2016 HSSJ Newsletter

Greetings from the Director, Dr. Emily Morrison
Wendy Wagner: Leading by Engagement
Jared Roberts: A Fond Farewell
Honey Nashman: The Sweet Life
GW Research Day Winners
Senior Wellbeing Research Project
Michelle Kelso Awarded Fulbright for Roma-Holocaust Study
Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement & Public Service
César Chávez Day
Serving the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington
Capstone Reflections
Networking for Human Services & Social Justice
Senior Spotlight: Zunara Naeem
Alumni Spotlight: Lisa de Saxe Zerden
Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Greetings from the Director, Dr. Emily Morrison

Emily Morrison

Dear HSSJ Alumni and Friends,

Welcome to the 2015-16 Human Services & Social Justice Program Annual Newsletter! Read on to learn about the work students are doing to create real change in and out of the classroom. Features include our program-wide research project on aging, César Chávez Day and other service activities. Our Capstone Seminar has once again provided significant opportunities for research, funding and support of D.C.-area community organizations. We’ve also highlighted our faculty achievements, student news and, of course, alumni updates, which we hope you’ll continue to send throughout the year.

As always, we love connecting with alumni and are delighted to have you get involved in the program. Students find it very informative and helpful to speak with alumni about their work and daily lives as they contemplate life beyond college. Here are a few ways you can help: assist in the classroom, review graduate applications, be a guest speaker, serve as a site supervisor, attend campus events, make financial contributions and answer students’ questions about careers, organizations and communities around the world. We value and appreciate your involvement. If you would like to help, or just stay in touch, please e-mail me at [email protected] or join our private LinkedIn Group: GW Human Services and Social Justice Program. I look forward to hearing from you!

Proud to be GW,

Dr. Emily Morrison
Director, Human Services & Social Justice Program

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Wendy Wagner: Leading by Engagement

Wendy Wagner began teaching and advising in the HSSJ program in January of 2015. Prior to her role here, she was the director of the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement at George Mason University, and an assistant professor in New Century College. Dr. Wagner’s scholarship lies at the intersection of civic leadership development, social justice and engaged pedagogies such as service-learning and community-based undergraduate research. She earned her doctorate from the University Maryland in College Student Development. Her research there examined the stages of student leadership development using Q methodology. At the national level, Wendy is most known for publications and speaking engagements on the Social Change Model of Leadership. This approach promotes social justice and equity as not only the goals of leadership, but also the values that guide inclusive group processes. Wendy’s most recent co-edited book will be available this May, New Directions for Student Leadership: Leadership and Services Learning (Wiley Publishing: Jossey-Bass).

Wendy grew up in a rural Nebraska/Wyoming border town: “Small town living is a great place to learn to be an involved community member.” Wendy adds, “but urban living is much more my thing.” As a resident of D.C. since 1997, she finds it extraordinarily meaningful to be able to connect her students’ learning experiences with the city she loves and calls home. For example, when teaching Introduction to HSSJ she invites students to explore D.C.’s wards through bus tours, community meetings and interviews with senior citizens. Wendy also teaches Ethical Leadership (HSSJ 2200), Nonprofit Organizations (HSSJ 3110W) and Program Planning and Evaluation (HSSJ 3100W). All of her courses involve a project-based form of service-learning, which she has advocated throughout her career. In addition to her role in the HSSJ program, Wendy works with the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service where she supports faculty who use service-learning. Wendy lives in Adams Morgan with her three elementary school-aged children and Professor Moriarty, her dog.

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Jared Roberts: A Fond Farewell

This coming fall, the Human Services & Social Justice family will bid a fond but sad farewell to Jared Roberts, who has been a dedicated member of our part-time faculty since 2010. Jared has served as an outstanding instructor and also played a key role in converting our program from HMSR to HSSJ, including creating a new course, Interpersonal Relationships in Human Services (HSSJ 2170), and significantly revising Human Interactions (HSSJ 2171 & 2172). He will be greatly missed, especially by the many students who were first introduced to the program by Jared. He not only welcomed them with his approachable style, but also challenged them to connect the material to their everyday lives. Jared has accepted a tenure-track position as assistant professor in the Counseling and Psychology Department at the University of Great Falls, Montana. Jared writes, “I’ll get to continue teaching undergrad classes, as I've so much enjoyed doing here, as well as graduate courses in counseling. The most difficult aspect of this change will be leaving the HSSJ program!” We wish Jared the best of luck, and thank him for making the HSSJ community stronger with his insights, teaching, and service.

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GW Research Day Winners!

This March, GW hosted Research Days, the annual celebration of student research. An initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Research, this two-day event offers students a forum to present either ongoing or recently completed works via posters, which are awarded prizes by category. For 2016, over 500 submissions were received across various college and departments, which was a record in the event’s 21-year history. “Research Days is a special opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate the hard work of student researchers and the faculty who serve as their mentors,” said Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa. “Poster presenters were eager to share the results of their research and clearly passionate about their projects.”

Students crowded shoulder to shoulder into the Grand and Continental Ballrooms on the third floor of the Cloyd Heck Marvin Center, exhibiting work on topics from quantum mathematics to the future of the historically black church. Human Services & Social Justice Program majors showcased their research, and two in the HSSJ senior thesis class won top prizes at the event! For the first time this year, the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service recognized community-based research with its own prize, which went to Shanna Helf for her project “Aging Through Change: Gentrification, Social Capital and Senior Citizens of Washington DC.” Lauren Hinkel earned second-place in the socio-cultural studies category with her qualitative work “Defining Confidence: An Exploration of Developing Factors of Self-Esteem in Adolescent Females.”

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Senior Wellbeing Research Project

By Emily Morrison and Shanna Helf

Did you know the fastest-growing demographic in the United States today is senior citizens? Americans are living longer lifespans than ever before, and within the next 25 years, the number of adults 65 years and older will double to approximately 72 million. Within D.C. neighborhoods, changes in the economic, social and geographic aspects of the city challenge existing support structures (e.g., affordable housing, social service agencies) that are integral to the health, wellbeing and longevity of seniors.

To prepare for this tremendous demographic shift and challenge to our social and health care systems, the GW Human Services & Social Justice Program has started to examine the critical factors that enhance and undermine seniors’ wellbeing. The Senior Wellbeing Research Project works in collaboration with several of our area’s strongest senior outreach networks that includes: Age-Friendly DC, We Are Family, The Washington Senior Wellness Center, East River Family Strengthening Collaborative, The Glover Park Village and Saint Mary’s Court, who all helped identify seniors who might be willing to share their experiences with our students. The project involves five different GW faculty, including the HSSJ faculty members listed below and Dr. Sharon Lambert from GW’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who helped with research design, student training and data analysis.

The IRB approved project design is grounded in community-informed research spanning multiple semesters (fall 2015, spring 2016 and fall 2016) and courses (HSSJ 1100, HSSJ 2172 and HSSJ 4193). The project creates opportunities for our students to transform into urban field researchers, who delve firsthand into neighborhood dynamics to learn about wellbeing among D.C. senior citizens, as well as contribute to our broader community and collective understanding of aging. Hands-on data collection and analysis are conducted by undergraduates in their first semester in the HSSJ Program, and in upper level classes. Rather than attend lectures on research and the knowledge creation process, students are introduced to and trained on research methods, and then actively engaged in research that allows them to learn from and with community members. This project addresses a community-identified concern, introduces students to principles of research methods, creates opportunities for intergenerational connection and offers data to inform policies and practices that affect seniors and the experience of aging. HSSJ students interviewed over 100 seniors from all eight D.C. wards, who have shared how their neighborhoods and communities contribute to or restrict their sense of wellbeing.

While research protocols are the same across the program, each course has a unique lens through which students explore the process of aging. Introduction to Human Services & Social Justice (HSSJ 1100), with Professors Emily Morrison and Wendy Wagner, focuses on familiarizing students with D.C., the field of HSSJ, issues of equity and justice and the impending demographic shift facing our communities. Students complement the interview project with assignments, such as taking a bus tour to identify community assets or attending ANC or other community-based meetings throughout the city to understand how the city serves senior citizens (or not, as the case may be). Students in Human Interactions: Adult Development (HSSJ 2172), with Professors Jared Roberts and Sara Pula, also interview local seniors. However, these students analyze the data in relation to different psychological and sociological theories of aging and wellbeing.

Finally, Shanna Helf, one of Professor Morrison’s senior honors thesis students, chose to do her senior thesis looking specifically at gentrification and aging in D.C. In addition to analyzing data from the other HSSJ classes, she analyzed data from over 600 surveys collected by Age-Friendly DC. She also collaborated with two graduate students in Michelle Kelso’s Qualitative Research Methods (SOC 6232) course to hold focus groups with over 20 seniors to explore the relationship between gentrification and aging in D.C.

This program-wide research project has been enriched by exceptional in-class presentations from nonprofit and government community leaders. Community experts and members have shared with students the impact of historical moments in D.C., persistent issues of inequity in the city, marginality and isolation, and how local government and nonprofit leaders collaborate to address these and related issues.

The outcomes of this research are informing our understanding of how gentrification and other neighborhood changes can impact seniors’ wellbeing. Initial findings were presented at the Fall Service-Learning Symposium hosted by the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. Findings from the spring semester will be presented to the D.C. Office on Aging.  We plan to continue sharing our research with seniors, our community partners and at community meetings and professional conferences. Through all of this work, we hope to mitigate inequities and ensure that people are adding quality life to their years—not just years to their lives.

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Michelle Kelso Awarded Fulbright for Roma-Holocaust Study

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Michelle Kelso who has received a 2016-17 Fulbright Fellowship. She will be on sabbatical in Romania completing a book project on collective memory of Roma during the Holocaust. The Nazis and their allies persecuted Roma throughout much of Europe. Despite this historical fact, post-war through present, official recognition of Romani suffering has been slow, especially following decades of denial in post-communist spaces. Using interviews and ethnography in survivor communities, Dr. Kelso will examine how Roma recall and remember their tragedy. Drawing on cultural sociology to explore these mechanisms, she proposes that the reproduction and transformation of inequalities might be understood better by exploring how recognition of the Roma's status during World War II and after has been changed, and how misrecognition endures due to the legacies of racism and persisting socio-economic factors.

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César Chávez Day

By Valentina Barrera Vasco

César Chávez Day (CCD) is an initiative that began in our Spanish Service Learning class in spring 2015. Throughout the semester we assisted several different local organizations with teaching students Spanish, providing company to the elderly, and much more. Toward the end of the semester, Profesora Dolores Perillan asked us a very important question: What will you leave behind at GW when you graduate? César Chávez Day was our answer. Our first event was very small and very special. We invited a group of students from the Latino Student Fund (LSF) to GW to learn about César Chávez and reflect on how his fight for farm workers’ rights in the Southwest could inspire us to reach our goals. After watching a short film on his life we discussed various non-violent tactics we could use to effectively communicate with those who hold opposing views on various issues, most especially immigration and ethnic stereotypes. It was incredibly inspiring to hear from the LSF high school students about not only the struggles they encounter as first generation immigrants but also their achievements and ambitions. Our first César Chávez Day was a wonderful and memorable experience. This is why we aim to make it an official annual celebrated holiday at GW.

Managing this year’s César Chávez Day was an adventure and learning experience. At times, it was difficult and nerve-wracking since this was our first year promoting the celebration on a grand scale. Thankfully, we were able to stay strong and positive because we have an amazing support system within and outside of GW. We have met so many creative students and professors who are extremely eager to assist us in any way they can. It is very moving to see how passionate some students become during our meetings when we discuss the need for social justice advocacy in our community. These students make all of the CCD Planning Committee’s efforts, struggles and long planning hours well worth it. We are grateful for everyone who has helped us throughout this wonderful journey thus far and are so proud to say that this year’s Cesar Chavez day was a remarkable success!

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Serving the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington

HSSJ senior Lauren Hinkel was recently spotlighted as a dedicated staff member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. One of Lauren’s projects at BGCGW is the FEARLESS Women program, which empowers middle and high school girls by creating a safe, positive environment in which they can talk about “mature” issues that are sometimes difficult to discuss. Lauren is currently developing the program curriculum, which also helps students with post-secondary education planning and readiness. To raise awareness of the program, she has created the FEARLESS Women Award and facilitated the event where D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was this year’s award recipient. Congratulations to Lauren for being both an exemplary BGCGW staff member and HSSJ student!

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Capstone Reflections

By Hannah Schaefer

As a Human Services & Social Justice major, I jump at any chance to give back to the community. Over the course of the HSSJ program, our countless hours spent volunteering have not only enhanced my academic knowledge but also contributed to a level of personal growth I never thought possible. As my final semester comes to a close, the Capstone Seminar (HSSJ 4195) has offered many opportunities for reflection—leading to a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. Facilitated by Dean of Students Peter Konwerski, this course builds upon our years of coursework and service-learning, and encourages students to continue fine-tuning our academic and personal goals. It also allows us to apply theories we have learned in the classroom to real-world situations, such as program planning and evaluation and grant writing.

For our final project, we created a foundation to distribute funds to two local organizations greatly valued by GW students: Empower DC and Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture.Empower DC is a 

citywide membership-based organization dedicated to social change through a democratic, self-help empowerment approach to community organizing. Focused on supporting low and moderate-income District residents in raising their voices and building their collective political power, this organization works on issues including affordable housing, quality affordable child care, preserving public property and improving public education. Arcadia is a nonprofit dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the D.C. area. The center’s mission is to improve the health of our community, support the viability of local farmers, and preserve the environment for future generations. Their programs address issues of food access and food justice, raise awareness about healthy food and its sources and establish innovative connections between local, sustainable farms and consumers.

Words cannot express the excitement we have all felt knowing that we are giving back to a community that has given so much to us. For every student in the program, this final project is not just the achievement of a course objective, rather it represents the successful conclusion of four years of hard work and a new beginning for our own lives and the organizations involved. I speak for myself when I say that, through this capstone experience, a more confident, self-aware and community-oriented individual has bloomed. I speak for our class when I say that each of us plans to continue our work in the service of humanity and social justice, wherever our post-graduation adventures take us. 

Update From the Director: As we reported last year, HSSJ students have a true capstone experience in running their own foundation where they distribute a request for proposal, evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of submissions and award a total of $10,000 to local community organizations. Echoing Hannah’s comments above, our students report that this course is one of their most meaningful classes because it allows them to draw upon all of their required coursework in the program and to support local organizations who are working to strengthen our community. The capstone project has been generously funded by the Learning by Giving Foundation since 2011. However, the monies from the foundation for this project are on the decline with $7,500 this year and a final $5,000 next year. Thanks to a thoughtful gift by Karen Segal and David Green this spring, HSSJ 4195 students were able to give a full $10,000 to two organizations this year. The students and program are brainstorming ways to continue this unique capstone experience. If you are interested in donating to help us support our community (note that 100 percent of the funds goes to fully-vetted organizations), and to enhance the learning experiences of our HSSJ students, please consider designating your gift to the HSSJ Program & Capstone Project (see links at the end of the newsletter). As always, we invite your ideas and contributions! – Emily Morrison ([email protected])

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Networking for Human Services & Social Justice

By Peter Konwerski

For the Human Services & Social Justice Capstone Seminar (HSSJ 4195), we hold an Alumni Panel every spring to ensure that our students have a chance to speak directly to those engaged in their fields, and to gain more practice networking and developing their post-graduation “employment pitch.” This year we were joined by our largest ever panel of 10 alumni, including friends of the program who graduated nearly 15 years ago, as well as more recent graduates from the past three to five years. That array of experience is invaluable to our students as they embark on a diverse set of post-graduate career paths, including education, nonprofit management, development, counseling, public policy and management.

This year the panel was coordinated by Jacqueline Hackett (BA HMSR & PSC ’08), a GW alumna who has also volunteered to serve as a teaching assistant for the course. She facilitated a series of career advice questions to our alumni about job paths, work-life balance, mentoring and professional development. It remains a highlight of the semester for students and alumni alike, and a tradition that builds tremendous student alumni affinity for our program.

Many thanks to our dedicated alumni who attended this year’s event:

  • Garima Bhatt, BA ’09                
  • Andrew Breza, BA ’09
  • Wendi Carol, BA ’00, MA ’02
  • Emily Goodstein, BA ’05
  • Jacqueline Hackett, BA ’08, MPP ’10
  • Natalie Kaplan, BA ’09, MPP ’11
  • Joshua Meyer, BA ’02, MBA ’12
  • Andrew Snow, BA ’05
  • Elizabeth Treble, BA ’08, MPA ’09
  • Katie Wilburn, BA ’05

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Zunara Naeem: 2016 Presidential Administrative Fellow

Zunara NaeemCongratulations to HSSJ major Zunara Naeem, who has been awarded a 2016 Presidential Administrative Fellowship – one of five GW students selected this year for their commitment to scholarship, leadership, and service. Zunara writes: “As a first-generation college student, I didn’t know what to expect from college or from GW. My initial interest in urban sociology sprung from a first year dean’s seminar, for which I also served (and still do) as a volunteer at LIFT-DC. Now here I am, four years later, with a BA degree in Human Services, a Presidential Administrative Fellowship, and a prospective Master’s in Public Administration. My next stop is the Colorado senate in Denver where I'll be putting together policy as an urban leaders fellow this summer. Although I didn’t consciously plan on this path, I remained open to the various roads before me. Looking ahead, my journey of 'non-expectations' continues as I look to make a permanent move to D.C. and pursue a career in public service. So the next time I’m asked about my future, I will say that I expect nothing, because I plan to explore the many experiences that lie ahead.”

We couldn’t be more proud of Zunara, as she is our ninth Human Services alum who has been awarded a Presidential Administrative Fellowship since its inception in 1992. Congratulations to all for your exemplary dedication to the work of human services and social justice!

Presidential Administrative Fellowship Awardees: Human Services Majors
Wendi Conti Carol, BA '00, M.Ed. '02
Austin Frizzell, BA '13, MPH '15
Elizabeth Barnett Glidden, BA '11, MPH '13
Jacqueline Hacke, BA ‘08, MPP '10,
Natalie Kaplan, BA '09, MPA '11
Jeff Marootian, BA '01, MA '03
Zunara Naeem, BA ‘16

Presidential Administrative Fellowship Awardees: Human Services Minors
Sarah Holmes Flowers, BA ’01, MPH ‘03
Heather Malkin Nesle, BA'97, MA'99

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Alumni Spotlight on Lisa de Saxe Zerden

Lisa de Saxe ZerdenLisa de Saxe Zerden, HMSR ’02, is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Social Work. She is currently serving as the principal investigator of a three-year $1.4 million Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) grant to expand the behavioral health workforce in integrated care. She is also a collaborating faculty member for the HRSA funded Leadership in Public Health Social Work grant for dual MSW/MPH students. Her research interests remain consistently focused on health disparities in drug use and treatment and overdose prevention, HIV/AIDS, and the role of social workers in healthcare. She is presently involved in several education opportunities within the Health Affairs schools at UNC-Chapel Hill including an interprofessional population health management course and a new partnership with the School of Dentistry. Dr. Zerden has authored over 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts, a half-dozen book chapters, and presented her work at numerous state and national conferences. She has won numerous teaching awards since joining the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill including “most outstanding” and “most supportive” faculty member.

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  • Andrew Breza, HMSR ’09, runs the Data Insights & Analytics program at BulletinHealthcare, which works closely with professional associations.
  • Kimberly Keeton, HMSR ’04, is working just blocks away from GW, helping to promote exciting global nutrition and health research as a communications specialist for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Before that, she spent time managing global health, education, and community projects funded by the US government while working at Chemonics International (also a few blocks away). She also spent about four years living and working overseas in India and in Lesotho, southern Africa, working for a UN agency and several nonprofit organizations. She earned her MPA in policy and communications from University of Washington in 2012.
  • Tess Marstaller, HMSR ’09, MPA ’10, will be graduating in May with a BS in Nursing from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. Noting how well her degree in human services has complemented her nursing studies, Tess writes: “I look forward to the honor of working directly with patients as an RN, and hope to find a position at a hospital in the San Francisco Bay area. My experiences at GW, in Washington DC, and the Peace Corps have been instrumental in putting me on this life path. And I am proud and grateful for the foundation in empathy and service that GW’s Human Services program has given me.”
  • Ariel Novick, HMSR ’03, recently began working as Volunteer Engagement Manager at Food Lifeline, a member of Feeding America. She manages a volunteer corps of 10,000 volunteers for an organization that distributes 40 million pounds of food annually to 275 hunger relief partners across Western Washington State.
  • Christopher Percopo, HMSR ’05, is Director of Grants Management at The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust – a private foundation distributing more than $250 million in grants to charitable causes annually. His department oversees due diligence, compliance, monitoring, and processing grants through an integrated approach with all departments throughout the Trust. Chris is currently the organization's longest serving employee and works across the organization to meet various program and operational needs.

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The Human Services and Social Justice Program would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the school from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015.

Elizabeth H. Casey, BA ’15
Adrienne L. Foler #
Stuart L. Foler #
Kate A. Hornyan, BA ’09, MPA ’12
Katherine B. Humpton, BA ’09
Caroline K. Knights, BA ’15
Peter A. Konwerski, BA ’91, Med ’94, EdD ’97 +
Shannon M. McGuire, BA ’15
Emily Kathleen Myers, BA ’07, MA ’10
Matthew J. Patashnick, BA ’02
Christopher R. Percopo, BA ’05
Melinda J. Pollack, BA ’97
Leah Yael Rosen, BBA ’96, MTA ’02
Mia E. Scott, BA ’15
Susan Kagan Shaw, BA ’81
Andrew M. Siegel, BA ’15
Jeffrey L. Stein, MS ’05
Carolyn D. Wallace, BA ’15

+ Faculty/Staff
# Parent

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