Welcome to this installment of The Wellness Universe’s ‘A Conversation With …’ interview series! Each week, we will feature interviews from some of our amazing WU World Changers so you can learn about who they are as a person, their profession, mission, and their why!’
Welcome to A Conversation with Elizabeth (Betsy) Clark –
President of Start Smart Career Center and Hope Advocate.
The Wellness Universe directory is a resource and community filled with Change-Makers, we call WU World-Changers (Wellness Universe World-Changers). Today we want to introduce you to our member, Betsy Clark, the President of Start Smart Career Center and Hope Advocate.
Hello Betsy, will you please tell us about yourself?
I didn’t begin college until I had three children. I wanted a career with meaning, so I obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a clinical emphasis on psychosocial oncology and loss and grief. Later I finished a Master’s in Public Health and a Ph.D. in medical sociology. I had wonderful women mentors along the way.
My diverse educational background has led to many opportunities in clinical settings, hospital administration, academics, and research. My most recent position, which I held for 13 years, was the CEO of the National Association for Social Workers (NASW), the largest social work organization in the country. When I stepped down from NASW, I decided to focus on two areas–mentoring and hope.
I am currently President of the Start Smart Career Center, an online mentoring program for professional women. My associate and I have published two books to help young women get ahead in the workplace. My second area of focus is writing and speaking about the topic of hope. Both are important to me, but today I would like to talk about hope advocacy.
Betsy, what is it that inspires you?
Social work is referred to as the “profession of hope.” I chose to be a social worker because I wanted to make a difference. Every day I am inspired by the way people help one another. Even in our self-centered world, I find many people to be kind and caring. That gives me both personal and professional hope.
Will you please tell us what you call yourself and explain what it is that you do?
Due to my educational background and varied work experience, I can wear many hats: social worker, a medical sociologist, health professional, businesswoman, professional mentor, or author. All of those titles would be correct, but I think the title I most prefer at this point in my life is that of “Hope Advocate.”
How exactly does that help someone?
It is quite difficult to maintain hope alone, so it is important to provide a community of hope for others. There are many ways to do that – in person, in clinical settings, online, support groups, publications.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping individuals and professional caregivers better understand, use, and maintain hope. Hope is a powerful resource. Hopelessness leads to helplessness. There is always hope.
Did any specific life experience prompt you to follow this path?
My only sister developed cancer when she was 41. She was given three years to live, but she lived fully for 13. She was incredibly hopeful, and her hope was her strength. She inspired me to focus on the concept of hope and how I could help others in similar situations.
How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been a social worker for my entire career, but my interest in hope advocacy began 25 years ago with my sister’s cancer diagnosis.
Will you share a story of how you have made a difference in someone’s life?
After my sister’s death, I wrote a short booklet called “You Have the Right to be Hopeful.” Published by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, it has been updated and reprinted numerous times and is still available free online. Over the years, many people have contacted me to say how meaningful the content was when they were going through a crisis. My sister would have considered this a positive outcome of her illness.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I recently published a book on hope (Choose Hope. Always Choose Hope) and I have a hope Twitter site (#alwayschoosehope) to help inspire others. I want to continue my writing and speaking about the importance of hope. The Wellness Universe provides a wonderful opportunity to do that.
Thank you so much for sharing today, Betsy! Do you have any final thoughts?
We live in a hope-challenged society today. Each of us can, and should, be a hope advocate for others and our communities.
If you would like to connect with Betsy, please visit: https://www.thewellnessuniverse.com/world-changers/elizabethclark