Mia Elwood’s Acceptance Speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award

May 1st, 2023

Thank you NASW, social workers, and my esteemed colleagues that nominated me. I was so surprised, I thought it was spam! I had to ask if this was spam? But it wasn’t. I’m really grateful and honored to be a part of this room. Can you imagine all of this wonderful, heartfelt energy? Social work is needed so much, especially now. Our world is in need of our love, acceptance, humility, humanity, helpfulness, and hopefulness. And even better served up with a dose of humor. So, without further ado, I made an Ode to a Social Worker.

If you are a person who helps, thank you. Your help is likely not always acknowledged. We acknowledge you now. If you are a person who has been there and comes from a place of knowing what hurting means, financially, hunger, loss, addiction, mental health, being an “other,” and nonetheless, it’s with others who are now hurting. Thank you, your humanity is needed and appreciated.

“You are amazing! Thanks for all you do.”

“Congratulations, Mia! Thank you for all you do for others! You absolutely earned this award!” ❤️🙏

If you are a person who teaches and helps others learn, thank you for teaching someone how to fish. It will only be passed on exponentially even if the effect isn’t noticed for many years. If you are a person who parents, I heard some out there, your own biological children, your adopted ones, being another mother and other father. Thank you. Your guidance and mentoring matters. If you’re a person or supporter that specializes in a particular field and has a special sauce. Thank you, your accumulated experience and body of knowledge matters. If you are a person who fights “isms”, starting with yourself and kindly yet firmly request another to reconsider. Thank you. You are courageous and important.

If you are a person who notices and listens to another human and understands the behavior in context, person, and environment, us social workers really look hard to understand why someone does what they do. If you’re that person, thank you for your ears and hearts of compassion. If you are a boss who has had to make hard decisions that may not feel very “social worker”-like. Thank you. You’re the boss, your leadership matters. If you serve populations that are underserved. Thank you for serving. Your service is noticed, appreciated, and your experience adds much greatness to our hurting world. You help people feel seen and heard. If you’re a person that encourages, supervises, mentors, and guides a patient, client, supervisee, child, adult in a world that is hurting. Thank you. Your recipients will go on to pass on this knowledge and kindness.

“Congratulations Mia! Such an amazing accomplishment and it is truly deserved. You have changed the lives of so many individuals both clinically and professionally through your work. It is an honor to know you and see you be appreciated for such a wonderful career.”

“Obviously, I am VERY pro-Mia biased, but honestly, I am exceedingly proud of her. I’m proud of her because she is the loving and kind person she is, and also for her incredible professional accomplishments. She is so deserving of the NASW Lifetime Achievement Award! Congratulations, SBC!”


If you are a person that researches and contributes to new information being known, even if it doesn’t right away. Thank you. Every effort is important to a new breakthrough. Isn’t it great what we know now that we didn’t know 20-some years ago? I’m in my 27th year, 27-28. Yeah, so yeah, starting before the internet, it’s like, isn’t it amazing where we’ve come from? I’m really proud of this profession, If you’re here, supporting another social worker, the field of social work, thank you. You’re supporting me, social workers here in Arizona and around the world, and every person impacted by the field of social work, that’s pretty neat.

Now for the humor. Take a look at your shoes, is there a such thing as social worker shoes? I had this colleague outside the field of social work and she said,  “You have your social work shoes on.”. I was like, what the heck is social work shoes and she said, “Next time you are in a company of social workers. Look.”.

So next time, I was at one of these NASW ACCE events, I looked and I was like, oh I think the answer is yes, there is such a thing. I think it’s because we tend to walk a mile in others’ shoes, right? So we might as well be comfortable doing that. So you know, where your social work shoes with pride.

How many social workers and allies does it take to advocate for an unjust system, the underserved, the underdog, the next George Floyd, the one in 10? The answer is, in all seriousness, all of us. Thank you to all the helpers, the world needs you especially now.

I’m always here to encourage and support you all. I’m so, so humbled to accept this award.

Thank you, and I thank my work wife, Jessica. Thank you, Varsha, someone who, you know, just called me up and I said, “Yeah, I’ll supervise you. How fun would that be? How neat?”. My husband who’s on here and always so proud, is our wordsmith here when we don’t always have the words. Doctor Galper, my friend, Lisa who has gone through all of this with me. Lori, who is a special social worker that was at the beginning of Healthy Futures with me. And now we have four social workers with us here and I just really enjoy it.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for this amazing group of people.

“Congratulations Mia!! What an honor! I’m so happy for you, well deserved!”