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News about the School for Social Work

Timeline: Summer 2016 Campus Communication

July 5th, 2016
Faculty commit to an action plan to prevent racism and respond effectively to complaints.

July 7 and 8, 2016
School for Social Work Dean Marianne Yoshioka issues statements via email on the School's anti-racism commitment and world events.

July 19, 2016
Smith College School for Social Work Professor Dennis Miehls sends an email to School for Social Work Dean Marianne Yoshioka and Associate Deans Peggy O'Neill and Irene Rodriguez Martin, with copies to 22 people within and ouside of the School for Social Work.

July 21, 2016
An anonymous email from "a group of concerned adjunct faculty" is sent to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney with a broad cc: list. Neither the identity of the senders nor their affiliation to the School for Social Work has been determined.

July 29, 2016
The Trans and Gender Nonconforming Student Group sends an open letter to the SSW Community.

August 4, 2016
Dean Marianne Yoshioka addresses community via email regarding the email from "Concerned Adjuncts."

August 4, 2016
White Students in Support of Students of Color-led Organizing issues a letter to the SSW Community.

August 14, 2016
An email, from "Patty Smithfield," a pseudonym, sent to the SSW student community from an anonymous address and signed by "Concerned Community Members" shares both the Miehls email and the anonymous letter.

August 15, 2016
Members of the SSW faculty send a letter to the Council for Students of Color.

August 15, 2016
In an open letter to the SSW community, members of the Class of 2018 demand a response to both the anonymous email and Professor Miehls' email.

August 16, 2016
School for Social Work students hold a rally to voice their concerns related to the content in the two letters.

August 17, 2016
Dean Marianne Yoshioka issues a statement

August 18, 2016
Social Work students peacefully and quietly attend the President's graduation reception and give brief remarks

August 19, 2016
SSW commencement. Dean Yoshioka offers comments in her welcome address

August 29, 2016
August 29 Letter from Dean Yoshioka: Deepening Our Commitment to Anti-racism and Inclusion

August 17 Statement from Dean Yoshioka on recent events at the Smith College School for Social Work

In recent weeks, a series of attributed and unattributed letters have circulated in the Smith College School for Social Work community. The letters make various assertions about admissions, diversity and equity at the School.

The Smith College School for Social Work is distinguished by a strong, public commitment to anti-racism. This commitment is actively and affirmatively shared by our community —students, staff and faculty—as it has been since the anti-racism pledge was instituted in 1995. Anonymous letters do not represent our school. They do not advance—in fact they undermine—our work as a community. As you know, I've been meeting with students. Going forward, President McCartney and I, and other members of the senior leadership team, have offered further meetings with students to address their concerns.

The Smith College School for Social Work is one of the most selective social work programs in the country. Our standards are exceptionally high for those we admit, and we take pride in each of our highly intelligent, capable and compassionate students, particularly throughout the recent campus involvement they have encouraged.

For the past year, prompted by these students, we as a community have been engaged in important, productive and collaborative work to continually evolve as an anti-racism organization. Social work is not a profession that effectively operates within the status quo. We are clinical professionals specifically committed to social justice and systemic change. The determination brought by our students, the courage they have shown and the accountability they have demanded will challenge us to fulfill our commitment alongside the next generation of social workers.

As we approach graduation, we are focused on supporting all members of our community in their educational pursuits as well as in the broader work of achieving the School's mission to advance clinical social work. This is work that takes time, resolve, honest communication and mutual respect. Even in the context of urgency, it requires a commitment to deliberative due process. On behalf of the faculty and administration, I commit us to moving forward together.

Marianne Yoshioka, Ph.D, M.S.W.
Smith College School for Social Work

Announcing the 2016-2017 Bertha Capen Reynolds Predoctoral Fellow: Rhoda Smith

The Smith College School for Social Work is pleased to welcome Rhoda Smith to campus as the 2016 Bertha Capen Reynolds Predoctoral Fellow. Smith is a doctoral candidate in Social Policy and Social Research at Loma Linda University in California. Her research interests include mental and maternal health, and well-being for children in the child welfare system, especially foster youth. Her dissertation focuses on how foster youth learn about sex and reproductive health and identifies the significant gaps in that education.

Smith is a lecturer in Azusa Pacific University’s M.S.W. program and serves as the coordinator for the University Consortium for Children and Families, a partnership of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and six M.S.W. programs in Los Angeles. Her career has included extensive experience in the field of child welfare, including work as a social worker and supervisor, recruiter of staff and foster parents, and consultant to group homes for pregnant and parenting teens in foster care. She has also worked in juvenile probation and forensic inpatient mental health treatment.

The Bertha Capen Reynolds (BCR) Fellowship Program provides a twelve-month residential fellowship to a doctoral student in the dissertation phase from any accredited social work Ph.D. program. Created in 1987, this highly competitive fellowship supports the development of scholars from underrepresented groups, whose work promotes both the underlying principles of Reynolds’ approach to clinical social work and the mission of the Smith College School for Social Work.

Commencement Speaker 2016: CarmenLeah Ascencio

We are pleased to announce that our 2016 Commencement Speaker is CarmenLeah Ascencio, LICSW, MPH, CPC, RYT.

CarmenLeah Ascencio is a public health social worker, therapist, radical life coach, trauma-sensitive yoga instructor and educator, who specializes in working with survivors of violence and abuse and queer and trans people of color.

A Retirement Celebration for Three Esteemed Colleagues

This summer the Smith College School For Social Work will be holding a celebration to honor the many years of service dedicated to our School and the Social Work profession by our retiring faculty members Professor Joan Berzoff, Adjunct Associate Professor Fred Newdom, and Associate Professor Catherine Nye. Please save the date and join us in celebrating all three of their many accomplishments on August 4, 2016, at 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Smith College Campus Center Carroll Room. Refreshments and appetizers will be served.

Joan Berzoff, M.S.W., Ed.D.

Joan Berzoff will be retiring in May, 2016. A full professor, she has been on the resident faculty for 36 years as the cirector of End of Life Certificate Program for fifteen of them, chair and co-chair of HBSE for eighteen years and Co-Director of the Doctoral Program for thirteen years.

The author of over 50 publications and book chapters related to psychodynamic theories and practice, death, dying and bereavement, global social work, women's issues, doctoral education, marginalized populations and a range of other topics, Berzoff has presented nationally and internationally including in Sweden, Bulgaria, Canada, Israel and Hong Kong. She is the co-editor and editor of 7 books:  Inside Out and Outside In: Psychodynamic Theories in Multicultural Practice (editions 1-4), Dissociative Identity Disorders: Theoretical and Treatment Controversies and Living with Dying: A Handbook for End of Life Care Practitioners, and  Falling Through the Cracks: Psychodynamic Practice with Vulnerable and Oppressed Populations.

In l999, she received the Soros Social Work Leadership Award from the Project on Death in America to develop the End of Life Certificate Program and to write Living with Dying. She later received the Outstanding Scholar Award from the National Academies of Practice and the Outstanding Teacher award from the Massachusetts NASW as well as a nomination for the Gravida Award from the National Association of Psychoanalysis.
Berzoff has done research on palliative care and is currently a co-principal investigator on a PCORI grant related to helping patients and families with renal disease access palliative care through robust end of life conversations led by social workers. She has been in private practice for 35 years, 29 of them in Northampton, Massachusetts.

In her retirement, Berzoff plans on teaching, writing, continuing her research, consulting, and practicing.

Fred Newdom, M.S.W.

Adjunct Associate Professor Fred Newdom will retire in August 2016. He first joined the School for Social Work in 1988 and, in 2011, was recognized as a full time clinical faculty member because of his leadership in our social welfare policy sequence. Professor Newdom has extensive history of service within social work. He served five years as chair of the New York affiliate of NARAL—ProChoice America, whose legislative and political committees he also chaired. For ten years, he was the chair of the Social Welfare Action Alliance (formerly the Bertha Reynolds Society), a national organization of progressive workers in social welfare. His involvement with the National Association of Social Workers nationally includes terms as appointed chair of the Committee on Peace and Social Justice, member of the committees on Government Affairs and Professional Development and Advocacy, and as the elected NYS representative to the National Committee on Nominations and Leadership Identification, which he also chaired. He has chaired the NYS NASW Advocacy and Government Relations Committee and the NYS Chapter's Political Action Committee.

Since 1987, Newdom's has worked as a consultant to non-profits and advocacy organizations. Among his many roles in that field, two that stand out are his long-standing affiliations with the disability rights movement, working with Independent Living Centers around the country, and directing a training initiative aimed at improving mental health services for Veterans and their families.

Newdom was honored with the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany( SUNY) and given special recognition awards by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Smith College School for Social Work Alumni Association. In addition, he has done settlement house work, other university teaching, and worked in children's services. Before entering the consulting field, he served as executive director of the New York State chapter of NASW for ten years

Catherine Nye, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Catherine Nye will be retiring in May 2016. An Associate Professor, she has been a member of the resident faculty for 25 years. Her work at the School has focused on field education and cross-cultural clinical practice.

Nye has received two Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to support her research and teaching in Southeast Asia. In 2001 she spent eight months doing research and teaching at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand. Her Fulbright project, an ethnographic study of social work practice in Thailand, allowed her to develop relationships with Thai faculty, social work practitioners and Monks in local agencies and Buddhist Wats. These relationships led, in turn, to a ten year project, supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Brown Foundation at Smith, and Thammasat University in Bangkok. In 2009, Nye received a second Senior Scholar Award for work at Vietnam National University in Hanoi. In addition to doing research, teaching and presenting in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, Nye established an internship program—in social work agencies and NGO's in Chiang Mai and Bangkok—for Smith M.S.W. students. Nye's experience and research in Southeast Asia has been represented in her publications, presentations and her anthropologically informed M.S.W. and Ph.D. courses.

Nye's commitment to field education at Smith is reflected in her 25 years of service as an FFA in the M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs, her work as an area coordinator in California, and in her leadership in developing and directing the Advanced Clinical Supervision Certificate Program. This program, designed to meet the needs of clinical social work supervisors coping with diminished agency support and training, is in its eleventh year. It serves the core mission of the School by providing training for Smith supervisors, as well as alums and others providing supervision to clinical social workers. Nye's commitment to supervisory training and her international work have been mutually reinforcing. In addition to training supervisors at Smith she has developed and taught in supervisory training programs in Cyprus and Vietnam. She has published and presented nationally and internationally on the supervisory process, including co-editing a Special Issue of Smith Studies on Clinical Supervision.

In retirement, Nye plans to continue her involvement with field education at Smith in her role as an FFA and as an adjunct instructor in the Advanced Clinical Supervision Certificate Program.

Promotional image for Social Work Month 2016

SSW Announces DBT Training Collaboration

Smith College School for Social Work is pleased to cosponsor a new Dialectical Behavior Therapy training collaboration with Cutchins Programs for Children and Families, a leading Massachusetts provider of children and family services!

About DBT

DBT is an empirically supported intervention shown to be effective for individuals with serious self-harming behavior. Drawing on cognitive behavioral principles, research indicates that DBT offers an important way to intervene with individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), difficulties with emotional regulation, substance dependence, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Courses

Doing DBT: An Advanced Intensive Training
Presented by Charles Swenson, M.D., and Kelly Koerner, Ph.D.
May 3-6, 2016  Add to my calendar
Smith College Conference Center

This four-day training is geared to clinicians who have received prior training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and are looking to deepen their skills. The course will be taught at an advanced level and is designed to take the DBT clinician’s current work in therapy to the next level. Instructors will tackle typical problems in the practice of DBT, demonstrating how to address them with a fine-tuned level of detail, similar to having supervision in a group.

To register or for more information, please go to

Registration will close when all spaces are filled or by April 15—so don't delay!

Ten-Day Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Comprehensive Training
Presented by Charles Swenson, M.D.

Part 1: October 17-21, 2016 Add to my calendar
Part 2: April 24-28, 2017 Add to my calendar
Smith College Conference Center

Dr. Charles Swenson will direct and teach this rigorous, engaging ten-day training to cover DBT’s extensive knowledge base, to improve the DBT practice of every therapist and every team, and to offer what is needed to prepare for certification as a DBT therapist.

Promotional image for James Drisko training on assessment for NASW MA

Professor James Drisko offers training on assessment for NASW-MA

On March 24, SSW Professor James Drisko will offer a training on "Assessment: Professionals Shouldn't Intervene Without It" for the National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts chapter. The training will cover the definitions and purposes of assessment and case formulation, an examination of several assessment models, and a review of how social work education prepares students to complete effective and thorough social work assessments and case formulations.

The training provides 1.5 CEUs. It will be held at Smith College in the Dewey Common Room at 7:30pm on Thursday, March 24. Add to my calendar

Those interested can RSVP on the NASW-MA website, Registration will begin at 7:15pm, just before the start of the event.

Promotional image for Joshua Miller keynote at the 2016 DPS Conference in Vancouver

Professor Joshua Miller to keynote at International Disaster Psychosocial (DPS) Conferences

Joshua Miller, M.S.W., Ph.D., will give a keynote presentation at the 2016 International Disaster Psychosocial (DPS) Conference in Vancouver, CA, on March 23, 2016 at 8:30am.

Miller is an SSW resident faculty member who teaches courses on psychosocial capacity building, anti-racism and cultivating client resistance. He has responded to and served as a consultant for many disasters, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Aurora shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Asian Tsunami, the Haitian earthquake, armed conflict in Northern Uganda and the Sichuan province earthquake in China. In 2008, Dr. Miller was appointed as an Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University where he co-teaches every year. He serves as the principal investigator for the U.S. Department of State-funded Professional Fellows Program: Tolerance and Conflict Resolution in Uganda and Rwanda.

Miller has authored Psychosocial Capacity Building in Response to Disasters, a comprehensive book that integrates Western mental health approaches and international models of psychosocial capacity building within a social ecology framework, providing practitioners and volunteers with a blueprint for individual, family, group, and community interventions. He has also co-authored Racism in the United States: Implications for the Helping Professions with Ann Marie Garran, and co-edited School Violence and Children in Crisis.

The 2016 International Disaster Psychosocial Conference is a unique program that brings together topics of importance to the disaster psychosocial community.

In 2014 the Disaster Psychosocial (DPS) Program, a service of the Provincial Health Authority (PHSA) of BC and its DPS Council decided to create a conference opportunity for disaster psychosocial stakeholders. The DPS Council has representatives from professional and para-professional mental health associations.

Conference themes include:

  • Psychosocial support for:
    First responder groups
    Impacted populations
  • Building a resilient workforce and providing organizational support
  • Disaster Psychosocial Management

Promotional image for Social Work Month 2016

Celebrating Social Work Month 2016

SSW is delighted to recognize Social Work Month this March. The National Association of Social Workers chose "Forging Solutions Out of Challenges" as this year's theme—and we believe it is one that speaks to the heart of clinical social work.

To honor the month, we are turning the spotlight on the wisdom of our students, alumni and faculty, with a series of quotations. The first, below left, was released on March 14 and quotes from a Dispatches blog post by student Katie Green, M.S.W. class of 2016. The second, below center, was released on March 21 and quotes Joanne Corbin about her work in Uganda. The third, below right, was released on March 28 and quotes SSW alumnus Edward Eismann about what he has learned through a lifetime in social work. (Click on the images to view them in a larger size.)

Promotional image for Social Work Month 2016 with header text Smith College School for Social Work Celebrates Social Work Month 2016 body text quote from Katie Green M.S.W. class of 2016 quote Even in moments of unhappy realization that life is not fair for many of the people we serve, and evidence of opppresion lurks under every file folder and case management note, the guiding refrain of quote social justice, dignity, and worth of the person end quote is enough for me to keep at it end quote Followed by SSW and NASW's Social Work Month 2016 logoPromotional image for Social Work Month 2016 with header text Smith College School for Social Work Celebrates Social Work Month 2016 body text quote from Dr. Joanne Corbin quote  Working in Northern Uganda that has lived through armed conflict and internal displacement teaches us many lessons about collaborating with communities to develop programs to strengthen family relationships and improve economic well-being. We need the full range of our social work skills. Real solutions in such contexts require social workers to work at all system levels to create mechanisms to support families to live self-directed lives in peace and with dignity. end quote Followed by SSW and NASW's Social Work Month 2016 logo Promotional image for Social Work Month 2016 with header text Smith College School for Social Work Celebrates Social Work Month 2016 body text quote from SSW alumnus Edward Eismann, Ph.D. '67, M.S.W. quote After 50 years as a clinical social worker and as an elder, my task is to take all I have learned, experienced, lived out in my convictions and expand these accomplishments into broader horizons in the world--sharing this wisdom, realizing unhatched talents and appreciating each breath of life as never before in prayer or mindful awareness of the aliveness in each moment. end quote Followed by SSW and NASW's Social Work Month 2016 logo

Promotional image including event title and speaker's headshot

Jim Drisko to present "Assessing Social Work Competencies" in Washington, DC (1/13/16)

SSW professor James Drisko will present "Assessing Social Work Competencies-Demonstrating and Documenting What Students Can Do." on January 13, 2016, at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. Drisko was awarded a 2015 "Best Conceptual Article" award by the Journal of Social Work Education for his contribution on this topic.

A reception will follow the talk.
One CEU (Continuing Education credit) will be offered to attendees.

Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Add to my calendar

Busboys and Poets
1025 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
See location on map