Social Work in Action - Spring 2014

julie bach headshotDr. Julie Bach named Teacher of the Year Dr. Charlie Stoops, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work is pleased to announce that Dr. Julie Bach has been selected by our students as the GSSW Teacher of the Year. Being selected this year, comes with the honor of addressing the graduates at DU Graduate School Commencement on Saturday May 3rd, a $1000 Stipend, and being honored at the Annual Faculty Dinner. Professor Bach stated, "I am truly shocked and humbled to receive this award." Not surprised are her colleagues, Dr. James Scherrer who stated that "Dr. Bach is a model for students", and Dr. Leticia Villarreal Sosa, "This is a truly deserved honor and I have to say I am not at all surprised that you were selected given all of your work with gerontology and team based learning." Congratulations Dr. Bach!

African American and Latino Social Work Symposium

african-latino symposium panel

On March 20th, over 150 Dominican students, faculty, staff, community members, and professional social workers descended on the Priory for a half-day symposium, "Austerity Hurts." GSSW's 7th Annual African-American Latino Social Work Symposium focused on issues of privatization of government services, cuts in essential services, and there effects on service users, service providers, and communities of color across the Chicagoland region. Attendees learned the nuts and bolts of privatization from Donald Cohen of "In the Public Interest," some of the state and federal budgeting issues from Stephanie Farmer of Roosevelt University, and were encouraged to imagine an alternative world of possibilities by presentations from activists like Corey Barnes of the Public Health Organization, N'Dana Carter from STOP and the Mental Health Movement, Toby Chow from IIRON, Jan Brooks and John Rayburn of the Chicago Public Libraries, and Jo Patton of AFSCME Council 31. We were especially blessed with the presence of Alderman Roderick Sawyer of the 6thWard of Chicago, who discussed his privatization ordinance in the Chicago City Council. Attendees also had the opportunity to break down privatization deals further with Phil Ashton of UIC and Sharon Post of Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and were encouraged to think about how their faith related to these issues alongside Rev. CJ Hawking of Arise Chicago and Reverend Alan Love of Lilydale First Baptist Church.

It remains to be seen whether or not the movement to stop the cuts and privatization schemes that are so damaging to residents of Chicago's communities of color will be fully successful. But for one half day, there was optimism, engagement, and productive discussion filling the halls of the Priory.

speaker in the symposiumaudience at the symposiumspeaker in the symposium

Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)

presenters of the conference

Accompaniment in a Mexican Immigrant Community: Identification of Biopsychosocial Outcomes

Dr. Leticia Villarreal Sosa and Silvia Diaz, MSW student, co-presented at paper entitled, Accompaniment in a Mexican Immigrant Community: Identification of Biopsychosocial Outcomes at the January 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR). Graduate of GSSW, Francis Arthur also presented his master's thesis chaired by Dr. Villarreal Sosa, Street Children in Ghana's Cape Coast Metropolis at the SSWR conference. Pictured here are GSSW Graduate and presenter Francis Arthur, Dr. Leticia Villarreal Sosa, GSSW MSW student Silvia Diaz, and GSSW Graduate and now doctoral student at George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Maxine Davis.

Jacob Lesniewski headshot Jacob Lesniewski - Awarded Faculty Development Grant

Assistant professor Jacob (Jack) Lesniewski, along with Associate Professor Kathleen Odell of the Brennan School of business was recently awarded a Faculty Development Grantfrom Dominican University for a research project entitled the "Austin Workforce Collaborative Evaluation Project." Lesniewski and Odell will be mapping the landscape of skilled manufacturing training programs serving the Austin community on Chicago's West Side. They will develop a survey for manufacturing training providers and service providers referring individuals to these programs. This survey will help increase understanding of the strengths of the workforce development system serving Austin, gaps in service, and potential synergies and opportunities for growth and collaboration. They will prepare a policy brief that will summarize findings and provide guideposts for future development of the skilled manufacturing training program network serving Austin.

Alumni in the News . . .

Hillary Ortiz '13, "Since graduation, I have received my licensed social worker credential. I am employed full time at Ombudsman Educational Services as a school social worker, putting my Type 73 to good use! I am also employed as a female co-facilitator of partner abuse intervention groups at South Suburban Family Shelter."

Mary Grace (Laird) Shipway '12, "I am currently working full time as a school social worker at Ellis middle school in U-46 in Elgin."

Testimonial . . .

Michelle Carlson'10

"I graduated from Dominican's Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) in May 2010. The GSSW program at Dominican was phenomenal. The smaller classroom sizes and availability of the staff gave me the one on one attention I needed to be most successful within the program and out in the community. The staff were extremely supportive, approachable and motivating. They challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone to prepare me for the challenging cases I now encounter on a daily basis. I started my new job as a school social worker at the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL) in August 2013. I am a social worker for 7 Special Education Classrooms within Lake County. Since starting at SEDOL in August I've also taken on the role of co-facilitator for our Parent Support Group in hopes of running the group in the near future, and developing and creating a parent resource directory."

We want to hear from you . . .

We would like to feature our alums in the newsletter but need to know: What type of work are you doing? What population are you working with? Tell us any twists or turns in your career path since graduation. Is social work what you thought it would be? Have you developed new passions? Have you lead workshops? You get the picture. Oh, speaking of pictures we need pictures of you in action for our newsletter - Alumni News!

Meet our New Assistant Director of Field

carina homann headshot

Carina H. (Homann) Santa Maria '11, MSW, LMSW, is the Assistant Director of Field Education at Dominican University's Graduate School of Social Work. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in psychology and criminology from The University of Tampa in 2007. After graduating, she pursued a career at Little City Foundation as well as providing in-home ABA therapy for children on the autism spectrum. She then continued her education at Dominican University's Graduate School of Social Work and graduated in 2011. While enrolled in GSSW, Carina developed a passion for fighting against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation as well as international social work. In July 2011, Carina moved to Miami, FL and worked for Memorial Health Care Systems as a Community Youth Counselor and partnered with the Broward Sheriff's Office and their juvenile diversion program. While working in the juvenile diversion program, she was able to recognize that some of her clients were being sexually exploited, but were not seen as victims and that service providers were not understanding the needs of this specific population. Carina then became the Vice President of Education and Outreach at the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition and provided various trainings to professionals and held awareness events for parents and children.

In addition, Carina also volunteered with Kristi House - Project GOLD and worked on developing the policies and procedures for an emergency shelter for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. She also worked at Youth Villages in Memphis, TN as a residential counselor, providing trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children with extensive histories of abuse and trauma. She is excited about returning to Chicago and also working with Dominican University. Carina also continues her work in the anti-human trafficking field and is the program director for Traffick Free, a volunteer driven organization that seeks to provide the greater metropolitan area of Chicago with tools and sustainable programs to combat human trafficking and transform the lives of victims, perpetrators and communities.

Austin Peace Builders

Two youth from the Austin community went to Washington DC as part of national initiative supporting youth to take a leadership role in service with older adults while building strong, healthy intergenerational communities. Congratulations to the young men for developing a proposal that was selected to participate in the initiative. The young men's leadership was recognized with a matching grant from New Birth Christian Center to help the youth develop their program. The youth are beginning their work with two focus areas:

  1. Partnering with the Austin Green Team to engage more youth in gardening as part of the Austin Green Team. They will be working with the Austin Green Team in the Peace in the Valley garden at 168 North Laramie Avenue.
  2. Engaging youth and adults in intergenerational peace circles and work to create safe places and spaces in the Austin community.

Dominican University Graduate School of Social Work Visiting Assistant Professor Kristin Bodiford is an advisor to the initiative developed by Generations United and Mentor Up from AARP Foundation, focusing on youth-led intergenerational leadership to address the needs of vulnerable adults aged 50 and over. She and graduate student Raquel Rocha led the training in D.C. and will be among a group of Dominican students and organizations supporting the work the youth are planning in the Austin community.

If you would like to be involved in the intergenerational community building projects in the Austin community please contact Professor Kristin Bodiford at or 708-714-9312.


 hfnlc logoDominican University in partnership with University Center in Lake County (UCLC) is pleased to offer a limited number of scholarships for students completing the MSW program at University Center where Dominican's Lake County campus is located.

The HFNLC scholars program will cover the student's tuition at Dominican University, Graduate School of Social Work MSW degree, contingent upon continued funding. Criteria for eligibility includes employment with an agency in Lake County that serves with the underrepresented population in Northern or Northeastern Lake County. This includes the geographic area north of route 137 and east of route 45.

Testimonial . . .

Reginald Handy '13, "I have been blessed to find employment in the Lake County area utilizing my Clinical skills that I learned while attending DU,MSW Program.

I am currently working for Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance. We are a Non-profit organization geared toward HIV specific clients that are chronically homeless, and that have substance abuse issues. We have an 8 bed facility in Waukegan, that is abstinent based, and we have 14 apartments that are Harm Reduction based that clients can move into if they have a income.

The scholarship that I was awarded through HFNLC, really helped me to be in a position that I could be patient and target companies that are non-profit but also stable. This was very important to me since budget cuts have been throughout Illinois.

This is my first time working with the homeless/,HIV population and has been a great experience and learning process for me.I truly feel that I am becoming a well rounded clinician."

Martha Bojan named Volunteer of the Year for the Long-Term Ombudsman Project!

Congratulations to Martha Bojan for being named Volunteer of the Year for her work on the project Consumer Practice Group Maximizes Its Collective Power for Great Victory. Martha worked with a team of individuals at Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) Ombudsman Project, a unit of the Consumer Practice Group that will require all nursing homes to distribute a disclosure of Medicaid and Spousal Impoverishment rights to all residents.

Social Work in Action is an electronic newsletter that is sent to the GSSW community, including alumnae/i, faculty, staff, current students, partners and friends of GSSW, among others. We include news about our academic programs and other projects, upcoming and recent events, and of course, faculty, alumnae/i, student and staff achievements. Please be sure to keep us up-to-date on your news; send promotions, new job announcements, recent publications, and the like to Kathy Clyburn, assistant dean,, 708-771-5298.