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Fall 2015

Spotlight on giving

$20 million gift transforms support for students and innovation initiatives

Eddie Uehara, Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work, recently announced a major gift of $20 million from longtime School supporters Connie (pictured) and Steve Ballmer. About half the amount will be used for scholarships for graduate students, helping them to pay for their studies and start Connie Ballmercareers with a reduced debt load. The remainder will fund specific innovation initiatives at the School.

“This is going to change the lives of our students in profound ways,” said Uehara. “We will be able to help students who need it and continue to attract the brightest and the best to the University.”

The scholarships will be a powerful force to recruit, educate and retain social workers statewide. With a median salary of $41,000 for social workers in Washington state, the debt-to-salary ratio can be an onerous burden on graduates, prompting many to leave the field for more lucrative careers and deterring others from pursuing graduate degrees.

“The School is educating a new generation of social workers, unsung heroes in our community,” said Connie Ballmer. Over the past five years, the Ballmers' support for the School has totaled $32 million, funding a range of pioneering projects and initiatives that are changing the face of social work in Washington state. Read more here 

In the news

GeekWire profiles how School harnesses technology for social change

As part of a special series on innovative solutions to societal challenges, GeekWire interviewed Dean Uehara, who spoke to the School’s ability to bring together the Puget Sound area’s technology skills, devoted philanthropists, academic expertise and community relationships to create real change. “Neither sector can do it on their own,” says Uehara. It’s through these dynamic collaborations that the School is helping social programs move forward technologically in the 21st century. The story focused on the School’s use of technology to improve child welfare in the state through improved data collection and data sharing, as well as the recent partnership with Facebook to provide suicide-prevention tools for millions of social media users. Read the full story.

SDRG researchers lead national coalition to reduce youth problems

Three School researchers, part of a national coalition of more than 60 experts, recently unveiled a plan to reduce behavioral health problems among young people by 20 percent in 10 years. The approach, outlined recently on the National Academy of Medicine website, revolves around one simple principle: prevention. The report’s lead author, David Hawkins, founding director of the School's Social Development Research Group, along with SDRG’s Richard Catalano and Kevin Haggerty, lays out seven steps for achieving this goal, from targeting 10 percent of all public funds spent on young people toward prevention efforts to developing a new cadre of prevention workers. Read the full story.

Alumna tackles needs of undocumented Asians and Pacific Islanders

Marissa Vichayapai (MSW ’14), who works at the Seattle nonprofit 21 Progress, helped launch a campaign called FAIR!, or Fearless Asians for Immigration Reform, an effort to call attention to the lack of services for undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. In three months, Vichayapai and her colleagues reached out to about 1,000 community members in Washington state. Interviewed recently by the International Examiner, Vichayapai noted that APIs, who make up 18 percent of the undocumented community, face barriers such as social and cultural stigma, making it difficult to seek help. “When we chose the word ‘fearless’ for our campaign,” she said, “it describes what we want the undocumented API community to be: Fearless enough to look past the shame and stigma and reclaim their voice.”

Doctoral candidate’s foreclosure report reaches key administrators

What did the home foreclosure crisis from 2008 to 2013 look like in Washington state? Maria Rodriguez, a doctoral candidate at the School, examined the crisis by Rodriguez_Mariareviewing foreclosures by ZIP code. The results were published in the Washington State Foreclosure Mapping Report, funded by the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, and highlighted in the April HUD Region X newsletter, which has a readership of more than 45,000. Rodriguez is one of 11 grads from the School’s doctoral program making an impact and launching careers in higher education and public service. Read more about these remarkable graduates.

Alumni and School Updates

Cambodian partnership spurs cross-regional dialogue in Southeast Asia

RUPP CarvingIn 2004, the School formed a dynamic partnership with the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) to build a viable social work education program in Cambodia. Today, that partnership is thriving and reshaping social work in the region. This past summer the Association of Professional Social Workers of Cambodia organized a conference that addressed the challenges of building the capacity of social work education in Southeast Asia. The event drew more than 150 participants and presenters from 18 countries, including India, Nepal, New Zealand and Vietnam. Find out what you can do to support this innovative partnership.

Help for trauma survivors is subject of alum’s TEDx talk

Founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky (MSW ‘94) has worked with trauma survivors for nearly 30 years. Laura LipskyIn April, she participated in a TEDx conference at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Her presentation, "Beyond the Cliff," offered a window into the cumulative toll hardship, crisis or trauma takes on individuals. TEDx events are based on the original TED model but are independently organized.

Carol LaMare scholar serves as a U.S. Air Force clinical social worker

Erika WashingtonIn 2011, Erika Washington (MSW ’13) was selected as a Carol LaMare scholar—a School of Social Work program that supports students who focus on oncology social work and palliative care—and at the same time was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force as a first lieutenant. Since graduation, she has been stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida, as a clinical social worker, working to complete three years of required active service. In July, she was promoted to captain. “Being a Carol LaMare scholar has enhanced my ability to work with those who are struggling,” said Washington. “My dream is to serve veterans as a VA oncology social worker. I am passionate about helping these brave men and women and connecting them with resources they need.”

Awards and accolades

Latino Center for Health allocated $500,000 in state budget

In July, the Washington state legislature approved $500,000 to support the School-affiliated Latino Center for Health. The center is the first of its kind in the Latino Center for Healthstate to focus on the health needs of Latinos, who account for 12 percent of Washington’s population but who often lack access to critical health services for chronic diseases as well as bilingual and bicultural service providers. “The center is a shining example of how UW research and collaboration empower local communities to address critical issues of health care access and equity in our state,” said Dean Eddie Uehara. Read the full story.

Six faculty members named top women in their field for research impact

A recent study in the scholarly journal Research on Social Work Practice looked at the leadership, scholarship and research impact of women in the top-ranked schools of social work in the United States. Of the 25 female academics cited, the School of Social Work had six faculty members on the list, the highest percentage of female scholars at one university. The six academics are Kelly Davis, Diane Morrison, Paula Nurius, Cynthia Pearson, Taryn Lindhorst and Elizabeth Wells. Sixteen percent of the women on the list had completed their final degree at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Read more here.

Social work professor Jennifer Stuber recognized for entrepreneurial thinking

StuberJennifer Stuber, a social work professor and faculty director of Forefront, a University of Washington collaborative effort focused on suicide prevention, was appointed a UW CoMotion Presidential Innovation Fellow, an award that recognizes the value entrepreneurial thinking brings to the University. Under Stuber’s leadership, Forefront has developed an impressive record in just three years. The group provided data and consultation to Washington state legislators to support the passage of several groundbreaking laws, started a partnership with Facebook to deliver online resources for suicide prevention, and launched Husky Help & Hope, an outreach program for students at risk for suicide. Read the full story.

Forefront takes suicide prevention to rural communities with new grant

Washington state’s rural communities with the highest suicide rates will soon have resources to provide prevention training and support. Forefront, a washington_womans_logo.gifSchool-based suicide-prevention organization, received $100,000 from the Washington Women’s Foundation to reach out to sparsely populated counties around the state. A multi-pronged approach will address isolation, stigma and lack of access to mental health care—all contributors to higher suicide risk in rural areas. The grant will also allow Forefront to reach out to doctors, nurses and teachers in rural areas, helping them to recognize the risk signs of suicide and how to respond. Read the full story.

Research group awarded $230,000 to study tobacco- and cannabis-use link

Half the individuals seeking treatment for cannabis-use disorders regularly smoke tobacco. Stopping tobacco and cannabis use may be beneficial, but quitting can be difficult. Denise Walker, co-director of the School-affiliated Innovative Programs Research Group, received more than $230,000 from Dartmouth College to evaluate treatments for cannabis-use disorders among individuals who also use tobacco. This protocol may reduce adverse psychosocial and health consequences for those dependent on tobacco or cannabis.

NIH grant supports program to help foster teens reduce risky behavior

The Social Development Research Group will receive nearly $3.2 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the SDRG-developed prevention program called Connecting. The program focuses on reducing substance abuse and risky sexual behaviors in foster teens. The five-year study is designed to test the program's effectiveness for foster parents and foster teens. Connecting was adapted for use in the child welfare system based on the initial success of an earlier program called Staying Connected with Your Teen. The study is being done in collaboration with Partners for Our Children and the Washingon State Children's Administration.

Michelle Bagshaw recognized for guidance to aspiring school social workers

BagshawThe Washington Association of School Social Workers has honored field education faculty member Michelle Bagshaw (MSW ’04) with its 2015 Distinguished School Social Worker Advocate Award. “Michelle has been an outstanding resource for the MSW students in school social work field placements and for their practicum instructors,” said the association president, Erin Vidler Romanuk, adding that Michelle has consistently advocated for school-based social work training at the UW and in the community. “Receiving this award is such an honor,” said Bagshaw, who characterizes her work with students as a privilege, and praises her field instructors for the “stellar mentoring, coaching and supervision of our students.”

Upcoming events

Forefront holds third annual fundraiser Nov. 18

Forefront will hold its third annual fundraiser Nov. 18 at the Husky Union Building. The evening will honor the work of staff, trainers, volunteers and board and community members who have given their time and talents to strengthen Washington state’s suicide prevention efforts. Although the event is free, guests are encouraged to make a meaningful gift to advance the work of suicide prevention. Register here.

Seventh annual scholarship breakfast — save the date!

The recent $10 million gift to the School's student scholarship fund is the foundation for an even larger effort that will make it possible to attract the best students and reduce the debt load of School graduates. Mark your calendars for April 26, 2016, the date of our seventh annual scholarship breakfast. Your support is critical to our students' continued success.


James DeLong retires, reception to be held Dec. 10

School lecturer James DeLong (MSW '79) retires at the end of the fall quarter. From 1979 to 1989, James DeLonghe worked for Senior Services of Seattle/King County, where he was a core instructor in a groundbreaking research and demonstration project focused on health promotion with older adults. He joined the School in 1989 as the MSW evening degree and practicum coordinator. The program thrived under his direction and became an essential component of the School’s social work degree offerings. In 2013, DeLong was honored with the UW Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning award. The awards committee cited his many years of leadership at the School, where he supported education access for working adults and other nontraditional students through the renamed Extended Degree Program. His retirement reception will be held Dec. 10 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. To attend, please RSVP to Madeline Galbraith. 

Lifetime Achievement Award, Nancy Amidei

On Oct. 1, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance presented emeritus social work lecturer Nancy Amidei with the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless efforts to ensure safe, healthy and affordable homes for Washington state residents. The award recognizes the many thousands of people she Amideihas encouraged and inspired to raise their voices for change. Amidei is known for her passion for advocacy and her belief that all people can change the world once they have the tools to make a difference. She has helped demystify the legislative process for thousands of students, faith community members, low-income parents and other citizen advocates. Says Alison Eisinger (MSW '97), executive director, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness: “If you've ever used a folder as a billboard for affordable housing, written a message about childhood hunger on a paper plate, or have a card stock phone cutout with the legislative hot line on your fridge, you've used Nancy's techniques.”

BE A MENTOR — The Alumni Career Mentorship Network connects established social work professionals with current social work students and recent graduates exploring career options.

SHARE YOUR NEWS — Please send us recent accomplishments or noteworthy activities you'd like to share with the School of Social Work community by contacting the Advancement Office.

MAKE A GIFT — If you would like to make a gift, select from a number of School of Social Work funds at the University of Washington Foundation. Thank you for your support!