UMBF Distinguished Service Award 2018

UMBF Distinguished Service Award Winner: Margaret “Meg” Woodside

The 2018 University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation, Inc. Distinguished Service Award was bestowed on Meg WoodsideMBA, MSW ’07, in recognition of her committed service to the University of Maryland School of Social Work. In addition to having made significant philanthropic investments, Woodside also has devoted her time and professional expertise for more than a decade as co-founder of the Financial Social Work Initiative (FSWI). 

When Woodside began at the School of Social Work as a student returning to education after a successful career in commercial and private banking and corporate philanthropy, her motivation was rooted in the desire to be a more effective agent of change. She recognized an area of need at the intersection of the financial industry and the social work field: There were few resources available for social workers to talk to families about their financial situation. Finances are a major part of everyday life and intricately intertwined with most obstacles families might be facing. However, money and financial well-being remained conversation topic social workers were underprepared to address. Feeling strongly that economic justice was a foundation for social justice, Woodside and her collaborators founded the FSWI to begin that conversation and educate future and current social workers in the best practices of financial well-being. 

 The FSWI has been operational since 2008,  providing students and practitioners with the language and resources to use in discussions of client and community financial stabilityFSWI members contribute scholarship to the profession through research projects and publications, including several new textbooks on financial social work. Additionally, the FSWI organizes field placements, trains on-site supervisors, creates a job pipeline for current students, and offers continuing education credits for practicing social workers. The initiative has effectively mobilized a network of researchers, professors, field instructors, students, community partners, and nonprofit employers to become agents of change in the field of social work and beyond. 

The FSWI marked its 10th anniversary this year by launching the first continuing education certificate program in financial social work offered at an academic institution. Students come to the School of Social Work seeking this education, and, in turn, many have remained in Maryland, creating intellectual capital in an under-represented area. Woodside’s outstanding insight and dedication to the initiative have propelled the school into a new field of academic expertise that will continue to grow in years to come.