Social work

Fall 2012 Newsletter

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Fall 2012 • Spring 2012 • Fall 2011

Greetings from the Department

Amy LevinOur Department is thrilled to welcome five new MSW cohorts for Fall 2012. Our 182 new students will be taking classes here on-campus, on-line, and in Ventura and Santa Clarita Counties, ever widening the reach of our program.

The MSW faculty also want to extend a warm welcome to our new President, Dr. Dianne F. Harrison. Dr. Harrison holds a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and an MSW from the University of Alabama. We are delighted to see a fellow social worker take such an important leadership role here on our campus and look forward to working with Dr. Harrison to make CSUN shine.

In February 2012, our accreditation was reaffirmed by the CSWE Commission on Accreditation for the next eight years. Several members of our faculty worked extremely hard to make sure that our program was compliant with the new 2008 Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards (EPAS).

This year we have seen our graduates start exciting careers at local, state and federal agencies and nonprofits. Our current students are conducting research, raising money to combat the stigma of mental illness and walking to prevent suicide.

Our faculty members have also been busy publishing articles, securing grants,exploring new technology to deliver a quality social work education in an online format, and traveling around the world to present at various conferences.

All the best for a new school year,

Amy Levin

Where Our 2012 Grads Are Headed

Sally Gonzalez Awarded American Case Management Social Work Fellowship 

Sally Gonzalez, MSW

Sally Gonzalez, MSW, was selected to be the Social Work Case Management Fellow at UCLA Hospital for 2012-13. This fellowship is offered each year by the American Case Management Association and includes a stipend of $50,000.

The program offers a premiere educational experience for social work professionals desiring to expand their understanding of hospital social work and case management practice.    

Amanda Yoshioka-Maxwell Starts Ph.D. at USC

Amanda Yoshioka-Maxwell, MSW '12, has started her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work. She is our first graduate to attend a Ph.D. program.

Diva Kass is Attending Notre Dame Law School 

Diva Kass, MSW '12, just began her first semester at Notre Dame Law School. This highly selective law school repeatedly ranks in the top 25 law schools in the country according to the U.S. News & World Report.

Lamp Community Welcomes Three CSUN MSW Grads 

Lamp Community, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that permanently ends homelessness, improves health, and builds self-sufficiency among men and women living with severe mental illness has hired three of our 2012 graduates. Lamp offers community-based mental health services to clients enrolled in housing programs and thanks to the additional staff Lamp will reach more clients with mental health and wellness services.   

Ryan Grady, MSW 

Ryan Grady, MSW '12, has been hired as a clinician for Lamp's Scattered Site Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Ryan is a recipient of the California State University System-Wide William Randolph Hearst Scholar and the California State University Ali Razi Scholar of 2011.   

Amy Sobelman, MSW

Amy Sobelman, MSW '12, has been hired as a clinician with Lamp's Medi-Cal Certified Wellness Center. Amy's past experience includes providing supportive counseling and case management services to patients on the adult and geriatric units of the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital. 

Anne Sorenson, MSW

Anne Sorensen, MSW '12, has also been hired as a clinician with Lamp's Medi-Cal Certified Wellness Center. Anne is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Crisis Outreach Response System and Seeking Safety, a present-focused therapy to help people attain safety from trauma/PTSD and substance abuse. 

Student Awards, Accomplishments & Activities

Graduates Featured in the New Social Worker Magazine

Congratulations to several members of our 2012 graduating class who were featured on the cover of The New Social Worker Magazine Summer 2012 issue. You can access a digital copy of the issue by clicking on the image below.   


New Chapter of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honors Society 

Thanks to the dedication of several students, CSUN now has a chapter of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society of Social Work. The first membership drive recruited 86 MSW students. phi alpha

Our inaugural board members are:

  • Valerie Yu, President
  • Leo Clark, Vice President
  • Katie Kvarme, Treasurer-Secretary
  • Mara Petrick, Founding Member
  • Jennifer Tougas, Founding Member
  • Sandy Garcia, Founding Member
  • Kendra Patterson, Founding Member

Founded at Michigan State University in 1960, the Phi Alpha National Honor Society is focused on creating a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work. If you would like more information about the benefits of joining Phi Alpha, you can visit

Veteran's Theatre Project

Alison Ankeny, MSW '12, documented the work of Theatre Professor Doug Kaback and his students as they rehearsed and performed a play "The Bonus Army". The play focuses on the 20,000 World War I veterans who set up a tent city outside of the the White House in May of 1932 to demand the $1000 the government has promised them. This "Bonus War" lead to the enactment of the G.I. Bills of Rights and a greater commitment to the re-assimilation of the returning veteran into everyday life here in the US. 

The students, many of whom are veterans themselves, found that acting out the struggles of veterans from a different era resonated with the struggles faced by them and their peers in the US today. 

According to Ankeny, "Theater provides a community setting and a creative way for people to share what they have been through. It can be a very powerful tool-even if it's just a reading of a play for social workers who may be looking for creative ways to give additional support to their clients. At the same time, for those who didn't serve, a theatrical project such as this provides a way to educate civilians about the experiences of men and women in our military."  

More information on the Veterans Program here at CSUN please click here. For information on the new Veterans Resource Center please click here.

C.A.P.T.U.R.E.D. Journal (Creating  Awareness Productions Through Universal Research & Educational Documentaries)   

The C.A.P.T.U.R.E.D. group's principal goal is to give students an opportunity to explore social issues, and to bring awareness to topics that are often overlooked or misconstrued in our society. A significant goal of the group is to capture oral histories and document them so that they may not be forgotten.   

Janet Garcia, Cristal Crandall, Veronica Enriquez-Gutierrez, and Joana Lechuga, all students in our three-year cohort, got their video project 'Safer Cities Initiative' published in the C.A.P.T.U.R.E.D. Student Research Journal. To view the video: click here 

Jessica Hernandez, three-year cohort, wrote a poem about public housing in Los Angeles. It has been featured on page 73 of the journal. To view Jessica's piece: click here


Whether to inspire change, educate, or enlighten the masses, C.A.P.T.U.R.E.D produces real world issues from a universal standpoint. Encouraging shifts in perspective is a huge objective with C.A.P.T.U.R.E.D., and in order to promote change, spreading awareness is essential. 

Faculty Awards, Accomplishments & Activities

James Decker, Ph.D.  

Dr. Decker

Dr. Decker has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for his leadership and academic entrepreneurship in higher education and social work from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development.

Additionally, he presented at the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research (IOSSBR) Fall 2012 Conference and published this article:

  • Decker, James T., "Just for Men Breast Cancer in Men: A Case Study" 2012 International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2, 2012.

Jodi Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Brown

Dr. Brown has been researching the affects of yoga on vulnerable adults who have cancer. This past year she presented her findings at a conference in Finland. She also presented at two other conferences.

  • Constantine Brown, J. (June 2012).  Yoga for Low-Income Adults with Cancer: A Program Evaluation of Team Survivor.  8th International Conference on Evaluation for Practice.  Pori, Finland.  
  • Wang, L., Constantine Brown, J., & Ashley, W.  (May 2012).  Flip the Classroom with Softchalk: ABC for Early Adopters.  EduSoCal'12 Conference, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California. 

  • Constantine Brown, J., Levin, A., & Saetermoe, C. (April, 2012).  Building Collaborative Partnerships in School-Based Services: Evaluating the Youth of Promise (YOP) Mentoring Program.  Panel Chair and Presenter.  National Network for Social Work Managers 23rd Annual Management Institute.  San Diego, California. 


Dr. Brown also published the following article:

  • Constantine Brown, J. (2012).  Yoga for vulnerable adults with cancer.  Improvement by Evaluation: A compilation book of Peer Reviewed Full Papers of the 8th International Conference on Evaluation for Practice (pp. 140-149). University of Tampere, Finland. 
Dr. Love

Susan Love, Ph.D. 

Dr. Love is serving on the executive committee of The Helping Families Change Conference, HFCC 2013. The conference will be held February 13-15, 2013 at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. The CSUN College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is a co-sponsor.

HFCC is a leading international evidence-based scientific conference event covering issues, strategies, and innovations related to parenting and family interventions. The HFCC is of interest to practitioners, policy makers, and researchers working with families in the health, education, and welfare sectors. For more information or to register for the conference, please visit: 

Dr. Love also published the following article:

  • Love, S., Sanders, M., Metzler, C., Prinz, R. & Kast, E. (2012). Enhancing accessibility and engagement in evidence-based parenting programs to reduce maltreatment: Conversations with vulnerable parents. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(5).

Judith DeBonis, Ph.D.

Dr. DeBonis

Dr. DeBonis has received both federal and University sponsored research grants:

  • Co-Investigator (25% effort), Bruce S. Jansson (Principle Investigator), "Improving Healthcare Outcomes through Advocacy," PCORI (Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute) (PI-12-001 PCORI Pilot Projects); One of fifty chosen for funding out of 850 submitted; Amount: $664,852. This project is a collaborative between USC, UCLA and CSUN. 
  • Curriculum Development Team Member, Practice Group, "Social Work and Integrated Behavioral Health Curriculum Project," SAMHSA and HRSA-funded Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) housed in the National Council for Community Behavioral Health. Amount: $5,000 stipend and reimbursement for travel costs. Members will be cited as authors on the curriculum materials.                              
  • Faculty Technology Center Redesign Institute ($1200)
    This project allowed us to participate in the 1st redesign institute on campus and to begin to learn how technology can be used to enhance our curriculum and opportunities for student learning.  The project is ongoing; I am now involved with a subgroup from the original institute focused on enhancing assessment of student learning in an online environment.

Social Justice Corner

Supporting the Drop the "I" Word Campaign
by Professor Jose Paez, MSW 

As CSWE (2008) Educational Policy 2.1.4: "Engage diversity and difference in practice" states:

"Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person's life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim."  

Further  CSWE (2008) Educational Policy 2.1.5:  "Advance human rights and social and economic justice" states:

"Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights.  Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice."  

And NASW (2008) 6.04 Social and Political Action states:

"(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice....(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability."

In line with this mandate and our code of ethics, I am advocating support for the Drop the "I" Word Campaign: "Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing slur "illegals" from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is illegal." To learn more about this campaign you can watch a short video Short Video:  click here  

You can also join the growing number of people and organizations around the country that have taken the pledge to Drop the "I" Word.  

Click to take the pledge.

Department Events

Our 4th Annual Diversity Day

The event will be held on campus from 8:30am - 3:30pm on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The topic for this year's event will be "Trauma: A Survivor's Story".

Lunch and Learn

These events allow students the opportunity to learn about various topics of interest in the Social Work field:

  • Masks: A Stage Play by Terryl Daluz & Mann Alfonso
    October 9, 2012 in Whitsett (SH 451) from 12:15-1:45pm   
  • Dana Garcetti Boldt: A Review of the LA County Men's Central Jail
    October 23, 2012 in Whitsett (SH 451) from 12:15-1:45pm
  • Grant Writing with Matt Terhune
    November 9, 2012 in Whitsett (SH 451) from 12:15-1:45pm

Docs and Talks

Students and faculty members meet to watch documentaries on topics of interest and then have a lively discussion afterwards. Past films have included: The Black Power Mixtape, The One Percent, For the Bible Tells Me So, and Which Way Home.  Upcoming dates will be posted on the event's Facebook page

Information Sessions for Prospective Students

These sessions provide an overview of our various MSW programs and the admissions process. We also leave plenty of time for any questions that prospective applicants may have.

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2012 from 6:00-7:00pm in Whitsett, Sierra Hall 451, 4th Floor (Note: This first session will be videotaped.)
  • Tuesday, October 30, 2012 from 6:00-7:00pm in Whitsett, Sierra Hall 451, 4th Floor
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2012 from 6:00-7:00pm in Sierra Hall 272, 2nd Floor
  • Thursday, November 15, 2012 from 6:00-7:00pm in Sierra Hall 290, 2nd Floor
  • Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 6:00-7:00pm in Sierra Hall 290, 2nd Floor

Closing Thoughts

Please look for future Department of Social Work Newsletters for more information about what is happening in the program. We appreciate your support and please feel free to forward this on to anyone who might be interested. Hope you have a great semester!


The Faculty and Staff of the Department of Social Work at California State University, Northridge