Our History

The Minnesota School Social Workers Association was founded in the fall of 1968 after several school social workers attended the Midwest Council Conference in Rockton, Ill. and returned to Minnesota, enthusiastic about beginning a state association for school social workers. A steering committee was formed and met during a Teachers Conference to discuss and plan this possibility. The steering committee was chaired by Donald Rinkenberger who then became MSSWA's first president and corresponding secretary. MSSWA began with 85 charter members and held its first annual meeting on May 9, 1969.

This original MSSWA was established with the goals of:

  • Gathering and exchanging information about job descriptions and benefits
  • Networking, especially around practice techniques
  • Sponsoring workshops and conferences
  • Working to establish a school social work consultant
  • Establishing and expanding quality school social work licensure with the Board of Teaching.

Now over 40 years later, MSSWA has grown and flourished as an association, with the original mission still intact. Networking, professional leadership, and continuing education are at the heart of the organization, with the addition of many liaison relationships that have developed through the years, such as, representation on the Coalition of Licensed Social Workers, the Student Services Coalition for Effective Education (with school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and chemical health specialists the Education Minnesota Special Education Task Force, and others. MSSWA also has a close working relationship with the Minnesota Department of Education.

On a larger scale, MSSWA began to actively participate with the Midwest School Social Work Council with 10 neighboring states to share information and establish regional standards for school social work. In 2002, members were given an option to belong to the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) at a reduced rate, thereby giving members an even broader base of information and influence.

MSSWA's strong and active legislative committee advocates for issues affecting children, families, education, and social work practice. In 1993, the MSSWA legislative committee worked hard to maintain school social work licensure through the Board of Teaching. Funding for support services in the school continue to be an emphasis for our legislative committee while they also work tirelessly to education decision-makers regarding the role of school social work in reducing barriers to academic success.

MSSWA has a rich history, hard-working and bold in its advocacy for children. The MSSWA Board thanks you for your continued membership, support, and active participation. School Social Workers do indeed make a difference in the lives of students and their families, serving them through the connections of school, home and community.


Julie Campanelli

Sherry Murphy

Courtney Stenseth

Brianna Nelson

Legislative Chair
Christy McCoy

Professional Development Chair
Abby Refsland

Kate Adams

Cara McGlynn

If you are having difficulty with your on-line membership or conference registration, please contact msswafandm@gmail.com

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