lawyer, but few law schools during that time period were accepting female applicants. So, instead of becoming a lawyer, she became a social worker, and eventually went on to obtain her MSW. While it may seem as if someone who chose social work as an alternative career may not be an ideal leader in the field, Mrs. Sheldon belies that reality. She brought a keen intellect to her field, which enabled her to play a vital role in helping form the structure of what is known as the modern profession of social work.
In order to understand how Sheldon qualifies as a leader in social work, it is important to understand the history of social work. While charity and aid organizations existed in the United States since before the American Revolution and had begun to exert a greater social influence in America around the time of the Civil War, social work, as a profession, is relatively new. The profession of social work saw a transition from private aid to a public aid system. It also helped usher in a number of legislative changes, which reflected a state interest in the health and welfare of citizens. These legislative changes marked a significant