February 8, 2021
(HOUSTON, TX) - GCSW Alum Stephanie Gómez (MSW/MPP '20) was recently named Associate Director at Common Cause Texas.
Common Cause Texas utilizes "grassroots organizing, coalition building, policy development, public education, lobbying, and advocacy" to achieve their goal of building a democracy in Texas that is "fair, free, and accessible."
We asked Stephanie Gómez to share what she hopes to achieve in her new role and to reflect on how the GCSW has prepared her for this moment in her career.
Name: Stephanie Gómez
Graduation Year from the GCSW: MSW/MPP '20
Current Position: Associate Director at Common Cause Texas
Congratulations on your new role at Common Cause Texas! What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your new role?
Thank you so much! There's so much I'm so excited about for this role. I really want to do my part to advance pro-democracy reforms at the state and local levels to remove civic participation barriers and move towards a more inclusive and equitable democracy in Texas. Democracy reform is an issue at the center of social, political, racial, and economic justice, and I'm just really grateful to help lead this work in my beloved Texas. This state means so much to me.
What was it that drew you to social work and public policy as a career?
A majority of public policy is taught, studied, analyzed, and designed based on economic models -- often, the question prioritized is, "How can we create a policy that increases profits and minimize costs?" The issue is that policies validate systems, norms, beliefs, culture, and values. Ideally, public policy should align with the core values of social work. I sometimes like to imagine what public policy would look like if it were informed by social and racial justice, the dignity and worth of the person, and the importance of human relationships. This idea was my goal every day that I was in grad school, and I strive to bring that passion and imagination into my work!
Who is someone that inspires you to continue the work that you do?
Berta Cáceres was a Lenca woman who dedicated her entire life to fighting against injustice and the self-determination of people. Berta's devotion to humanity and the planet is an absolute inspiration, and her life's work is a reminder of the power of collective organizing.
When you were a student at the GCSW, what was a highlight of your educational experience?
I was recently telling a prospective GCSW student about how I didn't fully understand just how impactful the relationships I built as a student would be to my life after graduate school. The people I know that I can rely on when I want to move forward on an action or an issue are all GCSW alumni. I think the community built at the GCSW for political social workers is desperately needed and unique to anything else I've ever experienced. The work that we do can often be very tiring, draining, and demanding for many reasons, so it's lovely to know that I can call up or email a trusted colleague who can help me work through whatever struggles I may be having. Sometimes, it's having an outside voice to tell me to take a break, continue and work through my feelings of imposter syndrome, or assist me in drafting a campaign plan.
How has the GCSW and its vision of achieving social, racial, political, and economic justice prepared you for your current role?
The vision of the GCSW is really at the foundation of everything that I do as the Associate Director for Common Cause Texas. I find myself often going back to the notes from class or referencing my textbooks (Political Social Work by Dr. Suzanne Pritzker & Dr. Shannon Lane stays wide open on my desk, I'm not even exaggerating). Being a social worker from the GCSW firmly sets me apart in the vast field of democracy reform.
Anything else you would like to share?
Yes! I would love to see aspiring social workers involved in our efforts to push forward pro-democracy reforms at the state, local, and national levels to abolish the structural barriers that stop us from having an equitable and just democracy that's accountable to the people! I would love for anyone to sign up for the weekly Democracy Download Newsletter that I'm authoring that will keep you up to date on democracy-related issues and actions in Texas including voting & elections, redistricting & representation, money in politics, ethics reform, and civics education! But also, I would love anyone to stay up to date with all of the work we're doing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.