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

October / November 2015 Connect

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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.

Author: sswdeanconnect

Laura Nissen is Professor and Dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University.

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