Brenda Hartman (M.S.W. ’89), a St. Paul therapist who provides counseling to adolescents, adults, and couples, was named a 2017 Bush Fellow this week.
She and 23 other people were selected from nearly 650 applications for the fellowships. Applicants described their leadership vision and how a Bush Fellowship would both help them achieve their goals and make their community better. Each Fellow will receive up to $100,000 to pursue the education and experiences they believe will help them become more effective leaders.
With her Bush Fellowship, Hartman will study end-of-life practices from different cultures, religions, and spiritual traditions, and grow her leadership skills through coursework and consultation.
She has lived nearly three decades longer than expected after receiving a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Over those years, she has devoted herself to addressing the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience. She sees a strong need to promote a cultural shift in society’s response to death. She wants to introduce a narrative that counters fear and denial with a view of death as a healing process. She seeks new ways to incorporate end-of-life planning into training for healthcare professionals.
When the St. Paul City Council voted to remove police officers from the city’s Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission last December, School of Social Work Professor Mark Umbreit was a little stunned, but also proud.
Umbreit, who is the director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, was a part an audit team from the center that recommended 18 changes to commission operations, the most controversial being that police officers should no longer serve as voting members of the commission.
Police officers have been voting members since the commission was established in 1994, and, although a 2009 “Report of the Best Practices Assessment of the St. Paul Police Department” had recommended removing them, that recommendation was never implemented. So when the auditors started their work in the summer of 2015, Umbreit said, they believed “it was simply not realistic to talk about removing the police officers.”
Two associates of the center, social work doctoral student Jennifer Blevins and Dr. Raj Sethuraju, assistant professor of criminology at Metropolitan State University, worked with Umbreit on the audit, with Blevins taking the lead.
The audit included interviews with 23 key stakeholders in the commission’s process, including seven current members, five previous members, two current and two former administrators, the police union president, the current police chief, a police former chief, the senior commander of the police Internal Affairs unit, and three community stakeholders.
They also reviewed 40 commission memos from 2011 through 2014, which included a total of approximately 310 cases of complaints about police conduct, to determine what the commission did once a complaint and the investigation files were presented to them.
The auditors also looked at literature on civilian review of police conduct from throughout the United States. In their search, they could not find one civilian review board that had police officers on it, Blevins said, although she noted that one could exist that they were unable to find.
As the audit progressed, Umbreit said, they were hearing from people who felt very strongly that police officers should not be members of the commission.
“We decided we could not make a recommendation based on what we thought was politically realistic, but on what we believed to be the best course of action based on our analysis of the data we gathered,” Blevins said.
After the audit report was released in October 2015, city officials announced plans for gathering public input. They asked the center to organize three feedback sessions to allow city officials to hear from community members in order to decide how to move forward with the audit recommendations. The sessions were held in November and December of 2015.
“It was through the community conversations that people started to see the possibility of real change,” Umbreit said.
After the sessions, grass-roots groups began organizing to push for an all-civilian review board. By the end of 2016, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “St. Paul residents and at least 18 community organizations have been calling on council members to make it an independent, all-civilian commission.”
On December 7, 2016, a diverse crowd of people filled the St. Paul City Council chambers and an overflow room as the council held a public hearing on the proposed changes. The Pioneer Press reported that more than 35 people addressed the council, with most of them speaking in favor of removing police officers from the panel. The council voted 5 to 2 in favor of the change; final adoption followed at the council’s December 14 meeting.
“Particularly with the current very troubling times our nation is facing, this provides a beacon of hope of people power, real and effective social change, and a true academic and community partnership,” Umbreit said.
“We put out the information and gave people what was needed to come to a conclusion and take action. It feels good that people paid attention and used it … I am proud of this work,” he said.
New Faculty Member Waid Working to Prevent Need for Foster Care
Jeffrey Waid, who joined the School of Social Work as an assistant professor this fall, began his journey into social work as a child welfare caseworker. Working with families in their communities, he sought to prevent the recurrence of child maltreatment and placement of children into foster care.
While foster care placement is sometimes necessary to ensure the safety of children experiencing abuse and neglect, lengthy stays in care have a detrimental impact on a child’s development. “Foster care placement is a short term, child-focused solution to what are inherently family problems,” he says. Read more>>
Lee Receives CDC Grant for App on Vaccination Protocol Compliance
Professor Hee Yun Lee is principal investigator for a $450,000 Special Interest Project Research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The grant will fund a mobile application intervention for low-income Hmong adolescents to facilitate completion of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine series. Read more>>
Kivnick Book The Big Move Describes Making a Life in Assisted Living
Being required to live in an assisted living facility and learning how to really live there is the topic of Professor Helen Kivnick’s new book, The Big Move: Life Between the Turning Points.
The book was co-written with Anne M. Wyatt-Brown, emeritus associate professor, University of Florida, and Ruth Ray Karpen, professor emeritus, Wayne State University in Detroit.
In the book Kivnick and Karpen, distinguished gerontologists, reflect on Wyatt-Brown’s moving account of her transition from skeptical outsider to active member of a vibrant and sociable community. Read more>>
The work of Dr. Piper Meyer-Kalos, executive director of The Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health (MNCAMH) in the School of Social Work, has been receiving attention in the news recently.
The CEHD 2020 Vision blog featured an article about her work on the first episodes of psychosis in people who go on to develop schizophrenia. She saw firsthand that those with schizophrenia are underserved, and that the access to mental health treatment is something that isn’t talked about enough. The Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episodes (RAISE) project was created in 2009 in response to research and other early intervention programs that had been developed in other countries. Meyer-Kalos was apart of the RAISE Early Treatment Program, which developed into NAVIGATE. The goal of NAVIGATE is to study a combination of psychosocial treatment and medication management over a period of time, with a focus on the improvement of the quality of life. The results of the study were that those that participated in NAVIGATE saw larger improvements in the quality of their life. They had greater participation in work and school, experienced fewer overall symptoms, and were able to stay in treatment longer.
Meyer-Kalos also commented in a Minnesota Public Radio story about the Minnesota chapter of the Hearing Voices Network. The story featured a member of MNCAMH’s advisory council, Albert Garcia, who founded the state chapter of the network in 2013.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, was recently awarded a research grant totaling $47,620 from the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research for his work on Smartphone Exercise Apps. He will be collaborating with Dr. Hee Yun Lee from the School of Social Work and Dr. Rui Zhang from the Department of Surgery and Institute for Health Informatics.
Gao’s work is titled, “Improving Breast Cancer Survivors’ Disease Management Outcomes through Smartphone Apps and Online Health Community,” and is designed to examine how utilizing a free, commercially available smartphone app (Polar Flow), capable of uploading physical activity and diet statistics to an online community app (Facebook), along with a Facebook health education community might promote sentiment and quality of life in breast cancer survivors over a 3-month period. Findings from this project will inform the development of innovative and cost-effective mobile device apps and online health communities for disease prevention and management in breast cancer survivors.
David Hollister, professor in the School of Social Work, is one of 12 people at the U of M to be awarded the 2016 President’s Award for Outstanding Service. The award recognizes exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments, and service units by any active or retired faculty or staff member. Recipients of this award have gone well beyond their regular duties and have demonstrated an unusual commitment to the University community.
Hollister’s research and teaching has focused on immigrant and refugee resettlement and on international social work and social development. He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
Hollister will retire in August 2016 after 50 years as a faculty member, 45 at the U of M. In 1971 he helped form a new social work school organized around the concept of social development at University of Minnesota Duluth. Along with colleagues from five universities, he helped establish the International Consortium for Social Development, now in its 42nd year. In 1980 he came to the Twin Cities as a full professor. He served as director of the School of Social Work from 1983 to 1991 and also as director of graduate studies and Ph.D. program chair.
School of Social Work doctoral student Tanya Bailey recently won the U of M Outstanding Community Service Award, the highest honor given to a student for service to the University and community. She received the award at a ceremony on March 31. Bailey established the PAWS (Pet Away Worry & Stress) program, which involves over 100 volunteers who bring registered therapy animals to campus to interact with students and staff, helping them reduce and manage stress.
See a video about the program and Bailey’s outstanding achievements.
After years of living in the United States illegally, Daniel Perez, a former FSoS undergraduate student and current graduate student, has a green card after qualifying for a federal program that offers deportation reprieve for immigrants who entered the country as children.
Perez, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 15, qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), passed by the Obama administration in 2012.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, for those who qualify, DACA offers a temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit. For some immigrants married to U.S. citizens, the program also allows government-approved travel abroad to nullify their initial illegal entry into the country and permit them to apply for a green card.
Perez’s wife, Kendra, a Canadian who is now a U.S. citizen, sponsored him.
Through DACA, Perez has been granted “advanced parole,” according to the Star Tribune. This means that a person with a pending immigration application has permission to re-enter the country, as long as they had an educational, professional, or humanitarian reason to leave the country. Perez, who now works as a social worker in Minneapolis, was granted advance prole for a professional conference in Canada.
Now Perez and his wife are planning his first trip to Mexico since he and his family left in 2002. They will visit his grandparents and other family.
Perez will be eligible to apply for citizenship in 2018.
Professor Amy Krentzman was recently quoted in the White Bear Press article “Mother’s letters gave addicted son a dose of reality“. Martha Wegner began writing letters to her son and posting them to a blog during a period when he was homeless due to drug addiction. The blog is now published in a book entitled, “Dear David: Dealing with My Son’s Addiction One Letter at a Time”. Now sober they look back as a family as to why the blog might have aided both mother and son. In the article Krentzman is referenced to explain a few reasons why the blog might have made such a positive influence: in addition to the expression of emotion that is a benefit of all therapeutic journaling, the blog might have garnered Martha social support for her situation, might have helped other families struggling with addiction, and might have aided David in seeing the impact of his addiction on his family. Krentzman also explains that the public disclosure of recovery status is a growing trend embodied by the Faces and Voices of Recovery Movement.
The play, titled Saplings, deals with the role of stress, health and education in the lives of African American youth. The first part of the play is based on Gibson’s research about African American grandmother caregivers and how they are affected when the grandchildren they are raising are suspended from school. The second part features the experiences of parents of African American children and is based on the research of Sonya S. Brady, associate professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, into factors that affect the well-being and future success of African American youth.
University faculty, students and teaching artists used Gibson and Brady’s research findings to craft the “scripted facilitation” play which raises issues about race, school suspensions, and relationships between families and school staff. Organizers hope that Friday’s performance will be viewed by many social work and education students and professionals who will participate in a discussion afterward. The goal of the discussion is to generate respectful dialogue about school discipline policies and to create opportunities to bridge the gaps between institutions of learning and the communities that they serve.
The play and discussion are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Nolte Experimental Theatre in Rarig. Parking vouchers will be offered and food and refreshments will be provided after the performance. Audience members who participate in the discussions after the performance will receive a $25 gift card. Please RSVP here.
Other organizations involved in the project are the African American Resource Center in collaboration with the University’s Institute for Advanced Study and the Imagine Fund.
The Refugee Health Program is piloting a mental health screening protocol after data was collected that showed the need to move forward with the implementation of a statewide screening component. The training program is to prepare for the pilot program.
Patricia Shannon, associate professor, is conducting the state training sessions and recently completed sessions at Ramsey and Hennepin county screening sites. She will continue to train others in Olmsted County in their public health clinic and referral sites on February 17.
Congratulations to School of Social Work Associate Professor Colleen Fisher and Professor Elizabeth Lightfoot for being named Fellows of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), class of 2016.
Fellowships recognize SSWR members for their accomplishments, leadership, and contributions to SSWR as a scientific society. Fellows are members who have served with distinction to advance the mission of the society: to advance, disseminate, and translate research that addresses issues of social work practice and policy, and promotes a diverse, equitable, and just society.
They were honored at the SSWR 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on January 16, 2016.
The site assigns 15 ranking categories to each graduate program at each graduate school. The School of Social Work also made the “Dean’s List,” which consists of schools ranking in the top 25 in these categories: career support (11th); social life (12th); grad program value (6th), and financial aid (7th).
Program rankings were compiled using data gathered between September 1, 2012, and September 30, 2015. The site uses social media and scholarship drawings to attract reviewers, and no graduate program is ranked until a minimum threshold of graduate student surveys is completed for that program.
Youth studies undergraduate student Soua Thao (pictured in the middle) was awarded theSharon Doherty Student Leadership Award from the University Women’s Center. Thao serves on the youth advisory council for the National Youth Leadership Council, a service-learning organization. At the U of M, Thao is a TRIO student and is pursuing a minor in Leadership and is a part of Students Today Leaders Forever. With the award funding, Thao will attend a national leadership conference.
The Sharon Doherty Award recognizes a woman-identified student who has demonstrated outstanding volunteer service concerning women’s issues on campus or in the broader community.
When she made a last-minute decision to abandon a scholarship from a sociology Ph.D. program and enroll instead in the University of Minnesota’s master’s of social work (M.S.W.) program, Katy Armendariz had no idea that would be her first step toward fulfilling a lifelong dream of serving children and families.
Katy is an international adoptee and former foster child who knows the child welfare system from personal experience. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Minnesota in 2009. In 2013, she started MN CarePartner, a mental health agency to bring psychotherapy services into the homes of people who could not make it to a clinic due to physical, mental, financial or transportation barriers.
The agency started out small, with just two part-time therapists. By August of 2015, it had six therapists and a certificate from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS). CTSS is an in-home rehabilitative service that teaches children and families the necessary skills to manage the symptoms of a child’s mental health condition and bring the child back to a normal developmental trajectory.
Then, last spring, Katy and Laura Skoglund, owner of Families in Transition Services (FiTS), had a conversation over coffee. Laura has a degree in social work and paralegal studies, with a strong advocacy background in domestic violence and sexual assault. When she took over Families in Transition in January of 2012, she found a niche serving families through supervised visitation and parenting skills.
Laura, who grew up in a home where domestic violence and chemical dependency were prevalent, saw FiTS as an opportunity to help families in similar situations. FiTS provides supervised visitation for child protection families requiring oversight throughout the process of permanency and reunification, as well as family law cases. Laura saw that children’s acting-out behaviors often increased before and/or after visits with their parents, and she saw a need for in-home skills and therapy to smooth the transitions. Katy wanted the services her agency provided to help disadvantaged families who have a hard time parenting due to psychosocial barriers, such as the homelessness and mental illness that prevented her own birth mother from being able to parent.
It was a perfect match and happened to coincide with the release of 93 recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children, which had examined the Minnesota child welfare system. It concluded that the system could not improve without additional resources, training and workforce. Katy and Laura quickly realized that their partnership could help child welfare providers meet several of the task force recommendations about providing more seamless services to children and families.
Together, FiTS and MN CarePartner offers supervised visitation in the home, CTSS services and in-home psychotherapy. In order to reduce the number of providers coming into a family’s home, the two agencies work together to hire people who can provide more than one kind of service. The person supervising the visit is often the same person who teaches CTSS and parenting skills between visits. The CTSS skills worker is supervised by the in-home therapist, ensuring complementary treatment plans and a quality coordinated-care team for each family.
FiTS and MN CarePartner reached out to several child protection units in several counties, and had 16 partnerships set up in 10 counties by the end of August. The response to the partnership has been extremely positive, and child protection workers have reported that they feel at ease knowing that a committed team is in the home working for the empowerment and self-determination of children and families. Additionally, MN CarePartner and FiTS actively recruit staff of color, as well as bilingual staff, to address the cultural disparities that have made it difficult for far too many families to connect with their service providers and have a fair shot at reunification.
In November, Katy will receive an Outstanding Service Award from the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health for showing extraordinary leadership in the field.
It is the first formal study of the use of gratitude in alcoholism treatment. Krentzman said she conducted the study after discovering that positive psychology interventions had not been tested among individuals with substance use disorders, even though they are commonly used in recovery programs.
“I thought a gratitude practice would be perfect as the first positive psychology intervention to test among individuals with addictions because gratitude is a naturally occurring theme in addiction recovery. For example, it is a regularly occurring theme in Alcoholics Anonymous literature,” Krentzman said.
The gratitude exercise, “Three Good Things,” asks participants to write about three positive things that happened in a day and why they happened. Krentzman said that her study will serve as a pilot program for further study about the impact of using “Three Good Things” in substance use disorder treatment programs and in post-treatment recovery organizations, such as sober living houses.
“I study addiction recovery and the factors that make the experience of recovery positive and reinforcing, which is a hedge against relapse,” Krentzman said. “Positive psychology is an excellent framework for my research.”
Amelia Franck Meyer (M.S.W. ’01), CEO of Anu Family Services, was named an Ashoka Fellow, joining a network of over 3,000 of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.
Ashoka Fellows are chosen for having innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change.
Franck Meyer has been CEO of Anu Family Services since 2001 and has built an award winning organization that is achieving nationally leading outcomes in finding permanence for children in out-of-home care. Last year, she shared her message and expertise with system leaders, legislators, front line staff, educators, and students across Minnesota, Wisconsin and 15 other states. Being an Ashoka Fellow will give her an opportunity to build on this growing momentum and desire for much needed systems change across the country.
Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka has provided start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world. For more information, see the Ashoka website.
Title: “Uncivil Rites: Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and Academic Freedom”
Abstract: Salaita will examine how academic freedom is restricted around issues of decolonization and assess how critique of American and Israeli colonization might be productively undertaken.
Date: Monday, April 20, 2015
Location: 1210 Heller Hall
Bio: Steven Salaita is the author of the following books (among other publications): Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics (2006) – Winner of 2007 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights’ “Outstanding Book” Award; The Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Canaan (2006); Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader’s Guide(2011); and Israel’s Dead Soul (2011). In October 2013, The University of Illinois offered a professorial position to Salaita. Illinois withdrew its offer in 2014 after high level administrators reviewed tweets of his that they viewed as “uncivil” (Salaita’s tweets critiqued genocide and settler colonialism in Palestine.) On August 1, 2014, University of Illinois Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre and University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise cancelled the Illinois job offer at a point after Salaita had resigned his position at Virginia Tech. Salaita argues this was an infringement on his academic freedom. He continues to advocate for academic freedom, Indigenous Rights, social justice, and decolonization in Palestine and the US.
Official Sponsors: Department of American Indian Studies (UMN-TC)
Department of American Studies (UMN-TC)
Culture and Teaching Program in Department of Curriculum and Instruction (UMN-TC)
School of Social Work, Youth Studies Program and Social Justice Program (UMN-TC)
Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (UMN-TC)
Office for Equity and Diversity (UMN-TC)
Students for Justice in Palestine
Macalester Students United for Palestinian Equal Right
Amelia Franck Meyer (M.S.W. ’01), CEO of Anu Family Services, was named one of twenty-three 2015 Bush Fellows by the Bush Foundation. Bush Fellowships are a recognition of extraordinary achievement and a bet on extraordinary potential. Franck Meyer was chosen based on her groundbreaking work on healing grief, loss, and trauma for youth, and her transformational vision for large scale systemic change within the child welfare system.
“Amelia’s proven leadership combined with her contagious spirit and commitment to improving the child welfare system inspired the selection committee. We are excited to have her as a 2015 Bush Fellow and look forward to seeing her impact in the community grow in years to come,” said Stephanie Andrews, Bush Foundation Leadership Development Director.
Franck Meyer has been CEO of Anu Family Services since 2001 and has built an award winning organization that is achieving nationally leading outcomes in finding permanence for children in out-of-home care. She intends to use the Bush Fellowship award to further her leadership training and build on her success in creating full system wellbeing within the child welfare system across the country. Franck Meyer has been asked to share her message and expertise, providing training and consultation to system leaders, legislators, front line staff, educators, and students across Minnesota and Wisconsin and in over 30% of the states across the country last year. The Bush Fellowship will provide an opportunity to build on this growing momentum and desire for much needed systems change.
About Anu Family Services: Anu Family Services is a national leader in child permanence and placement stability for children in the child welfare system. Based in Hudson, Wisconsin and funded in part by the United Way St. Croix Valley, Anu has been serving children and families in the St. Croix Valley since 1992. Learn more about Anu.
About Bush Foundation: The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them and encourages people and communities to think bigger and think differently about what is possible across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations. Learn more about the foundation.