Doin’ The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change

Social Workers in Political Office - Daniella Levine Cava, MSW, JD

April 5, 2019

Social Workers in Political Office - Daniella Levine Cava, MSW, JD

2019, Shimon Cohen
Doin' The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change

Transcript *disclaimer - transcript generated with speech-to-text technology and not edited

[0:30] In this episode I talk with Danielle Levine Cava who is a Miami-Dade County Commissioner.

Serving district in miami florida we discussed daniel's current work as a county commissioner her social work background including the creation of the human services college and now catalyst miami

in her transition to political office

yeah shares her social work background helps campaign and how she implements of values and principles and political work she encourages people especially social workers grow their civic muscle

i need daily weekly and monthly basis i hope you enjoyed the conversation.


[1:09] Hi Daniella thank you so much for coming on the podcast so excited to have you here in just to start out can you let people know what you're currently doing

absolutely thrilled to be with the man thank you very much will i make only conditioner in miami date LG i serve district h

which is a large district that goes from the homestead across the candle.

It's a great dog i'm very proud i was just recently elected to serve a second and i hope for your child because of term limits.

Congratulations thank you so you know one of the things that might be a little different have a new one as a guest

no more than that i do with the podcast people who are doing work so she's work on the front lines and your someone you know looking into as we talk at who you are so sure girl

and alot of my guests are social workers all the listeners of social workers not only by you know i'm not calling the maturity and so there are more and more social worker is running for political office and so i thought it would be just

read how do i need to talk about your journey from you know social worker i know you're very backgrounds as well creating

catalyst miami and your transition so wherever you can don't want to start with all that i'm game.


[2:31] Create great will really start when i was little girl and i never wanted to be left out of any important conversation

especially when they had to do with nick he is a great phrase in the discovery rights movement nothing me without me.


[2:48] So much of what passes for social work unfortunately not really sad because social workers are no better

what the world had social workers telling people what to do you know this is what you need to do this is what you display what's good for you know that you don't see that

we would that really does it

where u affect individual change it's really about what people internally are prepared to do.


[3:14] Here's a joke that proves the point how many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb you tell me that i

it doesn't matter the light bulbs to really want to change her exactly so that's my philosophy

and i was so delighted i discovered that social work now you are right in keeping with that i went to college and i had started getting involved in

upload call change i was stupid cancel presidential yeah university

i first began late that i had why is she get students access to the college but

what is exciting about where i was in a class on president's day so i was leading royal is set a reads how was our money being spent

where that i have been involved in the first or the egg HUNT or protest i was very active and access but this is my first time really exercising my personal leadership in that way

yeah i'm studying psychology particularly be open this it's a college e and i went on to get masters in social work and my law degree

i am i felt that easter complimentary skill sets that will help me become more powerful agent for change.


[4:32] I think it's a great story and you know i knew there was a story here i'm sure they really loved you without horns i would not expect common areas who know me know i will you get your degree in

you know i'm sure you did various work by tell us a little bit about catalyst miami and how i got started and i think that will kind of then bring it to the transition of political opposites is not right will i have been working

in miami where i moved.


[5:03] Five years ago what legal services of greater miami first i was running the guardian at lighten program i was expecting it tomorrow

where is bolton representing children in the court system which child abuse and neglect cases and i started an organization that lists miami

based on my experience and also will legal services representative keep trying to get public benefits public support service for people financially struggling is over half the people i need help

many of them were entitled to receive certain benefits weather and food stamp scorer

hey where are there children here insurance what everyone has anywhere being wrongfully did not know about it

and since the employer has been providing these services these were credit call sacramento and that was the reformat and even fewer people and so i organized new organization fight for the rights of people

get the help i needed to get back on their feet and move forward outpost healthcare reform in that was human service is the time

can you tell us miami show now can you list does the ranger listen to this always in the DNA

how many people don't work properly futurist what also tho help them to become more info in the road and bring others together across the community what clapper.


[6:30] I think that's the aspect of cattle is that really drew me to it when i first learned about it was that it was in it snow in just the social service

you can see it's got the part about empowerment and leadership that i can get back to what you're saying in the beginning about.


[6:46] Instead of telling people what to do or how they should do things you really support

self determination on a whole other level i know people have to deal with their basic

needs so if you're hungry if you're homeless clearly you have to deal with those things but lot of people think of until your secure you cant be part of social change and i don't believe that i think

not taking part in your own personal power men's hoops would be a stronger confirm

brighter social changes as well so what were helping people you

table is financially for also letting them know what are the rules that are effecting loved there

experience is that can really inform policy make things better for themselves and for others.


[7:35] Absolutely you know people who are on the receiving end up feeling the impact of these policies really experts in

wrong size and voice you know carrie should carry lots of weed to make yourself feel like i'm when i prefer the human services school machine was started

i have i cheered committee of the league of women voters and social policy we can begin meeting call the change in basic human services

and that led to the grounding human services college it was all about these changes are happening and nobody was asking people elected what was the tv did you get your live soundtrack

nobody was terminated and a of course are the experts and how do you deal with struggles

i poverty lack of access to health care jobs etc so that was really random no reason the organization was started to give voice to these people and their lives expertise.


[8:32] And then what led to the transition into political office for you well i

you know your lives i think we have to be always

the possibilities i have some did you meet your cisco live and it was never been happening how many what's the long range financially secure and i thought it was important

can u for social change and i was worried that with him if i liked it because i was fundraiser but things had become more stable we have been recognized nationally

we have become treasurer of trainer is send things really progressing man i was approached about running for office

robot music mute the person who was in nazi support worker is supporting environmental and the support people french identity

emigrate what was really important that someone representing the district come into play when was you created says yes that's a good time for me the organization it's table

i'm ready to take the leap and try something new.


[9:40] How do you feel about the impact they are able to have you know especially if you compare the two you know maybe they really is in.

Maybe the difference is only in the name because in the words your new number for a similar to what you're doing now yes but how do you how do you feel about.


[9:57] The impact are able to have in this political office scan

it's a great question chris i think about it all the time you know that is add have blessed to still having the impact

that it had so i feel like i get my cake and eat it too

search how far u go back out there doing amazing things in store without kinds of innovative approaches well not well engagement leadership in the community so i could not be more proud

happy birthday organization i'm now that i'm inside elected position

i know that i can only when things when the community is behind so how do i need.


[10:38] Choose who you bring up new leader is and i need the other organizations that have been merged stronger and stronger that speak to the needs of the environment to the needs of working the ball to their needs and immigrants etc

all of those people are now my head hurts and making change with an elected office within government.


[10:59] We've been able to do quite a bit in only one of the commissioners so have any impact on white policy

required me to find seven other votes i cant do these changes on my own but i can you do service work is well just like how i have always done because that's what i keep the SIM touch with people really need me recent neighborhood

i am how often i put into play some programs

some of the things he started acting like so weird you have a non-profit academy leave sport hundred nonprofits to become more stable

and the district

also it's not business academy and this is accelerator and we'll create an initiative in south da concept more chats were developing a new development so we can hire more people

get some good jobs and also looking for closer to home because traffic is number one complaint most constituents

jeff to the extend that i can fix the transit system i am trying hard we need some improvements but also we want to try to keep people

i need a car can off the road as much as possible so they can have better quality of life and more time too small to bring something with your family.


[12:12] When you create these initiatives

what kind of goals did i process like just for someone listen you know who is thinking about making this type of transition and this is what i wanna do a great question no

of course i would tell me things that you've sent for many years turn up

french ideas really when should i carry forward to now and have an opportunity to setup a budget i have an amazing staff that implement these ideas you know i don't have to go out and raise money to support their salaries because the object

is there access just the right behind the government service that we provide self

i just end experiment and to also listen to my constituents because i am a nonprofit may have been a non-profit world for a long time

non-profits look to me for support and i'm able to make

let's not just give me money lets give me some skills let's get you some networks let's get some leadership

so that you can really grow and build a stronger fabric for the social service assistant.


[13:15] I think it's create a min to have you know kinda like a non-profit champion and political law offices gotta just be such a support that

is lagging often in

sacramento levels are really not just local government yeah it's minivan conditioner are very attached to organizations and communities i think we're all

really concerned about the needs of residents and they are supportive but really you know who mitch richmond is the highest form of flatter when are my colleagues started his own nonprofit academy in others do you have business incubator and accelerator so i wasn't the first

what is different because it really focuses on marketing and partnerships of the business to get ahead networks power of networks.


[14:04] See you mentioned you know number one issue that gets brought here tension this traffic and what about

you know what's kinda like is there such a thing is a typical day for you you could share what i tip good humidity like at the county commissioner in miami dade yeah

will roughly what to say that about a third of my time is spent on legislation

so i said on three committees there's the board meeting

i sit on the transportation word we un cases and use cases do we have to prepare for all of the windows are things that i don't

can you send a pic of life is directly and

i myself have had several pieces of legislation so they range from all kinds of mental issues to dealing with a government accountability and transparency.


[14:54] Public safety many many many things so i could probably make the switch is half of my time is dedicated to them i have great staff where can i get another big part of my day

is involved in the community so i'm attending meetings and community events of all sorts of different kinds of groups

i'm going to the three cities that are in my district i'm interface with me recently cancelled people there i need out apart or about traffic in that area

many ways that i am involved in directly in the community and what was rh webster there is speeding up now how are we gonna stop you know who now thanks

who is sam mitchell and apart from previous years back when there was

clothes that were put down there for vacation so you have to go windows issues that community level and bring in the

using the county that can stop me and another big where are the special programs that i created so you can respond september but i am created proactive.


[16:01] All in all it is extremely exciting a great job where many hours it said

seven jaar most evenings but it's not even working very wonderful to be able to make a difference.


[16:17] What would be your advice where

social workers who are interested in taking is next step in going in the political office cuz there's definitely seems to be out real polish

leave for you know any yes we have supported the number a social worker is running for office there really is display shit you include new hope i get your help and pains in the nba stuff do anything that.


[16:44] Hello that's great and really want to have an answer

well i would say first of all that some people get into social work because i want you

focus on individual change and i really appreciate that even as you working with individuals hope you're thinking about ways that date

more powerful in their lives and also had removed that into the community into the civic.

Arena and so for individual practitioners who is he would have to do with regulation of the profession who are issues that affect their clients so you know maybe its insurance when is the access to

health services

through the insurance policy you know the experts are the people that are working in that system we hear social workers and medical social worker st their own organization CNA so your other organizations

that's where collective we can have a voice note of that to say i call that rolling your civic marshall

because most people don't get that were your thoughts when do you run for office she could be like if you know we're barely anything about

who are the reader what does cover mean you so i have a very simple what i tell people to leave the weekly and monthly dose daily.


[18:04] Keep up with the news that means what is happening in your local community no baby you're not subscribed to the paper men read it online don't trust

i'm just biased sources go to unbiased sources of news low ball state national international

that's the way we play get into the community

participated in a volunteer service stay or go to a rally something that warms you what is actually happening in the community

monthly speedo how many eggs i'm concerned about this problem i write a letter to the editor would ever do something that search

i'm pretty what you gonna get that you don't want more friggin what is step up and be the real decision maker why not we need social percent off because they have love in their hearts they have a compassion worker

everyday hey distance

i'm really or decision decisions and also they can be a better team players

no unfortunately the politics is not a collaborative sports a lot of the time what social workers really know how to help set alarm chitchat how many cups.


[19:19] That's really helpful we just broke down and even if someone doesn't going to office do those or just really and that's really important the daily weekly monthly you know.

What kind of advice to follow you know one thing that i think people see as a barrier to running for political office is the

find the necessary in order to run a campaign and i was wondering if maybe you can speak to that yes for sure some people dont like asking for money i get that

no i have been asking people for three years for my nonprofit for other causes so i

when is your time and play after many people get mute for my campaign

what's easier even asking for a social card because people love to hear about different things like i want to make a gif for the YMCA here whenever is the cost

what is estimate was investing in their future and how i viewed it is essential

if you want somebody with my prospective to be there making decisions for you

and until he you are from as you get me like did you know what the costs money hope i really didn't have any problem asking i think.


[20:36] It's like if you're a social worker and you not show confidence

you are going to make a difference in alexa draw it is going to be hard to ask for money you have to eat clear that this is something you are the person needs to be an officer and therefore

your friends what's your neighbors your coworkers and then everybody else needs to step up and give u make an app.


[20:59] Did you literally go door-to-door me like did you get your campaign a knock on doors and concepts.


[21:07] What was that like it was the best social work training was best for that job because i.


[21:16] I really wasnt always the best listener.

Why lol you're dumb make sure you know that you make your social worker suppose to be able to listen and reflect.


[21:28] But when was the good would like help i want to edit some expenses broken

i had a lot of different projects so how do i stay focused when you got your word it's about then it's not about you it's no you cannot.

Yes be present to that person and make sure that your responding picking up in an instant there's no lying at the door

so i had a very humble read educational experience you are truly focused too late listening to people i'm sure get me the difference because end somebody help in office

what was the unusual like two people in twenty years have signed that a city commissioner.


[22:14] It was my hard work three doors was asking for money pitch stage things in my background where i spent many things but

social workers step up i'm here to mentor you should rename you.


[22:29] Hello i love it what's the most challenging part of this position for you were this work that much harder this work yet.


[22:39] Which had a magic wand you know there are so many issues that people have been so impatient sometimes things don't get solved overnight

and people have such distrust of government switch the combination of

that is hard make change sometimes and one has to be patient and formulate a strategy and we really have a long range plan and that people are very impatient because i don't trust government and

who will be there every min of the problem immediately or they dismiss it or its the same old corrupt responsive never meant so

so people dont really feel connected in a positive way so that's been the biggest challenge to try to turn that around and help people sleep.

That at least when i'm working super hard to be responsive to be accountable you do my very best to make their lives better.


[23:36] That's great.


[23:37] I know you and we talked about traffic and we talked about no kinda like what did typical day you know there is no typical day might look like for u i want to also get back to you all you know what are the main issues that

your constituents bring to u tmw will again people do you talk about traffic a lot

listen to that all kinds of things you know really is a pothole in the street there any bad repair order the

how many employee that was there didn't do it all the way to finish the job and how to get response

we will like social workers two in my office and i would wait you messed up you send my order with me on the third actually who are there for the people in my stop and masters in social work.


[24:26] We are helping people navigate all the systems everything about housing gehealthcare like to find new desk so we're dealing with all of those issues

no this is not what people bring me but i am obsessed with is the future of our water

new level rise and climate change generally but the fact that are fresh water supply comes to the ever played all the problems with paint

how go go east and west like a picture of that is water that really should be coming soon house

filtering through the natural system of the order please and recharge option which is underground and are stopped drinking water and i am quite

making sure that water comes out it's weird that we load as we don't allow the call to get into wit

help people most people are not thinking about this is a very real threat

you are future and i spend a bit of my time warner

quality issues so i also am involved with animals had no water we doing for our

add harry making sure it to spend that i tied of rabies how to make sure that people adopt stats

make sure that your products are in good repair so that our children are all agents can enjoy the parks in protecting our natural environment menu.


[25:54] You really gotta be calm and expert in so many different areas to do your due yes it's really a great learning opportunity i feel like i got my phd but now move ready to step.


[26:05] Water and sewer just imagine wastewater all of that very very big.


[26:11] Suggest as we are you know i wanted to give you the opportunity to speak of hope

what ever you wan to put out there to the listen ers thank you so much for the really thoughtful interviews make me think that if you are important topics myself and the question of balance you

i want to know when this might wanna know with the constant pressure being what is the balance

where is your family your friends are critical in me i have a new grand baby

add to my whenever i think about her and my wonderful daughter.


[26:46] I miss such a great mom and my son should my husband supports are so critical of the spend a lot of fun in nature

so when i can you email me every play a rafting in the river i'm thinking about how can we protect this beauty and then this

what is access and ultimately when i feel afraid or when i feel unsure as i tried to

remember that i am instruments for service for good and i tried to discern what is the pass

that will have the most were people and planet.

So i hope that will help others when they are thinking about their future since i'm really addresses every single day that's true for all of us.


[27:35] Thank you so much for taking the time to come on here to share all of this expertise the wisdom that you have and.

No thank you for doing work in the community thank you so much it really gives me courage to talk to you.

I appreciate you very much.