eNewsletter — June 2010 Archives

June 24, 2010

Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan delivers commencement address at 2010 graduation

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VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY

School of Social Work

Commencement Address

May 21, 2010

First and foremost, I want to congratulate you, the Class of 2010. You guys, you should be so proud of yourselves and your incredible accomplishments. But let’s not forget all the people who also share in that pride — your moms and dads, and brothers and sisters, your friends, grandparents, mentors — all of whom took this journey with you in ways both seen and unseen. So this is their day, too. So let’s give them another round of applause and thank you.

This is the first time I have worn this robe since I graduated from law school, more years ago than I care to remember. I remember feeling a sense of exhilaration and anxiety, hoping to go out and change the world. For me, the way to do that was through the law. While I was politically active at the time, I did not imagine that within a decade, I would be a member of the General Assembly, affecting change as a part of Government.

Many of you came to VCU’s school of social work also wanting to make a difference. Just reading the school’s mission tells me that:

The mission of the VCU School of Social Work is to prepare professional social workers as practitioners, scholars and leaders; to generate research and scholarship for advancing knowledge and practice; and to contribute to the local, state, national, international and professional communities to improve quality of life. Guided by the principle of promoting social and economic justice in a diverse and multicultural society, our programs focus on service to and empowerment of people who experience oppression or vulnerability due to inadequate or inequitable distribution of personal, social or institutional resources.

Societies need for you is probably greater than at any time in American history. While we have come a long way as a society, the challenges we still face are at times daunting.

America is no longer a united by a common language, religion or culture;

There is an ever-widening gulf between the rich and the poor–or even the middle class.

People have become turned-off by the negativity and money in the political system, alienated by negative ads and stories of corruption, and typically, 2008 aside, stay home on election day.

And you, as a generation, have faced many changes: Think about how your generation has come of age……

Just since you were in middle school, you’ve witnessed terrorism touch our soil, you’ve seen the cost of two foreign wars reach into our communities.

You’ve watched unimaginable devastation and suffering in the aftermath of a tsunami; a hurricane; an earthquake.

You’ve felt the wrath of the worst recession since the Great Depression that’s changed your towns and even your families.

You are witnessing, as we speak, one of the worst environmental disasters of our lifetime, which will likely have devastating economic implications.

In the face of all that, no one would have blamed you had you chosen to hunker down and turn inward; if you had simply focused on making sure that your own lives were secure.

But you are here because you intrinsically want to help others. You want to be a social change agent. And now that you are graduating, you have the tools and skills necessary to do just that.

Now, you’re probably wondering if, and how, you can help others and help foster social and economic justice on a grand scale. I’m here to tell you that you can. And you must.

Believe me, I understand how big the world can feel, and how the issues facing our community and our country can feel…..too big for any one person or group of people to handle. There are people who use that sense of insignifigance to withdraw from the public debate, and resign themselves to complaining, but never acting. I’m here today to ask you not to become one of them.

Not long ago, in another commencement speech, First Lady Michelle Obama quoted something President Wilson once said. He said, “Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that’s the way I know I’m an American.”

Sometimes, though, you probably wonder if you can keep your idealism intact in today’s society. You have probably been warned to lower your sights; to scale back your ambitions a bit; to settle for something less. You might fear you’re in for a letdown once you realize that it can take years, even decades, for your best efforts to bear fruit.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that wants results right now, and tells us that our lives should be easy; that we can have everything we want without a whole lot of effort.

But the truth is — and you know this — creating anything meaningful takes time. And sometimes, the only thing that happens in an instant is destruction.

Sometimes, what we need is not to give up our idealism, but to balance it with a little realism and patience. I have learned that time, after time, after time.

When I was sitting where you are, I knew I wanted to be a force for change. I came from a family dedicated to service in some form. My Mom & Dad, grandparents, etc.

Now, I got interested in law and politics because I wanted to change the world. I was inspired by the stories of everyday people, many of them young, changing the world in big ways. From the beginnings of our country: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton. FDR, John and Robert Kennedy, Ceasar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Oliver Hill and Samuel Tucker……all in some way made history by changing the world.

So, of the many paths available to me to be a force for change, I chose Government, and effecting change through public policy. While sometimes dramatic changes happen through the public policy realm, more often than not it is a slow, incremental process, tempered by political reality.

Examples: Payday Lending, Communities of Opportunity Tax Credit, the Stalking Bill.

All of you have been called to serve in some capacity. Now, I am calling on you to disregard any fears or doubt you may have over your own importance and take part in the great struggle of our time. Each of you has a role to play, each of us has a chance to move mountains. So please, work hard, and take your place beside all of those people who are working to build a better future for our country.

June 18, 2010

Alumni focus: Rob Martin, MSW

Segueing from providing clinical mental health services to individuals and groups to marketing research, strategic branding and public affairs, is the unique career path taken by School of Social Work 1991 MSW alumni, Rob Martin. From his vantage point, his professional evolution is not such a stretch. He feels that the causes of human service and social justice that compelled him into the field of social work have informed his business vision and practice where he serves corporations, government agencies and non-profits in a broad range of industries.

rob pic.jpg Rob is now the Managing Director and co-founder of BrandSync Advisors, a research-driven business and public affairs consulting firm that was started in Richmond in 1999. His firm oversees strategic planning and brand development projects, and public awareness and community organizing campaigns.

More recently, Martin has established a non-profit microenterprise development organization – United Virginia - to provide financial, human and social capital to under-resourced entrepreneurs throughout Virginia. With the byline, “Common Good for the Commonwealth,” the goal of the micronterprise movement is to build income and financial stability for individuals and communities within a volunteer-led initiative. The initial area of focus is the provision of seed money and volunteer technical support for women to grow their own businesses. United Virginia was recently funded by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy to establish a peer lending program and fund that is based on the Grameen Bank model.

Among other things, being awarded this funding demonstrates Rob’s expertise at networking, which he honed as a super-volunteer community organizer for the Obama Presidential campaign. United Virginia also operates a Peer Lending program for women across Central Virginia, conducting monthly training sessions in Richmond’s East End at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office. As a result of being awarded grants from the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Enterprise Initiative, United Virginia is developing plans to cultivate entrepreneurship in rural Virginia, beginning with Henry County/Martinsville. Upcoming in September 2010, a public awareness campaign involving grassroots organizing will be launched to raise volunteer participation in the peer lending and enterprise development initiative across Virginia.

Martin has recently become involved with community financial stability work being done by School of Social Work faculty member, Dr. Tony Mallon, in conjunction with the Financial Stability Alliance of United Way. He looks forward to his organization providing field placements and internships for students of the VCU Schools of Social Work, Business, and Mass Communications.

Martin recently concluded a six-year term on the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Board, currently serves on the Board of the Commonwealth Autism Service and on the Advisory Board of the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, as well as on the Turkish-American Chamber of Trade Industry and Commerce.

Rob invites you to join him and other SSW alumni in the activities of SSWAN. The SSWAN group is in the process of drafting its plans for 2010-2011, including acting as a resource for current faculty and the new dean, Dr. James Hinterlong. SSWAN is also expanding its role, with the involvement of fellow SSW alumni such as you, in working as mentors for current students, supporting community outreach initiatives, assisting with development of scholarship funds for students, alumni social activities and more. SSWAN Information

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Virginia Microenterprise Group

Back row: Jim Maxwell (United Va.), Larry Davis(New Generations FCU), Doug Smith (Va. Interfaith Center), Rob Martin (UnitedVa.)

Front row: Amber Morgan (Va. Cooperative Extension), Ann Khan, Karen Wilson &Lynn Simms (Microenterprise Owners & Peer Loan Recipients), and LaTonyaReed (Va. Interfaith Center).”

June 15, 2010

2010 Annual Awards Ceremony

The annual School of Social Work Awards Ceremony was held May 20th at the VCU Commons Theatre where more than twenty-three BSW, MSW and Ph.D. students were honored for their excellence, dedication, leadership and service to the social work profession, and 29 were inducted into the Phi Alpha National Honor Society, including honorary member, Dr. Marcia P. Harrigan, Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. The “Making a Difference” Ph.D. Alumni Award was presented to Dr. Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

Presenters were assisted by Dr. Ann Nichols-Casebolt, Interim Dean, and Dr. Marcia P. Harrigan, Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs.

2010 Awards Ceremony Brochure.pdf

2010 Making a Difference Ph.D. Alumni Award

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Elaine Rothenberg Award, posthumously presented to Ph.D. student Robin Michele McKinney, was received by her father, Dr. Robert McKinney, and friends Theresa Wooten, Vanessa Shaw, Cherie Young, and Donna Harrison. See also Robin M. McKinney Dissertation Honor Fund

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Dr. Nicole Bromfield presents Elaine Rothenberg Award to Kateanne Agnelli, MSW

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Janet Bolomope, BSW, receives her Elaine Rothenberg Award

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Tanisha Anderson, MSW, receives the Social Justice Award, with recognition by Dr. Jenny L. Jones

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The David L. Saunders Legistlative Award is presented to Jessica Young, MSW, by Dr. Jenny L. Jones

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Alma Ortman, MSW receives the International School of Social Work Award, presented by Ms. Randi Buerlein

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Dr. Mary Katherine O’Connor, Dr. Sheila Crowley, recipient of the “Making a Difference” Ph.D. Alumni Award, Dr. Kia J. Bentley, and Dr. David Fauri

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Doctoral students Valerie L. Holton and Keita M. Franklin received School of Social Work Leadership Awards, presented by Dr. Kia J. Bentley

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Dr. Delores Dungee-Anderson presented Leadership Awards to MSW students, Kateanne Agnelli, Zach Barrett, Sarah Fargo and Paladin Wiley

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Dr. Humberto Fabelo presented Leadership Awards to BSW students, Sarah Winter, Sharmila Clee and Lindsey Gera

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School of Social Work Service Awards were presented by Dr. Delores Dungee-Anderson to MSW students, Gerri Archer, Sarah Gazillo, Stevara Haley-Clark, Sara Hill, Jodi Mincemoyer, Stephanie Moneyhun, Bethany Pippin and Jessica Young

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Dr. Humberto Fabelo also presented Service Awards to BSW students Jessica Davis and Joanna Harris

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Phi Alpha National Honor Society Inductees, Spring 2010