Highlights and Happenings – November/December 2016


As we close out 2016 and approach the next chapter in our country’s political journey in the new year, I wanted to update you on what the School of Social Work has been up to since November’s national election outcome, which has been on the minds of so many of us.

Our School of Social Work community had a variety of responses to the recent election results.  The last month and a half has been a whirlwind of building greater community with each other.  Students, faculty, staff, and many of our community partners have participated in reflection sessions here in the School of Social Work both in person and online where folks listened and shared their reactions to all that is happening on the national political landscape.  We are a community, and now is the time for us to watch out for and be in touch with each other.

wall-of-hope-2016Safety has been our first concern.  Many people in our community — both in our programs and in the community at large — have expressed fear and anxiety as we read that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center,  Oregon has a particularly high rate of “hate crime” activity following the election.  We moved quickly to establish safe spaces in our School. We also join with you to celebrate that PSU has elected to designate itself as a “sanctuary” university.  We posted “We Welcome” posters around public areas of the School of Social Work spaces in Portland to stand in solidarity with our diverse Portland State community and publicly display our support.  We created a “Wall of Hope” in our Portland academic space and encouraged our community to share thoughts and resources.

Nationally, schools of social work are active in considering all the implications for our shared work moving forward.   Senior members of our School of Social Work community have lived through political administrations that were out of sync with —and even hostile to — many aspects of the social work code of ethics.  We need to learn our lessons quickly about how to prepare for social policy work in a very different climate than we expected.

Moving forward, learning to talk and work with one another remains a powerful priority.  This talking and working will take many forms.  It will happen across kitchen tables, in our classrooms, at our field practicum sites, in legislative offices, and in the streets through demonstrations and the exercise of first amendment rights.    In this way we will keep going, keep helping each other, and keep doing what we do so well — invite, protect, and ensure progress.    After assuring safety for our most vulnerable, we push forward.

Though the work we now must do may be different than what we thought it would be just a few months ago, it is urgent and it matters.  I call upon all of you to uphold the values and principles of our profession.   Let’s keep learning, give each other the grace and space to adjust to the results of the election, and work to envision and build the world that is to come.

Thank you for all you do.  Let’s believe in each other and come together for the important work ahead.

On behalf of the entire School of Social Work team, happy holidays!


Laura Burney Nissen
Dean and Professor

What’s Inside?


School of Social Work Welcomes New Faculty and Staff

j-hoffman-400 Dr. Jill Hoffman joins the School of Social Work as a tenure-track faculty member this fall. Drawing from prior experience with the early intervention system in Philadelphia, her research interests focus on social-emotional development in vulnerable young children. Throughout the first five years of life, young children may come into contact with educational, social service, and healthcare professionals. Jill’s research specifically examines how professionals across a variety of service sectors support young children’s social-emotional development. Jill’s dissertation investigates the relationship between Head Start center characteristics, teachers’ classroom practices, and low-income children’s social-emotional development.

Jill brings a wide range of expertise to our school and will be working across the BSW and MSW programs initially. Jill earned her BS in Psychology from Penn State University, her MSW from Temple University, and a minor in Statistical Data Analysis from Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from Ohio State in August 2016.

m-uretsky-400 Mathew Uretsky is a social work practitioner and researcher with rich experience in and a deep passion for working with schools, families, and community organizations to improve outcomes in underserved communities. After completing his B.A. at the University of California, Santa Cruz in psychology, Mathew completed a dual Masters in Public Health and Social Work at San Diego State University. He then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa developing community-based programs for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Mathew has helped students experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area connect with services and support through his work as the McKinney-Vento liaison for the Oakland Unified School District. As a statistician and doctoral research fellow in the School of Social work at University of Maryland Baltimore, Mathew works with state agencies to improve their capacity to use administrative data for policy and program development.

Mathew’s research interests include the development and evaluation of interventions to support positive youth development. More specifically, his work examines the risk and protective factors that impact the academic and behavioral development of children and youth, with a focus on how the school and family environment influence student outcomes.

Mathew enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two young children. He especially enjoys hiking and just about anything to do with the water. He is looking forward to exploring all the parks in Portland with his family and is always on the lookout for a good playground.


Sara Lavender is our manager for front office operations. Sara is a PSU alumni. She got her undergrad degree in Applied Linguistics and Spanish. She’s a huge nerd for all things language, how it is used in identity formation, and how it intersects with social justice. She’s passionate about higher education administration and is planning to apply for the PACE masters program at PSU. When not working, she’s reading, watching cartoons or sci-fi, or listening to bachata.

Social Work Alumni Elected to Oregon State Legislature

tawna-sanchez-and-diego-hernandezCongratulations to two School of Social Work alumni who were elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in the November elections.

Tawna Sanchez, MSW ’12, will represent House District 43, which includes parts of North and Northeast Portland. She is the second Native American to represent Portland in the state Legislature. She is the director of family services at the Native American Youth and Family Center and has served on the Family Services Review Commission, a governor-appointed body that advises the Department of Human Services.

Diego Hernandez, MSW ’12, was elected to represent House District 47. Hernandez is a Reynolds School District board member and serves on the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

We’re proud of our Portland State University social work alumni who use their education, skills and experiences to change society through legislative leadership and action!

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced grant program awards in excess of $700,000 will be given to Portland State University (PSU) in support of four campus law enforcement and community justice initiatives. psu_campus_fall-walk-of-heroines-with-banners

The awards recognize and support the work of both law enforcement and academic organizations in developing new and innovative ways of administering justice programs on and off campus.

The funded programs vary in size, scope, and subject matter. A $400,000 grant has been awarded by the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) in support of a research partnership between PSU, the Center for Court Innovation, Multnomah County Family Court, and additional community partners. The goal of the project is to generate culturally responsive practices and policies related to procedural justice for survivors of domestic violence.

Learn more about this grant from the DOJ


Elevating Impact Summit

The School of Social Work is partnering with Portland State University’s Elevating Impact Summit, an all-day event designed to bring social entrepreneurs and change-makers together to share emerging strategies and techniques to promote the social welfare by means of public, private, and academic venture. From ancient mythology to future technology, Summit speakers will explore how we shape emergent industries and technologies with a lens on positive change, and consider how lessons from the past help us navigate an unpredictable future.

Register with our 20% off Community Partner discount code: PARTNER17

The Summit also includes the Elevating Impact Pitch Fest, Impact Awards, interactive activities, a networking lunch, and a wine and beer reception.

February 13, 2017
9:00am – 5:00pm
Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave
Portland, Oregon

Learn more about Elevating Impact Summit 2017

Student Spotlight

MSW Advanced Practice Students Create Solidarity Project to Advocate for the Remission of the Dakota Access Pipeline

postcardsPortland State University Master of Social Work (MSW) students in Dr. Bowen McBeath’s Wednesday afternoon Planning and Leading Communities and Organizations (PLCO) course this term have mobilized and created a postcard campaign in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Led by students in the class who identify with their indigenous roots and in support of those who are protecting the water at Standing Rock, the class developed a plan to raise funds through a GoFundMe page and held a fundraising dance. These efforts are supporting a goal of sending 10,000 signed postcards addressed to President Barack Obama requesting that he revoke the federal permits to build the DAPL on sacred grounds and instead invest in wind energy projects. The class is also repeating the long-standing request that the U.S. government honors its treaties with tribes.

“After the election we were trying to figure out how to be a community and how to be doing action,” said Jessica Williams, MSW ‘17. “This was a really great way for us to build that community and also take part in something that was a direct action around a cause everyone felt very strongly about.” She feels she’s benefited strongly from the project. “It’s been a great learning lesson. I’ve been in social work for a long time and wondering how to get involved in direct action when I’m working full time, going to school, and doing my internship. It’s been one of the best learning experiences so far in my MSW journey.”

Shelia Danzuka, MSW ‘17, who lives on on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation with her family, also reflected on the real-world nature of the project. “This was such a great opportunity at a time when some of us felt like the [political] situation was hopeless,” said Shelia. “This class gave us an opportunity to do something where we could move things forward practically, not just write a paper for a grade. I think all of us will take away meaning from this.”

“Indigenous people around the world and at Standing Rock have been exploited, abused, moved around, pushed around, erased and ignored for over 500 years,” said Rosella Stanley, MSW ‘17. “As social workers, we’re supposed to be identifying the people who need the most amplification and solidarity and strengthen our connection to them. We’re here to lift them up and work for their causes.”

To date, the class has raised over $2,000, printed out 5,000 postcards based upon an original art print generously donated by indigenous two-spirit artist Clay River, and gathered and mailed over 1,000 signed postcards to President Barack Obama.

Students in the School of Social Work’s PLCO advanced practice concentration gain skills to collaborate with natural leaders and support their social justice efforts in diverse community and organizational contexts. At its heart, PLCO emphasizes the importance of engaging in social work practice in culturally humble and inclusive ways. “This effort has been a fantastic way for us to come together to build community intentionally and focus our efforts around the needs of our local and global communities,” said Dr. Bowen McBeath, professor in the School of Social Work. “This is what social work is all about.” #NoDAPL #socialworkinaction

-> Support the NoDAPL Postcards for Protectors project on GoFundMe
-> Learn more about the project on Facebook

Field Spotlight

Brian and May: Independent Living Resources


“Find the humanity in every client you serve.” “Look for evidence of resilience and reflect these qualities back to those you work with.” These are just two pieces of advice that May Altman, LCSW, associate director of Independent Living Resources, shared with her student intern, Brian Nickerson, MSW ’17, this past year.

Brian worked at Independent Living Resources as a peer counselor for people with disabilities. “Some of the folks I worked with didn’t have much experience being seen and heard and deeply considered in an authentic way,” said Brian.

“Bringing this high level of empathy into my sessions seemed to conjure up deep vulnerability, which often accelerated the change process [for my clients].”

-> Learn more about Brian’s MSW Internship

Faculty News and Publications

Addington, D. E., Norman, R., Bond, G. R., Sale, T., Melton, R., Mckenzie, E., & Wang, J. (2016). Development and testing of the First-Episode Psychosis Services Fidelity Scale. Psychiatric Services. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201500398.

Austin, A., Craig, S. L., & Hinkle, E. (2016, September 20). AFFIRMative CBT – Supporting the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Youth [Webinar]. -> View the Webcast Here

Feight, H., Bell, B., Conway, A., Turner, S., Naigus, N., & Powers, L. (2016). Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College. Portland. OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University. -> Download Here

Callie H. Lambarth, evaluation coordinator, and Beth L. Green, evaluation lead for Multnomah Project LAUNCH 2010-2015 are among those who contributed to a new report summarizing the impact of some of this work locally. ->Read the Report Here

Callie H. Lambarth and Lindsey Cochran prepared the Volunteering in Oregon report for the Oregon Community Foundation, designed to identify recommendations and actions for how OCF and its partners can encourage and support volunteer engagement and service in Oregon. ->Download the Report

Seibel, C., Jackson, S., Johnson, M., & Baird, C. (2016). Supervision and support for youth peer providers. Presented at the 2nd National Wraparound Implementation Academy. September 20, 2016. Rockville, Maryland.

Sellmaier, C., Leo, M. C., Brennan, E. M., & Kendall, J. (2016). Finding fit between work and family responsibilities when caring for children with ADHD diagnosis. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1007/s10826-016-0527-

Turner, S. (2016). Handled with care: Planned relationship endings in the My Life program. Presentation at the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring. August, 2016. Portland, Oregon.

Walker, J. S., Bruns, E.B., Walker, J. Masselli, B., Bergen, J., Mosby, M., Long, A., & Donnelly, T. (2016). Parent and youth peer support—History and state of the field (Invited plenary). Presented at the 2nd National Wraparound Implementation Academy. September 20, 2016. Rockville, Maryland.

Walker, J., & Masselli, B. (2016) Assessing support for youth/young adult voice at the organizational level. Presented at the 2nd National Wraparound Implementation Academy. September 21, 2016. Rockville, Maryland.

Walker, J., Seibel, C., & Jackson, S. (2016). Research-based strategies for engaging youth and young adults in Wraparound. Presented at the 2nd National Wraparound Implementation Academy. September 19, 2016. Rockville, Maryland.


5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

White House Recognizes Portland-Area Push to Curb Veteran Houselessness

Work by Portland and Multnomah County to ease homelessness among veterans since 2015 has earned federal recognition, Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury announced Saturday morning.

-> Read more in this Oregon Live article.

Portland State University Students Build Sleeping Pods for City Houseless

Portland State University School of Architecture students took on a unique challenge this fall: design and build micro dwelling units, or “sleeping pods,” to keep Portland’s homeless safe and warm this winter.

-> Read more in this PSU News article.

28 Universities — including Portland State University — That Vow to Offer Sanctuary to Their Undocumented Students

-> Read more in this article from Remezcla (Remix)

Becoming Disabled

Roughly one in five Americans lives with a disability. So where is our pride movement?

6 Ways Well-Intentioned People Whitesplain Racism (And Why They Need to Stop)

Usually, signs of whitesplaining include a condescending tone and a paternalistic assumption that a person of color doesn’t know enough to accurately articulate their own experience.

-> Read more in this article from Everyday Feminism 




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