Marsena Buck

1938 – 2000

Leader, advocate and inspirational speaker

Marsena Buck received her MSW from USC in 1965. She worked as a social worker for Los Angeles County until her move to Stanislaus County in 1979 where she became Deputy Director and then Director of the Stanislaus County Department of Social Services from 1985-1995. Her special contributions were in public services for children, families and older adults.

Buck was President of the California Chapter of NASW from 1990-92, was the California Region representative on the National Board from 1993 to 1996, chaired the National Conference Planning Committee held in San Francisco in 1987 and led the Western Coalition to several Delegate Assemblies. Marsena was a strong advocate for children and for public social services. She led the Stanislaus County Children’s Services which became one of the first public social services agencies to be accredited as a child welfare agency.

Buck received the Koshland award for Administrative leadership for her accomplishments in the field of social work and child welfare. She was a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and served on the ACSW review committee. A member and chair of the California Board of Behavioral Science, she was instrumental in reforming the California clinical social work license, strengthening its standards and improving the exam process. She also played a key leadership role in bringing the California Schools of Social Work together with the BBS to address common professional issues.

As President of the County Welfare Directors Association, Buck assisted in the development of the California Social Work Education Center. As an advocate for social work in the San Joaquin Valley she organized agency leaders to encourage CSU Stanislaus to develop a graduate social work program to provide MSW’s for the Valley agencies. She then served on the Advisory Board of the new MSW program and established the Marsena Buck Scholarship Fund to assist students.

Well known for her community leadership Buck served on boards and chaired most of them including the Salvation Army of Stanislaus County and the Modesto YMCA. She was an active member of the Modesto Rotary Club where she organized an annual senior walk and a read-in for children in schools across the county. She was an inspirational speaker who was often called upon to speak to children, the poor and older adults. She was a talented comedienne making her message both moving and fun.

She said “I really get hooked on people, particularly people who are struggling as the bottom of the rung of the ladder. I think people should be given the chance to be the best they could be. I really believe that people behave better, in their whole life experience, if they are valued.”

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