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Message from the Dean

EddieThe new year brings new momentum to health care reform as the federal Affordable Care Act is implemented over the next few years. About half of today’s social work professionals work in health care positions, ranging from community prevention services to aging and hospice care. As the health care system undergoes seismic change, preparation for practitioners must keep pace through professional degree and continuing education programs focused on effective collaborative practice, including social interventions that address health needs "upstream" in community clinics, families, schools and workplaces.

The School of Social Work is partnering with the University’s Health Sciences deans to launch a cross-profession training-and-education roadmap—the Interprofessional Education Initiative—to help prepare students for the new health care landscape. Our role in this effort is critical to ensure that health care reforms are directed toward social equity and unmet public health needs.

Read the working group’s full report co-authored by School of Social Work Associate Professor Susan Kemp and School of Public Health Assistant Dean Lawrie Robertson. Let us know what you think about potentially radical changes in education for social work professionals in health care by contacting Susan Kemp. We’d love to hear from you.

Warmest regards,

Eddie Uehara
Professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work

School and alumni updates

Recent MSW lands staff position at Harvard Kennedy School

Megan FarwellMegan Farwell (MSW '12) has landed a plum position at the Harvard Kennedy School as research manager for the Women and Public Policy Program, which is dedicated to closing the gender gap for women in health, education, economic opportunity and political participation. Farwell will help move research into practice by translating groundbreaking studies from Harvard and other universities into easy-to-understand briefs. These research summaries will help public policy makers, private business leaders and nonprofit organizations adopt and apply cutting-edge practices to end gender discrimination.

Equity Matters Northwest provides training on cultural competence and equality

Cultural competence, equity, privilege and oppression are some of the topics tackled in the trainings given by Heidi K. Schillinger (MSW '03), founder and principal of Equity Matters Northwest. Schillinger specializes in working with nonprofit organizations, in particular education systems, which she feels offer the greatest potential for achieving social change and justice. "I believe that every student can learn, all parents want to support their children, and that culture and context matter," says Schillinger.

Six new doctoral students combine rich research and practice experience

2012 Doctoral StudentsThis year’s cohort of PhD students―left to right, Odessa Benson, Shannon Blajeski, Isaias Hernandez, Katie Querna, Christopher Fleming and Jessica LePak―combines strong academic skills with a diversity and wealth of practice and research experience. Their research interests include physical and mental health issues, health disparities, and interventions for at-risk youth.  

Melissa Martinson and Megan Moore join faculty as assistant professors

The ever-widening health gap between the rich and the poor is an area of interest for Assistant Professor Melissa Martinson, whose research looks for ways to alleviate health disparities caused by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic and immigrant status. Martinson earned a PhD from Columbia University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton. Recently, she was interviewed by Ross Reynolds, host of KUOW’s The Conversation, about the health care divide in the United States and United Kingdom.  

Assistant Professor Megan Moore focuses her research on identifying use patterns and developing practice standards for social services in a critical setting―the emergency department. Moore also continues to develop and test early psychosocial assessments and interventions for persons with mild traumatic brain injury. She earned a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

Awards and accolades

Richard Catalano selected as distinguished social work scholar

Richard Catalano was inducted Nov. 10 as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, joining some of the nation’s most accomplished social work scholars. For more than 30 years, Catalano has focused on understanding the forces that propel young people to develop mental, emotional and behavioral problems. The social development model, a theory of human behavior he developed with colleague David Hawkins, has been used extensively to guide the design, testing and implementation of interventions that help prevent damaging behaviors and promote positive development.

Leon Preston recognized for outstanding work with at-risk youth

Leon 3Field Education Director Leon Preston is the recipient of the School of Social Work’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Volunteer Recognition Award. The award recognizes Leon’s unwavering commitment to working with at-risk youth. In 1991, Leon established a taekwondo program to help young people grow in confidence and develop problem-solving skills. Taekwondo is a martial art that combines self-defense, sport, exercise and meditation. Leon synthesized years of experience as a highly effective teacher, athlete and social work professional to create this powerful model of positive behavior change. As one nominator notes, "Suffice it to say, he has a great big footprint."

Cambodia partnership garners national award from CSWE

The Council on Social Work Education presented a Partners in Advancing Education for International Social Work Award to the School of Social Work for its ongoing partnership with Cambodia’s Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). The UW-RUPP collaboration, initiated by Associate Professor Tracy Harachi, is one of three outstanding social work efforts recognized this year by CSWE. The partnership provided graduate-level training to Cambodian social workers, enabling them to return home and staff their university’s first social work department. The School continues to mentor RUPP social work faculty, which graduated its first cohort of social work professionals in 2012.

Foundation recognition and new funding for King County caregiving program

Hye JeongHye Kyong Jeong (MSW '08), director of outreach and advocacy at The Arc of King County, was instrumental in securing national recognition and a $10,000 Innovations in Caregiving grant for The Arc, which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. The funds will be used to replicate an innovative parent advocacy program—a series of meetings where families of adults with developmental disabilities can learn about relevant issues, meet other families in similar circumstances, and receive advocacy training for themselves and their loved ones. The program at The Arc was one of five honored in the U.S. by MetLife Foundation and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Innovative research projects win major grants

The School's research groups continue to attract significant awards including:

  • Cynthia Pearson and the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute team won a three-year award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a pilot treatment program for 50 American Indian women focused on post-traumatic stress syndrome, substance use and HIV/STI risk behavior.   
  • Todd Herrenkohl and the Social Development Research Group (SDRG) team won a three-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the long-term effects of child maltreatment and other forms of family adversity on adult substance abuse behaviors. Herrenkohl also received funding from the Office of Justice Programs for research centered on children exposed to violence.
  • A four-year grant to study risk factors for adolescent drug use in the U.S. and Colombia was awarded to Ric Brown and the SDRG team. The work includes a subcontract with Colombia’s Ministry for Social Protection and Public Health. The ministry, which is developing a nationwide drug abuse prevention strategy, selected SDRG’s pioneer project, Communities that Care, as its preferred prevention service delivery system for communities in Colombia.

In the news

Sara Mansfield Taber publishes memoir of her life as CIA operative's daughter

Taber 2Beautiful, mysterious and suspenseful. These are some of the adjectives reviewers used to describe Sara Mansfield Taber’s (MSW '80) well-received book, Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter (Potomac Books Inc., 2012). Growing up abroad in a world of secrecy and diplomacy as the daughter of a covert CIA operative, Taber candidly recounts her struggles for normalcy amid her family’s constant moving and upheaval. National Public Radio’s Mary Stucky found the book "a vibrant family portrait of love and heartache [that] also reveals much about America."

Roger Roffman provides perspective on marijuana law for media

In a guest column for The Seattle Times following the historic vote to legalize marijuana in Washington state, Professor Emeritus Roger Roffman discussed how marijuana use is a public-health issue and how important it is for parents to talk about marijuana use with their children. His column provides links to websites and online resources to help parents better initiate and navigate this conversation. He also provided expert opinion in a recent NPR segment on the meaning and the message behind marijuana legalization in Washington state.

Martin LaMar featured by Atlanta business publication for community work

MartyThis past November, Atlanta Business Chronicle featured alum Martin LaMar (MSW/MPH '07) for his work as director of policy development for the Atlanta Housing Authority and his appointment by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to the city task force on homelessness. Each year, Atlanta Business Chronicle compiles a list called 40 Under 40, showcasing Atlanta-area movers and shakers under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions in their fields.

Upcoming events 

Luminary Lectures Series presents Rona Levy on Feb. 12

Abdominal pain, the most common complaint of childhood discomfort, often continues into adulthood, and treatment is elusive. In "Exploring the Intergenerational Transmission of Illness Behavior," School of Social Work Professor Rona Levy discusses ways parents can alter their responses to their children’s symptoms and looks at simple ways children can cope. Levy is internationally known for her groundbreaking work in behavioral medicine, women’s health, stress, biofeedback and clinical research methodology. Her lecture will be on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 305, School of Social Work. The lecture is free, but registration is required to reserve a space.

Art exhibit on view through March 4

A selection of powerful paintings, drawings and photographs by artists participating in the Circle of Friends for Mental Health program is on display in the School’s first floor gallery. The program helps those with mental illness lead richer and more independent lives by providing classes in visual art, drama, music, writing and other creative media. 

Save the date: March 20 is the School's annual scholarship breakfast fundraiser

The 4th Annual Scholarship Breakfast will feature New York Times best-selling author McGonigal
and video game designer Jane McGonigal. Her keynote speech will focus on how virtual games can help solve social problems through engagement, collaboration and collective action. Find out more and register today. If you'd like to become a table captain or event sponsor, contact Greg Ross for details. Past scholarship breakfasts have raised more than $380,000 in need-based support for our talented social work students.


Don Whitney, former assistant dean for student services

Don Whitney, manager of graduate services, University of Washington Bothell School of Business, died Sept. 11 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 64. Whitney was the first manager of the MBA program at UW Bothell. Before that, he held advising and administrative student service positions on the UW Seattle campus, working in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Social Work and the College of Forest Resources. He is survived by his wife, Beth, and son, Colin. Donations may be made to the Don Whitney Scholarship Fund; for details, contact Sean Marsh.


Winter 2013


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What makes the School of Social Work a laboratory for change? Read our biennial report Luminaries: Profiles in Social Innovation.


The Alumni Career Mentorship Network links seasoned social work professionals with current social work students or recent graduates exploring career options. Take a moment to explore the site and all it has to offer.

Please tell us about  recent milestones, accomplishments or  any news you'd like to share with the School of Social Work community through Impact by contacting us.

If you would like to make a gift, select from a number of School of Social Work funds at the UW Foundation. Thank you for your support!