NASW Foundation National
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Senator Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator Debbie Stabenow was born and raised in Gadwin, Michigan. Senator Stabenow made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from the State of Michigan elected to the United States Senate. She attended Michigan State University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in 1972 and an MSW magna cum laude in 1975. She worked with youth in public schools before running for public office.
She first ran for public office in 1974 inspired by the threatened closure of a local nursing home. She was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners and was the first woman chairman of the Board. She then was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives and later served in the State Senate. In 1996 she was elected to Congress and four years later she won election to the United States Senate.
As a State Legislator, Stabenow was acclaimed one of Michigan's most passionate advocates for children and a recognized expert in family law. She wrote a new law to assist families facing foreclosure by eliminating the IRS rule that unfairly taxed homeowners who had a portion of their annual mortgage loan in the bank. She has been a strong advocate for higher education - working to pass increases in college financial aid for Michigan's colleges and universities.
Senator Stabenow has been honored by numerous associations including the Michigan Primary Care Association with its Champion for the Medically Underserved Award and the National Association of Community Health Centers with its 2008 Distinguished Community Health Champion Award. That year she also received an honorary doctorate degree from Grand Valley State University. In 2004 she was recognized as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Public Elected Official of the Year. The Stabenow Political Leadership Award of the Michigan Chapter, NASW, is named in her honor.
Senator Stabenow is one of 17 female senators. Her legislative work has addressed health care and prescription drugs, school finances, protection of children and families, domestic violence and environmental concerns. She has also shown support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and for affirmative action. Stabenow was also the first sponsor of Michigan's social work licensure bill. She has been a great advocate of social work issues and was one of the speakers at the recent NASW Hill Day. She immediately signed on as a sponsor for the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act.