with Laura Nissen, Dean and Professor, School of Social Work at Portland State University

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January 2016 Connect

Dear Friend of the School of Social Work at Portland State University,

Just before the “Snowpocalypse” — Portland’s recent January weather event that postponed the start of our winter term — a number of Portland State University faculty visited Washington, DC to attend the 20th annual Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Conference.

Just prior to the conference start, I was privileged to meet with a group of deans who lead research-intensive social work education programs. This group has been active for more than 10 years and is working with other social work leaders to envision the future of social work research and related education nationally.

The meeting centered on four interrelated topics:

  1. Understanding the changing environment for social work research
  2. Re-envisioning our profession at this moment in history
  3. Exploring how to prepare the next generation of faculty and leaders
  4. Exploring how to increase our impact in policy and practice

The meeting was dynamic, far-reaching and inspiring as we talked about the future of our shared work.  We prepared position paper which was vetted with leaders in attendance. A draft of this paper is available through me if anyone would like a preview. Our active participation in this group has been an important aspect of our role as a leading social work program. The collaboration was truly energizing!

freeze-frame-from-GC-video-529x298The conference itself started with a special session dedicated to the Grand Challenges for Social Work. This is an initiative which has been in the works for more than five years. It is a call to action and a platform for communicating and focusing social work research in an entirely new way. Twelve new focus areas endeavor to amplify the power of social work research and increase impact of this valuable work. You can read more about the entire effort  and watch a video which introduces the project. Each of the challenges involves a focal paper.  I’m very proud that I was part of a working group that contributed to a supplemental paper in the “Close the Health Gap” challenge entitled “Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences.”

In the coming months, we’ll be having a number of discussions regarding the Grand Challenges effort to determine how to engage intentionally and strategically with these larger conversations. Stay tuned!

As always, the SSWR conference contains literally hundreds of papers, poster sessions and presentations covering a wide variety of social work-related topics. You can peruse the offerings from this year’s event online.  To learn more about the SSWR organization, Dr. Bowen McBeath on our faculty is the treasurer of the national board of directors and can provide additional information.

Read on for more of the many goings on in our School this past term.  Happy New Year!

Laura Nissen Signature




Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Portland State University Strategic Plan Published

https___www_pdx_edu_president_sites_www_pdx_edu_president_files_StrategicPlan2016-4_pdfPortland State’s university-wide Strategic Plan has been released!

Many thanks to the variety of School of Social Work representatives who participated in this effort.   We will continue to be seeking ways to interface, collaborate and maximize the effectiveness, reach and impact of this plan through our own work in the School.

-> Read the Plan

Key Facts About the School of Social Work

The School of Social Work is ranked 33rd, in the top 25% of social work programs in the countryDid you know that the School of Social Work at Portland State University is ranked #33 in the nation, which puts it in the top 25% of social work programs in the United States? Or that our students have delivered 3.2 million hours of community service since 2010? Or that our brand new online Master of Social Work program has an unheard of 98% student retention rate after its first year?

We’re highlighting these and many other facts about the School in a special 12 week campaign that runs through March. Read a new fact posted each Thursday on the web or get each new key fact in your news feed by following us on Facebook!

Positive Youth Transitions

Positive Youth TransitionsMobilizing the expertise of over 100 leaders and staff from multiple youth and family agencies and systems in Oregon, a School of Social Work research project called Positive Youth Transitions helps foster youth transition into healthy adult lives.

New Avenues for Youth (NAFY), a long time agency partner of the School of Social Work, was concerned about the number of youth in their street youth programs who had been clients of the foster care system. In a desire to be part of the solution, they reached out to PSU School of Social Work faculty with expertise in youth programming and systems change.

Thanks to a generous gift from the Joyce N. Furman Charitable Trust, the School led a collective impact and action research initiative to change the system to better support foster youth.

While the investment started with Multnomah County, this planning approach caught the eye of statewide leadership, and researchers made contributions to the state’s five-year plan for stronger youth transitions. In addition, the team’s findings were presented at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work Research earlier this month.

New Faculty

Leah Brookner - SquareWhile by no means new to the School, we’re delighted to welcome Leah Brookner to a new role as an Assistant Professor of Practice. Leah has spent the last five years providing clinical supervision and training at a local child welfare organization where she specialized in delivering psychoeducation to foster and adoptive parents, child welfare workers and community partners. Prior to that, she was a child and family therapist, working mainly with victims of trauma and profound neglect. She has been an adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work and University Studies Department since 2007.
Leah is especially passionate about early childhood, family dynamics, mental health and wellness, child welfare, school-based services, and multi-systemic collaboration.
Leah earned her MSW from Portland State University in 2006 and Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in 2003. She is close to completing her doctoral dissertation, which focuses on using therapeutic dogs in an early intervention setting.
Welcome to this new role, Leah!

Oregon High School Ethics Bowl Participation Doubles in Its Second Year at PSU

Oregon High School Ethics Bowl 2016 - No LogoOn January 23 the second annual Oregon High School Ethics Bowl took place at Portland State University, co-organized by the Philosophy Department and the School of Social Work. The event more than doubled in size from last year. 85 high school students formed 22 teams from 12 high schools across Oregon and Southern Washington. They were helped by over 100 volunteer teachers, coaches, moderators, and judges.

After the morning elimination rounds, Camas High School, Lincoln High School Team 2, and Sam Barlow High School advanced to the finals. In a very impressive final round, Lincoln 2 and Camas nearly tied, with Camas High School winning the 2016 Oregon High School Ethics Bowl by a tiny margin. Camas will go on to compete in the National High School Ethics Bowl competition in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on April 15 & 16th.

Congratulations to co-chair and School of Social Work assistant professor Greg Pugh and all the students, faculty and volunteers who made this year’s bowl such a smashing success!

Faculty News and Contributions

Tamara Sale in NYTOur own Tamara Sale, director of care for the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) program, was recently featured in a New York Times article about that program’s leading edge treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia.  This School of Social Work affiliated project is administered by the School’s Regional Research Institute.

-> Read Article


Katharine Cahn, Executive Director of the Child Welfare Partnership in the School of Social Work, recently served on a panel at the Portland State University Office of Academic Affairs Winter Symposium 2016.  This year’s symposium approached the topic “What does it mean to be educated in the 21st century?”  Katharine spoke on the topic “Balancing Personal Wellness with the Need for Productivity.”

-> Watch Video

Peg SandeenSchool of Social Work alumna and adjunct faculty Peg Sandeen was featured in the latest issue of Portland State Magazine, PSU’s alumni magazine, for her work as director of the Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center.

Her work with the center and as adjunct faculty has had a profound effect on how our nation looks at end-of-life choices.

-> Read Profile

Two School of Social Work Master of Social Work (MSW) are running for public office this spring.  Diego Hernandez MSW ’12 and Tawna Sanchez MSW ’12 are both candidates for state representative seats in Oregon in the May primary election.

RF-CostSavings-624x624Five communities using Reclaiming Futures — a national public health and juvenile justice reform framework that promotes effective treatment practices — saved $11 million in one year. A recent national evaluation of this program housed in the School of Social Work showed that juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model saw significant reductions in crime and delinquency, which drove these notable fiscal savings.

-> Learn More

Blakeslee, B., Turner, S., Schmidt, J. (2015) Addressing homelessness among youth aging out of care: A social networks approach. Webinar presentation at the Regional Research Institute, Portland, Oregon.

Bradley, S, May, E. “MSW Online Field Seminar and Liaison– Curriculum Development and Implementation” presentation accepted for the SW Distance Education Conference.

Friesen, B., Buekea, N. & Koroloff, N. (2015). Stepping up: Successful advocacy by youth and young adult-led organizations. Conference presentation at FFCMH, Washington, DC.

Hawash, L.  “Facilitating sustainable recruitment, retention and community building within an MSW Online program” presentation accepted for the SW Distance Education Conference.

Kennedy, M.O., (2015). Increasing Self-Determination of Foster Youth Positively Impacts Transition, School and Employment Outcomes. Poster presentation at DCDT, Portland, OR.

Phillips, L., Powers, L.E., Geenen, S., Schmidt, J., Winges-Yanez, N., McNeely, I.C., Merritt, L., Williamson, C., Turner, S., Zweben, H., Bodner, C. and the Research Consortium to Increase the Success of Youth in Foster Care (2015). Better Futures: A validated model for increasing the postsecondary preparation and participation of youth in foster care with mental health challenges. Children and Youth Services Review, 57, 50-59.

Powers, L. E. (2015). Contributing meaning to research: Integrating methodological rigor with participatory action. Conference presentation for the Evidence-based Practice and Implementation Science Colloquium at the TASH National Conference, Portland, OR.

Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. (2015). Sugerencias para tus Reuniones en Equipo: Una Guía para Jóvenes. Spanish translation of Tips for your team meetings: A guide for youth. (2013). Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. (2015). “Durante las Reuniones no Soporto Cuando…” Una Guía para Facilitadores y Miembros del Equipo. Spanish translation of “During Meetings I Can’t Stand it When…” A Guide for Facilitators and Team Members. (2013). Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Schmidt, J., Turner, S., Asula, D. (2015). Take charge for the future: Strategies for enhancing self-determination with high-school and college students. Conference presentation at Blueprint for Success, Los Angeles, California.

Schmidt, J., Kennedy, M.O. (2015). Stability of racial and ethnic self-identification among youths in foster care. Poster presentation at CSWE, Denver, CO.

Schmidt, J., Croskey, A., McNeely, C. & Bell B. (2015). Better futures: Supporting young people with mental health challenges in foster care to participate in higher education. Conference presentation at DCDT, Portland, OR.

Schmidt, J., Farkas, J., Crosland, K., Napolitano, D., & Smith, B. (2015). Supporting Youth with Intellectual/ Developmental (I/DD) and other Disabilities in Foster Care: Examples from the field. Conference presentation at AUCD, Washington, DC.

Walker, J., Lieberman, B., Heine, S., Moser, C., Baird, C., Croskey, A., Duron, S., Boehringer, H., Jackson, S., & Welch, M. (2015). Training and supporting young people who provide peer support. Presented at the National Wraparound Implementation Academy, Portland, OR.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Resource Professionals

You’ve gotten your degree and have landed that first social work job.  What else do you need to be a successful professional?  Check out these 9 Tools for Your Professional Social Worker Toolkit.

Health systems improvement and reform is big right now and integrating community health workers into care teams a critical piece of the work being done.  Read this issue of Transforming Care from The Commonwealth Fund to learn about new models of care, payment approaches, and patient engagement strategies that have the potential to reshape our delivery system to better meet the needs of the nation’s sickest and most vulnerable patients.

Where do you get most of your news of the world?  What are skills needed for digital literacy?  Do you use social media for any part of your school or professional work?  Will universal digital literacy lead to world peace?  The age of digital literacy is now, and it touches social work in a variety of ways.  Read this blog post on the age of #digitalliteracy and the media revolution.

Higher Education

Check out seven truly transformational shifts that will create the classroom of the future in this article from teach thought.

Read how to cite social media in scholarly writing in another great post from teach thought.

Read these 3 super helpful rules of academic blogging posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Can Portland give displaced residents a path back?  Read about gentrification in Portland in this OregonLive article.

20 pieces of legislation have significant impacts on communities of color in Oregon.  Read about what they are and how the impact these communities in Facing Race in Oregon: 2015 Oregon Racial Equity Report.


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December 2015 Connect

Dear Friend of the School of Social Work at Portland State University,

The year 2015 is about to wrap up! It has been a busy and productive one.  We are Laura Nissen Tight Full Mug Square 10-15very proud of our students, faculty, researchers, staff and partner organizations for the courageous, important and targeted work that they do every day to improve the lives of so many.

Hundreds of students have completed their fall term courses throughout Oregon, and a wide variety of research, training, and community collaboration projects continue to operate with enthusiasm and high impact across the state.

The nation and the world continue to reveal vital areas of needed attention in the arenas of social justice, human suffering and the need for more resources to address a variety of individual and community needs.  Our school’s vision, purpose, and activities remain as vital as ever.

On behalf of all the faculty, staff, students and researchers at the School of Social Work at Portland State University, happy holidays and best wishes for a happy and prosperous year ahead!

Laura Nissen Signature




Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Regional Research Institute awarded $1.7 million federal contract for youth mental health services

The School of Social Work’s Regional Research Institute has been awarded $1.7 million over five years to provide training and technical support for mental health programs serving children, youth, young adults and their families.

The federal contract builds on the institute’s ongoing work in researching, assessing, training and supporting mental health services for young people. Staff members from the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, National Wraparound Initiative and EASA Center for Excellence will play key roles in carrying out the contract.

-> Learn More

School of Social Work Soccer Team 

Any good social worker will tell you that self-care is a key component of one’s ongoing professional practice.

See how one group of current School of Social Work students — Team SWAG (Social Work Activity Group) — balances school and work with play by competing in the Intramural Recreational Soccer League in Portland State’s Campus Rec program.swag_story-1

Watch this YouTube video — part of the Play at Campus Rec campaign — current team captains Karissa Moden and Jennifer Smith emphasize the importance of bonding outside of the classroom.

Strategic Planning Update

Strategic PlanningOur autumn ended with some additional strategic planning focus at the School developing additional ideas about what “excellence in teaching” and “excellence in research” looked like. We are most grateful to Drs. Ben Anderson-Nathe and Roberto Orellana respectively for leading these conversations among our faculty as a whole. These ideas will be carefully embedded within our larger planning efforts to draw focus and create synergy for a plan that will carry us into the future.

New Faculty Profiles

Faculty and Staff Portraits - December BlogMeet the team!  We’ve recently refreshed our School of Social Work faculty & staff profile webpages. Over the past few weeks we’ve updated nearly 64 faculty and staff profile pages with the professional portraits and rewritten profiles. Check them out to learn more about the amazing social work professionals that comprise our School of Social Work team.

Visit with National Crittenton Foundation

Crittenton Tight Crop.jpgDecember provided a great opportunity to network with the National Crittenton Foundation President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa. This important and innovative organization has a national network of programs to advance the self-empowerment, health, economic security and economic engagement of girls and young women. Their national office is just up the street from PSU, yet we’ve not had any official affiliation with them. Our meeting produced a variety of ideas about possible partnerships in the future to be more deeply explored.

Child and Family Services Resources

Training ResourcesThe Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services just added a section on their website, with training materials, resources and research on family engagement, family find and family group conferencing. We hope you find these family connections resources helpful!

Faculty News and Contributions

MIECHVThe School of Social Work’s Regional Research Institute (RRI) just launched a Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program evaluation in the state of Oregon. This project will examine engagement and retention in evidence-based home visiting programs. MIECHV provides culturally responsive services that can help meet the needs of Oregon’s pregnant women, mothers, children, and families. School of Social Work Ph.D. student Katie Winters is part of the team that conducts applied research for community-based, state, and national organizations in the areas of early intervention, child maltreatment prevention, and parent education.

Susie Barrios and Carrie Furrer, School of Social Work faculty, co-presented “Using the Strengths, Needs, and Culture Discovery with Families: A Strengths-Based Practice” at the Kempe International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement, Minneapolis, in October 2015.

Tom Keller, Campbell Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Projects in the School of Social Work, delivered a keynote address, spoke on an expert panel, and offered a workshop at the International Mentoring Conference Peraj 2015 in Cancun, Mexico.

Faculty members Christina Nicolaidis, Dora Raymaker, and Mary Oschwald, along with community partner Elesia Ashkenazy, gave 3 presentations at the national TASH conference in December 2015.

  • “AASPIRE Healthcare Toolkit for Autistic Adults.” (Breakout session.)
  • “Inclusive Research at PSU: Health, Violence, and Community Engagement.” (Symposium)
  • “Inclusive Research Methods.” (Part of “This is What Inclusion Looks Like” workshop.)

TASH is the international leader in disability advocacy. Founded in 1975, TASH advocates for human rights and inclusion for people with significant disabilities and support needs – those most vulnerable to segregation, abuse, neglect and institutionalization.

Adjunct faculty member Wayne Scott delivered a nationally broadcast webinar, “The ‘Why’ of Executive Coaching,” for The University of Chicago’s Career Development Series. -> View

Wayne also published an article, “The Scary Things That Can Make You a Stronger Leader,”  in Governing Magazine. -> Read

Brennan, E., Brannan, A. M., Cerar, L., Lambert, L., Buekea, N. & Ossowski, J. D. (2015). Family Support for Transition-Aged Youth [Webinar]. -> Watch

Reyes, M-.E. & Curry-Stevens, A. (2015). Community Assessment of African Maternal Health in the Portland Region: Drivers for Community Health Services, and Institutional Change. Portland, OR: Center to Advance Racial Equity, Portland State University.

Reyes, M-.E. & Curry-Stevens, A. (2015). Child and Maternal Health in the Slavic Community: Insights on Assets and Priorities. Portland, OR: Center to Advance Racial Equity, Portland State University.

Suzanne L. Cross, Virginia Drywater-Whitekiller, Lea Ann Holder, Debra Norris, James Caringi & Ashley Trautman.  NCWWI Tribal Traineeship Programs: Promoting Diversity in the Child Welfare Workforce, Journal of Social Work Education, Volume 51, Supplement 2, 2015. -> Download

Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, D., Katz, M., Oschwald, M., Goe, R., Leotti, S., Grantham, L., Plourde, E., Salomon, J., Hughes, R., Powers, L. and the Partnering with People with Disabilities to Address Violence Consortium. Community based participatory research to adapt health measures for use by adults with developmental disabilities. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action. 2015. 9(2)157-170.

Morasco, B.J., Turk, D.C., Nicolaidis, C, Psychometric properties of the Centrality of Pain Scale. Journal of Pain. 2015. 16(7): 676-681.

Anna Rockhill, Carrie Furrer and Thuan Duong, Social Work faculty, co-authored “Peer Mentoring in Child Welfare: A Motivational Framework,” published in Child Welfare Journal, Vol. 94, Issue 5.

Walker, J. S. & Powers, L. E. (2015). Introduction to the Escala de Empoderamiento de los Jóvenes—Salud Mental (Youth Efficacy / Empowerment Scale—Mental Health) and the Participación de Jóvenes en Planificación (Youth Participation in Planning Scale). Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Resource Professionals

Important new report about children and terrorism. Specifically, it “explores the impact of growing up in a world with terrorism on children and youth. It considers both the direct and traumatic effects of being and victim and the indirect effects of living in communities and societies in which the threat of terrorism is on the minds of children, but perhaps more importantly, of adults generally and parents and policy makers in particular. It also considers policy initiatives and programmatic responses” (from the abstract).

Fascinating and disturbing coverage of the story of how psychologists worked with the CIA to develop a torture program. This is a true story that challenges/violates the boundaries of professional ethics. What lessons can be learned and how can this be prevented in the future?

New report out from the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research informed/inspired by current events and the Black Lives Matter movement called The Trauma of Racism. Valuable and interesting resource.

Terrific recent news story about how the presence of social workers reduces repeat emergency room admissions by high risk populations. Go social work!

New-ish and constantly changing web-based resource called “the ultimate guide to careers in social work.” The text is relatively simple and basic, but looking down the right side of the screen is a really interesting variety of brief interviews with social workers who work in different settings. This could be useful for a variety of things.

Interesting article about the digital divide, its relationship to poverty and efforts in NYC to address this.

Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education has put together a collection of articles about race on campus.

What if there was more laughing in our classrooms when we can? Is it possible that more learning would occur? This article offers some ideas and inspiration.

This is a new TED talk specifically focused on helping scientists learn to communicate more simply, directly and clearly about complex topics to a general audience. How can we not just produce good and innovative work, but translate it as well?

Interesting article about poor citation practices in the social sciences. (This is from the UK but relevant internationally).

Good piece about how scientists do and don’t use the social network. (By the way, if you haven’t ever checked out SAS Confidential, this is a great blog focusing on a variety of cutting edge issues for educators/researchers in higher education).

Fun diagram on “21st century pedagogy.”

What is an “innovation incubator” and what is involved in running and benefitting from one? This brief article discusses how this approach is used in business, tech, education and government — and offers opportunities to think about additional applications. Interesting to imagine how such an approach might be valuable in social work practice and other human services!


Important article in Street Roots News about the importance of not becoming numb to deaths of those who live on the streets of Portland. This is a powerful piece.

Have you heard about the new Help, Hope, Heal resource? This is a brand new web-based resource developed by our own Oregon Partnership for Safety and Justice designed to be a web-portal for victims of crime and their families to locate/access a wide variety of resources. Great people and important links – worth knowing about.

Fascinating archival photos of Oregon during the depression. These are a window to history.

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October / November 2015 Connect

Dear Friend of the School of Social Work at Portland State University,

Fall is in the air as the new school year goes into full swing.  We’re actively engaged in new classes, research, training and workforce development activities.  We also welcome new and returning students back to PSU.  It is always a time of energy and possibility.   Here is a taste of what we’ve been up to and what’s yet to come.

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page. “Like” us today!Laura Nissen Signature

Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

year_in_review Year in Review

We recently produced a recap of a few of the many projects, successes and other achievements of our faculty, staff, researchers, and workforce developers from the 2014-15 academic year. Check it out to learn more about what the School of Social Work has been up to.  Congratulations to all for a fulfilling and successful year!

-> View the Year in Review

New Faculty and Staff

This fall the School of Social Work welcomed three new faculty and four new staff members to its ranks. Here’s a brief introduction to each new community member.

Christiana Bratiotis, Ph.D., LICSW, has joined us to teach in the Master of Social Work program Christiana Bratiotiswith a particular focus on our new clinical concentration.  Christiana did her Ph.D. and a subsequent three-year post-doctoral research fellowship at Boston University School of Social Work.  She came to PSU from a faculty position at the University of Nebraska-Omaha Grace Abbott School of Social Work.  Her area of specialty is providing individual and group specialized outpatient cognitive behavioral therapy for hoarding disorder. -> Email Christiana


Hillary Hyde, MSW, CFLE, comes to the School of Social Work as a new Hillary Hydeassistant professor of practice in our Child and Family Studies Program.  She has moved our way from another academic unit at PSU, the Oregon Center for Career Development for Childhood Care and Education where she was a Training & Education Specialist.  She has spent the last 20 years working in Portland in early intervention, early childhood special education, early childhood education, child care systems, and divorce. -> Email Hillary


Oren Shtayermman, Ph.D., joins the School to lead the Children, Youth and Oren ShtayermmanFamilies Concentration in the Master of Social Work program and will be teaching across the curriculum.  He earned his BSW in Social Work from Haifa University, Israel, his MSW in Social Work from New York University, and his Ph.D. from Fordham University in New York City.  Oren’s research focuses on risk factors for suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). -> Email Oren


Marina BarceloMarina Barcelo, MSW, has joined the School as our new student support & inclusion specialist.  Marina holds her MSW, a Master in Women’s & Gender Studies, and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management & Philanthropy from Loyola University in Chicago.  She most recently served as Director of Equity & Community Engagement at NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health.  -> Email Marina

Jennifer RobeJennifer Robe has joined the School as our new PhD Program Assistant.  Jennifer worked previously on the McNair Scholars Program at Portland State, as a counselor working at Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp For Girls, Portland, and as a mentor of Girlpower Senior Capstone at PSU. -> Email Jennifer


gayle-schneiderGayle Schneider has recently been named the development officer for the School of Social Work at the PSU Foundation.  Gayle brings a combined 24 years of higher education fundraising and advancement operations experience both at Portland State University and the University of Portland. -> Email Gayle



Ridley Williams joins the School as our newRidley Williams office manager.  Ridley is no stranger to the School, having worked in an interim role a couple of years ago.  Ridley is finishing his bachelor’s degree in Psychology while working for PSU.  He has been working for the Academic Scheduling team for two years after holding an interim position in the School of Social Work in 2013.   Welcome back, Ridley! -> Email Ridley




erika-gitchell-squareErika Woods, who most recently served as MSW Program Assistant for
the School of Social Work, left PSU and moved back to be closer to family in New Mexico at the end of September.  Erika was hired in 2004 as a Program Assistant for the Child Welfare Partnership (now CICF) and worked in a number of roles in her 11 years here.  Among so much else her broad smile, kind demeanor and strong focus on students will be missed by so many.  Thank you, Erika, and best wishes for your next adventure!


Lesly Verduin

After 13 years as “the face” of the School of Social Work in Portland working at our front desk, Lesly Verduin has retired from PSU.  Over the years we have come to appreciate her AV expertise, her patience with anxious students applying to the programs, and her commitment to the work of SEIU and AAUP on the PSU campus.  Congratulations, Lesly, and best wishes for a happy and active retirement!


New Full Professors Share Their Perspectives

Drs. Stephanie Wahab and Bowen McBeath celebrated their promotions to full professors this past spring. This month’s Connect includes an opportunity to hear directly from them. Each shares some thoughts, plans and reflections about their work at the School of Social Work as they transition to senior faculty status.

Dr. Stephanie Wahab

After a very relaxing summer mostly spent in various large bodies of Stephanie Wahabwater surfing, stand up paddle boarding and swimming, I can without reservation state that I am now well acquainted with all 12 of the Portland bridges (thanks Dr. Mary Oschwald!). I am looking forward to teaching courses in the MSW and PhD programs this fall, as well as working with colleagues to put the final touches on the redesign of our critically informed PhD program. I’m excited about ongoing and new collaborations with other disciplines on campus, and I look forward to continued engagement with a number of exciting projects including: 1) work with local exotic dancers and NASW around policy reform in the adult entertainment industry, 2) intimate partner violence research with Dr. Gita Mehrotra and Dr. Ericka Kimball, 3) motivational interviewing training and research with local and regional organizations, and 4) editorial work with Social Work’s flagship feminist journal, Affilia: Women in Social Work. Some of my upcoming scholarship focuses on Orientalism in Social Work, critiques of social work’s involvement in the moral crusade against sex trafficking, a new motivational interviewing trainer evaluation scale, and research on the impact of decriminalization of sex work in New Zealand on social work practice.

Dr. Bowen McBeath

Bowen McBeathI have been looking forward to this academic year as well. I am teaching an entirely new set of courses, beginning with Planning and Leading Communities and Organizations. Although I was saddened to see my old courses retired, I have enjoyed preparing for PLCO , and I feel an immense sense of excitement as I envision my year unfolding in the classroom. In a way, this year may serve as a teaching sabbatical for me, giving me a chance to experiment with new materials and approaches, hopefully to the benefit of our students. In terms of research, my teams have been productive over the summer, and our analyses and manuscript development will continue over the year. For me, the research process provides an opportunity to engage in discovery, since the work I do is often exploratory and not always well understood by practitioners. As a result, I always hope that my research collaborations will unearth new findings and new and practical ways of approaching old topics. One of my teams is devising new methods of visualizing child welfare administrative data, to help system leaders better track the progress of children, youth, and families over time. Another team is exploring the perspectives of private and public agency managers on human service contracts. With another team, I am trying to understand how to help human service organizations better integrate research and other types of evidence into their programs, managers and front-line workers, and services.

Stephanie and Bowen

Bowen arrived at PSU in 2004 and Stéphanie in 2005. There are days when ten years feels like a long time, and other days when we still feel like relatively new faculty. The SSW has been through a lot in the last ten years and has experienced numerous changes. We are excited about the SSW’s future and look forward to the following:

  • The new MSW and Ph.D. program curricula, each of which has built in more attention to social justice, diversity, and anti-oppression.
  • Through the new collective bargaining agreement, greater resources for mid-career and senior faculty development.
  • Our wonderful new faculty colleagues, who are stars in the areas of research/scholarship, teaching, and service.
  • The strategic planning process being undertaken at the university and within the SSW, which should help PSU chart its course for the next decade.
  • The respect our SSW has in the region and state, which reflects decades of excellence in instruction, agency-based research, and service in the community.

We are looking forward to being a part of the School of Social Work’s future.

-> Email Stephanie
-> Email Bowen

Foster Care Article in PSU Magazine

My Life GraphicA project of the Regional Research Institute for Human Services — a research arm of the School of Social Work — was recently featured in PSU Magazine, PSU’s alumni magazine. My Life — a program that pairs foster youth with mentors who help them build life skills, including finding jobs and getting into college — is led by professors Laurie Powers and Sarah Geenen. Last year, My Life was named one of the best programs of its kind in the United States by the Center for Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C.

-> Read Foster Care Article

Integrated Care Roundtable Recap

This past spring Dean Laura Nissen of the Portland State University School of Social Work invited leaders in the local social work community for a shared dialogue about integrated health. Among the topics discussed were:

  • Trends and cutting edge issues for integrated health and social work
  • Areas of social work knowledge and skills needed by new social workers in integrated care
  • Recommended sites for continued learning and networking

-> Read the Recap

Integrated Care a New Focus at the School of Social Work

On September 21 the School of Social Work held a kick-off ICPsymposium for the HRSA- funded Integrated Care Project. Responding to workforce needs resulting from changes in the health and mental health care environment in the state, this three-year project is designed to prepare students for careers in integrated primary and behavioral health care.  Thirty two advanced MSW students in Portland, Bend and Eugene are participating this year. and are engaged in integrated field placements, a field seminar, and other enrichment activities.  The symposium featured presentations on the state’s integrated care infrastructure, skills for effective teamwork, social work practice in integrated care, uses of technology, and cultural adaptations for social work practice in integrated care. The Integrated Care Project offers wonderful opportunities for Social Work students to be at the cutting edge of innovations in health care.


Student Support Meeting

Student Support MeetingThe new leadership of the School of Social Work’s Student Support Network met recently with Dean Laura Nissen to discuss its plans for the coming year.

Pictured are clockwise starting at the top row Tracy McLafferty, Kelly Smith, Riley Lakos, Karissa Moden, Elaine Szeto, Jenna Haley, and Bianetth Valdez. All are students in our MSW program. Also pictured are Katie Cagle, front row, and Laura Nissen, back row, from the School.


International Experiences in the School

Ghana 1 Ghana 4 Ghana 3 Ghana 2
How can living in an underdeveloped country enlighten one’s awareness of the marginalization individuals’ face, attentiveness and knowledge of culture, and overall social work practice and experience in a diverse environment?  This past summer, Social Work in Ghana offered 3 students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Ghanaian culture for 8 weeks.  They engaged in 20 hours per week of hands-on practical social work experience in various micro and macro, government and private organizational settings that included a Ghanaian-run orphanage, a government HIV/AIDS clinic in a local hospital and a government-run trade school.  The students lived with Ghanaian host families as well.  Weekly visits to various agencies and organizations addressed the history of social work in Ghana and a variety of social problems; women empowerment and poverty alleviation through small business development, drug and alcohol treatment, HIV/AIDS treatment and the government health care system, mental health treatment, community development and a local chief’s community, juvenile rehabilitation and social work education focusing on ending child slavery.  Weekly interactive group seminars focused on Ghanaian culture, international social work, self-care and mindfulness, cultural awareness, NASW Code of Ethics/ International Code of Ethics, micro and macro work in a Ghana framework, termination and re-entry.

Upcoming Events

Practicing Social Work in an Integrated Health Care Setting

Our School of Social Work Alumni Association is sponsoring a timely and relevant CEU-eligible training next month on integrated care in social work. All proceeds benefit student scholarships. It will be led by our own assistant professor Ericka Kimball, MSW, PhD. Here are the details. It’s a great way to get CEUs and learn more about the past, present and future of integrated health care in social work.

Practicing Social Work in an Integrated Health Care Setting

A CEU-eligible training for social work professionals sponsored by the School of Social Work Alumni Association

Friday, November 6, 2015
9 am – 12:15 pm
Portland State University
Academic and Student Recreation Center
Room 620 / 630
1800 SW 6th Avenue, Portland Oregon, 97201

The cost is $55.  All proceeds benefit School of Social Work student book and tuition scholarships.  Sponsored by the School of Social Work Alumni Association.

-> Register

Registration deadline: Friday, October 30, 2015.

Faculty News and Contributions

Alma Trinidad PhotoFaculty member Dr. Alma Trinidad received the “Social Work Best Paper Award” for her article “Critical Indigenous Pedagogy of Place: How Centering Hawaiian Epistemology and Values in Practice Affects People on Ecosystemic Levels” at the national Council of Social Work Education conference held in Denver in mid-October.  The paper is published in the 2014 Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity.  

-> Get Dr. Trinidad’s Article

Dr. Trinidad was also one of eight finalists for the New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Center for Engaged Democracy’s 2015 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.

Congratulations on these two incredible honors, Alma!

In addition to Dr. Trinidad’s honor, School of Social Work faculty and graduate students had strong representation leading discussions, workshops and presentations at this year’s national Council of Social Work Education conference in Denver.  They included:

  • Becki Child, “Health Literacy and Social Work: A Call to Action”
  • Kimberly D. Huston, “Exploring Tensions and Contexts of Teaching MSW Diversity and Social Justice Courses”
  • Jeffrey Waid and Katharine Cahn, “Evaluating the Impact of Social Work Education on Child Welfare Organizations”
  • Jessica Schmidt, “Stability of Racial and Ethnic Self-Identification Among Youths in Foster Care”
  • Christine Velez Klug, “My History Is Stigmatizing My Care”: Perspectives of Addiction Needs During Hospitalization
  • Junghee Lee and Maria Carolina Gonzalez-Prats, “Can We Do Better in Teaching Research Among MSW Program Students?”
  • Jeffrey Waid,”Family Dynamics in Substitute Care Settings: Intervening to Improve Youth Outcomes”

Laura Nissen at NADD 2015Dean Laura Nissen was part of a deans and directors panel entitled “Social Innovation / Social Work Leadership in Social Innovation” at the recent fall meeting of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work.  Pictured at right with Laura are Dean Debra McPhee, Fordham University, Dean Alberto Godenzi, Boston College and Dean Jeffery Edleson, University of California at Berkeley.

Esteemed faculty alumna Dr. Joan Shireman just published the second edition of her comprehensive “Critical Issues in Child Welfare” text.  Joan F. Shireman, 2015. Critical Issues in Child Welfare, Second Edition. New York: Columbia University Press.
-> Get Dr. Shireman’s Book
(Use the code SHICRI1 at checkout and get a 30% discount.)

Faculty member Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens concluded in September an 8-month training series with environmental organizations that were aiming to improve their implementation of racial equity. Ten such organizations were involved through the Intertwine Alliance and approximately 3 from each organization joined this monthly seminar, as well as conducting an equity assessment inside their organization. Dr. Curry-Stevens led this work in partnership with the Coalition of Communities of Color.

Michelle Clinch, M.Ed., “The Fast and the Furious: Memorable Messaging Using Social Media and Timely Content Creation.” Speaker at NSDTA Conference, Denver, CO; October 5, 2015;

Michelle Clinch, M.Ed., “Tools and Strategies to engage, motivate and support child welfare students and the workforce.” Speaker at NCWWI’s University Partnerships Meeting, Chicago; June 4, 2015.

Jennifer Blakeslee, MSW, Ph.D., “Assessing social capital in foster youth support networks: Early lessons learned.” Presented at the Social Capital Research to Action Symposium, Portland State University Institute for Sustainable Solutions on October 21, 2015, in Portland, OR.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Resource Professionals

The “Ferguson Commission” completed a broad scale review of all issues surrounding the precursors leading up to the death of Michael Brown in St. Louis.  The report is now available online and brings renewed focus to understanding and taking action regarding racial inequity.   Worth a read.

The concept of self-care receives increasing attention in the human service profession.   This brief article about achieving work-life balance is a good summary for those that are looking to increase their well-being or promote this in the workplace.

New Washington Post article about increasing life expectancy disparities among rich and poor in the U.S.

New Atlantic Monthly article about new emerging data on child poverty in the U.S.

The National Institute of Health has just released a very timely and useful resource called “Understanding the Cultural Framework for Health” designed for researchers to increase the level of cultural appropriate of health-related research designs. Extremely relevant to social work and related disciplines.

Higher Education

For faculty members, the written “teaching statement” as part of one’s academic portfolio is a developmental building block and an institutional exercise in articulating one’s philosophy, goals and methods. This brief and helpful publication demystifies the process and provides useful frameworks to assist new and seasoned faculty members produce a strong statement. Some great tips here.

Interesting article suggesting PowerPoint is killing critical thinking.  


In case you hadn’t heard, Oregon appears to be having a stark increase in homeless students. Check out this recent news item overviewing the issue.

Succulents on 5th Floor Terrace

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September 2015 Connect

Dear Friend of the School of Social Work at Portland State University,

Welcome fall! This autumn we’re all about strategy at the School of Social Work. We made huge progress in crafting some clear priorities during last academic year. A dedicated group of leaders from every facet of the School participated as representatives and widespread “vetting” occurred through discussion at unit meetings, individual conversations and through use of online tools.Strategic Planning

Our priorities thus far are:

  • Advance excellence in teaching
  • Advance excellence in research
  • Increase diversity
  • Develop and execute comprehensive growth strategy
  • Cultivate and operate from a shared sense of identity
  • Deepen our operational excellence and financial sustainability
  • Improve quality of life for all those at the School
  • Increase the political impact of the School in areas we care about

Strategy means that among consistently competing priorities we have a collective sense of how to prioritize what we care about. This sense of priorities allows us to take actions more thoughtfully, invest limited resources wisely, engage with our community in ways that are more geared towards community needs, and more. I am so grateful for the care, consideration and dedication invested by so many to get us to this point and look forward to taking our next steps together to bring it to life! Your ideas and engagement matter – so please stay tuned, connect with me or other members of the Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee – and let us know what is important to you. We welcome and value feedback from all members of our broader School of Social Work community!

-> Review all aspects of the 2014-2015 SSW Strategic Planning process (including seeing membership of the committee, reviewing agendas and notes from meetings, and other resources)

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page. “Like” us today!Laura Nissen Signature
Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Newly Redesigned Social Work Ph.D. Program

I’m thrilled to announce the School of Social Work’s newly redesigned Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research!PhD Program Components -- Social Justice Lens, Interdisciplinary, Community Engaged Research, Teaching Pedagogy

Our Ph.D Program admitted its first cohort in 1992, and since then our doctoral graduates have gone on to tenure-track academic positions in universities across the country, conducted research as principal investigators on major research projects, and held leadership roles in diverse communities and at social service organizations.

After a comprehensive review and revision, we proudly announce a newly designed and innovative curriculum that prepares graduates to become leading academics, researchers, and scholars. It is now more rigorous, relevant and responsive to the future of social work education and scholarship. It continues its focus on the promotion of social and economic justice for the improvement of all communities.

What’s new?

  • All coursework is built through a focused social justice lens.
  • It’s interdisciplinary.
  • It includes community engaged research.
  • It includes dedicated coursework designed to make you a better teacher.

Applications for admission in fall 2016 are now being accepted online.

-> Learn More

Upcoming Events

Portland State of Mind

Portland State of Mind

For 10 days in October, Portland State University rolls out the welcome mat and invites everyone to campus for a jam-packed celebration of knowledge and culture that’s called Portland State of Mind.

This year the School of Social Work is sponsoring two events — a Day of Service on October 24 and the annual Charles Shireman Lecture on October 26.

Day of Service

I’m proud to announce that the School of Social Work is a co-sponsor of this year’s Portland State of Mind Day of Service on Saturday, October 24! Led by the Student Community Engagement Center in partnership with the Portland State Alumni Association, the Day of Service highlights a variety of engaging projects on and off campus. Participants will enjoy morning refreshments, a free lunch and an engaging keynote speech by our own School of Social Work faculty member Lisa Hawash, MSW, as she addresses driving for radical change in systems and service.

-> More Information
-> Register

Priority registration due by October 10th. Final registration due by October 22nd. Space is limited! Invite a friend, classmate, or colleague!

Charles Shireman Lecture

Save the date! We’re pleased to announce that the Charles Shireman Lecture in the School of Social Work is coming back to Oregon! In previous years we’ve featured a national speaker who typically visits from afar. This year we’ll be featuring local experts in a panel discussion about the state of Oregon’s juvenile justice system. These panelists include leaders from throughout the Oregon system, as well as a young adult with a compelling story about his own juvenile justice journey. Please mark your calendars for October 26, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. (location to be announced).

Faculty Publications

Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, D.M., McDonald, K.E., Baggs, A.E.V., Dern, S., Kapp, S.K., Weiner, M., Boisclair, C., Ashkenazy, E. “Respect the way I need to communicate with you”: Healthcare experiences of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. In press.

Walker, J. S., Koroloff, N., & Mehess, S. J. (2015). Community and state systems change associated with the Healthy Transitions Initiative. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 42 (2), 254-271.

Walker, J. S., & Flower, K. M. (2015). Provider Perspectives on Principle-Adherent Practice in Empirically Supported Interventions for Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, DOI 10.1007/s11414-015-9465-8.

Brennan, E. M., Rosenzweig, J. M., Jivanjee, P., & Stewart, L. M. (2015). Challenges and supports for employed parents of children and youth with special needs. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Oxford handbook of work and family. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. -> Available online 

Rosenzweig, J. M., Malsch, A. M., Brennan, E. M., Sellmaier, C., Mills, K. L. & Stewart, L. M. (2015). Balancing work & family responsibilities: A guidebook for parent support providers. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University, and National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Behavioral Health, University of Maryland.

Rosenzweig, J. M., Stewart, L. M., Brennan, E. M., & Sellmaier, C. (2015). Balancing work & family responsibilities: A training for parent support providers, training script. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University, and National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Behavioral Health, University of Maryland

Rosenzweig, J. M., Stewart, L. M., Brennan, E. M., & Sellmaier, C. Balancing work and family responsibilities: Parent support provider training [slides]. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University, and National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Behavioral Health, University of Maryland.

Rosenzweig, J. M. Workplace Support Resources Inventory for Parents of Children/Youth with Disabilities. In J. M Rosenzweig et al. Balancing work & family responsibilities: A guidebook for parent support providers (pp. 83-85). Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University, and National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Behavioral Health, University of Maryland.

Faculty Presentations

Jivanjee, P., Sellmaier, C., & Brennan, E. (2015). Development and testing of the Transition Service Provider Competency Scale. Western Social Science Association Conference, Portland, OR April 2015.

Brennan, E. (2015). Employed Parents of Children Receiving Mental Health Services: Caregiver Strain and Work-Life Integration. 6th International Community, Work, and Family Conference, Malmo, Sweden, May 2015.

Brennan, E. (2015). Improving Employment Outcomes and Community Integration for Young People with Mental Health Difficulties. 6th International Community, Work, and Family Conference, Malmo, Sweden, May 2015.

Blakeslee, B., Turner, S., Schmidt, J. (2015) Addressing homelessness among youth aging out of care: A social networks approach. Webinar presentation at the Regional Research Institute, Portland, Oregon.

Walker, J., Lieberman, B., Heine, S., Moser, C., Baird, C., Croskey, A., Duron, S., Boehringer, H., Jackson, S., & Welch, M. (2015). Training and supporting young people who provide peer support. Presented at the National Wraparound Implementation Academy, Portland, OR.

“Addressing Homelessness Among Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: A Social Networks Approach” Webinar, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 10am – 11pm Pacific / 1pm – 2pm Eastern

Pathways RTC’s quarterly webinar is dedicated to the problem of homelessness. Jennifer Blakeslee, PhD presented a social network support perspective on this growing problem for youth aging out of foster care. She presented data on how the depleted social networks among youth aging out of foster care combined with the sudden ending of formal relationships at age 18 contributes to housing insecurity/homelessness among this group. Dr. Blakeslee discussed the possible future policy changes that may result as policymakers absorb this complex issue – and made intervention recommendations to bolster the informal social support networks of foster youth.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

Many of us were involved with and watching carefully the budget battle over the Family Preservation Project in Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Program. The program was saved – Street Roots did a nice recap and editorial about the entire situation. 

SAMHSA has invested in a new set of national resource centers focused on wellness and recovery.   These are powerful new resources that have great potential to make a difference in many lives and will be useful to all human service workers.  

Read through the official U.S. Department of Justice investigation report on the Ferguson Police Department.  The Washington Post did a great recap/summary of the same report.  Here’s a compilation of resources on Ferguson. 

The Washington Post also did a great piece about the impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 around the U.S.  It is an important issue and a critical time to address this longstanding problem.  

Here is an interesting web-based resource challenging our collective knowledge about what makes an “effective intervention.”  Fun and thought provoking.

Nice summary of “poverty myths busted” by a recent Mother Jones issue.   

Here is a great piece on “everyday trauma in our communities as a critical mental health issue” and calling trauma a public health crisis.  Some useful information here.  

This is a challenging article regarding race issues in “progressive cities” and the degree to which we are NOT attending to equity effectively based on current trends and data.   

Increasing stories about social worker safety (and the lack of it) are appearing in the media this past year.   Read about NASW’s perspectives and recommendations on this issue, along with model legislation and rules protecting the physical safety of workers on the job.

On Oregon

Oregon Center for Public Policy put together a comprehensive and retrospective review of poverty data in our state over the last 30 years.  Powerful and important information.  

Portland Mercury did an article about the skyrocketing cost of rent in Portland – and issued an emergency call for social justice advocates and leaders to take action.   Important and timely.  

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August 2015 Connect

Dear Friend of the School of Social Work, Portland State University,

The summer season winds down with lots of anticipation for an exciting academic year to come. Here in the School of Social Work, the summer has let many of us take some much deserved time off for rest, relaxation and inspiration. It also provides those of us on 12-month work schedules with time to focus on core administrative reflection and engagement. Here’s hoping that all who are reading this have had a chance to get away and refuel as well!

In the life of a busy school like ours many things still happen in the summer. Here’s a little on what we’ve been up to.

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page. “Like” us today!Laura Nissen Signature
Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor


Dr. Jim NashJim Nash 2006

It is with great sadness that we share with you the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Jim Nash, who passed away peacefully at his home on August 3, 2015 after a battle with cancer. Jim is remembered for his warmth and kindness, quiet strength, and deep commitment to the School of Social Work through his strong leadership both as faculty and an administrator. Clearly Jim’s life and work touched so many. Many have shared their thoughts, memories and prayers about Jim on our School’s Facebook page. Any additional details on arrangements will be posted there. He is deeply missed.

Good News!

Welcome Eddie May

I’m pleased to announce the newest member of our School of Social Work team, Eddie May.  I asked Eddie to share with you a little about his role, background and hopes for the work he’ll be doing here in the School.

I am excited to join the School of Social Work in such a layered and innovative role. As the Assistant Director of Field Education and Distance Options Coordinator I feel so privileged to be a part of our dedicated, creative, and talented FieldEddie May team. In my role I look forward to supporting the evolution of our program as we educate the next generation of social workers throughout Oregon. I hope to build our capacity as a School to support, enhance, and advance the work being done in our unique and diverse communities, with special focus on our important MSW Program Distance Options in Ashland, Bend, Eugene, and Salem.

I believe that our social work profession is in a critical state of development and has an incredible opportunity to operationalize its identity. We must stand up, speak out, and truly model our social justice values through action. Whether doing clinical grief and loss work in rural Ethiopia or community organizing for queer youth of color, the advancement of social justice has always been at the heart of my work. My practice and drive for equality has been shaped by my global experiences, and I look forward to supporting our school’s international efforts. We must invest in the globalization of our profession, and I am passionate about creating opportunities for our school to be involved in advocacy, prevention, and intervention on a global scale.

As I travel this year to deliver field trainings and support community partnerships, I look forward to supporting conversations with students, alumni, practitioners and community members around intersectional identity, historical trauma, the impact of bias, and the global connections between privilege and power. It is a time of dynamic change in our School and I’m excited to be a part of it!

-> Contact Eddie

Launch of PSU Online Features Our Online MSW

Ann Curry-Stevens

We’re proud that our online MSW program is prominently featured on PSU Online, Portland State’s new web portal to all online degree programs offered here at Portland State University.

Our own Ann Curry-Stevens, who was involved in developing our online MSW and teaches in the program, is a featured faculty member.

And all of this while we gear up to accept applications for our next online MSW cohort in the fall.

Social Work Students from Northern Ireland Visit School

Queens University Ireland Students Nine social work students from Northern Ireland visited the Portland State University campus on July 30, 2015 thanks to Tim Hartnett, adjunct professor here in the School of Social Work, visiting research fellow in the Queen’s University School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and executive director of CODA here in Portland. Tim has built a long standing partnership with Queens College and for the second year in a row brought students to Portland to learn about social service work here in the US. Dean Laura Nissen and BSW Director Michael Taylor hosted them on campus and talked about addictions work in the US system. Here’s to international collaboration and our common goals around serving those in need!

School Launches The Mentor Program for 2015-16 Academic Year

The Mentor Program

Would you like to help a student transition into their future career? Would you like to reaffirm your passion for the field of social work?

The Mentor Program in the Portland State University School of Social Work pairs professionals in the community with current PSU social work students to enhance students’ skills, develop their job search network, and clarify their career goals.

-> Learn more about the program and how you can get involved!

Upcoming Events

Contact Pathways RTC
Family Support for Transition-Aged Youth Webinar

Are you a mental health practitioner who works with families of transition aged young people (ages 14 – 29) who are experiencing mental health difficulties?

One of the School of Social Work’s signature training programs — Pathways to Positive Futures — is holding a free webinar next month on family support for transition-aged youth.

The session is Tuesday, September 29 at 10 a.m. Pacific.

-> Get full details and register.

Portland State of Mind
Portland State of Mind

Once again this year the School of Social Work will be participating in Portland State of Mind, an annual event that highlights the unique relationship between PSU and the Portland community.

This year’s Portland State of Mind will be held October 22 – 31, 2015. See the event webpage for an overview of planned events.

The School is co-sponsoring a Day of Service event on Saturday, October 24 with the Student Community Engagement Center. There are also additional School of Social Work activities in the works. More details will follow in next month’s blog post and on our Facebook page. We hope you can join us!

Self Care Fair 2016

We’re in the very early stages of planning a School of Social Work Self Care Fair for winter term 2016 and we’re looking for volunteers to help with planning the event. If you’re interested in joining the planning group, or have ideas about possible self care events or activities, please contact Katie Cagle, Dean’s Assistant, at Check out the 2012 Self Care Fair lineup for more information about possible activities and events.

Recap of Faculty Contributions, 2014-2015

The summer provides a perfect opportunity to pause, reflect and recognize the many contributions School of Social Work faculty have made in the areas of scholarship, research, practice and community engagement over the past academic year.

-> Read a complete recap of our faculty contributions, 2014-2015.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

Black Lives Matter continues to be an important and vibrant movement across the country. And of course, we have seen even more death and destruction – horrific violations of human life on numerous occasions.  Good people throughout the country are joining together to work for change and social work and social work education continue to stand among them.  Intersectionality matters as Indigenous lives, Queer lives and others are all urgent participants in the movement to condemn overrepresentation of marginalized persons by the police and to increase justice and voice in these movements.

In case you aren’t yet plugged into the wealth of leadership, voices, and activity you can start here.   There are so many new and valuable pieces flooding the airwaves on the issues of this movement right now, but here are a few that jumped off my computer screen at me this past month:

Helpful and useful updated overview of 2015 federal budget spending in the U.S.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is investing substantially in racial equity work.  Here’s a really helpful resource page full of notable tools, publications and other resources they’ve developed with a phenomenal international group of scholars and activists (including PSU Alum and recent PSU Commencement Speaker and Honorary Ph.D. Awardee, Terry Cross).

Happy 25th birthday to the ADA in the United States.  To mark the occasion there are many useful resources in circulation right now:

An extraordinary and difficult story has been that of the role of the APA in recent military and intelligence work regarding torture.  The APA has issued a formal ban on members’ involvement in such activities after exposing previous engagement.    

Here is a short piece about six psychologists who were fighting the engagement of mental health professionals and experts in human rights violations throughout.  Theirs is an important story of ethics and courage.   

There is a new (and controversial) mental health bill being vetted right now – known as the “Murphy” bill – technically HR 2646 – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.     -> Watch a brief CNN piece about it.  

  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and other consumer and mental health organizations are actively working on various versions of this bills — the earliest bills fell significantly — and it has continued to raise some serious concerns.   -> Read CSWE’s principles  -> Read additional coverage 
  • National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD) will be receiving a full briefing on this law when we get together at the APM this fall.   Will continue to share information as it becomes available.  Those concerned with the future of mental health services in the U.S. will want to be watching this carefully.  

The ACLU has published a recent guide to reporting police misconduct which is a helpful resource for those working in all of our social service settings.

On Higher Education

Great little piece about how to make the federal public service loan forgiveness program work for you – so important to our students. Let’s circulate this far and wide!

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a story about the decrease in campus-based crime in the U.S. Useful information.

Serious piece in the Chronicle regarding student textbook costs (continuing to increase) as well as the more frequent phenomena of students simply not buying the books. Worth a quick read.  This is relevant and related to PSU’s own efforts to actively reduce costs for students in this area.  See PSU’s recent task force report.

Thoughtful piece about the art of building better discussions in class.

On Portland State University

In case you hadn’t heard, due to the funding received by the Oregon State Legislature late in the session, PSU’s planned tuition hike will be smaller than anticipated. Instead of 4.2 percent increase, tuition will rise only 3.1 percent.  Great news on the tuition front for now. Every little bit helps!  -> Get additional details

On Oregon

Here’s a great little summary of the results of the 2015 Oregon Legislative session. Numerous items relevant to our School of Social Work interests and foci.

Related to this is a helpful analysis of recent Sanner analysis with the Oregon ACLU regarding regional trends in racial profiling legislation, and specifically those that have been passed in our state.

OPB did an interesting social justice-centered piece recently on the work of two PSU climate researchers focused on the “heat map” of the city, and not surprisingly, its correlates in well-being, pollution and economic resources. Relevant across many areas of our practice.

On Social Media, Technology and Communications

Very interesting and important new report on model regulatory standards for technology and social work practice issued by the International Association of Social Work Boards. This is further shaping the national conversation about the important roles these tools play in practice.

The most recent edition of the journal “Advances in Social Work” is dedicated to the topic of technology, the internet and social work practice. Available free and fully downloadable. Some important and interesting ideas and resources here.

Terry Cross Speaking at Commencement 2015

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July 2015 Connect

Dear Friend of the Portland State University School of Social Work,

As I reflect on my first full year as dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University, I’m humbled by the scope and scale of challenges we face in social work education, as well as in higher education as a whole.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that we’ll get all the problems we face solved in the next few weeks, months or even years.  But here in the School of Social Work we have made great progress this past year.  For instance, the bones of our first strategic plan in the history of the School are in place.  We’re working in a rapidly changing ecosystem that requires our agility and creativity.   Further, it requires deep consideration and a new level of political acumen to protect what is most important about our work of preparing students and developing new knowledge.   At the same time, we must be courageous and take chances to respond to the changing landscape around us.

As an organizational scholar, in addition to other areas of my own practice, I’ve found the “wicked problems” lens to be helpful as we navigate these complicated times.  First coined by Rittel and Weber in 1979, the idea of wicked problems is that they are constantly changing, defy consistent identification and location, are connected to lots of other challenging issues, are high stakes, and that even potential solutions may cause other problems. Solutions are only possible through strong leadership teams in partnership with those people who are most impacted.

By working closely together, communicating clearly, “de-tangling” our challenges, and finding creative solutions, we’re on the best path forward to arrive where we want to be.  I’m honored to work in a place where our practice causes us to not only focus on the issues “out there” in the social work and human service practice areas, but to have the courage to look at ourselves honestly as well and be available for challenging conversations.  Building our capacity to “get to solutions” means helping each other navigate new kinds of complexity. As Ramaley says in her 2014 piece on this topic, we must commit even further to being boundary spanners which is the only road to success.

Happy summer and here’s to being committed, courageous and effective collaborators.   Thanks for all that each of you do to make that happen a little more every day.

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page. “Like” us today!Laura Nissen Signature
Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Terry Cross Receives Honorary PhD from Portland State

Terry Cross at PSU Commencement

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, Terry Cross — a distinguished alumnus and former faculty member of the School of Social Work — received an honorary PhD from Portland State University at its commencement ceremonies.

After receiving his degree, Terry delivered the commencement speech to graduates and assembled guests. His address was a mixture of reflection on his own experiences working for social justice and advocating for Indian child and communities and advice to the new graduates.

-> Read the full text of Terry’s speech.

Some highlights from his address:

“An MSW does not a social worker make.  Remember, it’s not the degree. It’s what you do with it.”

“When people ask me ‘what is the secret of your success?’ I usually say that it’s mostly about ‘showing up.’ You see, I didn’t set out to be a leader. I didn’t set a goal of establishing a successful national nonprofit or writing a seminal work defining cultural competence. I set out to confront and correct, wherever I could, the racial inequities that I had experienced as a child….”

“When there were moments of opportunity to bring change, I took advantage of them.  When an elder said, ‘You will speak on our behalf,’ I did. When someone said, ‘Go dream,’ I jumped in.”

“The deepest feeling I have about this life of service is gratitude. I have learned that every door that opened was prepared by others before me. I have come to know that for me to make a difference, someone had to prepare me, believe in me, support me, or teach me.”

“Will we repeat unsustainable patterns of artificial hierarchy based on culture and skin color, or will we pursue a path of truth, healing, and reconciliation? The answer depends entirely on our collective internal compass. We can easily look back 50 or 150 years and see the injustices that were then commonplace. It is much harder to see injustices as they exist around us, such as over-incarceration or income inequality. But somehow, we must.”

“My invitation to you all is simply this: show up, in service to others, with gratitude and courage, with your compass held firmly on true North, and I guarantee that you will have an interesting life. You will not just have letters behind your name or volumes of acquired knowledge. You will understand that knowledge in context is the essence of wisdom.”

-> Learn more about Terry’s amazing history, work and spirit.

Congratulations, Terry!  We are humbled by your work and service and delighted that you have been recognized with this distinguished honorary degree.

Commencement 2015

2015 Commencement Statistics

The countless hours of classroom, field, and study time for 362 students in Portland State University’s School of Social Work came to an exciting culminating point as participated in commencement ceremonies this past June.

At the School’s individual commencement ceremonies and the university’s commencement exercises, students from our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Child and Family Studies (CFS), Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctoral (PhD) programs were recognized and celebrated for their academic and community service achievements.

An impressive 35% of this year’s BSW, CFS and MSW students graduated with special academic honors. Our MSW program graduated 223 students, making it the top Masters program in terms of number of graduates at PSU this year.

-> View an album of commencement photos on Facebook.

*Infographic data based on Portland State University School of Social Work data as of June 12, 2015.  Includes BSW and CFS students with Latin honors and MSW students with 3.95 GPA or higher.

Student Award Winners

Thirteen School of Social Work students won Portland State University Student Achievement Awards this year.

2015 Student Achievement Award Winners

The awards highlight students who have exhibited exemplary scholarship, service to PSU, or service to the broader Portland area. The six MSW winners in the Dean’s Award for University Service category were nominated for their work with the Student Support Network, a new peer-led group focused on providing support, leadership and action to SSW students.

Public service is at the heart of a social work education, so having 8 of the School’s 13 winners recognized for service awards reinforces the important work our students are doing to build and strengthen community.

Congratulations to our 2015 Student Achievement Award winners!

Dean’s Award for Academic Achievement
Doctoral — Nick Winges-Yanez
Master’s — Jeremy Swanburg
Undergraduate — Nicole Barquist

Dean’s Award for University Service
Doctoral— Joseph DeFilippis
Master’s — Elaine Szeto, Karissa Moden, Joshua Wrolstad, Seth Cohen, Jeremy Swanburg, Melissa Rochford
Undergraduate — Areli Lopez

Dean’s Award for Community Engagement
Doctoral — Sarah Lazzari
Master’s — Hannah Heller
Undergraduate — Nicole Hannah

Doctoral Defenses

Congratulations to the three School of Social Work Ph.D. students who passed their dissertation defenses this quarter!

Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis PhD Defense

Joseph N. DeFilippis passed his defense on June 24th.  His topic was “A Queer Liberation Movement? A Qualitative Content Analysis of Queer Liberation Organizations, Investigating Whether They Are Building A Separate Social Movement.”

Pictured above from left to right are Stephanie Wahab, Joseph N. DeFilippis, Sally McWilliams, Laura Nissen, and Ben Anderson-Nathe.

Jeffrey D. Waid Dissertation Defense

Jeffrey D. Waid passed his defense on July 2nd.  His topic was “Investigating the impact of sibling foster care on placement stability.”  See Jeffrey in the photo above (second from left) with his dissertation committee.

Pictured above from left to right are Neal Wallace, Jeffrey D. Waid, Bowen McBeath, Katharine Cahn, and Lew Bank.

Jessica Schmidt Dissertation Defense,  Pictured (left to right),  Tom Keller, Sarah Geenen, Laurie Powers and Ann Fullerton (Lew Banks not pictured).

Jessica D. Schmidt passed her defense on June 29th.  Her topic was “Assessing the Impact of Restrictiveness and Placement Type on Transition-Related Outcomes for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care.”

Pictured above from left to right are (back row) Tom Keller, Jessica D. Schmidt, Sarah Geenen,(front row) Laurie Powers and Ann Fullerton. (Lew Banks not pictured).

Please join us in welcoming these newly-minted scholars into the social work community!

Upcoming Events

Liberation Based Healing ConferenceThe 10th Annual Liberation-Based Healing Conference — “Challenging Inequities: Decolonizing Practices and Social Action” — will be held this November on the campus of California State University, Northridge.

Many of you will remember that last year’s conference was held right here in Portland and our School has long standing and deep ties with the conference, its leadership and the work. In fact, two of our esteemed faculty members are serving on this year’s conference planning committee.

-> Learn more.
-> Register online.

Faculty Publications


  • Catania, J., Dolcini, M.M., Harper, G., Orellana, E.R., Tyler, D.H., et al. (2015). Self-Implemented HIV Testing: Perspectives on improving dissemination among urban African American youth. American Journal of Public Health, 105(S3), 449-452. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302531
  • Catania, J., Dolcini, M.M., Orellana, E.R., & Narayav, V. (2015). Nonprobability and probability-base sampling strategies in sexual science. Journal of Sex Research. 52(4), 396-411. doi:10.1080/00224499.2015.1016476
  • Briggs, H.E., Quinn, A., Orellana, E.R., & Miller, K.M. (2015). Community Adversity and Children’s Mental Health: Moderating Effects of Service Utilization and Race. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal. doi: I10.1007/s10560-015-0395-3

Faculty Presentations

  • Orellana, E.R., Yac, J. & Brouwer, K.C. (2015). Structural factors that increase HIV and drug use among indigenous gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Guatemala. He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference. Hamilton, New Zealand.
  • Orellana, E.R., & Yac, J.  (2015). Structural factors that increase HIV and drug use vulnerability among indigenous men who have sex with men in Guatemala. 4th Global Congress for Qualitative Health Research. Yucatan, Mexico.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

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June 2015 Connect!

Greetings from the School of Social Work at Portland State University!

As we head into June and our traditional academic year comes to an close, we wanted to share with you just a few of the many things happening in our School of Social Work community.

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page.  “Like” us today!

Best wishes for a glorious summer ahead!


Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Celebrating Oregon’s First Fully Online MSW Program Here in the SSW

Congratulations to the School of Social Work’s amazing online Master of Social Work degree team recognized on May 19 at a special Provost’s Challenge Celebration in the Smith Memorial Student Ballroom.

The goal of the project — which began just two years ago — was to take an existing three-year Master of Social Work degree and put it entirely on-line, increasing accessibility for non-traditional students, including students of color, parents, low-income students, students with disabilities, tribal members, and students who live rurally.

The project was funded by a grant provided by the PSU Provost’s Challenge which allocated $3 million in 2013 to fund and support twenty-four innovative faculty-staff activities to accelerate online learning and the use of innovative technology in educational delivery and to improve student success and graduation.

As of this spring the first cohort of 40 students in the program is wrapping up its first year, with another 46 students who will start this fall.

Congratulations to the faculty, staff and students that are part of the School of Social Work’s online program, the first entirely online MSW degree program in the state of Oregon. You’re paving the way for new options and increased access for students interested in a social work education!

Pictured above are Sarah Bradley, Ann Curry-Stevens, Lisa Hawash and Denise Grant, back row. Keva Miller, Roxanne Dinca and Laura Nissen, front row.

School Strategic Planning Committee Continues Work


Thank you to the members of the SSW Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee for generously giving their time and energy to the School’s first strategic planning process. The committee has been hard at work over the last year, reviewing and refining an enormous amount of community thoughts and feedback on the question of what makes a great school of social work. Through a combination of listening, reviewing data, and deep and thoughtful discussion, the committee developed a set of strategic priorities to guide the next steps in the planning process. To learn more about strategic planning at the School of Social Work, please visit the committee’s website.

Pictured above are Committee members Cimone Schwoeffermann, Celeste Moser, Ann Curry-Stevens, Miranda Cunningham, Tom Keller, Gita Mehrotra, Sarah Bradley, Laura Nissen, and Keva Miller, back row. Katie Cagle, Roxanne Dinca, Rosella Stanley, Elaine Szeto and Norm Wyers, front row. Not pictured here: Committee member Sean Derrickson. 

School Welcomes Newest MSW Class in Portland

MSW Orientation Saturday 2015

Nearly 150 newly admitted students to Portland State University’s Masters of Social Work program in the School of Social Work gathered for three spring orientation sessions in May. In preparation for their program start this fall, these new students learned what courses they’ll be taking, how their field placements will work, and — perhaps most importantly — they learned about the wide and deep professional and personal knowledge and experience each brings to the program. Congratulations to the incoming MSW class! You are the future of social work in Oregon!

School Celebrates Its 50th Birthday and Site Coordinator Retirement in Medford

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On Monday, May 4 the Portland State University School of Social Work threw its southern Oregon 50th Birthday Party in Medford.

Over 40 alumni, field coordinators and other social workers associated with PSU’s School of Social Work distance option program in Ashland celebrated the School’s 50th birthday, as well as appreciating the amazing contributions of Gretchen Thiel, long-time SSW faculty member and Ashland Site Coordinator who is retiring this year.

Pictured above from top left clockwise — Celebration attendees; Gretchen Thiel and Laura Nissen with a potential future social work student and her mother, a current one!; cakes for the School and Gretchen; SSW team members Rick Jung, Gretchen Thiel, Kurt Bedell, Katie Cagle and Laura Nissen. 

Late SSW Faculty Member Named Diversity Award Winner


A beloved and deeply missed member of the Portland State University School of Social Work family, the late Charlotte Goodluck, was awarded the President’s Global Diversity Award posthumously at an event announcing the President’s Diversity Awards 2015 on May 20.

Dean Laura Nissen and members of the School of Social Work and Indigenous Nations Studies Program were on hand to receive the award on Charlotte’s behalf.

In words shared by Interim Chief Diversity Officer Chas Lopez, who presented the award and made a special tribute, “[Charlotte’s] greatest legacy will remain the thousands of students that she taught in her lifetime and their continuing efforts to practice ethical, culturally responsible and impactful social work.”

memorial scholarship has been set up in Charlotte’s name to provide important financial support to students working towards a Bachelor of Social Work Degree within the School of Social Work and/or to students working towards a minor degree in the Indigenous Nations Studies within the School of Gender, Race and Nations Initiative. -> Learn More

Pictured above are Cornel Pewewardy, director of Indigenous Nation Studies Program; Danica Brown, SSW graduate student; Laura Nissen, SSW dean; Sona Andrews, PSU provost; Wim Wiewel, PSU president; Alma Trinidad, SSW faculty; Michael Taylor, SSW faculty and BSW chair; Joe Talik, MSW ’15; Cimone Schwoeffermann, SSW staff; Lee Ann Holder, SSW faculty.

“Toast to Terry Cross” Celebrates SSW Honorary PhD Degree Recipient

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Nearly 30 members of the Portland State University School of Social Work community gathered on May 29 to celebrate the forthcoming honorary PhD degree to be bestowed on Terry Cross, Portland State University School of Social Work alumnus and faculty, at this year’s PSU commencement.

Faculty, staff, students and esteemed faculty emeriti toasted to Terry’s 40 year career working passionately and tirelessly to improve policies and services for American Indian children and communities.

-> Learn more about Terry’s amazing history, work and spirit.

Terry will receive his honorary degree and speak to the graduating class of 2015 at the commencement exercises for the Professional Schools and Colleges on June 14, 2015 from 3:30 – 6:00 p.m. at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter.

Congratulations Terry! We are honored to have you a part of our School of Social Work community and are humbled by your passion, advocacy and service.

Pictured above from top left going clockwise are Terry Cross with Joan Shireman; Nancy Korloff, faculty emerita, Dean Laura Nissen and Norm Wyers, faculty emeritus; the assembled celebrants; Dean Laura Nissen with Terry Cross.

Systems of Care Institute Wins Statewide Award

System of Care Champions 2015

Congratulations to the Systems of Care Institute team within our School of Social Work’s Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services which received a statewide award earlier this month at the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Salem.

Each year, the Oregon Family Support Network (OFSN) recognizes individuals and/or organizations who exemplify the Systems of Care philosophy and values/principles.

Our Systems of Care Institute develops extensive statewide and local workforce development programs designed to promote sustainable systems changes across child welfare, mental health, education, juvenile justice and other related systems.

Pictured above are Samantha Goodson, Trainer/Consultant, Dan Embree, Assistant Director of Training and Consultation, Melissa Maebori, Program Coordinator, Mark Zubaty, Trainer/Consultant, John Pavlack, Trainer/Consultant, and Ermila Rodriguez, Trainer/Consultant.

New Minor in Child & Family Studies Available This Fall

The School of Social Work is excited to announce that starting in the fall of 2015 it will offer its first undergraduate minor! Portland State University students will be able to complement their major coursework with a Minor in Child & Family Studies. Students who complete the Families & Society Junior Cluster may complete the Minor with as few as 8 additional credits! More details will follow this fall.

SSW Researcher Testifies in Washington DC on Early Psychosis

Tamara Sale - 1

Congratulations to our own Tamara Sale, director of the Oregon Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence at the Regional Research Institute (RRI) — one of the School’s research arms — who was asked to present at a congressional briefing on psychosis among young adults and teenagers in Washington in early May.

The forum was sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the National Council of State Mental Health Program Directors. Tamara and National Council staff also met with congressional staffers for Sen. Wyden, Sen. Merkley, Rep. DeFazio, Rep. Schrader, and Rep. Bonamici.

In her presentation Tamara highlighted the need for insurance parity among intensive community-based mental health programs and the importance of aligning financial and regulatory incentives across systems to support transition-age youth facing mental illness.

In The News

Portland State University’s School of Social Work graduate programs are ranked #8 in the nation, according to Top Social Work Schools rankings recently released by  The rankings are based on ratings and reviews from more than 70,000 current or recent graduate students participating in more than 1,600 graduate programs nationwide. The reviews were gathered between September 1, 2012 and March 31, 2015 on, a guide to graduate schools created by students.  The rankings were also covered in an article in PSU’s student newspaper, Portland State Vanguard, on May 25.

Here’s a terrific article about MSW Bend Student Sarah Kelley and her work to establish funding for social services programs operating in partnership with the library.

Doctoral Defenses

Congratulations to two SSW Ph.D. students who passed their dissertation defenses this quarter!

Kevin Jones' defense

Kevin R. Jones passed his defense on May 27th.  His topic was “An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Long-Term Mentoring Relationships from the Youth Perspective.”

Lakindra's Defense

Lakindra M Mitchell Dove passed her defense on May 11th. Her topic was “Got Hair that Flows in the Wind: The Complexity of Hair and Identity Among African American Female Adolescents in Foster Care.”

Please join us in welcoming these newly-minted scholars into the social work community!

Faculty Publications


  • Briggs, H.E., Quinn, A., Orellana, E.R., & Miller, K.M. (2015). Social determinants of health: Effects of service utilization on children’s mental health. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, DOI 10.1007/s10560-015-0395-3.
  • Morasco, B.J., Turk, D.C., Nicolaidis, C, Psychometric properties of the Centrality of Pain Scale. Journal of Pain. 2015. Online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2015.04.005.
  • Brennan, E. M., Rosenzweig, J. M., Jivanjee, P., & Stewart, L. M. (2015). Challenges and supports for employed parents of children and youth with special needs. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Oxford handbook of work and family. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. -> Get Online
  • Walker, J. S., & Flower, K. M. (2015). Provider Perspectives on Principle-Adherent Practice in Empirically Supported Interventions for Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, DOI 10.1007/s11414-015-9465-8.

Other Publications

Faculty Presentations

  • Nicolaidis, C.   “The Doctor is in – and now mostly out: partnering with marginalized communities in and out of the healthcare system.” Keynote address. 4th Annual Primary Care Research Symposium. St. Louis University. St. Louis, MI. May, 2015.
  • Jivanjee, P., Sellmaier, C., & Brennan, E. (2015). Development and testing of the Transition Service Provider Competency Scale. Western Social Science Association Conference, Portland, OR April 2015.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

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Storify notes directly from the Social Work Distance Education Conference recently held in Indianapolis.  You can read Twitter feeds and collect other notes directly from the event.  It’s the next best thing to being there!

On Portland and Oregon

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April/May 2015 Connect

Happy spring term!  Here is a quick round of up of interesting items for this April-May blog update.

Good News! 

Faculty Publications


  • Zuckerman, K.E., Lindly, O.J., Sinche, B.K., Nicolaidis, C. Parent health beliefs, social determinants of health, and child health services utilization among US school-age children with autism. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Journal of Behavioral Pediatrics. 2015;36:146-157.
  • Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, D.M., McDonald, K.E., Baggs, A.E.V., Dern, S., Kapp, S.K., Weiner, M., Boisclair, C., Ashkenazy, E. “Respect the way I need to communicate with you”: Healthcare experiences of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. Published ahead of print, April, 2015. DOI: 10.1177/1362361315576221.
  • Walker, J. S., Brennan, E. M., Jivanjee, P., Koroloff, N., & Moser, C. L. (2015). Introduction to the special issue: Empirically-based interventions for emerging adults with serious mental health conditions. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2).  (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Walker, J. S. (2015). A theory of change for positive developmental approaches to improving outcomes among emerging adults with serious mental health conditions. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2).  (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Geenan, S., Powers, L. E., Phillips, L. A. (2015). Better Futures: A randomized field test of a model for supporting young people in foster care with mental health challenges to participate in higher education. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2). (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Friesen, B. J., Cross, T. L., Jivanjee, P., Thirstrup, A., Bandurraga, A., Gowen, L. K., Rountree, J. (2015). Meeting the transition needs of urban American Indian / Alaska Native youth through culturally based services. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2). (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Walker, J. S., Koroloff, N., Mehess, S. J. (2015). Community and state systems change associated with the Healthy Transitions Initiative. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2).  (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Brennan, E., Nygren, P., Stephens, R., Croskey, A. (2015). Predicting positive education outcomes for emerging adults in mental health systems of care. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(2).  (NOTE:  Available online and print version will be available in April 2015)
  • Pugh, G.L. (2015).  Perceptions of the hospital ethical environment among hospital social workers in the United States.  Social Work in Health Care, 54(3), 252-268.  DOI: 10.1080/00981389.2015.1005271
  • DeFilippis, J.N., Anderson-Nathe, B., & Panichelli, M. (2015). Notes on same-sex marriage: Concerns for feminist social workers. Affilia. doi:10.1177/0886109915572848
  • Anderson-Nathe, B. (2015). We are not “just like everyone else.” In C. Sickles (Ed.), Untangling the knot: Queer voices on marriage, relationships, and identity, (pp. 1-11). Portland, OR: Ooligan Press.
  • DeFilippis, J.N.. (2015). Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine: The loss of legal protections for LGBT families in the wake of gay marriage victories. In C. Sickles (Ed.), Untangling the knot: Queer voices on marriage, relationships, and identity, (pp. 123-140). Portland, OR: Ooligan Press.
  • Oschwald, M. M., Lund, E. M., Latorre, A., Shelton, R., Hughes, R. B., Liston, B., Flaherty, M. C., & Powers, L.E., (2015). An exploratory study of a computer-assisted abuse awareness and safety planning program for men with disabilities: The men’s safer and stronger program. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation. DOI: 10.1080/1536710X.2015.1014533
  • Blakeslee, J. E. (2015). Measuring the support networks of transition-age foster youth: Preliminary validation of a social network assessment for research and practice. Children and Youth Services Review.

Other Publications

  • Chazan-Cohen, R., Green, B. L., Ayoub, C., Bartlett, J. D., Von Ende, A., & Furrer, C. (March 2015). Promising evidence that Early Head Start may help to prevent child maltreatment. Administration for Children & Families Research-to-Practice Brief.

Faculty Presentations

Welcoming Dr. Angelo McClain, national Executive Director of NASW to the 2015 NASW Oregon Conference with Delmar Stone, NASW Oregon Director

Dean Nissen, Dr. Angelo McClain, national Executive Director of NASW, and Delmar Stone, NASW Oregon Director


  • Dean Nissen recently gave the keynote address at the annual meeting of NASW – Oregon. The keynote focused on the topic of the future of social work education and emerging workforce trends. It was a great event, and the Dean had the opportunity to meet and get to know Dr. Angelo McClain, Executive Director of NASW.
  • At PGE’s Diversity Summit 2015 (April 7), Ann Curry-Stevens presented at the lunchtime forum (with over 1,100 attending) on her research with the Coalition of Communities of Color (in general) and CARE’s new release on the effectiveness of minority contracting initiatives.
  • MSW Program Director Sarah Bradley presented at the Social Work Distance Education Conference in Indiana, on ‘Taking the MSW Degree Online – Pedagogy, Challenges, and Lessons Learned’.
  • Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens was selected as one of six presenters from a pool of 81 applicants to present at the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education Annual Conference, Washington DC. in mid-May. She presented on “Building equitable institutions in partnership with communities of color: Sharing the journey of Portland State University’s collaboration with the Coalition of Communities of Color”.
  • Pugh, G.L. (2015, February).  Preliminary considerations for measuring and managing the ethical environment for social workers in an entire state.  Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Annual Conference, Costa Mesa, CA.
  • Cantu, R., McDaniel, C., & Pugh, G.  (2015, February).  Panel: The use and abuse of empirical ethics.  Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Annual Conference, Costa Mesa, CA.
  • Pugh, G.L. (2015, January).  Hospital social workers’ perceptions of ethical environment.  Society for Social Work and Research, Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.
  • Melton, R.P., Lambert, S., Goodman-Scott, E., Taylor, E. & Gill, G. (2015 March). The impact of training mental health counselors in sensory integrative approaches on treatment planning. Poster presented at the American Counseling Association National Conference. Orlando Florida.
  • Cohen, R., Von Ende, A., & Furrer, C. J. (March 2015). Associations between early parenting behaviors and maltreatment. Symposium paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Blakeslee, J.  (April 2015). Preliminary validation of a support network measure for research and practice with transition-age foster youth. Paper presented at the Western Social Science Association Annual Conference, Portland, OR.
  • McCormack, M. & Blakeslee, J. (April 2015)  University-Community research partnerships: An embedded researcher model for social work doctoral students and early career researchers. Paper presented at the Western Social Science Association Annual Conference, Portland, OR.


  • Current MSW students Amy Delahanty and Sonja Crisosto were recently recognized for their impact on campus at PSU’s annual Hats Off! Student Employee Recognition event. Amy and Sonja were two of eight student employees nominated for their work. Congratulations to Amy for receiving the 2015 PSU Student Employee Award for Adaptability and Versatility  and to Sonja for winning the 2015 PSU Student Employee Award in Outstanding Service to the Community!

Other Good News

  • The SSW strategic planning process is moving forward.  Members of the SSW Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee (SPAHC) met for their second half-day retreat in early April. During this meeting, the group further refined a set of proposed strategic priorities (developed during the first meeting and based on data gathered from the SSW over the last few years) and prepared to present the priorities to the faculty and community of the SSW at the April 24 All Faculty Meeting.  Thank you to all of the members of the SPAHC for their hard work, and click here to stay up to date on the committee’s activities
  • In collaboration with Oregon Humanities, the SSW recently hosted a series of dialogue events titled The Conversation Project, which focused on topics ranging from gun violence to racial diversity in Oregon and brought interested students and community members alike to campus for 4 free dialogue events. Thank you to the RACC and the PSU Multicultural Center for their generous contributions to these events.
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    Governor Kate Brown & Dr. Miller

    Dr. Keva Miller, Associate Dean for Academics at the SSW recently met with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, to discuss Dr. Miller’s program evaluation of the prison-based family preservation program.

  • Dr. Bowen McBeath has been appointed to the Oregon Child Welfare Governing Board.  Thank you for your service Bowen!
  • We’re honored to share that Terry Cross, Portland State University School of Social Work MSW graduate and former adjunct professor, will be delivering the keynote address at the upcoming Northwest Council on Family Relations Annual Conference on May 14 and 15, 2015 here in Portland. And we’re also pleased to be hosting the second day of the conference right here in the School of Social Work’s space on the PSU campus! For more information on the conference and to register, visit:

Getting Connected Around Oregon

In March, Dean Nissen, her assistant Katie Cagle, and Distance Option – Bend Site Coordinator Gary Smith visited Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon. We met with Provost Sarah Witte and Regina Braker, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Oregon University, along with EOU faculty and students to discuss the significant need for social workers in Eastern Oregon.  We had a great time meeting everyone, and getting to know the eastern part of the state better. Meeting students from Eastern Oregon University was a definite highlight of the trip – these students were full of energy and passion, and committed to improving their communities. 

Dean Nissen and Katie also had the pleasure of meeting with Colleen McDonald, an SSW alumna who graduated from one of our distance sites. We caught up with Colleen over dinner, and learned that her daughter, Amanda McDonald, is a current MSW student at the SSW. It was a delight to hear all about Amanda’s accomplishments from her proud mother!

Dean Nissen attended a community luncheon celebrating and honoring the NAYA Early College Academy with Susie Barrios, Lea Ann Holder, and doctoral student Danica Brown in early April.

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Dr. Clifford Rosenbohm, Dr. Anissa Rogers, Dr. Sonja Vegdahl, Sue Newell, and Dean Laura Nissen

In early April, social work education leaders met at the PSU School of Social Work to get better acquainted and work together to build a strong social work and human service launchpad across Oregon and beyond. We had a great lunch with Dr. Clifford Rosenbohm, Director of Social Work Education at George Fox, Dr. Anissa Rogers, Director of Social Work Education at University of Portland, Dr. Sonja Vegdahl, Director of Social Work Education at Concordia, and Sue Newell, Director of Social Work Field at George Fox. Thank you all for joining us!

A few weeks later, over 40 social work professionals working for Multnomah County gathered for a special lunchtime program. The lunch was organized and hosted by health department director Joanne Fuller, MSW. PSU School of Social Dean Laura Nissen also participated along will faculty and staff from the School. Laura noted that nearly half the folks in attendance were PSU School of Social Work alumni. Many thanks to Joanne and the team at the county for facilitating this gathering, and letting PSU School of Social Work be a part of it!

11136199_10153093078830141_360220715199985167_oLeading feminist scholars from the US and Canada gathered at Portland State University recently for the annual editorial board meeting of Affilia: Women and Social Work, social work’s leading feminist journal. A reception at the Simon Benson House hosted by School of Social Work Dean Laura Nissen, Stephanie Wahab, and editorial board members and consulting editors Gita Mehrotra and Ben Anderson-Nathe kicked off the meeting Friday evening. We were honored to host these amazing scholars and welcome them to sunny Portland!

Around Portland State University

Did you know that Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Provost Sona Andrews has a blog?  She updates this regularly with key information relevant to our campus activities – definitely a good one to bookmark to stay current with larger university happenings.  Here’s a recent entry she made describing the work of the ALT (the Academic Leadership Team of Deans).

Are you keeping up to date with what is happening with the larger university strategic planning process?   If you’d like to see what is happening you can go here for the fundamentals, and go more in-depth with the activities of the emerging topic teams here.  You can also speak to Associate Dean Dr. Keva Miller who is an active member of this process (thanks Keva!).

Around the Web

As always, here’s a round up of interesting items that appeared across the web this past month.   Thought provoking!  Thanks to all who share great ideas about things you find you’d like to share and keep them coming!

Important note on the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

The new 2015 Social Work Practice, Education and Educational Policy Accreditation Standards are official and in final form.  You can see them here.

General Items of Interest to Social Work and Human Service Practice and Research

Oregon Human Service/Social Justice Landscape

Higher Education

  • Excellent brief piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education about qualities of powerful teachers.
  • Increasing discourse about the concept, practice and protection of academic freedom in higher education.   Increasing numbers of universities are elevating the conversation and formalizing it in revised statements on the topic.  This particular example from Johns Hopkins is noteworthy as it is increasingly serving as a model for other universities.  Worth a look.

Technology and Social Media in Social Work and Social Work Education

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March 2015 Connect

Spring is in the air.  Happy Social Work month!!! CSWE has declared the theme of this year’s celebration as “Social Work Paves the Way for Change.”  The March edition of the Dean’s blog covers just a small sample of all that is in play in our vibrant community of scholars, researchers, and students as we demonstrate our lived commitment to this ideal.

This past month, we published our first “Dean’s Roundtable Brief” featuring the Interpersonal Violence Practice Community, including a number of our alums as community leaders.    My intention for these periodic gatherings was to periodically invite leaders and faculty active in certain areas of practice relevant to the school to come together in dialogue about the state of a given field of practice, conversation about our ways of working together (both field and coursework), and suggestions for future directions of our shared goals around producing both knowledge and a workforce.


Dean Nissen, with leaders in the IPV community, at the first Dean’s Roundtable

Our first event was held this past fall, and we were so pleased to produce the following brief to share with our students, faculty and the community at large – all in the service of building capacity and strengthening relationships.   Many thanks again to all who made the event such a success – especially Dr. Stephanie Wahab, who served as the Faculty Co-Sponsor, and to Katie Cagle who provided significant leadership and support as well.   Our next Dean’s Roundtable event will be later in the spring and will focus on Integrated Behavioral Health Practice.

 Good News!

Good to see our faculty representing the school and advancing important knowledge in key areas of social work research and social change.

Faculty Publications


  • Orellana, E.R., Goldbach, J., Rountree, M., & Bagwell, B. (2015).  Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services by People Living with HIV/AIDS: The Case Manager Perspective.  Health & Social Work (published early online).

Other Publications

  • Chorpenning, M., Curry-Stevens, A., Schrock, G., and Lamb, N. (2015). Economic Equity in Communities of Color: The Effectiveness of Minority Contracting Initiatives. Portland, OR: Center to Advance Racial Equity, Portland State University.
  • Ben Anderson-Nathe had a recent post published on BitchMedia called “We are not ‘just like everyone else,'” which is based on an article of the same title that will be published in a forthcoming book.

Faculty Presentations

  • Curry-Stevens, A. (January 24, 2015). Using data to transform policy and catalyze policy advocacy. Leadership training for African Leadership Development Program. Portland, OR.

Other Good News!

brian computer lab 2Brian Everall, our intrepid Systems Analyst (and resident computer expert) managed to significantly accelerate our modest budgeted “few upgrade computers a year” plan by scoring ALL “new to us” upgrades from the Portland State computer trust.   While not brand new machines, they are a substantial update and should serve our students very well for the next few years.   Please join me in giving Brian a heartfelt thank you!!!



Strategic Planning for the SSW

Following up on our successful retreat, a group of SSW representatives met on February 27 to advance planning on strategic action items for our school over the next 3 years.   Learn more about our work and next steps by checking out this link.   You can see who is serving on this ad hoc effort here. If you’d like the chance to comment on our work on specific identified priorities – offer your ideas on this brief survey.   It would be most helpful to have this input before April 8, but we’ll accept input any time.

Social Work Day of Action in Salem

11064796_10152997154960141_4002675314114961782_nMarch 10, 2015 marked the Social Work Day of Action in Salem sponsored by NASW-Oregon.  It was a busy and interesting day of learning, interacting and advocating for numerous important policies impacting social work practice.   Primarily focusing on HB’s 2002 (On ending racial profiling in Oregon), on 2009 (Increasing the state’s minimum wage), on 2307 (Ending conversion therapy for GLBTQ youth in Oregon), and 3059 (Increasing rights and improving working conditions of live entertainers in Oregon).

984022_10152996815580141_2646491441195806724_nOver 100 social workers were in attendance – with over half of the group representing PSU’s BSW, and MSW programs (both distance and Portland sites).  We were addressed by Senate President Peter Courtney, by Labor Comissioner Brad Avakian, by Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, and by Rep. Joe Gallegos (also a PSU SSW Alum!).  Then we met with individual legislators to discuss current policies being advanced through the legislative process.  Kudos to everyone involved – an enjoyable and impactful day to engage with policymaking and issues that matter.  Special thanks to Salem Distance Coordinator, Michelle Martinez-Thompson for her leadership and energy in making the day such a success.   Here’s a quick photo album from our busy day with just a few snapshots of our experiences.  For those that might be planning to testify on any items – here’s a great refresher about “how to’s” in the process!




 General Items of Interest to Social Work and Human Service Practice

As been our practice on this blog, here are some links that we round up that inspire, challenge and inform social work education and practice. Enjoy!

Portland & Oregon

Higher Education

  • Provocative article about the limits of academic discourse as it interacts with social justice/social change.  Thought provoking!

Technology in Social Work and Social Work Education

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February Connect 2015

February is here.   While it rains in Oregon, we’re busy learning and working on changing the world!  Here are a few things we’ve found and been up to this month.


Here is Laura and Rep. Joe Gallegos (MSW, ’73) celebrating in Salem!

On February 4 and 5th Dean Nissen traveled to Salem and Eugene MSW Distance Programs to bring birthday cakes and do some extended 50th anniversary birthday celebrating with distance students, faculty and community partners.

Items of General Interest in Social Work and Human Services

Social Justice and Diversity in Education and Practice

Social Media and Technology

Higher Education

Lots of Good News

Congrats to our SSW leaders who are making a difference!

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Jones, B., Phillips, F., Head, B.A., Hedlund, S., Kalisiak, A., Zebrack, B. Kilburn, L. and Otis-Green, S. (2014). Enhancing Collaborative Leadership in Palliative Social Work in Oncology.Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, 10(4): 309-321. DOI:10.1080/15524256.2014.975319.

Carlson, J., Edleson, J.L. & Kimball, E. (2014). First-time fathers’ experiences of and desires for formal support: A multiple lens perspective. Fathering, 12(3), 242-261

Presentations at academic and professional conferences

Miles, R. (2015). Middle School Students’ Experience of Fair-Inclusive School Climates Influences Beliefs about Peer Treatment. Presented at Society for Social Work and Research 19th Annual Conference: The Social and Behavioral Importance of Increased Longevity, New Orleans, LA.

Presentations in community and practice settings

Miller, K.M. (2014). Racial Disproportionality and Disparity: The Impact of Multi-System Involvement on Children of Color. A presentation at the Juvenile Justice Department Directors Association Annual Conference, Sandy, Oregon.

Curry-Stevens, A. (2014). Theory of change for the Learning Initiative. Staff training for United Way of Columbia-Willamette, July 10.

Curry-Stevens, A. (2014). Evaluation findings from the Leadership Development Initiative among six communities of color. Latino Leadership Partnership Program, Oregon Community Foundation, July 9.

Curry-Stevens, A. (2014). Using research to influence policy, practice and wellbeing: The case of the “Unsettling Profile” series. City making and remaking: The Portland case study, New Leadership Network Learning Journey, James Irvine Foundation, June 19.

Proposals submitted (grants, contracts, fellowships, etc.)

Ann Curry-Stevens.  To Sociological Initiatives, for $20,000 for the project “Ending brain waste: Research and action to recognize the foreign credentials of immigrants in Oregon” [role – Principal Investigator]

Ann Curry-Stevens To National Institute of Justice, for $802,350 for the project, “Building practice-based evidence: Evaluating a family justice center” with primary focus on client outcomes, racial equity and client empowerment [role – Principal Investigator].

Other Media Coverage

Alumni Successes!

 Marjorie McGee 2Marjorie McGee (Ph.D. ’13) recently joined the Board of Directors at the Northwest Health Foundation.
2911108Elle Weatheroy (MSW ’02) – recent consultant to the School of Social Work’s strategic planning retreat this past fall, has been named the Portland Police Department’s first Equity and Diversity Manager.