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

December 2015 Connect

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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.

Author: sswdeanconnect

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

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