College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

Fall 2017 Newsletter

Dr. Karen Rotabi joined our faculty in August, coming to us from her previous position at the United Arab Emirates University where she was one of the founding faculty for graduate social work education; eventually Rotabi coordinated the MSW program. This was a groundbreaking program in the Arab Gulf and the experience was truly remarkable. Rotabi’s background in social work education also includes her previous faculty positions at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rotabi has worked in social work education for well over a decade. Teaching across the curriculum is important and this semester Rotabi instructs Generalist Practice One as well as Field Practicum Seminar; these courses are helping her learn about our local social service organizations/field settings.

In the Spring, she will be teaching Organization and Community Practice. Her own practice background is in child protection, beginning with work at the county level in permanency planning and adoptions. Today she is an internationally recognized expert in intercountry adoption, alternative care strategies for children including foster care as well as systems development from a child rights perspective. Her most recent co-authored book was published this year, entitled From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy: A Human Rights History and New Fertility Frontiers. Rotabi received her PhD in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2005) and her Masters of Social Work (1994) and Masters of Public Health (1995) from the University of South Carolina. View Rotabi’s publications.

Community Celebration: Dr. Rotabi Speaks on Supporting Asylum Seekers from Guatemala

The department’s annual Community Celebration is an opportunity for us to hear from speakers engaged in areas critical to social work practice. This year, we decided to invite our very own Dr. Karen Rotabi to speak about her practice background as a recognized expert, in US Federal Courts, on country conditions in Guatemala. Rotabi spoke of her most recent cases in which Guatemalans, with serious and persistent mental health conditions, are facing deportation proceedings. Rotabi reflected on in-country systems of care and the interface with legal frameworks, including human rights abuses in the current Guatemalan system. Specifically, in her talk she focused on a notorious mental health institution with deplorable conditions in Guatemala City.. A number of students who attended the presentation took interest in hearing Rotabi’s insight as a social worker acting as expert witness and the unique issues of this sensitive work. Providing testimony, in Federal Courts, has been ongoing service work for her for a number of years when she began testifying on behalf of Guatemalan women seeking safety as a result of extreme societal and domestic violence in the Central American country. Over the past year, she has focused on mental health care and her most recent testimony resulted in a judgement granting asylum-- based on the judge’s opinion, that deportation was actually putting the Guatemalan asylum seeker at risk of torture given his mental health diagnosis. In this case, the judge specifically cited the social and health risks outlined by Dr. Rotabi during testimony. Rotabi has been engaged in various initiatives in Guatemala, dating back to her first travels there in 1993. She went on to work for Peace Corps Guatemala as a technical trainer for new volunteers in the area of public health education and promotion with children in rural schools. Also, she has been involved in other training initiatives there focused on social workers and psychologists. These are just a few of her activities in Guatemala. For more on Rotabi’s work related to asylum seeking of Guatemalans, see the article: Violence against women and asylum seeking: Global problems and local practices applied to Guatemalan women immigrating for safety. Advances in Social Work.

From the Field Education office: Dr. Amy Bullas transitions into new role welcoming Kai Medina-Martinez

Many may have learned that Dr. Amy Bullas is no longer the Field Education Coordinator. She has been missed! However, the good news is that Dr. Bullas is pivoting her exemplary leadership skills to oversee the Pupil Personnel Services Credential Program in School Social Work & Child Welfare & Attendance and will continue to guide a grant from the US Department of Education, Preparing School Social Workers to Effectively Support English Language Learners and Migrant Students through Mentorship and Technology. This grant is providing both scholarships and mentorship to MSW students earning these credentials while working toward their MSW. Also, to be celebrated is our new Field Education Coordinator to begin work in January 2018.

Kai Medina-Martinez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience in social justice informed social work. Their field practice experience includes a variety of settings, like therapeutic foster care, migrant head start, sexual assault survivor services, alcohol and drug treatment, and the private practice sector. While Kai has experience working with diverse individuals, families and community groups extensive, much of their career has been dedicated to working with people whose sexuality and gender challenge the cisgender heteronormative binary system. Kai was the first licensed clinical social worker in Utah to dedicate their practice to transgender and gender non-conforming affirmative care.

Prior to joining CSUMB Social Work Department, Kai served as the inaugural director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Utah. During their tenure, they diligently worked to ensure that all genders and sexualities were reflected in campus-wide policies and practices. While Kai's contribution on campus was expansive, they were involved with the Academic Senate Diversity Committee, Campus Information System, Office of Affirmative Action, Health Equity and Inclusion, Student Affairs Diversity Council, the Office of Equity for Diversity, and the College of Social Work Diversity Committee.

Kai also has a background reviewing grants for SAMHSA and they provide mental health services to incarcerated individuals covered by state Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. In addition, Kai has taught graduate social work courses in advanced supervision/administration/leadership and reflexive practice. Kai has consulted with and presented to community groups, private and public K-12 schools, higher education, state and federal government entities, and also for documentary film work. Furthermore, Kai’s experience as a social work field instructor includes supervision of social work students at the community college, bachelors and graduate level.

Kai self-identifies as a trans queer person of color and is a first-generation college student. They obtained their Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Social Work degree from the University of Utah. They also completed a certification program in alcohol and drug counseling. Kai is currently a Ph.D. candidate and is scheduled to complete studies in 2018. Kai is a member of NASW.

Kai is deeply committed to the field of social work education and is thrilled to join the CSUMB campus community as the field education coordinator in the Department of Social Work. Kai is excited to support social work students in field experiences. Also, they are eager to develop a rapport with local community service providers, looking forward to building relationships across the range of programs and services in the local community, particularly migrant field workers and their families. Kai will arrive on campus the week of January 3rd.

COFFEE WITH KAI: If you would like to meet Kai, please come to “Coffee with Kai” on Friday 19 January from 2-4 PM in the Valley Hall conference room, building 82B.

Dr. Brian Simmons Recognized by BASSC:

At its 30th anniversary celebration in November 2017, the Bay Area Social Services Consortium (BASSC) recognized Dr. Brian Simmons for his contributions to the organization. BASSC is an organization uniting the Bay Area county social services directors and the deans/directors of the MSW programs in the region. It serves as a regional “think tank” for California public social welfare policy and practice, aided by a research staff housed at UC Berkeley. Dr. Simmons was asked to join BASSC in 2001, long before inception of the Master of Social Work program at CSUMB.

His invitation was in recognition of his work in the undergraduate Collaborative Health & Human Services program at CSUMB and his extensive work in public sector social services. He served the last 5+ years as the co-chair for BASSC. With his term as co-chair coming to a close and Dr. Rotabi’s addition to the faculty, Dr.Simmons saw it as a good time to step down as the representative from CSUMB.

Students Organize Campus Protest in Support of DACA & Plan for the CSUMB Women’s March January 20, 2018

September 11, 2017

MSW Students helped organize CSUMB’s student protest to support DACA. Photographed here, MSW Student Association Vice President Estefania Rodriguez, assists with the testimonies of our students who are undocumented. We heard the many personal stories of immigration and a sense of both hope and loss. The loss is deep as there is a sense of betrayal by the US Government. As students come together to organize, our social work students are poised and armed with their community practice skills!

CSUMB’s support for the protest was clear when CSUMB President Ochoa made a statement considering the current political climate and the clear need for a socially just resolution. Also, President Ochoa touched on the University’s new initiatives to directly help DACA students.

Women's March Monterey Bay

WOMEN’S MARCH is NEXT: On Saturday, January 20, our MSW students, in conjunction with the greater Monterey community, are again organizing the Women’s March. This year’s theme, “Hear Our Vote,” is organized to encourage participation in the 2018 midterm elections and revolves around three themes: empowerment, human rights, and social and environmental justice. The March is set to reaffirm our commitment to building a positive and just future for all, and to celebrate the spirit of resistance efforts over the past year. Just one year after our tremendously successful inaugural CSUMB March of over 4,000 women, the group is expecting to double its size.

Pre-Rally is 10 - 11:30 am. The March is 11:45 - 12:45 pm and the Rally is 1 - 3 pm. There will be dynamic community speakers, entertainment, a resource fair, an art show, & fabulous food. All located at the Otter Soccer Complex, 4113 Second Avenue, Seaside, CA 93955. For more information:

Please join us!

Social Work: Ensuring Community Wellness

On October 21, over 100 Hartnell Community College and CSUMB undergraduate students joined our own MSW students and community partners for a one day career symposium and resource fair. The event aimed to inform the students of opportunities in integrated primary/behavioral health care professional training while at the same time increasing their capacity to successfully enter this field. Workshops were offered on suicide prevention, mental health first aid, and combating the stigma associated with mental health. Students heard thoughtful presentations on how others traversed similar career paths, the supports needed and available, and the rewards which come with a social work career. Thanks, everyone, for your support of this program, our third year of efforts in partnership with Hartnell to grow the pipeline of bilingual, bicultural, well-trained professional social workers in behavioral health in our region.

NASW Releases Revised Code of Ethics

NASW has issued the first revision of the Code of Ethics in over twenty years. The revised standards go into effect January 1, 2018, and all social workers will be held accountable to them effective that date. The vast majority of changes to the Code, in recognition of the huge role technology has assumed in all of our lives, address the use and misuse of technology in professional practice. (Who even heard of texting in the 1990s, let alone thought about therapy via texting?). For example, the section of providing informed consent has been revised to include this language: “. . . social workers shall explain to clients whether and how they intend to use electronic devices or communication technologies to gather manage, and store client information.” Other considerations: Is it okay to have a client or former client as a Facebook friend or follow them on Twitter? What’s the private practitioner’s policy about giving out a cellphone number and responding to messages or texts received on it? (Yes, the Code now requires those in private practice to have such a policy in place and available to one’s clients.) These things and more are addressed by the new standards.

The Monterey Unit of the California Chapter of NASW is planning on hosting two workshops in the spring on the changes to the Code. The workshops will be facilitated by Dr. Brian Simmons, who is also the chair of the NASW-CA Ethics Committee. Watch their website and Facebook page for more information. View a more detailed summary.

Engaging Students in research: Dr. Lisa Stewart’s Achievements

Dr. Lisa Stewart completed data collection on the CSUMB Cares Project Phase I with 19 MSW graduate students. The project was funded by a FSG grant. The Office of Inclusive Excellence sponsored the project. The goal of the study was to determine the dependent care needs and use of family, work and community supports. Throughout the 2016-17 academic year graduate students worked with Dr. Stewart to develop a literature review, design the survey and semi-structured interview guide, study protocols and human subject application. During the spring semester the survey was administered online to stateside CSUMB employees. Students were trained in interviewing techniques and interviewed 33 faculty, staff and managers with dependent care responsibilities about communication strategies they used to access flexibility at work. Dr. Stewart and her student research team performed preliminary analyses of the survey data and prepared a report for dissemination.

Dr. Stewart is in the process of working with 18 graduate students enrolled in the Applied Research sequence this academic year on completing Phase I data analysis. She is simultaneously working with a subsequent group of students on developing Phase II of the CSUMB Cares Project to develop a model and algorithm of the decisions and communication strategies used by employees to negotiate flexibility within the university. Both groups of students will analyze the data collected from the survey and the interviews. The results will inform a workplace intervention. This project was funded by a FIG grant.

As part of her FIG award Dr. Stewart and graduate student Walter Lile presented a paper titled ‘A theoretical explanation of model correlates and health consequences’ at the 7th Community, Work and Family Conference at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. The conference, co-hosted by the WWELL Research Center, at the Department Sociologica of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore drew a hundred and sixty-six participants from 36 different countries. Conference themes focused on developing a sustainable community, work and family interface. The paper is to be submitted for consideration in the Special Issue of Community, Work and Family dedicated to leading conference papers in November, 2017.

Conference symposia, sessions and workshops presented the latest international research on community, work and family. Delegates comprised of researchers from sociology, psychology, social work, business, and economics from Italy, the UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Israel, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Chile, and Columbia. Conference sessions, plenaries and workshops fostered rich discussion on contemporary community, work and family issues facing carers.

Focus on alumni in leadership: Casey Rockwood

Exploring success of our alumni, we asked Casey Rockwood, one of our outstanding alumni four questions on leadership. Keeping it simple, but insightful, Casey shared the following

1. Briefly tell us about your job in management

I am the Aging and Disability Program Manager for Napa County Health and Human Services in the Comprehensive Services for Older Adults Division. I started working for Monterey County as an IHSS social worker in 2013, became an IHSS supervisor in 2015, transferred to Public Authority Supervisor in 2016, and then began my current job in Napa County in 2016.

I manage two separate but cooperating programs: In Home Support Services (IHSS) and the Public Authority. IHSS is a program that helps people with disabilities and older adults who are at risk of placement in a skilled nursing facility to remain living in their own home. The IHSS recipient is authorized to use an assessed number of hours to hire a care provider to perform certain domestic and personal care services. The Public Authority maintains a registry of Care Providers who are referred to IHSS clients if they are in need of Care Provider. As manager of these programs I am responsible for advocating for and allocating our resources to deliver these services to clients most effectively, and for ensuring that we are delivering our services in accordance with State regulations. There are a total of 21 staff in these programs in Napa County, 8 of whom are social workers. Our IHSS program serves 1,200 IHSS recipients and an equivalent number of Care Providers.The IHSS recipient is authorized to use an assessed number of hours to hire a care provider to perform certain domestic and personal care services. The Public Authority maintains a registry of Care Providers who are referred to IHSS clients if they are in need of Care Provider. As manager of these programs I am responsible for advocating for and allocating our resources to deliver these services to clients most effectively, and for ensuring that we are delivering our services in accordance with State regulations. There are a total of 21 staff in these programs in Napa County, 8 of whom are social workers. Our IHSS program serves 1,200 IHSS recipients and an equivalent number of Care Providers.

2. Team building is critical for management, what are some key lessons you have learned in this area of success?

Team building is very important to the success of our programs. I’ve learned that relationships are what matter most to employees in being satisfied with their workplace. Every time employees are asked to reflect on the qualities of the best manager they have had, the qualities cited are overwhelmingly qualities that reflect relational skills over technical skills or program knowledge. So, one of the key lessons I’ve learned in building teams is that rarely do people care about how much you know, they care about how you make them feel. Another key lesson is that team building will not happen on its own. It is important to take time to make sure that there are opportunities for developing relationships and team building. When we meet as a team, we have a standing agenda item that sets aside time for an activity or conversation that is designed to learn more about each other.

3. When you think back on your social work education, what social work course work do you find yourself applying daily?

As a manager of a social work program I find myself using the clinical practice education the most. This came as a surprise to me because I rarely have the opportunity to interact with clients directly. However, so much in social work education regarding clinical practice: developing therapeutic relationships, counseling, and communication, is applicable to establishing quality relationships and communication in life-including the workplace. Empathy, reflective listening, motivational interviewing, humanistic approaches-all of these are tools and theories that I apply everyday when interacting with staff. The skills needed to be an effective supervisor or manager are not that much different than are needed to be an effective clinical social worker. Additionally, policy and macro level courses also help every day in understanding how our services interact with other systems, and how our clients are impacted by the systems and policies around them. As an advocate for older adults, I apply coursework from our policy classes in understanding the impact of policy on our clients and how to effectively influence policy. Lastly, I apply my learning from research courses and statistical skills therein to help evaluate processes and practices and collect data and use data to make data-informed decisions.

4. What are three tips that you would share about leadership with current msw students?

  • Take every opportunity that you can. No matter what type of work that you are in, and whether or not you are in a “leadership” position yet, take any opportunity to take on a special assignment or lead or participate in a project. Likewise, demonstrate leadership by identifying needs in your organization or needs of your clients or community, and be the one to develop a solution that fills that need. These opportunities will help identify you as a leader, provide opportunities to demonstrate and practice leadership, and give you the opportunity to help shape the work that you do.
  • Take care of yourself. The people that you will lead need a consistent leader, someone that they can trust to be there and to respond in a way that they can anticipate. In order to be that consistent person you need to take care of yourself and maintain your balance. For me, among other things like making sure I play with the kids each day, it’s daily running that reduces anxiety and gives me energy for the workday.
  • Network. Opportunities come often from the people that you know and who know you and what you can do. Take opportunities to build relationships with people who are doing the same work that you are interested in. Not only may this provide the opportunity to get a leadership position, but once in a leadership position, you will need these contacts and relationships to coordinate service delivery and advocacy.

An Update on Student Scholarships

The CSUMB Department of social work boasts opportunities for our students to receive support from no less than 5 different federal or state funded grant and scholarship sources, totaling over 1 million dollars each year. These include stipends of over $20,000 for 20 students enrolled in our HRSA funded Scholarships for Disadvantaged students program, designed to grow the professional integrative behavioral health care workforce in our region; stipends of $18,500 for each of 8 advanced year students interested in pursuing careers in public mental health through CalSWEC’s MHSA program; 8 awards of $5,000 each for generalist year students working in behavioral health funded through MHSA dollars and awarded by CIBHS; 12 students working in public departments of child and family services fully supported by CalSWEC’s Title IV-E program; and annual stipends to support 8 students headed for careers in school social work with our federal Department of Education PPSC grant project.

Despite these sources of specific funds to support our students, our students continue to have financial need, particularly first year students who are just starting out their graduate educational careers and trying to balance work, family, and school commitments. Many do not qualify as incoming students for the sources of funds described above, yet some of them come with the greatest need. Please help support these students with your private donations.

Please consider donating: 100 Who Care Scholarships

Our 100 Who Care Scholarships have been a great source of support for our students, some of whom do not qualify for the above opportunities. As we seek to replenish our funds for granting scholarships in Fall 2018, we hope you will consider donating. Scholarships are for $1,000 each. Currently there is a $500 donor looking for a match. Of course, that large of a donation is not necessary as we’re happy to receive any amount. The idea behind 100 Who Care is to identify 100 supporters to donate $100 each.

You can even designate your donation through the drop down menu of either MSW Scholarship Fund or MSW Program Support. For further information feel free to email your questions to

School Social Work & Child Welfare and Attendance PPS programs Approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Student scholarships available for Fall 2018!

The MSW program’s first ever cohort of Social Work students earning their Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential in School Social Work along with their MSW began this past semester. There are 14 inaugural students in the program and 10 are receiving scholarship dollars through a federal grant from the Office of Special Education Programs. We were thrilled to have had 4 of our SSW students along with our community SSW mentors and SSW staff represent CSUMB and attend the national School Social Work Conference in San Diego earlier this year. Students had the opportunity to meet school social work professionals from across the state and the country. All of our students participated in a full-day orientation training on what it means to be a School Social Worker, especially in our tri-county area alongside CSUMB School Psychology students this past June. This event was made a success with the support of Community Advisory Board members, Carlos Ugarte (of Farmworker Justice), Britt Ellis Rios (CHSHS Dean), and Summer Prather-Smith (School Social Worker & Migrant Education Coordinator for MCOE) and our Tri County SSW Mentors Nereida Robles, Patricia Pena, and Melissa Casas. The school social work program at CSUMB has a special focus on supporting the needs of migrant students and English language learners. Topics addressed during the day-long orientation ranged from community building and connecting with families to understanding the strengths and challenges of migrant families in Monterey County and across the nation. We are excited to see this new and integrated effort move forward.

We’re excited to announce that the Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved both our PPS program in School Social Work and Child Welfare and Attendance this past August and we are now accepting applications for our second cohort of students, to begin in fall 2018. Applications are due February 1st. Ten of the students who are accepted will receive scholarships covering tuition, books, and a laptop. To learn more about the SSW program and scholarship, please follow the links provided. For any questions, please contact

Looking Forward to the Spring: Guest Speakers

As a department, we are always looking to link our courses with outstanding resources to strengthen teaching and learning. Some of the anticipated highlights for the Spring of 2018 are speakers Dr. Ruth Zambrana from the University of Maryland will be speaking on her work on Latino families. And, then from the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Jill Duerr Berrick will be presenting her new book, entitled: The Impossible Imperative: Navigating the Competing Principles of Child Protection. Watch our department website for further details.

Faculty scholarly activity: Publications and Conference Presentations

Pictured are our very own Anne Herendeen (left) and Julie Altman (right) along with Christine Lerable (center) who is a Program Manager at Family and Children's Services, Monterey County Department of Social Services. As a team, they presented the following:

Altman, J., Herendeen, M., & Lerable, C. (2017, April). Discovering our own implicit bias: Enhancing our capacity for social justice work. Paper presented at the California Social Work Education Center Child Welfare Summit, Long Beach, CA.

Two new books written by faculty:

Many congratulations to Dr. Denise Orpustan-Love and Angeles Arrien on their new book entitled: The Mill House Speaks: Seven Pathways to the Ancestral Basque Homeland.

Also, Dr. Karen Rotabi’s new book, co-authored with Dr. Nicole Bromfield, is entitled: From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy: A Human Rights History and New Fertility Frontiers.

Other Publications and Presentations in 2017

Altman, J.C., Goldberg, G.S., & Quiros, L. (2017). Literature and the human condition. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 37, 1, 20-35.

Brady, S. R., Leisey, M., Coles, D. C., Perkins, N. H., Lee, J., Monico, C., Mann-Williams, A., Rotabi, K. S., Young, J. A. (2017). Letter to the editor: Respecting multiple epistemologies in social work. Journal of Social Work Education.

Cheney, K. E., & Rotabi, K. S. (2017). ‘Addicted to Orphans’: How the global orphan industrial complex jeopardizes local child protection systems. In T. Skelton, C. Harker & K. Horschelmann (Eds.). Geographies of Children and Young People. Conflict, Violence and Peace (pp. 89-107). New York: Springer Reference. doi:10.1007/978-981-4585-98-9 3-1

Cohen, C., & Altman, J.C. (2017). Experiences of Fulbright specialist scholars in international social work collaboration. In Butterfield, A., & Cohen, C. (Eds.) Practicing as a social work educator in international collaboration. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Press.

Rotabi, K. S. & Hübinette, T. (2017). Orphaned and vulnerable Romany children and their protection: Child adoption, foster care, and child rights. AFIN. Available from

Rotabi, K. S., Mapp, S., Cheney, K., Fong, R., & McRoy, R. (2017). Regulating commercial global surrogacy: The best interests of the child. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work.

Rotabi, K. S., Bromfield, N. F., Lee, J. & Abu Sarhan, T. (2017). The care of orphaned and vulnerable children in Islam: Exploring kafala with Muslim unaccompanied refugee minors in the United States. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 2(1), 16-24. doi 10.1007/s41134-017-0027-2

San Román, B. & Rotabi, K. S. (2017). Rescue, red tape, child abduction, illicit adoptions and discourse:Intercountry adoption attitudes in Spain. International Social Work.

Sloan, L. M., Bromfield, N. F., Matthews, J. & Rotabi, K. S. (2017). Developing social work education programs in Islamic countries: Opportunities, challenges and lessons learned. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 36 (1-2), 199-214.

Stewart, L.M., Lile, W., Wendel Rice, S. (2017). Family caring: A theoretical explanation of model correlates and health consequences. 7th Community, Work and Family Conference: A time for Renewal: Developing a Sustainable Community, Work and Family Interface Book of Abstracts (p. 35).Milan, Italy; Universita Cattolica de Sacro Coure.

Stewart, L.M., Wendel Rice, S., & Lile, W. (2017) Family Caring: A Theoretical Explanation and Model of Correlates and Health Consequences. Paper presented at the 7th International Community, Work and Family Conference. Milan, Italy.

Stewart, L.M. (in press) Conference Report: A Time for Renewal: Developing a sustainable community, work and family interface. The 7th Community, Work and Family Conference 2017. International Journal of Care and Caring.