“We think the world of Tamara Grigsby and we think she is a great role model as we want all of our social work students to be thinking about making social change in the world,” says Stephanie Robert, director and professor at the UW School of Social Work.
A couple months ago, the UW School of Social Work announced the development of a new fund – the Tamara Grigsby Memorial Fund for Diversity & Inclusion – named after an alumna, legislator, social worker, family counselor, adjunct professor, and state legislator. Grigsby earned her Masters of Science in Social Work(MSSW) from UW-Madison in 2000.
This Friday, Nov. 10, 4-5 p.m., UW-Madison School of Social Work will be hosting a reception celebrating the creation of this new fund at the Discovery Building, 330 N Orchard St., on the UW-Madison campus.
“The School of Social Work over the last few years has made improving our efforts in diversity and inclusion one of our top priorities,” Robert tells Madison365. “Along with this, I found a donor who was willing to give money to start a fund to support our work on diversity and inclusion. At the same time, our faculty had just voted to put one of Tamara Grigsby’s quotations up over the doorway of our school.”
That quotation reads: “I just ask that you will join me in changing the world. We have a human, a professional, a moral responsibility to do nothing less.”
Grigsby died unexpectedly at the age of 41 last year. She was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2005 through 2013 who later served in the office of Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. She was most recently appointed as the director of the new Dane County Department of Equity and Inclusion.
The donor started off being anonymous. “I suggested to her that she consider naming the fund after Tamara Grigsby because Tamara embodies diversity and inclusion,” Robert says. “Tamara was a graduate of our program and was actually in the very first class that I taught 20 years ago!
“She was young and so was I,” Robert remembers, laughing. “The donor really liked the idea of naming it after Tamara. I spoke with Tamara’s parents to see if they were OK with this and they were thrilled.”
Since that time, Robert has gotten close with Grigsby’s parents.
“This will be an event to celebrate the new fund – The Tamara Grigsby Memorial Fund for Diversity and Inclusion Fund – and to invite other people to give to the fund,” Robert says.
At the event, Robert will say some words about Grigsby and about the fund. Grigsby father and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will also speak about Tamara at the event. It will be an hour-long reception to really celebrate the life and legacy of Tamara Grigsby.
The Tamara Grigsby Memorial Fund for Diversity and Inclusion will be used to recruit students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds; increase programming to promote an inclusive environment; provide training for students, faculty, and community members on new approaches to improve diversity and inclusion in the classroom and in the communities; and to emphasize through action the School’s training and commitment to diversity and inclusion in its many forms.
“It’s a general fund for diversity and inclusion efforts. Most of them will be focused on students. Last summer, before this fund started, we used different funds to send three students to political boot camp where social work students learned how to run for political office. I’m thinking with this fund that I can send more students to that,” Robert says. “We also sent 20 students this fall – using this fund – to the YWCA Racial Justice Conference.”
Diversity and inclusion are high-priority areas for the School of Social Work and this fund will allow them to expand and improve that work. “We are hoping to use some of the funding to build some efforts that bring the university and the community together around diversity and inclusion,” Robert says.
Diversity and inclusion were the fortes of Grigsby who was a tireless champion for children, youth, women, and social justice.
“Tamara was an amazing person,” Robert says. “It feels good to be honoring her legacy while growing this fund so we can spend it to improve what our school of social work does – to train social workers to go out in the world and promote diversity and inclusion.”
The Tamara Grigsby Memorial Fund for Diversity & Inclusion Reception is free and open to the public and will be hosted by UW-Madison School of Social Work Friday, Nov. 10, 4-5 p.m. at the Discovery Building, 330 N Orchard St.