April 10, 2012

Jackie Maroney Joins School as M.S.W. Program Assistant

JackieMaroney.pngWe are pleased to announce that Jackie Maroney has joined the school as the new M.S.W. Program Assistant. In her new role, Jackie will be supporting M.S.W. faculty in a variety of capacities. She will make travel arrangements, maintain program files, and assist the M.S.W. Program Director.

Originally from upstate New York, Jackie studied Sociology at the State University of New York College at Cortland. She has extensive administrative support experience at VCU, as well as in health care and accounting settings.

Please join us in welcoming Jackie!

March 13, 2012

Dr. Lisa E. Cox Serves on Advisory Committee for National HIV/AIDS Project

NASW News recently announced that the HIV/AIDS Spectrum: Mental Health Training and Education of Social Workers Project has been awarded a $334,000 contract modification through the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration which will support efforts to accelerate a federal response to HIV/AIDS as outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. 1997 Ph.D. alumna Lisa E. Cox serves on the advisory committee for this national project.

Lisa Cox.jpg Dr. Cox, whose dissertation The Relative Influence of Social Support and the Medication Compliance of People with HIV Infection was chaired by Dr. Beverly Koerin, is an associate professor of social work at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and, since 2007, has served as the Research Chair for Stockton College’s Center on Successful Aging (SCOSA). Additionally, Lisa is an Associate Fellow with University of Pennsylvania’s Institute on Aging, collaborates with the Tourette Syndrome Clinic at Rutgers University, and is currently working on several publications in the area of HIV/AIDS.

March 8, 2012

Kim Flournoy DiJoseph Joins Office of Student Success

Kim 2.JPGWe are delighted to announce that Kim Flournoy DiJoseph has joined the school as the Director of Student Success. In her new role, Kim will serve as a resource to students in all programs at the School of Social Work. Kim will coordinate our Advising Center, which will open later this year. She will further develop student engagement and support activities, emphasize scholarship opportunities, coordinate student awards, and advise the school’s various student organizations.

Kim earned her B.S.W. and M.S.W. degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been a field instructor and adjunct instructor in addition to having provided course development for the School of Social Work and the Department of Sociology’s Certificate in Gender Violence Intervention Program. She provides consultation and training in areas such as domestic violence, play therapy, non-profit program development, and the effects of trauma on children, families, and clinicians. Kim serves on the board of the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work and is an active member of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Kim!

February 28, 2012

McLeod Awarded SRI Graduate Researcher Fellowship

McLeod.JPG Doctoral candidate David Axlyn McLeod was excited to learn this week that he has been selected to participate in the 2012 Summer Research Institute at the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect to be held on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, June 11-15, 2012. Chosen from among a highly competitive national pool of applicants and selected as the recipient of the only all-expenses-paid graduate research fellowship, David will have the opportunity to further his dissertation data analysis with the data consortium and biostatisticians who were original compilers of the data. Congratulations on this important achievement, David!

December 1, 2011

Mission: Healthy Relationships After War

A recent study suggests more than 300,000 troops suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury — no surprise to VCU School of Social Work Associate Professor, Dr. Karen Smith Rotabi, who runs Mission Healthy Relationships, a program aimed at teaching military couples how to manage conflict and improve their relationship.

RICHMOND, Va. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Thousands of military families are eagerly awaiting the arrival of troops from Iraq. Last month, President Obama announced that all the troops would be home by December 31. Re-adjusting to civilian life and a marriage after the stress of combat and extended separations can mean couples are more likely to face relationship trouble. That’s where a program aimed at saving troops’ marriages comes in.

Walking hand in hand, Roy and Mary Bell are a happy couple, but the road hasn’t been easy. The two got reacquainted at their 10-year high school reunion. Sparks flew and six weeks later, they were married.

“It was right, it felt right and I believe God sent him to me and for me,” Mary Bell told Ivanhoe.

Roy had just returned from Iraq, his third combat deployment and readjusting to life became a battle.

“I think emergency room doctors haven’t seen as much stuff as I have,” Roy Bell told Ivanhoe. “Each time I got deployed, it got harder and harder to be around groups of people. To trust people and to really be comfortable about myself and to be myself.”

“Roy just really kept a lot of things to himself. I think his time in Iraq really impacted him being able to verbalize how he was feeling,” Mary Bell, Roy’s wife, told Ivanhoe.

A recent study suggests more than 300,000 troops suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. Roy suffers from both. The news is no surprise to Karen Smith Rotabi, who runs Mission Healthy Relationships.

“I’ve had people say, my husband is just not the same or my wife is not the same person. We’ve had to negotiate something new. They are no longer fun with the kids,” Karen Smith Rotabi, School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, said.

Her top tips? Create a safe environment for your partner. For Mary and Roy, that meant letting Roy open up at his own pace.

“That was one of the things that was real special about Mary is that she always showed that she was there for me,” Roy said.

Also, plan and commit to a date night.

“Write down five to 10 things that you think would be fun as a date night that you want to do,” Rotabi added.

But keep deeper issues out of the date.

“The way to prevent that is to talk about the tough issues at appropriate times so you can go out to dinner and enjoy each other,” Rotabi said.

And remember how you manage conflict will determine the health of your relationship. Fifty-nine percent of marital conflict is about hidden issues. Practice active listening.

“Another way to say it is, ‘So let me get this right: when I don’t take the trash out, you feel like I don’t care about the house,’” Rotabi said.

You can use these same skills you learn for smaller issues on the ones that really count.

“If we can overcome those things, then there is nothing we cannot overcome,” Mary concluded.

Even the stormiest of days.

The stresses of war could also be contributing to increased reports of family violence within the military over the last two years. A new report says 16 domestic abuse deaths were reported to the family advocacy program last year. In 81 percent of the cases, the perpetrator was on active-duty in the military.

November 29, 2011

Area organizations receive national grant award

Through its partnership with the VCU School of Social Work, the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg and MetroCASH have received a 2012 VITA Grant Award of $55,750.

RICHMOND, Va. - Announced on November 1, 2011, United Way and MetroCASH have received a 2012 VITA Grant Award of $55,750. “It’s a great example of how our involvement is very tangibly benefiting the community, particularly on a key issue — income — that is very relevant right now,” said Dr. Tony Mallon, who has worked with MetroCASH for the past several years helping to build the organization’s capacity with grant funding he obtained from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and with the support of the VCU Division of Community Engagement and the School of Social Work’s Research and Community Engagement Office. Directed by Associate Dean, Dr. Tim Davey, the School of Social Work’s Research and Community Engagement Office directs community-based research initiatives that provide a wide array of services to community agencies. These services include program evaluation, program design, service delivery and consultation.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant program is an IRS initiative designed to promote and support free tax preparation service for the underserved, low-income populations. These include the elderly, disabled, limited-English-speaking, non-urban and native American taxpayers.

In November 2011, IRS awarded matching grants to 213 organizations that will be offering free tax preparation services during the 2012 tax filing season at locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Congress appropriated $12 million in funding to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. The VITA Grant Program is intended to provide direct funds to organizations to:

  • Enable VITA programs to extend services to underserved populations in hardest-to-reach areas, both urban and non-urban
  • Increase the capacity to file returns electronically
  • Heighten quality control
  • Enhance volunteer training
  • Significantly improve the accuracy rate of returns prepared at volunteer sites

More information about MetroCash can be found at: and programs of the VCU School of Social Work at:


Mike Porter, VCU Communications and Public Relations, (804) 828-7037,

Rob Martin, VCU School of Social Work Communications, (804) 314-2180,

October 3, 2011

Dr. Kristina M. Hash Selected for the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education Outstanding Faculty Award

Dr. Kristina M. Hash, a 2001 PhD alumna, has been selected for the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education Outstanding Faculty Award. This is a national award honored through The New York Academy of Medicine’s Social Work Leadership Institute and the Council for Social Work Education, and is a clear acknowledgment of her exceptional leadership in the field of aging. We are told that, among other notable achievements, the selection committee was impressed with the level of support and mentorship provided to her students as they work to become driving forces for committed geriatric social workers, as well as her focus on geriatric competencies related to social work leadership in small towns and rural areas. The selection committee noted Kris’ dedication to the field of aging and the development of aging focused programs she has successfully launched, plus a statewide HPPAE consortium (known as the Mountain State Partnership Program) she helped to build. Note the The HPPAE Award Ceremony will take place at the CSWE conference in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, October 28th, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Imperial Ballroom A.

August 25, 2011

Welcome, 2011 PhD Cohort !

2011 Cohort.jpg

The 2011 Ph.D. Cohort

Front row: Ngoc, Amy, Dania, Mary and Caren
Back row: Cynthia, Crystal, Jennifer, Beth-ann and Megan

The VCU School of Social Work welcomed ten new students into the doctoral program on August 23, 2011, who were all ecstatic to be attending orientation at the Raleigh Building, up until the very moment the 5.9 earthquake hit ! Their Ph.D. Program Orientation will truly be a memorable experience for them !

The 2011 Ph.D. Cohort includes :

D. Crystal Coles, MSW, Wichita State University

Ngoc T. Doan, MSW, West Virginia University

Megan E. Gandy, MSW, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Cynthia M. George, MSSW, University of Tennessee

Jennifer F. Jettner,MSW, Florida State University

Amy J. Prorock-Ernest, MSW, MPH, Virginia Commonwealth University

Caren L. Putzu, MSW, University of South Carolina, MPA, College of Charleston

Mary B. Stebbins, MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University

Beth-ann Vealey, MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University [LCDR, MSC, USN]

Sundonia J. “Dania” Wonnum, MSW, Valdosta State University [Major, USAF, BSC, BCD]

August 24, 2011

Field begins September 6th!!!

Field instruction for the Fall 2011/Spring 2012 year begins for all students in their agencies the week of September 6th.

MSW Foundation Field Orientation

All MSW Foundation (1st yr) students entering field Fall 2011:

Field Orientation will be held on August 30th & 31st from 8:30am-3:30pm. Please see the field calendar for location.