College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

Spring & Summer 2018 Newsletter

Beginnings and endings are important and to mark the occasion, we are sharing both new beginnings as well as closure in this issue of our department newsletter. In May, 44 graduates marched and we said goodbye. Now, we welcome a new cohort this fall. Of the incoming students, 47 in total, an impressive 62% of are first generation college graduates, many also identifying as Hispanic. Additionally, we are very proud to announce that 85% are from the local tri-county area and 62% are CSUMB alumni. As always, we are looking for generous donors to help support our student scholarship fund. The 100 Who Care scholarships are provided to incoming students in the fall. Last year we were able to provide a number of students with $1,000 each. Please help us support our students in this way again. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated. Donors can contribute through the following link The drop down menu allows donors to designate their donation.

Congratulations to Class of 2018 Graduates!

In Remembrance of Terry Ellis - Posthumous Degree Awarded

Terry Ellis, a third-year MSW student, died peacefully the morning of April 21st following a year-long battle with cancer. She was originally slated to graduate in May 2017 but took incompletes in her final semester to pursue medical treatment. She leaves behind her husband Tim Flynn, her son Tadg Rowan Flynn (age 10), and her daughter Truly Rose Flynn (age 5). Her mother and three siblings also survive her. Terry was a trained organic farmer. Both before and during her enrollment in the MSW program, she was an active participant in the Wild Rose Women's Cooperative Farm, which enabled her to fulfill her passion for growing food. She held an MFA from the Portland Art Institute. She and Tim were also foster parents. Her classmates and faculty knew her as a likable, serious, and thoughtful student who demonstrated complete commitment to the core values of the social work profession. She was passionate about her education, but saw that appropriately as only the means to the larger goal of equipping herself to serve marginalized populations. She was especially interested in working with children. After working with a child at her field placement, she shared with a classmate that "a piece of my heart goes home with each one of these kids."

MSW Students Facilitate Forums on Health Care and  Immigration

In the fall and spring semesters, CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa invited MSW students to act as trained facilitators at University-hosted forums in an effort to better understanding community perspectives on health care and immigration. Under the leadership of Dr. Ochoa and Dean Britt Rios-Ellis, students gained hands-on experience in participatory practices for community engagement. The students were integral in the process of hearing community perspectives on these important social justice issues, specifically exercising their social work facilitation skills in small group sessions.

Child Welfare and “The Impossible Imperative”

Dr. Jill Duerr Berrick (UC-Berkeley) authored a new bookThe Impossible Imperative: Navigating the Competing Principles of Child Protection” on child welfare and the often colliding priorities that child protection social workers find themselves balancing when meeting the needs of families within a system of care with so many demands.

In May, our students and partners in child welfare had an opportunity to hear from Dr. Berrick about the challenges of child welfare as advocates seek to serve the best interests of the child while interfacing with the many pushes and pulls within the impossible imperative. Dr. Berrick’s authentic reflection on the child welfare system and the inevitable binds within competing principles opened a lively discussion about the realities of working with children and families across California. The major ideas are all too familiar to us as social workers engaged in social justice and care for the most vulnerable in society, as illustrated in the graphic below. Anne Herendeen, the department’s Title IV-E Coordinator, reflected on the book discussion as an important opportunity to come together as a group of child welfare professionals to hear from an expert and “feel inspired” to continue this critically complex work of supporting families and protecting children.

On Child Welfare and Priorities: Forced Family-Child Separations on the Border

As children were forcibly separated from their families on the southwestern border, Dr. Rotabi found her service and research areas intersecting. Dr. Rotabi has acted as an expert witness in Federal courts for nearly a decade, most often for individuals seeking asylum from Guatemala as well as periodically giving opinion on the best interests of the child and unaccompanied children. Dr. Rotabi’s research expertise in adoption and particularly children being adopted from Central America comes into play as some of those children forced into so called “foster care” are being housed by adoption agencies. Now, as deadlines for family-child reunification are missed and court orders are being disputed, Dr. Rotabi and colleagues are rapidly responding to the unfolding events, to include the following blog, “The Orphan Industrial Complex Comes to Roost in America”. This is an area to watch as Rotabi has been quoted in the media and invited to speak at upcoming national events. Also, as a current issue, it will be integrated into the social justice and diversity class this fall for our incoming students.

Semi-Retirement Celebration for Dr. Brian Simmons

In recognition of Dr. Simmons’ announcement to semi-retire, students and alumni came out to celebrate at Toro Park in May. Dr. Simmons is an avid Giants fan so the party was baseball themed, draped in black & orange. It was a great day to focus on the impact that committed faculty have upon their students and the bigger picture of social change. We are not saying goodbye, but rather we are saying “see you later” as Dr. Simmons will now be teaching solely in spring semesters. He will remain active and engaged in our policy classes, including the important Lobby Days activities in Sacramento. As Dr. Simmons spends more time with his family in the fall, we wish him well and look forward to his return to campus in January!

2018 NASW-CA Lobby Days in Sacramento

Over 50 CSUMB MSW students attended the 2018 NASW-CA Lobby Days event in March accompanied by Dr. Simmons. The first day was spent in a rally-training format to prepare the participants for their visits with the legislators and/or their staff members on the second day.

As in years past, the NASW-CA policy staff had identified three bills on issues of concern to social workers and provided background information on each of them. This year one of the bills was particularly controversial (the creation of safe injection sites as a means of addressing the opioid crisis). As one can imagine, opinions pertaining to this idea vary regardless of one’s general political leanings. It nicely underscored a point made in both policy classes - that people of goodwill can disagree about policy choices and still be people of goodwill.

Faculty Led Student Engaged Research Projects: Phase II of the CSUMB Cares Research Project.

For a second consecutive year, students had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lisa Stewart on her research project titled CSUMB Cares: Assessing the Dependent Care Needs of Staff, Faculty and Managers. The goal of the project is to determine the scope of dependent care needs on campus through an on-line survey of dependent care needs and family, work and community supports. Follow up interviews were conducted with 32 staff, faculty, and managers. Data was collected in Spring 2017 and analyzed in Spring 2018. Students in section one of SW 601, Applied Social Work Research Project II worked with Dr. Stewart to conduct inferential analyses of the survey data. Meanwhile, students in section three of SW 601 assisted Dr. Stewart in coding the interview data and learned how to develop grounded theory models. Students presented their findings at the MSW Research Capstones held on May 16th, 2018.

As Summer Break Begins: Dr. Rotabi Contributes to the Development of Social Work Education in Somalia

As subject matter experts on developing social work education in an Islamic context, Dr. Rotabi and Lacey Sloan (University of Vermont) were invited to assist in launching social work education in Somalia in June. At a series of meetings, to set forth the educational framework, they presented on the different social work curriculum models in the Islamic world and then gave feedback on the current progress in Somalia and Somaliland. A conceptual map was developed for planning as academic and government officials launch social work education. Both Dr. Rotabi and Sloan shared their insights as social work educators in the Islamic context, having previously worked for a number of years in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Sloan also working in Qatar. Professor Rotabi responded to the opportunity to assist, reflecting on the “amazing opportunity to be part of helping our colleagues develop a vision and the necessary tools for was just truly an inspiring experience”. Rotabi was pleased to spend part of her summer break focused on the initiative as life-long learning is such an important aspect of the work of educators, especially with such a vibrant cross-cultural exchange of ideas. Reflecting upon her experiences, Rotabi said, “Previously, I had an opportunity to consult on social work education in Afghanistan and now seeing social work education take off there is truly a satisfying. The same could be said for my work in the UAE, where we were able to accomplish starting an MSW program in a community just outside of Dubai. The social work pioneers that I have met along the way remind me of the deep dedication necessary to support social work education and establish the profession as leaders in social change!”

To begin in Somalia, UNICEF plans to provide over 200 scholarships for students to study with the goal of building the national social services workforce. Social workers are expected to be integrally involved in the emerging civil society, working in a range of settings including assisting internally displaced persons as well as engagement in other peace and human rights work. In post-conflict settings, the profession plays an important role in peace-work focused on rebuilding and reconstruction of societies, ultimately addressing the many structures of poverty and inequality and the need for social intervention. In this human rights defense work, child protection is one of the focal points, building upon the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the obligation to develop effective systems of care. Somalia is a particularly exciting context as it is the latest country to sign and ratify the Convention--the most agreed upon human rights instrument in the world. The below paper, presented during the meeting, helped shape visioning and planning for the strategies ahead.

Sloan, L. M., Bromfield, N. F., Matthews, J. & Rotabi, K. S. (2017). Social work education in the Arabian Gulf: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 36 (1-2), 199-214.

SPRING BREAK 2018: Study Abroad to Norway

Sixteen MSW students and one community leader participated in the department’s faculty-led study abroad elective course to Norway. Dr. Julie Altman collaborated with social work faculty from the University of Stavanger in planning an enriching series of lectures, agency visits and cross-national conversations. This course focused on learning of the Nordic model of social welfare, how Nordic countries view the nature of social problems, and how they universally, rather than selectively, attend to people’s needs. While there, students visited a prison, a day care center, innovative behavioral health, youth, and child welfare agencies, and took several hikes into the still frozen mountains of Norway, overlooking magnificent fjords. The goals of the experience were to increase students’ capacity to analyze the sociopolitical context of social work practice, both in Norway and the U.S., and bring back new perspectives on social work practice and policy and its impact on the well-being of people and communities. Students were most moved by the ethic of care and respect heard several times from Norwegian social work practitioners about human behavior and the change efforts they believe in - “what you put in is what you will get back out.” Planning for the next study abroad class is underway with more information forthcoming.

Dr. Altman and Emilee Pakele Present at Involuntary Client Conference

Professor Julie Altman and MSW student Emilee Pakele recently returned from Prato, Italy, where they presented “The Use of Hope to Engage Child Welfare Clients in Services.” The first ever International Conference on Working with Involuntary Clients, jointly sponsored by Monash University and the University of Minnesota, celebrated Ron Rooney’s recently published third edition of “Strategies for Work with Involuntary Clients,” within which Dr. Altman wrote a chapter. The strong, persistent endorsement of hope by involuntary child welfare clients in her recent mixed-method study of family reunification efforts prompted this more careful examination of the construct of hope. The paper they developed together was well received and will be submitted for publication. Their joint work was generously funded by a faculty support grant from CSUMB.

Dr. Stewart Presents at the 2018 Work Family Researchers Network Conference, Washington, DC.

Dr. Stewart presented a paper and served as a panelist at the biennial Work-Family Researchers Network Conference in Washington, D.C. Her paper titled, “Employee caring for dependents with disabilities decision-making strategies to obtain workplace support” was co-authored with CSUMB MSW alum Christina Connery and MSW student Guillermo Rodriguez. The paper examined disclosure decisions and communication strategies used by employees caring for dependents with disabilities when accessing supports at work. Dr. Stewart also served as a panelist on the disability, work and family Care: state of knowledge, policy and change efforts to enhance work-family-community support. This panel brought together cross-national leaders in the field of disability, work and family care to discuss current trends and future needs in disability, work, and family care.

Dr. Rotabi Presents at the 2018 Social Work and Social Development Conference in Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Rotabi co-presented, “Developing social work standards in Cambodia: The participatory process to indigenize based on global and regional standards”. Her work in this area, along with Professor Jini Roby (Brigham Young University) represents an effort to codify professional standards at the country level. Cambodia, as a small country, has been a unique opportunity to develop country-specific standards based on international guidance and local practice wisdom. Participatory research was conducted in Cambodia, with an emphasis on child protection and family support practices at the generalist level as well as advanced practice and leadership and management of organizations. More about this work will be accessible in forthcoming publications. This work has been a part of a larger initiative to deinstitutionalize children from Cambodia’s so called “orphanages” and related initiatives in workforce development within a framework to promote child protection systems building and ultimately child rights.

Some of the artwork capturing the general topics of the conference.

Profile in Leadership: Jacqui Smith’s Vision for the Women’s March and her New Job with CSUMB

In this profile in leadership, we decided to focus on one of our recent graduates as she reflects on lessons learned in community organizing for the Women’s March. Jacqui’s insights into leadership are below, including her inspiration in the current climate. As we present Jacqui’s thoughts, we also announce her employment with us at the CSUMB Learning Center in Chinatown. Welcome onboard, Jacqui! You are a fantastic addition in this next chapter engaging with homeless people living in the challenging conditions in Salinas and Chinatown.

How did the Women’s March originally come together?

Frederick Douglass once said, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one. It may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.” The presidential election of Donald J. Trump accentuated the fact that the role of women in modern day society is greatly overlooked and undervalued. Women have been struggling for equal rights, equal pay, respect, and safety for 170 years. While we have come a long way from being perceived as inferior to men, we have a long way to go from being oppressed by gender norms, expectations, and stereotypes. The pursuit of women's rights is a relentless struggle that will only be advanced by a transformative social movement.

The idea to organize a campus march rose from a class discussion. It was the day after the 2017 presidential election and most of my fellow students were stunned, outraged, or disheartened. We all expressed a powerful desire to do something and discussed different strategies to promote awareness of the gender and racial inequities imposed on women and expose the systems of oppression that are founded on these unfair injustices. I inquired if any students were interested in organizing a small campus march. A few students agreed that it is long past time for the male-dominated government to dismantle systems of oppression and create a society that is truly free of structural barriers. We exchanged contact information and that was the beautiful beginning of the first women’s march on January, 2017.

Over winter break, I collaborated with University administration, fellow students, a national council, a state council, multiple community agencies, funders, and the media to host the largest public demonstration in the history of Monterey County. Shortly thereafter, I formed a student club called Women’s March at CSUMB. I was elected club President and continued to advance the movement by partnering with local activist groups to advocate for women’s rights and social changes that positively impacted the community. My involvement in the local movements enabled me to develop a strong relationship with community members, and we created another chapter for the general public called Women’s March Monterey Bay. Both women’s march chapters are comprised of women, men, and LGBTQ individuals of a different race, cultural, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. As the lead organizer of Women’s March Monterey Bay, I collaborated with old and new partners to organize the second women’s march on January 21, 2018. While the march did attract the same volume of people as the first march, it is the second largest mass demonstration march in Monterey County.

Team building is critical pulling together an event like the women's march. What are some key lessons you have learned as a result of your work?

Effective team building goes beyond constructing a group of like-minded individuals and encouraging them to meet team’s projected outcomes. I learned earlier on for any team to work effectively, one must put together a set of strategies to maximize the strengths of each individual and contribute to the team’s effort to accomplish assigned tasks. Establishing a simple organizational structure and assigning roles is key to influencing decision-making practices, communication patterns, and productivity. To enhance team commitment, it is important for the leader to encourage each member to develop the mission and vision statements in alignment with the overall purpose of the organization but reflect the individuality of each member. For the team to function properly, the leader must work with the team to set achievable goals and objectives that are incongruent with the mission and vision statements, these should also include benchmarks to track the team’s progress. I also learned that sharing information was essential to meeting deadlines and including the team in the decision-making process. The use of active-listening and conflict resolution was vital to resolving interpersonal conflicts and creating a supportive environment to facilitate individual engagement in difficult discussions with the goal of reaching an acceptable solution. Respecting everyone’s views and allowing them to share their ideas and express their opinions without interruption or judgment is another lesson I learned.

What are three tips that you would share about leadership with MSW students interested in continuing in your footsteps and developing activities like the women's march?

1. You cannot lead if no one is willing to follow. Honesty and integrity are two significant characteristics of an effective leader. Leaders excel when they adhere to their core values and beliefs, which are governed by ethics. Leaders should be confident and assertive enough to gain the respect and trust of other people. If you doubt your own decisions and abilities, others will never follow you.

2. A leader should always inspire others through actions. Followers look up to you to see how you react to difficult situations. If you handled it with positivity, you will inspire others to use the same approach to overcome challenges.

3. Genuine enthusiasm and motivation are hard to manifest, if you are not fully committed or lack passion, you cannot inspire followers to achieve goals and objectives. Also, understanding your followers’ problems and feelings play a vital role in the success an of an effective leader.

Tell us about your future career directions in leadership in the community.

I graduated with a Master of Social Work in spring 2018 and accepted the position as the new Chinatown Community Learning Center Coordinator. Working for the center enables me to remain unflagging in my commitment to stand against tyranny and advocate for oppressed communities, and it was with utmost happiness that I stepped into the world of serving the Chinatown population. The organization provides free educational opportunities, computer training and serves as a resource center for the marginalized homeless community of Salinas. The primary goal is to foster a thriving community for the Chinatown residents by providing a full scope of social services within in a community health model. There is more to come as the model is rapidly evolving, expected to include our Physicians Assistant Program in 2019 as well as engaging nursing students in health education. We are excited to continue to grow and develop to meet the needs of the community.