Council Member Podcast Series – FORMER COUNCIL member Durel Williams, RSW

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers was pleased to interview Durel Williams, RSW, (formerly “Durel Allen”) for its Council Podcast series. Durel is a social work member of the College’s Council who was elected to Council in 2020 in electoral district number three. She previously chaired Council’s Election Committee and served on its Discipline, Fitness to Practise and Governance Committees. She was also a member of Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Group.

Podcast transcript

OCSWSSW: The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers is pleased to interview Durel Williams for its Council Podcast series. Durel is a social work member of the College’s Council who was elected to Council in 2020 in electoral district number three. She currently chairs Council’s Election Committee and serves on its Discipline, Fitness to Practice and Governance Committees. She is also a member of Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Group. Good morning, Durel.

DUREL WILLIAMS: Good morning, John.

OCSWSSW: Can you begin by telling us why you wanted to become a Council member?

DUREL WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, first I’m happy to be here and I’d be happy to share with you why I wanted to become a Council member. I wanted to do it because I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to my profession as a social worker by participating in the development and regulation of policies and standards that promote the public interest, as well as having my own practice enriched by learning from other very experienced minds at the table when it comes to governance, decision making and looking at the bigger picture of why and how we do what we do.

OCSWSSW: What do you enjoy most about being a Council member?

DUREL WILLIAMS: One of the things I like most about being a council member is an appreciation for the fact that I have an opportunity to, in a meaningful way, help ensure that the professions of social work and social service work are serving the public the way they are to, that each committee on the Council, every committee meeting, every proposal, every concern contributes to developing a more enriched and proficient representation of the professions for the public interest.

What I also find rewarding is how much we’re able to learn from the experience represented in the room, not only about the professions themselves or governance in general, but also about yourself. Ideas and perspectives are raised in ways that tend to challenge you to examine your own experiences and even biases. And having to process that with a view to arriving at what will serve best in the protection of the public interest. From conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion to discipline to the budget. You learn a lot from others, but you may also find you’re having conversations with yourself that help ground you in the fact that the work that you do on Council is part of a much bigger picture.

OCSWSSW: Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey and background?

DUREL WILLIAMS: Oh, wow. So, I’ve been in this field for about 15 years. I studied for my bachelor of science in the States at the State University of New York College at Brockport. I did a double major in sociology and social work. While there for my social work field placement, I worked at the domestic violence intake unit at the county courthouse supporting women in submitting petitions to the court for orders of protection. And then from there I worked in Jamaica. I worked in the justice and correction system as a probation officer. And here in Canada, I worked with youth in the youth justice community diversion program. It was while working with youth in the youth justice system that I became more interested in youth and adult mental health, because it was apparent to me that youth and families had mental health needs that went unaddressed. So, with further training and with particular focus in trauma counselling, I transitioned to the adult and youth mental health field. And I now provide trauma-informed psychotherapy and counselling in private practice.

OCSWSSW: In your opinion, what do you see as some of the challenges facing regulators, such as the College?

DUREL WILLIAMS: One notable challenge is the rapidly changing world that we live in and how we research and respond to these changes. We are living them out in real time and we’re not able to always keep up with these changes. And so, regulators may not always know what to anticipate to what scale. And that can be challenging because the problems that can arise out of these changes don’t pause and wait for us to have some guidance in how to proceed. So, they’re happening in real time and lives are affected real in time.

Another challenge, and I believe this can be considered I don’t know a good challenge, is having to confront or reexamine our standards and practices regularly because of how much good that can get lost in the space that we take for granted. It reminds me of a line from a TV series that says, “Everything and nothing is normal.” And I think specifically of issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, that as we reflect on moving towards equity, the arrival point is really accepting that we haven’t really arrived. There’s always learning and unlearning, and regulators are faced with that challenge and should meet it to be open to continuous evolution. Is that a lot of work? Absolutely. But that’s also the point. So, I think those are the main challenges that regulators face.

OCSWSSW: What do you think are the top two to three things that individuals interested in joining the College Council should know?

DUREL WILLIAMS: Ah, yes. One thing Council members should know is that it does require a commitment of time and attention. So, members can expect to dedicate approximately 25 days out of the year to Council matters. If you’re brand new to council, it may feel as if you’ve walked in on a conversation already in progress. So, there’s a lot that you won’t necessarily understand at the get go because there may be some matters that are carryovers from previous Council years. The good thing is that there are resources such as minutes from previous meetings and other resources to provide context to you. And the other thing, too, is that you’ll also be well supported. You’ll have a mentor to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. And staff support for Council is always very helpful as well.

OCSWSSW: That concludes your interview. You thank you for joining us today, Durel.


OCSWSSW: If you are a registered social worker or a registered social service worker and are interested in joining the College Council, please visit our website where you’ll find information on the Council elections, including eligibility requirements and required training.