Highlights and Happenings – June / July 2016

Laura at Table

As hard as it is to believe, we’ve wrapped up yet another busy, dynamic, and productive academic year.  On June 12 our graduating students, faculty, and staff were part of the nearly 5,800 students who graduated in the commencement ceremonies at Moda Center. On behalf of all School of Social Work faculty and staff, we warmly congratulate the class of 2016!  We’re confident that as our new graduates make their way into organizations throughout Oregon and beyond, their work will make a difference, bringing them into exciting places of service and education.

While you may think that summer means things have quieted down here in the School, the truth is much different.  Our research, sponsored projects, and training efforts continue year-round, and we educate students in our advanced standing and other programs in special offerings over the summer. 

I welcome you to explore our June/July issue of “Highlights and Happenings,” a guide to many facets of the important work we’re doing to change lives and communities throughout Oregon. 


Laura Burney Nissen
Dean and Professor

What’s Inside?


Over 300 Students Graduate from the School of Social Work

Commencement 2016

The many hours of classroom, field, and study time came to an exciting culminating point as 330 School of Social Work students graduated this spring!

At the university’s commencement exercises held on June 12, students from our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Child and Family Studies (CFS), Master of Social Work (MSW) and Ph.D. programs will be recognized and celebrated for their academic and community service achievements.

32% of this year’s BSW and CFS students graduated with Latin honors. Our MSW program graduated 210 students, making it the top Masters program at PSU in terms of number of graduates.

-> Watch Photos and Video of Commencement 2016

Congratulations to all of our School of Social Work graduates!

New Online Toolkit Reduces Barriers to Healthcare for Adults on the Autism Spectrum


The Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE), a national partnership which includes Portland State University and Oregon Health and Science University, published a study on a promising new tool that may improve healthcare for adults on the autism spectrum. One month after using the toolkit, participants on the spectrum reported fewer barriers to care, greater confidence in managing their health and healthcare, and greater satisfaction with patient-provider communication.

The centerpiece is the Autism Healthcare Accommodations Tool (AHAT), a tool that creates a personalized accommodations report for the patient’s healthcare providers. The study’s principal investigator, Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH, Professor at Portland State University and Associate Professor at Oregon Health and Science University, explains, “Every person on the autism spectrum is different. It can be extremely hard as a busy primary care provider to know what a particular patient needs. We developed the AHAT as a practical way to provide critical patient-specific information.”

The toolkit also includes information, worksheets, checklists, and resources for patients and supporters.  Patient participants explained that the toolkit helped them clarify their needs, enabled them to self-advocate and prepare for visits more effectively, and positively influenced how their providers treated them. For example, one patient participant commented on the survey, “It takes away a lot of my uncertainty about the appointments. Whether I’ll bring up everything I want to bring up, whether I asked the right questions about follow-up care, and being prepared for talking to new doctors. It’s a game changer for me.”

 AASPIRE plans to conduct further research to more rigorously test the effect of the toolkit on healthcare outcomes.

The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM). JGIM ranks #1 according to Google Scholar H5-index of Primary Health Care Journals. 

-> Learn More about AASPIRE and Read the Full-Text Article

Donate to Maybelle Clark Macdonald Scholarship Fund and Double Your Gift

MCM Infographic Vertical 6-16

Paying for college today keeps getting tougher and tougher. It means that student scholarships are an important way to support our future social workers, leaders, and advocates who will spend a lifetime making this world a better place for individuals and communities.

Through the generosity of the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Endowed Scholarship Fund, we have a unique opportunity to double gifts made to the School of Social Work to fund student scholarships that support the next generation of social workers.

If we can raise $50,000 this year, the Fund will match each donation, dollar for dollar. We’ve successfully raised $150,000 in the first three years of our five-year campaign.

Won’t you help us meet this year’s goal with a gift to our student scholarship fund?

-> Give Now


Saying Goodbye to Faculty and Staff

This June the school said “goodbye” to two very special members of our community.

Susie Snyder, MSW LCSW, associate professor of practice, is retiring from her full-time faculty position after 26 years of service to the School of Social Work and its students. Susie’s clinical skills were held in high regard by many of her students. For her retirement, 46 of these students wrote letters to her acknowledging her work and thanking her for the impact she has had on their alignment with social work practice and in their lives. Below are a few quotes from these letters:

“The thing I will miss the most… is observing how skilled you are at therapy. I really appreciate that rather than just talking conceptually about the ways to staff a case or theories or approaches [to social work practice], that you actually role play the interpersonal interaction… you are incredibly warm and empathetic in your approach to ‘clients…’ Your therapeutic talent and willingness to be vulnerable may be your greatest gift to students. I am so grateful you were able to me my mentor in learning over the past two years.”

“I want to thank you for being so supportive, helpful, understanding, and just simply amazing! I hope that as my work develops, I continue to have you in mind and the class exercises we practiced. I have saved all the tool kits you have given me to use as reference for the rest of my life.”

“I think that you have given me the strength and ability to question some of my own thoughts and opinions and [have taught me] to hold those thoughts and opinions with a critical lens that stays true to my identity.”

Katie Cagle, executive assistant to the dean, has been with the school since 2012. Fellow staff and faculty admire Katie’s enthusiastic personality, tremendous organizational skills, and excellent bread baking expertise.

Katie’s warm sensibilities played a critical role in producing faculty and staff events. At the school’s end of the year “Talent-ish Show,” colleagues wrote and performed a parody of “The Way You Do the Things You Do” in honor of Katie’s departure.

The School of Social Work is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with faculty and staff like Katie and Susie who exude the kindness and hospitality of which our school can be very proud. We wish you well on your journeys ahead and hope you’ll visit us whenever you’re in the neighborhood!

Field Team Thanks Its Community Agencies and InstructorsFI Appreciation Lunch 6-16

The field education placements that our School of Social Work students engage with each year are a critical component of their preparation as professionals. Each student contributes 500 hours each year in the over 350 agencies the School works with throughout Oregon. This practical application of the knowledge and expertise students have built in the classroom is a cornerstone of their social work and human services education.

Recently the School of Social Work thanked and celebrated the work of the field instructors who advise and mentor our students in their field education placements. At our annual field instructor appreciation luncheon, nearly 70 agency professionals were recognized for their service to our students.

The entire School of Social Work community gives thanks to our over 400 field instructors. The opportunities for learning and growth that you provide to our students are significant and appreciated!

-> Learn More About Field Education
-> Host a Social Work Student

Program Spotlight

Child and Family Studies Program Serves Diverse Set of Undergrads

Dynacfs_logomic students learning how to work alongside the variety of community organizations and institutions that support the lives of children, youth, and families.  That’s the focus of the Child and Family Studies (CFS) program, one of the School of Social Work’s 4 academic programs.

Program Director Dr. Ben Anderson-Nathe says the students, for him, are the most important part of this program. “Our students are stunning,” he says. “They’re the reason why I am here.  They are why I get up in the morning and enjoy this program every day.”

Established in 1993 to serve undergraduate students interested in careers in education, youth services, and advocacy, today’s CFS graduates go on to do work in careers like early childhood education, elementary education, social and human service settings, residential care, child welfare, and public policy. This variety of career outcomes is associated with the program’s deliberate blend of interdisciplinary studies and professional preparation, giving students the potential to be effective change agents across domains that directly affect children, youth, and families in their communities.  

CFS students come from a wide set of life and educational experiences. Many are students of color and students with significant financial need. Others are first generation, older, and returning students or military veterans. Remarkably, most of them are employed full-time while completing the program and its adjoining practicum requirements.   Most transfer to the CFS program from nearby community colleges.  “The overwhelming majority of our students come from the community college system,” says Dr. Anderson-Nathe.  “Over 80% of our students are transfer students.”

The CFS program began with no full-time faculty and was housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program now employs 8 faculty and staff, 200 active majors, and many others who have declared their intent to minor in the program since the minor became available in the fall of 2015. CFS also partners with the University Studies Department while overseeing more than 1,000 students who elect to take one of many junior cluster courses administered by CFS.

-> Learn More about Our Child and Family Studies Program

Student Spotlight

Miranda Cunningham Receives Doctorate in Social Work and Social Research

Congratulations to Miranda Cunningham Dissertation Defense 6-9-16 - 1Dr. Miranda Cunningham, who successfully defended her dissertation in the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research last week.

Her dissertation “Bridging the worlds of home and school: A study of the relational experiences of first-generation students in a school of social work.”

Pictured above is Dr. Cunningham with her dissertation committee, including Ben Anderson-Nathe, chair; Stephanie Wahab; Katharine Cahn; and Anita Bright, Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) representative.

Social Work Students Honored in Achievement Ceremony

Award RecipientsThe School of Social Work is proud to share this year’s winners of the campus-wide Student Achievement Awards which were announced earlier this week at a ceremony on campus.

The Dean’s Awards winners included recipients for academic achievement, university service, and community engagement.

Academic Achievement: Erica Alonzo-Leon, undergraduate; Kelly Skellenger, master’s; Casadi “Khaki” Marino, doctoral

University Service: Alec Martinez, student assistant lead in the School of Social Work; Rosella Stanley, undergraduate; Crystal Munoz, master’s

Community Engagement: Lucas Andrew Hillier, undergraduate; Anne Sinkey, master’s; Molly Oberweiser Kennedy, doctoral

The President’s Awards: Anne Sinkey, for community engagement

Congratulations to all of our student achievement award winners!

Faculty Spotlight

Article Honors the Late Dr. Charlotte Goodluck

Charlotte GoodluckCongratulations to our School of Social Work colleagues Dr. Alma M. O. Trinidad and Danica Love Brown who collaborated on a recent article in the journal “Reflections” about the life and legacy of Dr. Charlotte Goodluck, faculty emerita of the School who passed away in December 2014.

Dr. Goodluck’s impact at the School clearly lives on, and with this publication will continue to ripple outward.

-> Read the Article about Dr. Goodluck

Donor Spotlight

Vernier Gift Helps Incoming BSW, CFS Students Pay for College


Thanks to a significant gift from Christine and Dave Vernier, the School of Social Work will be awarding over $118,000 in scholarships this fall to 18 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Child and Family Studies (CFS) students. The Verniers’ gift more than triples the scholarship support the School will be offering to its students in 2016-17 over 2015-16.

The Verniers have supported PSU for more than 20 years, and their generous gift to scholarships at the School of Social Work will help college students pay for the increasing costs of higher education.

Faculty News and Publications

Dr. Curry-Stevens Explores School Absenteeism in New ReportAnn Curry-Stevens - Square - 1

Adopt culturally responsive practices. Address systemic barriers. This is how to combat
chronic absenteeism among Oregon’s schoolchildren according to a report issued last week by the Chief Education Office of the State of Oregon.

The report’s lead author is Dr. Ann Curry Stevens, associate professor in the School of Social Work and founding director of the Center to Advance Racial Equity at PSU.

Created in collaboration with Portland State University and the Coalition of Communities of Color, the report was authored based on data gathered through 44 focus groups in seven communities across the state.

“This study offers a powerful snapshot of the experiences of students and families in our schools that have contributed to high absenteeism rates,” said Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps. “The voices in this report, taken in concert with existing research, call us to come together to develop cross-sector solutions to engage students in school, and holistically support families.”

->Read the Report’s Executive Summary

->Read the Full Report 

Dr. Wahab Publishes Research Finding on Sex Work

The decriminalization of sex work in New Zealand has changed dramatically the way in which social workers work with that population. In particular, children can no longer be removed from their mother’s care because she is working as a sex worker.

These are the findings of our own School of Social Work professor Dr. Stephanie Wahab in an article she co-published with Gillian Abel of the University of Otago in Christchurch. The article appears in Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, a journal on whose editorial board Stephanie serves.

->Learn More about Stephanie’s Findings in This Red Umbrella Babies Blog Post

Dr. Gil-Kashiwabara Named Distinguished Alumna

Dr. Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara, research associate professor, was recently awarded the LEND Distinguished Alumna Award for 2016.

The LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Program at OHSU provides interdisciplinary training at the pre and post-doctoral level. The purpose of the program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities by preparing trainees from various disciplines to be leaders in their respective fields and by ensuring high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence.

Dr. Gil-Kashiwabara was a LEND Trainee (Psychology discipline) in 1999-2000 and is being recognized this year as a Distinguished Alumna. There are 43 LEND Programs across 37 states.


Marina Barcelo, MSW, MA, student support & inclusion specialist, is a newly elected member of the ACLU of Oregon Board of Directors. Marina also helped plan and facilitate a workshop with MSW students Stephanie Roberson and Felicia Martinez and other PSU students and staff at PSU’s annual Cultural Competence Symposium on May 10th, hosted by the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion and the Diversity Action Council. The workshop was entitled “Creating an Inclusive Environment for Students of Color.”

Sam Gioia, MSW, assistant professor of practice, recently published a book review on “Minds online: teaching effectively with technology,” by Michelle D. Miller.

Former interim dean, School of Social Work faculty emerita, and current Pathways Project S/PAC Principal Investigator, Dr. Nancy Koroloff,  was awarded PSU’s Outstanding Retired Faculty Award in April 2016.

Katie Winters, MA, research associate, adjunct instructor, and student in the Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research, presented at the Northwest Council on Family Relations conference “Beyond Rivalry: The Causes and Consequences of Sibling Violence,” April 21, 2016.


Mehrotra, G. R., Kimball, E, & Wahab, S. (2016). The braid that binds us: The impact of neoliberalism, criminalization, and professionalization on domestic violence work. Editorial. Affilia: Women and social work, 31(2), 153-163. doi:10.1177/0886109916643871

Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, DM, McDonald, K..E., Kapp, S., Weiner, M., Ashkenazy, E., Gerrity, M., Kripke, C., Platt, L., Baggs, A. The Development and Evaluation of an Online Healthcare Toolkit for Autistic Adults and their Providers. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Online first June 6, 2016. (doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3763-6)

Wahab, S. & Abel, G. (2016). The Prostitution Reform Act (2003) and social work in Aotearoa/New Zealand” for review in Affilia: Women in Social Work. Affilia: Women and Social Work. doi:10.1177/0886109916647764

Wahab, S., Mehrotra, G.R., Kimball, E. (2016). Addressing structural issues that impact gender based violence research and practice. Council Social Work Education, Grand Challenges, Policy Briefs on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

Are Immigrants Prone to Crime and Terrorism?

Research shows immigrants less likely to commit crimes, terrorist acts. Despite negative depictions to the contrary, immigrants, and their US-born children are shown by multiple studies to commit crimes at lower rates than the local-born US population.

->Read More in This Article in The Atlantic.

Nonbinary is Now a Legal Gender in Oregon

It’s a brand new day for nonbinary, genderqueer, transgender, and gender nonconforming people all over the nation. In a historic move sure to challenge federal policy, an Oregon circuit court ruled on Friday that a resident could legally change their gender to nonbinary.

-> Read More from the Daily Dot

Oregon Asks Why So Many Students Miss So Much School

Twenty percent of Oregon students are considered “chronically absent,” because they miss at least one day of school every two weeks. In a new study authored by School of Social Work associate professor Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens, researchers explored why it’s a bigger problem for certain student groups — such as Native American children, other students of color and kids with disabilities.

->Learn More about the Study’s Findings in This OPB Story

Seattle Social Workers Capture City’s Attention with Baby Jayden Dolls

Dolls nicknamed Baby Jayden recently showed up on the streets of Seattle, capturing attention on social media and in the news. Social workers placed the dolls around town to represent the children waiting for care because of high caseloads for workers.

->Read More in This Public News Service Article 

Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (and How to Stop Them)

“According to new data from the Education Department, black students — from kindergarten through high school — are 3.8 times more likely to be suspended than white students.”

“This trend begins in preschool, where black children are already 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white students.”

->Learn More by Listening to This NPR News Report



Highlights and Happenings — May 2016

Laura at TableAs hard as it is for many of us to believe, the end of spring term is almost upon us! As we wrap up week nine of the term, many of our students are preparing for the next chapter of their lives. Entering a new job or academic appointment. Taking some courses over the summer. Experiencing the world through travel and exploration. Contemplating graduate school. Wrapping up their field practicum at a local agency.

Whatever our students and new graduates move into this summer, all will bring with them the benefit of both the explicit and implicit curriculum of their School of Social Work program. We tend to focus most of our attention on the School’s explicit curriculum. That’s the courses, seminars and other parts of our formal educational material. But our School’s implicit curriculum is in many ways equally important. The friendships forged with classmates. The professional relationships built with internship supervisors. The work on committees, with student organizations, and on volunteer advocacy issues. Social work and human services work touches so many aspects of our students’ lives. We wish all of our students the very best in the many ways they’ll bring their PSU education to bear, this coming summer and beyond.

I invite you to explore this May issue of Highlights and Happenings. You’ll learn about our School’s international efforts in China and South Korea, meet one of our amazing Bachelors in Social Work (BSW) students who is graduating this spring, and hear about the power of a student and field instructor relationship.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the School, its work, its students, and its soon to be new graduating class. We’re proud of all we are able to accomplish and influence together.

As always the best way to keep in regular touch with the School of Social Work is to “follow” our Facebook page.

Laura Burney Nissen
Dean and Professor

What’s Inside


School Leadership Visits China

During the last part of April, Dean Laura Nissen and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Keva Miller were invited to visit Minzu University in Beijing, China where they explored possible academic and scholarly partnerships with students and faculty interested in social work. Minzu University currently has a partnership with PSU’s Graduate School of Education.

During their time in China, Drs. Nissen and Miller toured the Minzu University campus, visited classes, and were introduced to a variety of community services and resources including a mosque in a downtown Beijing Muslim community, a community center, an orphanage for abandoned children, and a mental health hospital. They observed how the newly forming profession of social work — which has been in place only about 40 years now — is being practiced amid an increasingly diverse Chinese society in one of the largest cities in the world. The projected need for social workers in the coming years is literally in the hundreds of thousands throughout China.

Drs. Nissen and Miller were also able to meet with leaders of the China Association of Social Work Education and explore new China-specific emerging standards and codes of ethics. Minzu University is quite excited about the opportunity for additional partnering in the form of faculty exchanges, faculty-led programs (to China) and Chinese student access to our BSW and/or MSW programs. Ongoing conversations are being held within our school to determine what next steps might be the best match for our mutual needs and interests. It was an inspiring social work education adventure!

Northwest Council on Family Relations (NWCFR) Annual Conference Hosted

Ban Anderson-Nathe at NWCFR 2016Congratulations to the team that produced the recent Northwest Council on Family Relations (NWCFR) annual conference held at Portland State this year.

Entitled “Engaging Youth in Schools and Communities: Enhancing Protective Factors,” this year’s conference was kicked off with a keynote by Dr. Ben Anderson-Nathe, associate professor in the child and family studies program. Planning was led by a team including NWCFR board president and associate professor Jana Meinhold.

Pictured above is Dr. Anderson-Nathe delivering the keynote at the Native American Student and Community Center.

School Broadens Scope in Work with South Korea

In efforts to broaden its work internationally, the School of Social Work at Portland State University has formalized an agreement to deliver new visiting scholar and professional development programs with the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG).

City of Seoul and PSUDr. Laura Nissen, dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State, and Tae-Woong Kang, director general of administration for the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), signed documents formalizing the arrangement in a ceremony held on the Portland State University campus.

The School of Social Work is currently hosting three visiting scholars from the SMG at Portland State, and this new agreement strengthens and formalizes this arrangement along with creating new short- and long-term professional development training programs.

The first of these training programs begins this summer when 16 SMG officers will come to the School of Social Work for a short term training program focused on exploring and observing social work and human service programs, service delivery systems, and policy making. They will explore social work and human service programs in Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles along with cultural experiences designed to help them understand better the social and human services environment in the US.

This new level of collaboration between the School of Social Work and Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has been spearheaded by Dr. Junghee Lee, associate professor and program director of the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research, with generous support from PSU’s Office of International Affairs and the College of Urban and Public Affairs.

School of Social Work Named a “Sliver Climate Champion”

The Campus Sustainability Office certified the School of Social Work and eight other PSU departments as silver level Climate Champions, verifying that those departments support PSU’s sustainability and climate action goals in areas such as energy and water conservation, transportation, waste prevention, purchasing, and event planning.

Climate Champion LogoSilver Climate Champions meet at least 36 of the 50 criteria outlined in the Climate Champions survey.

As one example of how it meets the project goals, the School assigns one staff member to be a water and light monitor who’s responsible for receiving information on plumbing malfunctions and water waste. That person also dims or turns off lights in shared spaces when adequate sunlight is available.

Trauma-Informed-Oregon-Header-2Trauma Informed Oregon Highlighted

Our own Trauma Informed Oregon was recently mentioned in a story about how a rural Oregon county is using the 10-question adverse childhood experiences (ACE) survey in its trauma-informed health centers.

-> Read story


drupal_commencement_2016 (1)School of Social Work students, faculty, and staff will participate in Portland State University Commencement 2016 on Sunday, June 12, 2016, at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Oregon. PSU’s professional schools, including the School of Social Work, will hold their ceremony from 3:30 p.m. to approximately 6:00 p.m.

-> More information

Program Spotlight

We’re proud to highlight the work of our distance option Master of Social Work (MSW) students in Bend, Oregon, who’ve been meeting for 7 hours of class each Friday for the past 3 years.

They’re wrapping up the last term of the program this spring while taking SW 535, a clinical course led by Dr. Christiana Bratiotis, an assistant professor in the School.

The Bend distance program is led by site coordinator Gary Smith and includes 25 students from all over central Oregon.

Housed in “The Environmental Center” near downtown Bend, these students will soon be taking their new skills and experiences into their surrounding communities.

The School of Social Work at Portland State University is the only school at PSU with a statewide charter, having been founded by the Oregon Legislature in 1962 to educate social workers throughout the state. Today it serves students in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Ashland, and also online!

Student Spotlight

Some in the social work field say, “I didn’t find social work, social work found me.”

Lucas Hillier - 3.jpgFor Bachelors in Social Work (BSW) student Lucas Hiller, social work found him after a 15-year break from formal education. He’s one of over 300 students graduating from the School of Social Work at Portland State this June with plans to turn their passion into action.

Hillier realized social work was the right path for him during a course at Portland Community College called Life Tracks. Previously, Lucas had a broad interest in improving and healing communities and society. But it wasn’t until he went through a series of personality tests and assessments in this class that he realized how a social work degree could help him make a difference.

“The curriculum is one of the best parts of Portland State’s BSW program,” says Lucas. “I really enjoyed my classes examining oppression, privilege, and anti-oppressive social work practice. Another great thing is the program’s cohort model, which introduced me to classmates I expect will remain lifelong friends after I leave PSU. We started and will end the program together. It really has been an amazing process of growing and changing over the past two years.”

Lucas worked as a Residential Support Services Specialist at Central City Concern, a local social services agency, for the last three years and is currently serving in his field internship in the Portland Mayor’s Office working on homelessness initiatives. In this work with the city, he’s had a hand in shaping and managing two key programs — One Point of Contact Campsite Reporting System and City Day Storage Pilot Program — both designed to find more progressive and solutions-oriented approaches for dealing with this growing population.

Lucas will graduate with his Bachelors in Social Work this June and plans to continue his work in the Mayor’s office. He is also interested in continuing his education by attending graduate school to pursue a Masters of Social Work degree with a public policy focus.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Roberto Orellana has agreed to step in as Acting Associate Dean of Research and Sponsored Projects while we are engaged in a national search process. He will begin July 1, 2016.

Fac3-165-EditLoResRoberto is an active and engaged faculty member and leader in teaching, research and service to our school. His efforts to actively guide dialogue regarding the role of research in our strategic plan, as well as facilitate research excellence both in his own sphere and providing mentoring and consultation to others, are all deeply valued.

During this year, Roberto will continue to facilitate ongoing collaborative and synergistic re-tooling of the administrative infrastructure between the RRI, CCF and the School, assist in facilitation of inquiry regarding our potential actions with regard to the Social Work Grand Challenges (school wide), represent the School in the larger university discussions/planning and administration of research as a whole, and assist in implementation of research-related elements of the newly drafted strategic plan.

Field Spotlight

Are you interested in preparing the next generation of social workers in your community? Hosting a social work student for a field internship is your opportunity! As our programs continue to grow and opportunities for social workers in the community expand, we’re always on the lookout for agencies who’d like to host our qualified students for field internships.

At the basis of every successful field internship is the relationship between the social work student and field instructor. The field instructor is the student’s internship supervisor, helping the student be successful in incorporating their coursework learnings into practice. To give you a flavor of this critical component of the field internship, meet JoAnn Dohn and Kara Radecki, student and field instructor partners at Luke-Dorf Hillsboro.

Joann and Kara - 1JoAnn is a student in the Master of Social Work program, having spent the last year in her field placement at the Luke-Dorf Hillsboro Clinical Office, a non-profit, community-based mental health agency. JoAnn provided strengths-based crisis intervention, support, skills training, and case management to adults adults with severe and persistent mental health challenges and co-occurring disorders.

Learning how to create and facilitate groups was one of JoAnn’s most valuable learning opportunities, “I started off as a co-facilitator in order to observe and learn and by Spring term, I had researched, designed, and facilitated a group on my own!” JoAnn credits her field instructor for guiding her in recognizing how personal beliefs, values, and thoughts impact her social work practice.

LUKE_Logo.Vert.RGBKara Radecki, JoAnn’s field instructor, is the clinical program manager at Luke-Dorf. She recalls how JoAnn used supervision to to develop her clinical skills. “Role plays were fun and challenging for me as a field instructor and they really helped JoAnn explore ways to have uncomfortable conversations with clients.” Kara encourages her interns to explore their vulnerabilities during supervision and values the role she plays in preparing students for their social work practice.

Kara acknowledges the significant impact JoAnn has had on the agency in such a short time. Specifically, Kara recalls, “JoAnn helped to create an Amazon Wish List as a means of coordinating donations for individuals sleeping outside; she also organized the life skills group that Luke-Dorf will continue to offer after JoAnn’s internship.” A highlight for Kara as her field instructor is observing JoAnn’s self-awareness and confidence grow throughout the year.

Want to create an enriching learning opportunity for a future social worker? Contact Field Placement Development Specialist Missy Kloos.

Faculty News and Publications


Casadi Khaki Marino Ph.D. DefenseCasadi Khaki Marino recently successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation, “The Development and Validation of the Social Recovery Measure.” Pictured at right is Casadi with her dissertation committee, from left to right: Greg Townley, Melissa Thompson, Mary Oschwald, Casadi Khaki Marino, Maria Talbott (Chair), and Eileen Brennan.

Charlotte GoodluckCongratulations to our School of Social Work colleagues Dr. Alma M. O. Trinidad and Danica Love Brown who collaborated on a recent article in the journal “Reflections” about the life and legacy of Dr. Charlotte Goodluck, faculty emerita of the School who passed away in December 2014.

-> Read Article

Ann Curry-Stevens - Square - 1Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens spoke at a CEO-only diversity leadership event sponsored by Portland General Electric on April 21. This event followed PGE’s Diversity Summit by bringing together private sector leaders to launch an equity initiative around two opportunities — diversity in hiring and mentoring minority contractors leading to contracts with these companies.


Bender, R., Meinhold, J. L., Wagner, I., Duyck, I., Cellarius, K., Perry, C., Brennan, E., & Nicolaidis, C. (2016). Walking the talk: Enacting health promotion and equity in a rural health and wellness center. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability. January 21, 2016. Portland, Oregon.

Brennan, E., Jivanjee, P., & Sellmaier, C. (2016). Accessing competency-based outcomes of transition service provider training experiences: Scale development. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Brennan, E., Brannan, A., & Rosenzweig, J. (2016). Understanding caregiver strain among parents of transition aged young people. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 15, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Jivanjee, P., Brennan, E., & Sellmaier, C. (2016). Promoting positive pathways to adulthood: A knowledge translation online program for transition service providers. Poster presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 15, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Jivanjee, P., Brennan, E., Sellmaier, C., Gonzalez-Prats, M. C., & Members of the Transition Training Collaborative (2016). Building community supports for young people in the transition years: A tip sheet for service providers. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University. -> Get tip sheet

Koroloff, N. (2016). Demographic characteristics of HTI participants. In Finding gold: Results from national outcome measures for health transition. Symposium presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Koroloff, N., & Buekea, N. (2016). Successful policy and system change efforts by youth and young adult-led organizations. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Koroloff, N., Friesen, B., Buekea, N., & Masselli, B. (2016). Stepping up: Successful advocacy by youth and young adult-led organizations. Webinar presented by the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. February 24, 2016. -> Watch webinar recording

Koroloff, N., Haber, M., & Walker, J. S. (2016). Evaluating NITT-HT systems change: Process and outcomes. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 15, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Powers, L. E. (2016). Improving transition to adulthood through self-determination enhancement. Invited congressional briefing sponsored by the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. March 4, 2016.

Sale, T., Buekea, N., & Haines, M. (2016). Journeys through and beyond psychosis: Our experience in Oregon. Plenary presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 15, 2016. Tampa, Florida.  -> Short video of poem presentation by young adults

Sale, T., & Melton, R. (2016). Implementing Early Psychosis Intervention in the Real World. Webinar presented in partnership with the National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Behavioral Health. January 26, 2016. -> Watch webinar recording

Walker, J. S. (2016). Research-based strategies for increasing youth and young adult engagement in Wraparound. Webinar presented in partnership with the National Wraparound Initiative. March 29, 2016. -> Watch webinar recording

Walker, J. S. (2016). Wraparound with older youth and young adults: New findings, challenges, and lessons learned. Symposium chair and presenter at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Walker, J. S., & Mehess, S. (2016). The policy and funding context for Wraparound: New findings from the Community Supports for Wraparound Inventory. Conference presentation (in collaboration with the National Wraparound Initiative) at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

Walker, J. S., & Ossowski, J. D. (2016). Report on user testing of an interactive video and web-based booster training for core Wraparound skills. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida. -> Watch video

Walker, J. S., Seibel, C., & Jackson, S. (2016). Increasing meaningful youth engagement and participation in Wraparound: Findings from a randomized study. Conference presentation at the 29th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health. March 14, 2016. Tampa, Florida.

5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

  • Your Professional Portfolio: Documenting Your Social Work Career — Learn how to create a visual representation of your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities—and potential as a professional social worker — with a professional or career portfolio.
    -> Read The New Social Worker article
  • Portland’s Central Library brings a social worker on board — Read about what the only, on-site social worker contracted with the Multnomah County Library system is doing.
    -> Read OregonLive article
  • Why Seattle Cops And Social Workers Walk The Beat Together — Social workers are teaming up with beat cops in Seattle to help homeless people identify their needs, obtain services and avoid jail.
    -> Listen to KUOW report
  • Who Really Receives Food Stamps? — “Contrary to stereotypes of SNAP recipients as predominantly idle minorities, about 40% are white and about 80% either have children, are disabled or are older than 65, statistics show. Many are working but are still below.”
    -> Read Simmons College MSW student Elizabeth W. Crew’s blog post
  • Comedy is serious business for social workers in improv — Some social workers in Washington, D.C., are enhancing their ability to tune in to others through weekly improv classes designed for mental health professionals.“Sometimes you have this desire to fix it with a client — they are having a really difficult emotional state, you just want to fix it, but the improv rules say join them in it,” said Lisa Kays, who leads the class.
    -> Read Washington Post article


Highlights and Happenings – April 2016

Laura Nissen Medium Mug Square 10-15With the turn towards warmer temperatures and sunnier skies here in the Pacific Northwest, change is in the air. In the School of Social Work at Portland State University, along with our primary focus on teaching, learning, research and training in human services for Oregonians, we’ve also been busy creating some new ways to keep in touch with you.

For two years now, we’ve been experimenting with our “Dean’s Blog” and have developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. Moving forward we’re both broadening our scope and tightening our focus with this new School of Social Work newsletter called Highlights and Happenings. This monthly blog-format newsletter will feature more types of content and will explore additional facets of life in our school that reflect the wide variety of academic, research and training programs of which we are so proud. I’ll be continuing to have a strong presence in the newsletter, and will be authoring more in-depth editorial-type posts from time to time.

Our communications vehicles continue to grow and evolve, and we’d love to hear your feedback on this new direction and appreciate any suggestions on content you’d like to see included here. -> Give feedback  Enjoy our new “look” and here’s to celebrating and conveying the important activities of the School of Social Work at Portland State!

Laura Burney Nissen
Dean and Professor

What’s Inside


Key_Fact__1_for_Wordpress_-_1_jpgSchool in Top 25% of Social Work Programs Nationally

US News and World Report recently released its rankings for social work programs across the US, and the School of Social Work at Portland State University has once again ranked among the top 25% of all social work programs nationally.

According to the new 2016 list, the School of Social Work is ranked #38 in the nation and is ranked #2 among programs in the Pacific Northwest. Only the University of Washington’s #3 program is ranked higher in the Pacific Northwest.

-> Learn More

Key Facts Web SliderKey Facts About School of Social Work

To celebrate the amazing work and impact of the School of Social Work at Portland State University, we unveiled a “key fact” about the School each week from January through the end of March via email, social media and around the School’s physical spaces in Portland. The twelve key facts included things like having the largest Masters degree program at PSU and serving over 1,000 students each year in our academic programs.

-> View All 12 Key Facts

President's Scholarship Reception 2016School Participates in President’s Scholarship Reception

Back in early March, donors to School of Social Work scholarship funds and the students who received their scholarships attended Portland State’s 2016 President’s Scholarship Reception in the Smith Ballroom on the PSU campus. The reception was hosted by the PSU Foundation. The School greatly appreciates those who have given so generously to our student scholarship funds and congratulates all of our student recipients!


logo_culture_conversationApril is Culture & Conversation month in the School of Social Work, a time when the School hosts a month-long series of events designed to spark campus and community dialogue around identity, equity, and community. This free series welcomes thinkers, activists, and community leaders in lively discussions around topics impacting communities in Oregon. This year’s programs included movie screenings, workshops on hip hop music’s influence on culture, and the state of higher education and its impact on students of color.

There’s one event still to come this month, a panel from BRAVE Leaders for Reproductive Justice whose who will share their experiences organizing for reproductive justice, developing values-driven policies, and engaging in cultural work to change hearts and minds.

Thursday, April 28, 5:30-7pm, PSU Women’s Resource Center, Portland

-> Get Free Tickets

Program Spotlight

PSU takes the lead to promote trauma-informed care across Oregon
by Diane Yatchmenoff, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon

Diane YatchmenoffAll over the country, across multiple systems serving vulnerable or underserved populations, there is increasing understanding about the long-term impact of adversity on health and well-being. Developments in neuroscience and developmental neurobiology, combined with findings from the seminal Adverse Childhood Experiences study have heightened awareness that painful, traumatic experiences in childhood and across the lifespan have a powerful impact on life trajectories. Moreover, while adversity is surprisingly common in the general population, this fact pales beside the prevalence among children, youth and families in community-based mental health services where estimates of complex and prolonged trauma are as high as 94-98%. This information has resulted in what many are calling a paradigm shift in how we think about mental and behavioral health.

Faculty from the School of Social Work’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services (RRI) have been working in the field of trauma for years and have are seen as experts among providers and partners locally and regionally. With heightened awareness of the issue and recognizing the role of the university, in 2014 the Oregon Health Authority asked RRI to take the lead on a state-wide effort to infuse trauma informed care across the health and behavioral health systems. Under a contract with OHA and in collaboration with the Oregon Health Sciences University and the Oregon Pediatric Society, Trauma Informed Oregon was founded.

Trauma-Informed-Oregon-Header-2Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO) serves as a centralized resource for information about trauma, the impact of trauma and the principles and practices of trauma informed care. Resources are available for organizations, providers, and, for individuals and families seeking or utilizing services. TIO provides training and consultation on implementation and is partnering with the state to roll out a new policy that requires community mental health programs to demonstrate that they are working to become trauma informed. Regional forums provide an opportunity for partners and stakeholders all over the state to come together to share information and learn from one another.

Through the work of TIO and partners around the state, Oregon is receiving national recognition for our commitment and for our efforts to create a fully trauma-informed system of care in our communities.

-> Learn More

Faculty Spotlight

Christiana Bratiotis at DeskUnderstanding the problem of hoarding and learning effective assessments and intervention strategies to deal with its impact was the focus of a community workshop co-presented by School of Social Work assistant professor Christiana Bratiotis, Ph.D., LICSW. Called “Too Much Stuff,” this day-long interactive training in March attracted 600 professionals who help with hoarding throughout the metro Portland area.

Hoarding Social Media Graphic v2Co-author of The Hoarding Handbook, Dr. Bratiotis travels extensively across the country talking with professionals in social service agencies, public health, law enforcement and federal, state and local government about the mental illness associated with hoarding disorder. Locally she is a member of the Multnomah County Hoarding Task Force, which was a co-sponsor of the March workshop.

-> Learn More About Christiana
-> Watch KATV2 AM Northwest Video

Alumni Spotlight

Samantha BlanchardSamantha (Blanchard) Dutton (Ph.D. ’06) who was recently named a full-time faculty member in the social work program at Walden University, a fully online university.

Samatha, who completed her Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research at Portland State in 2012 with her dissertation “Understanding the experience of Air Force single parents: A phenomenological study,” is creating the military concentration for the program. Samantha was a Colonel in the Air Force at the point of her retirement from the military. Walden University’s online MSW recently received accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Student Spotlight

Ruben on pdx.eduTo kick off its upcoming 2017-18 admissions season, the School of Social Work recently highlighted the story of current Master of Social Work (MSW) student Ruben Reyes Santiago on Portland State University’s main web page at pdx.edu.

Ruben is part of the School of Social Work’s Integrated Care Project, a new, federally funded program that prepares Master of Social Work (MSW) students to practice effectively in behavioral health and health care settings. Ruben is doing his internship in the brand new wellness center at Benson Polytechnic High School in the Portland Public Schools.

-> Learn More About Ruben

Faculty News and Publications


reTHINK at National Press Club 3-31-16MSW program director Sarah Bradley, MSW recently presented at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in March at an event showcasing new, disruptive approaches to higher education that improve student success.

Sarah spoke about the School of Social Work’s new fully online MSW program that was launched in 2014. At the end of its second year this brand new program has an impressive 95% student retention rate.

The development of the online MSW program was funded by the Provost’s Challenge component of reTHINK PSU, a $3 million project designed to accelerate online learning and the use of innovative technology in educational delivery.

The event was sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU). Also presenting from Portland State were Sukhwant Jhaj, vice provost for academic innovation and student success, and Jeanne Enders, faculty in the School of Business Administration.

Eddie, Lisa and Sarah at SW Distance Ed Conference 4-16 SquareThe School’s online Master of Social Work program was later highlighted at a national conference of social work distance education programs in April in Indianapolis. Online MSW director Lisa Hawash, MSW presented about facilitating sustainable recruitment, retention, and community building. And MSW program director Sarah Bradley, MSW and MSW distance option coordinator Eddie May, MSW presented on curriculum development and implementation in the MSW field seminar. This year’s national Social Work Distance Education Conference was held April 13-15 in Indianapolis.

Laurie Powers Congressional Testimony 3-16Dr. Laurie Powers, professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State, recently presented in Washington, DC at a congressional briefing on how to support students with disabilities in their transition to college and career.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Institute of Education Sciences and joined by colleagues from Vanderbilt University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Laurie shared the latest research on how to help students with disabilities gain employment, succeed academically, and socially thrive after graduating from high school.

The Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services recently completed a 4-year randomized study of the Relationship Based Visitation Program. This program was designed to provide intensive parent coaching during supervised visits with children placed in foster care. Outcomes showed significant improvements in a variety of parenting domains, although there was no documented reduction in the length of time children spent in foster care.

-> Read Final Report

Dr. Alma Trinidad, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, spoke on KPSU, Portland’s College Radio, about sustainability and equity as guest on Shades of Green, a talk show featuring conversations about sustainability initiatives on PSU and throughout the city of Portland.

-> Listen to the Interview

Reach Higher LogoDr. Thomas KellerAssociate Dean for Research & Sponsored Projects and the
Duncan & Cindy Campbell Professor for Children, Youth and Families, participated in a White House summit entitled “Beating the Odds: Successful Strategies from Schools and Youth Agencies that Build Ladders of Opportunity.” The Summit was organized as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, which aims to inspire all students to pursue education and training beyond high school graduation.

Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens, associate professor in the School of Social Work,  was an invited speaker at the Oregon Program Evaluator Network’s annual conference focusing on culturally responsive evaluation. Her presentation was called “Lessons learned: Research and evaluation partnerships with Portland’s communities of color.”

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) partnered with the Child Welfare Partnership at Portland State University’s School of Social Work on the recently completed Family Connections Oregon Demonstration project. The goals of the project were to test the effectiveness of a combined model of family finding and family group conferencing in a child welfare population; install system supports for statewide sustainability, and to provide ongoing dissemination to key stakeholders.

-> Read Executive Summary

As part of the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration project, the PSU Evaluation Team recently addressed hundreds of child welfare staff and community partners at four Kick-Off events (Multnomah, Clackamas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties). Topics included research supporting the new Waiver intervention, Leveraging Intensive Family Engagement (LIFE), and an overview of the evaluation design.


Barrios, S., & Furrer, C. J. (October 2015). Using the Strengths, Needs, and Culture Discovery with families: A strengths-based practice. Presented at the Kempe International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement, Minneapolis, MN.

Marchand, G., & Furrer, C. J. (April 2016). Social context as a motivational resource in school: Implications for academic adjustment. Symposium paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

Dr. Beth Green, in partnership with NPC Research, recently completed a five-year, federally funded randomized study of the Healthy Families Oregon home visitation program. -> Read Results

Pauline Jivanjee, Laura Nissen and Charlotte Goodluck, Social Work faculty; and Kimberly Pendell, Library faculty, authored “Lifelong Learning in Social Work: A Qualitative Exploration with Social Work Practitioners, Students, and Field Instructors” published in Advances in Social Work, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 260-275.

Lambarth, C. H., & Cox, C. (2015, October). Yoncalla Early Works: A prenatal-through-3rd grade initiative. Session presented at the annual conference of the National Rural Education Association, St. Louis, MO.

5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

  • “A master of social work, or M.S.W., degree is quickly becoming the 21st century’s law degree, especially for young people interested in making the world a better place.” Inside Higher Ed blog author John L. Jackson Jr., dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania claims that “[s]ocial work education is the future of all academic teaching.” -> Read Blog
  • Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up.  Watch this TED Talk by pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris who explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.  -> Watch Video
  • 9 Tools for Your Professional Social Worker Toolkit — You have your social work degree(s), and you have a job. What else do you need to sustain a long and healthy career in social work? Here are some of the tools you should have in your “Professional Social Worker Toolkit.” -> Get Toolkit
  • Both in our child welfare coursework, and in general policy courses, our instructors must teach the roots and historical evolution of poor laws and specifically child abuse / child welfare laws. Absent historical context the shape of our child welfare system and laws doesn’t make much sense.  Now here’s an article written by the excellent New Yorker writer Jill Lepore that tells that history in a vivid way. This should be of value to those teaching policy courses, and to the child welfare courses and students. -> Read Article
  • 9 Mobile Apps for Social Workers  Find nine useful smartphone apps that can enhance your practice, empower your clients and scale everyone’s efforts in this Social Work Helper article. -> Read Article