Highlights and Happenings – Spring and Summer 2017

Editor’s Note: After a brief hiatus this spring, Highlights & Happenings, the newsletter of the School of Social Work at Portland State University, resumes with its spring/summer 2017 issue.  Moving forward the newsletter will be published once each quarter.  Look for the next issue in November 2017.

Congratulations, Graduates!

Congratulations to the School of Social Work graduates who participated in Portland State University commencement ceremonies at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter in Portland. This year the School graduated 329 students in its Bachelors in Social Work, Child and Family Studies, and Master in Social Work programs, as well as its Ph.D. Program in Social Work & Social Research.

The School’s MSW program saw a 91% retention rate among students graduating this year, an impressive statistic.

The MSW program continued its tradition of being one of the largest Master’s programs at PSU, graduating 207 students.

The undergraduate Child and Family Studies program graduated 32 students in its brand new minor, broadening the scope and reach of this human services work.

Congratulations to all School of Social Work graduates and the friends and families who supported them throughout their educational journey!

We are proud of the work that our students, faculty, and staff do every day in our programs and in our community. In this edition of Highlights and Happenings, we are excited to recognize their admirable work as we say goodbye to our graduates and look forward to welcoming new students into our programs!


What’s Inside?


School Celebrates Retirement of Three Longtime Social Work Faculty

SSW Retirements 2017-2.jpgAt a recent end of school year potluck lunch and celebration, the School of Social Work bid a fond farewell to three retiring faculty — Pauline Jivanjee, Vicki Cotrell, and Mindy Holliday.

Dr. Vicki Cotrell came to the School of Social Work in 1998. Vicki served in a variety of important faculty leadership positions in the School during her 19 years here, as well as being a well-loved instructor. Vicki’s passion for and focus on aging has been irreplaceable. Her sense of humor, warmth, and collegiality have been her trademarks, as well as the excellence she exhibits in everything she does. Even as she retires, Vicki continues to teach us about the beauty and power of transitions related to growing older! Thank you for your incredible service to the School of Social Work community, Vicki, and best wishes for a happy retirement!

Dr. Pauline Jivanjee came to the School of Social Work in 1990. In addition to being a coveted instructor, Pauline has served in a variety of deeply valued professional leadership roles — including associate dean — during her 27 years at the School. She’s been known as a steady, warm, and professional presence who embodies both the rigor and ethics of social work practice. Pauline has also contributed broadly to literature regarding children’s mental health, particularly as it relates to the inclusion of youth and family voice and equity and systems reform. Her legacy is a strengthened school and field as a result of her efforts. She’s most recently been a leader in successful efforts to recruit and support social work students to enter careers in the integrated health practice. Thank you for your incredible service to the School of Social Work community, Pauline, and best wishes for a happy retirement!

Mindy Holliday, MSW, came to the School of Social Work in 1997. She brought with her a successful social work career in the community prior to her transition into higher education. These connections aided her in being part of founding and leading the original “distance option” MSW program across the state of Oregon. Because of this, Mindy has deep professional connections throughout every corner of the region, having been connected to so many practicing social workers educated outside of the metro area. She’s taught throughout the BSW and MSW programs in a variety of topic areas. Most recently, she’s taught courses that introduced social work as a career option as well as other BSW cornerstone courses.

Thank you and congratulations, Vicki, Pauline, and Mindy, for your incredible service to the School of Social Work community. Best wishes for a happy retirement!

Students of Color Caucus Outlines Expectations for Social Work Education at PSU

In May 2017, the School of Social Work received a document entitled “Expectations for Portland State University’s School of Social Work” that was developed by the School of Social Work Students of Color Caucus (SOCC), a group of 30+ students and staff of the School.

Responses from the dean, the faculty and staff, and faculty and staff of color followed shortly thereafter. At the end of the 2016-17 school year, the dean provided an “Update on Students of Color Caucus Actions in the School of Social Work.”

The BSW and Field Team Welcome Faculty and Staff to New Roles

Mollie Janssen, MSW, LCSW, LICSW, has been named statewide flexible degree/online option coordinator for the Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) Program in the School of Social Work at Portland State University.  She joins at the rank of assistant professor of practice and will begin her new role on September 1, 2017.

Ms. Janssen has extensive experience as a program coordinator, trainer, and consultant.  She is committed to honoring people as the experts in their own lives. She focuses on working with and learning from people who have been historically marginalized. She is experienced in working with programs, professional development, and clinical supervision that is grounded in trauma informed anti-oppressive practices.

Mollie is passionate about travel, art, and new adventures. She enjoys spending time with her two busy boys ages 10 and 5.

We welcome Mollie to her new role in the BSW Program and as a continuing member of our School of Social Work community!

Lisa Cordova MSW, LCSW, has been named field specialist for the School of Social Work field education program.  She’ll start her permanent role on June 1, 2017.

Lisa is no stranger to the SSW.  Her first connection with the School of Social Work at Portland State University was as an MSW field instructor in 2010. She then joined PSU in February of 2013 to produce the 50/50 Photo Story Project, Day of Service and 50th Grand Celebration.

Lisa earned her MSW from the University of Denver in 1996. Before coming to PSU, the majority of Lisa’s social work practice was in community agencies with a focus on violence prevention and early intervention, particularly youth relationship violence, interpersonal violence and child abuse.  Lisa is particularly passionate about the power of youth voice and leadership in impacting social change.  As a licensed clinical social worker, individual counseling and psychoeducational support groups with teens were also core components of her work.

Outside of work, spending time with family and friends is high on her list. Lisa enjoys Pacific NW standbys like camping, hiking, gardening, and coffee. She and her partner have two daughters, a dog, a cat and a mini-flock of chickens.

Social Work Faculty and Students Visit Seoul, South KoreaA team of Master and Doctoral School of Social Work faculty and students recently returned from an international field experience in Seoul, South Korea.  This international exchange trip included lectures, site visits, and cultural experiences exploring how the human services environments in Korea and the US are becoming more complex, international, and interdisciplinary.

Our School participants were joined by colleagues from the Hatfield School of Government in the PSU College of Urban and Public Affairs, the Oregon State Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and the Seoul Welfare Foundation.

Two Social Work Ph.D. Students Successfully Defend Their Dissertations 

Stephanie Sundborg, a doctoral student in the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research, successfully defended her dissertation on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Her dissertation, entitled “Foundational Knowledge And Other Predictors of Commitment To Trauma Informed Care,” was reviewed by committee members (as pictured) Junghee Lee, Stephanie Sundborg, Julie Rosenzweig, Diane Yatchmenoff, and Greg Townley. Congratulations, Dr. Sundborg!

Rebecca Yazzie, also a doctoral student, successfully defended her dissertation on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Her dissertation, entitled “An Analysis of Oregon Youth Authority Populations: Who Receives Treatment and What Factors Influence Allocation of Treatment Resources?,” was reviewed by committee members (as pictured) Keith Kauffman, Michael Taylor, Bill Feyerherm, chair (who joined the defense via Skype), Laura Nissen, and Melissa Thompson. Congratulations, Dr. Yazzie!

Culture and Conversation Series Ends Sixth Year with Dynamic Contributors 

This spring the School successfully produced another year of “Culture and Conversation,” a lecture and dialogue series organized by the School of Social Work to elevate public voices who are concerned with issues of identity, equity, and community. Three major events took place this year.

For the first event titled “Radical Resistance Post Election,” the School partnered with Momentum Alliance, Oregon Queer Youth Summit, and Social Justice Fund for a workshop and panel focused on social movement building skills. After the panel, participants were given the opportunity to develop plans for community action.

“El Cuento/The Story,” the second event in the series, was a workshop facilitated by faculty member Michele Martinez Thompson as well as two Master’s of Social Work alumni, Martha Calderon and Gerardo Jimenez. This event, designed specifically for people of color, provided the opportunity to discuss identity by sharing personal and community experiences and allowed for the exploration of peer mentoring and community networking to take place.

At the final event, “Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement,” Jennifer Patterson, editor of Queering Sexual Violence, and contributor Angie River led a discussion centered around queer, trans and gender non-conforming survivors.  It was followed by a panel of community advocates working on issues of sexual assault in queer communities.

The School of Social Work thanks the organizers, presenters, and attendees for their contributions to another successful year of Culture and Conversation!

Dean Laura Nissen Hosts Social Work Western Consortium at PSU At the end of March 2017, Dean Laura Nissen hosted the first meeting of the Grand Challenges for Social Work Western Consortium on the Portland State University campus. The all-day meeting attracted social work deans from the University of Washington, the University of Southern California, and other schools in the west to strategize on how to use the Grand Challenges for Social Work in their teaching, scholarship, and research.

View Photos From the Meeting

Led by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Grand Challenges for Social Work is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. It’s a call to action for all of us to work together to tackle our nation’s toughest social problems.

Get More Information on the Grand Challenges for Social Work

Reclaiming Futures Holds National Conference

Addressing racial and ethnic disparities across juvenile justice systems. The positive role of the arts in developing at risk youth. These were just two of the many themes explored at the recent Reclaiming Futures National Conference.

Reclaiming Futures, an approach and model developed in the Regional Research Institute within the Portland State University School of Social Work, promotes improving juvenile justice through coordinated individual response and community directed engagement. It helps to identify and offer services to young people and their families who are struggling with substance use and/or mental health concerns.

Reclaiming Futures has now been used in 42 communities in 18 states. Each year Reclaiming Futures leadership comes together to share best practices, network with one another, and learn the latest evidence about promising and effective juvenile justice reform strategies.

One session panelist at this year’s conference was Robert Schwebel, Ph.D., whose Seven Challenges program offers an evidence-based approach to provide counseling to young people that incorporates work on alcohol and other drug problems. In his presentation, Dr. Schwebel made the case for why a counseling approach to working with youth based on empowerment can be more effective than one rooted in control.

Learn More about Reclaiming Futures and Its Innovative Approaches for Youth and Families Involved with the Juvenile Justice System


School of Social Work Launches Mentor Program

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

The Mentor Program in the Portland State University School of Social Work pairs professionals in the community with current PSU social work and child, youth, and family studies 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  

Student Spotlights

Social Work Students Receive PSU Diversity Awards 

Chris Bush (BSW ’17) recently received a Commission on Sexual and Gender Equity award at Portland State University’s 2017 President’s Diversity Awards.

SAGE, the Commission on Sexual and Gender Equity at Portland State University, envisions a campus environment where all sexual and gender identities and expressions are celebrated, supported, and fully and equitably included in all aspects of campus life. Congratulations, Chris!

Dustina Haase-Lanier (MSW ’18) recently received the David & Linda Smeltzer Scholarship at Portland State University’s 2017 President’s Diversity Awards.

The purpose of the David and Linda Smeltzer Scholarship is to attract outstanding students who use wheelchairs for mobility. These are students who contribute to the campus learning environment by sharing their unique strengths and diverse perspectives through their involvement in on-campus activities and participation in community service. Congratulations, Dustina!

The School of Social Work Students of Color Caucus received the Distinguished Team Award at Portland State University’s 2017 President’s Diversity Awards.

This group of School of Social Work students — that hey worked together to create and present a list of expectations for racial equity to Portland State University School of Social Work leadership, faculty and staff — were honored for their advocacy, engagement, support and other accomplishments. Congratulations, Students of Color Caucus members!

Read the Students of Color Caucus List of Expectations for the School of Social Work

Program Spotlight

New Hybrid Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) Program Beginning Fall 2018

Beginning fall 2018 students can earn their BSW with classes online and in Eugene, Oregon, with a hybrid online and face-to-face Bachelor’s in Social Work degree (BSW) from the nationally ranked School of Social Work at Portland State University.

In this new hybrid program, that admits its first entering class in fall 2018, students will complete 80% of your courses online and 20% face-to-face in Eugene, Oregon. This makes our hybrid BSW perfect for community college transfer students, working adults, and for students who live outside the Portland area. Students will complete their first year of courses entirely online. In the second year, students attend some classes online and others face-to-face on the weekends in Eugene, Oregon. They’ll learn from the same faculty and instructors that teach in our on-campus program in Portland and gain rigorous training and practical experience to build social work skills and a solid foundation for social service careers.

Learn More about the New Program and Sign Up for Email Updates

5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

Gifts from clients: Always taboo?

Conflicts of interest can arise when clients give gifts to social workers, but accepting them can be ethically justifiable if professionalism isn’t compromised, ethics expert Allan Barsky advises. “If gift-giving is an authentic expression of the client’s gratitude, then the principle of self-determination suggests that social workers should honor the client’s wishes.”

Read More in this Article from The New Social Worker

Loving, 50 Years Later

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws restricting interracial marriage. Recently, the New York Times asked readers to share their experiences about being in a mixed-race relationship. We received more than 2,000 stories in just a few days.

Read Selected Stories in the New York Times 

When Love Wins: How Human Trafficking Survivor Elisia Lopez (MSW ’15) Reunited with Son Nahko Bear

A human trafficking survivor and her firstborn found each other and made peace with their painful past, inspiring the revolutionary music of Nahko Bear.

Elisia Lopez is an alumna of the MSW program at Portland State University.

Learn more in this story on Crixeo

According to Harvard Psychologists, Parents Who Raise “Good” Kids Do These 5 Things

Read them in this Curious Mind Magazine article

When a seat opened up in the Oregon House of Representatives, Tawna Sanchez’s cell phone started buzzing with texts and calls. The gist: Go for it.

“My first reaction was, are you out of your mind?” Sanchez says. “Then I started seriously thinking about it and said, ‘What the hell.’ I can keep doing what I’m doing now, or I could step it up and do a little more.”

Tawna Sanchez, MSW, now serves Oregon House District 43 representing the North Portland neighborhood where she grew up. It was a historic victory. She becomes just the second Native American to serve in the Oregon Legislature. Tawna earned her Master in Social Work degree from Portland State University in 2012.

Learn more in Making History: A Native Voice At The Capitol


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