Impact Header


A banner year for giving

Every day, I work with our outstanding alumni and an amazing group of committed donors who helpIsaac support one of the nation’s top social work schools. Our alumni span the professional gamut from social work leaders, educators and scholars working in local communities and at top universities to directors and investigators at groundbreaking research and innovation centers.

Our donors demonstrate an unparalleled passion for social change that has magnified our collective impact on critical issues such as foster care, medical social work and aging populations. By any measure, 2013 was a banner year. We raised nearly $5.8 million from 827 donor contributions. That overwhelming generosity, compassion and commitment are fundamental to our ability to flourish as a school and a community.

I feel a great sense of momentum moving forward into the new year. In March, we will hold our 5th annual scholarship breakfast with author, educator and civic entrepreneur Eric Liu. Past breakfasts have raised more than $470,000 for our MSW students. I hope you will join me on March 18 at this special event, where you can reconnect with fellow alumni and support a future generation of social work leaders. 

Thank you for your support!

Kim Isaac, Assistant Dean for Advancement

Spotlight on giving

Carol LaMare Scholars Program supports 43 medical social work students

An elementary school teacher for 30 years, Carol LaMare was passionate about lifelong learning. After LaMare's death in 2005, her daughter LaMareLynn Behar (pictured, right) and Lynn's husband, Howard, created a scholarship program in her name. The Carol LaMare Scholars Program supports students and faculty in the field of medical social work, with a focus on oncology social work and palliative care for people living with cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

During the program’s first four years, nine students received scholarships. In 2010, the program was revamped under the leadership of Carol LaMare Associate Professor Taryn Lindhorst (pictured, left). Since then, the number of students who have received LaMare scholarships has increased to 43, including its first doctoral fellow. Nearly one out of four scholarship recipients have been people of color, and several are cancer survivors.

“Sustaining people with cancer and those at the end of their life is challenging work,” says Lindhorst. “We are here to support both the students who embark on this career path and those graduates currently working in the field.” To forge stronger professional connections, a reunion was held in November, attracting 16 students, faculty and previous scholarship recipients.

School and alumni updates

Innovative approach promotes tribal health by linking historic trauma

In the 1830s, members of the Choctaw Nation walked from Mississippi to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears, a seminal moment in the tribe’s ancestral history. Nearly two centuries later, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute Director Karina Walters used that historic walk to focus attention on health and well-being among the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Walters’ own tribe.

trail of tearsSeveral years ago, tribal members approached Walters for help combating obesity and childhood diabetes, which had become major health issues for the tribe. For the past two summers, Walters has led a small group of Choctaws along a portion of the trail in Arkansas. Tribal members woke before dawn, walked up to 12 miles a day, and slept in tents. Along the way, they explored their ancestors’ teachings on medicine, food and wellness.

The approach resonated with participants, who returned home determined to improve their health and that of their community. The project, funded by the Gerberding Professorship and the Choctaw Nation, is seeking National Institutes of Health funding for 2014.  

White House event explores mentoring for vulnerable children

For many children, growing up healthy, educated and free from violence is a challenge. When their parents are incarcerated, those challenges multiply. In September, Mark Eddy, Partners for Our Children research director, was invited to take part in a one-day “listening session” organized by the White House Domestic Policy Council and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The session brought together national experts in mentoring and child welfare research as well as parents and youth to explore ways to improve mentoring services for vulnerable children. Eddy is co-editor with Julie Poehlmann of Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners

Alumni partnership creates financial literacy workshop for students

Pursuing an educational degree is a costly enterprise. Students need to know how to craft a budget, manage student loans and maintain good credit. To help them become more financially savvy, a unique workshop that focused on money management tips for students was held on campus in November. The workshop was the brainchild of Linda Ruffer, School academic adviser, in collaboration with Kathryn Williams (MSW, '72), who is director of community relations and senior vice president at HomeStreet Bank. More than 35 students attended the one-hour session. 

Awards and accolades

Faculty awards focus on families in the U.S. and Central America

RomichJennifer Romich and a multi-institutional team were selected as one of seven national Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Scholars Network members by the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. The five-year $500,000 award will fund a collaborative project that uses state child welfare data from Partners for Our Children, among other resources.

Mark Eddy, Partners for Our Children research director, was awarded $72,000 to conduct research on preventing youth violence and promoting positive school outcomes in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The work is funded through a contract with the University of Oregon, working with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German international development and cooperation organization with programs in 130 countries.

POC research team brings in more than $775,000 in grants 

Partners for Our Children received more than $775,000 in grants focusing on the well-being of children and families. An award in excess of $650,000 will allow researchers to continue to evaluate Friends of the Children's long-term mentorship model. Funding is from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Campbell Foundation and Oregon Social Learning Center. A $127,364 grant from United Way of King County, Building Changes, and several state and local social agencies will be used to help researchers develop a community-wide plan to end homelessness among youth with child welfare involvement such as foster care.

SDRG teams attract federal and local funding

Kevin Haggerty and his team at the School of Social Work-affiliated Social Development Research Group were awarded close to $140,500 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct research on the legalization of marijuana in Washington state, focusing on parental perceptions about the new law and the messages parents are giving to their children. Margaret Kuklinski, Mary Casey-Goldstein and their team received a one-year award of $160,000 from Seattle Public Schools to evaluate its drop-out prevention program. 

In the news

PBS NewsHour taps School expert to explore a viable minimum wage

newshourIn November, PBS correspondent Paul Solman interviewed Diana Pearce, founder and director of the School-affiliated Center for Women's Welfare, on what it takes to survive in today's world. Pearce created the Self-Sufficiency Standard, a geographic-specific yardstick that measures how much income is needed to meet basic living needs without additional public or private support. This innovative tool allows employers, case workers, policymakers and service providers to calculate self-sufficiency requirements for 70 different family types, county by county, in 37 states. 

Local coverage focuses on paid sick-leave law and urban Indian health

seattle timesIn September 2011, Seattle became the fourth city in the country to adopt mandatory paid sick leave for businesses with more than four employees.To gauge how well the new law is working, the Seattle City Council asked Jennifer Romich, associate professor of social work, to conduct a survey of 550 companies. According to a Seattle Times story, Romich and her team found that although most businesses are now providing employee sick-leave benefits, the initial implementation was confusing and time-consuming. Additional interviews are underway, and complete findings will be presented to the city council in March.

In January, Polly Olsen, a member of the Yakima Nation and community relations director for the School-affiliated Indigenous Wellness olsenResearch Institute, penned a Seattle Times editorial focused on the little-known health disparities between urban Native Americans and the general population. In the opinion piece, Olsen applauds the Seattle City Council for its support of the Seattle Indian Health Board purchase and rehabilitation of Leschi Center, where the board has operated a full-service health clinic for 25 years. She sees this commitment as an important step in a long-term effort to build trust and improve the health and wellness of Seattle's American Indian community.

Upcoming events 

Jan. 28 presentation on legalized marijuana kicks off 2014 Luminary Lectures

In 2013, Washington state legalized the recreational use of marijuana and fundamentally changed the landscape for parents, schools and Kevin Haggertyprofessionals working to prevent drug use among young people.This first presentation in the 2014 Luminary Lectures series features social work researcher and scholar Kevin Haggerty, who explains, in everyday language, what has been proven to prevent substance use and how it can inform prevention efforts focused on the intersection of marijuana legalization and young people.

Marijuana use at a young age can have serious long-term consequences. Advances in prevention science over the past two decades have produced a growing number of tested and effective programs for preventing youth problem behaviors. Hear this illuminating lecture on Jan. 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the School of Social Work, 4101 15th Avenue NE, Room 305.

March 18 scholarship breakfast examines the "citizen social worker"

Eric LiuAuthor, educator and civic entrepreneur Eric Liu is our keynote speaker at the 5th annual scholarship breakfast, The Citizen Social Worker: Creating Change in Today's Democracy on March 18 at 7:30 a.m. at the Husky Union Building. Liu is the founder and CEO of Citizen University, which promotes and teaches the art of citizenship. He served as speech writer and deputy domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton and was an executive at RealNetworks. His book The Gardens of Democracy reassesses the nature of great democracies and the role we all play as citizens and agents for social change. For more information, call 206.221.7735 or register online for this annual event.

School exhibit celebrates Latino/a art, activism and life

vivaEight artists representing the Latino/a experience are exhibiting their work through April 18 in the School's first floor gallery. Participating artists are Alfredo Arreguin, Arturo Artorez, Daniel Carrillo, Michelle de la Vega, Tatiana Garmendia, Almendra Sandoval, Blanca Santander and Alejandro Tomas. The exhibit is co-sponsored by La Sala, a local Latino/a artists network, the School of Social Work and VIVA!, a special initiative designed to enhance the voice, visibility and skills of Latino/a social work students. An artists' reception is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. and is open to all.  For more information on VIVA! or the art exhibit, contact Gino Aisenberg at 206.616.9365.


Retired professor Jack Ellis dies at 90

Jack A.N. Ellis, former professor of social work at the University of Washington, died on Dec. 24, 2013, at the age of 90. In 1989, he was named Washington State Social Worker of the Year.

ellisBorn Aug. 25, 1923, in Saskatchewan, Ellis earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of British Columbia. After graduation, he worked for the Provincial Mental Hospital before accepting an offer to move to Washington state, where he worked as a counselor and supervisor at the Child Guidance Clinic in Bremerton and, later, as a community consultant at the Washington State Department of Institutions, specializing in juvenile delinquency.

In 1966, Ellis joined the University of Washington as a professor of social work, where he remained for 22 years. “His social-work-practice wisdom, dry humor and passion about social change made him a superb educator,” remembers Nancy Hooyman, former School of Social Work dean and current professor on aging.

After his retirement, Ellis and his wife, Margaret (Meg), moved to Walla Walla. There, Walla Walla College recruited him to help prepare its School of Social Work for national accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education. Ellis also taught at the school and served as liaison to community agencies for students completing their internships. A board member of the United Way and the Christian Aid Center, Ellis was also an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Men’s Propers Group. He is survived by his wife; son, Robert; and daughter, Cathryne. 




Winter 2014


report cover

Luminaries: Profiles in Social Innovation wins 2014 gold award from the Council for Advancment and Support of Education.


The Alumni Career Mentorship Network links seasoned social work professionals with current social work students and recent graduates exploring career options.

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!