Category: SSW Media Features
BUSSW, BC School of Social Work, and NASW-MA Celebrate Marylou Sudders (’78), Massachusetts’ New Secretary of Health and Human Services
“We are delighted to have her intelligence, knowledge, practicality, and strong leadership in this area of extreme importance in the Commonwealth,” Dean Gail Steketee told an audience of approximately 200 on Tuesday, March 24, as she kicked off an afternoon celebration in honor of Marylou Sudders (’78), Governor Baker’s new Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The event was co-hosted by BUSSW, BC School of Social Work, and NASW-MA and brought together social workers from all across New England to celebrate a leader in the field. The reception took place at the Massachusetts State House Flag Hall.
Governor Charles Baker, State Senator of Massachusetts Karen E. Spilka, BC School of Social Work Dean Alberto Godenzi, Executive Director of NASW, Massachusetts Chapter Carol J. Trust, NASW, and Chief Executive Officer of NASW Angelo McClain also spoke to Sudders’ lifetime dedication to public service.
Dean Steketee said Sudders’ appointment is a timely one. “Our own school is about to launch its Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health. We are particularly interested in drawing together experts in health throughout the [Boston] area as well as the nation. I am hopeful that Marylou will contribute some of her expertise as its needed in the future.”
Governor Baker told the audience he “couldn’t imagine picking anyone else” for the position. Sudders is charged with overseeing the largest executive agency in state government and a $19.4 billion budget. “She’s born for this job. And if she wasn’t born for it, she made herself the right person for this job over the course of her career.”
“One of the things I admire most about social workers is their ability to solve really complicated problems that present themselves almost on a daily basis,” Governor Baker said. “That’s one of the things I love most about Marylou… she’s a spectacular problem solver.”
Sudders earned her MSW at Boston University School of Social Work in 1978. In 2012, Sudders was appointed to the state’s Health Policy Commission for her behavioral health expertise. She has also served as Chair of Health and Mental Health at Boston College School of Social Work, where she will continue to serve as a visiting professor.
“If somebody had said to me in 1976 when I entered the School of Social Work that I might be a public official, a Commissioner of Mental Health, and a cabinet Secretary for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, I would have said ‘I don’t think so,’” Sudders said. “But what I’ve always said to students is the thing about social work is it opens any door that you want to run through, it is our inhibitions that prevent us from running through those doors. There is no greater education than a social work education to open up a wealth of opportunities for us. I would expect in ten years that there shouldn’t just be a one Marylou Sudders, but we should be populating as cabinet secretaries all across the country.”
Boston University School of Social Work Dean and Professor Gail Steketee, PhD, was interviewed for Marni Jameson’s Orlando Sentinel article titled “Take a look at your house – are you a hoarder?”
In the November 24 article, Steketee discusses the spectrum of relationships people have with their stuff. “Holding onto stuff becomes unhealthy when it negatively affects a person’s life,” she told Jameson.
Steketee co-authored two books on hoarding, including “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things,” and “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding.”
On November 6, 2014, the Mental Health Association for San Francisco awarded Dean and Professor Gail Steketee the Lifetime Achievement Award at its 16th annual International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering.
On October 15, 2014, Douglas Brooks (’99), director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), returned to Boston to keynote the Addiction Health Services Research (AHSR) Conference, hosted by the Center for Addiction Research (CARS). The annual conference focuses on integrating addiction, mental health, and medical care services. President Barack Obama appointed Brooks to ONAP in March, 2014, after he spent 16 years at the Justice Resource Institute and was an active member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
In his presentation, Brooks discussed the vexing statistics about AIDS in the United States. He also noted that women living with HIV in the United States suffer from PTSD, roughly 55 percent have encountered intimate partner violence, and their risk of dying from the disease is doubled. Further, the number of black women who die from HIV is greater than any other population group.
Brooks told AHSR’s 300-plus attendees that the president is “100 percent committed to HIV.” Since he has taken office, a three-pronged National HIV/AIDS Strategy has been implemented to decrease the number of new infections, reduce HIV-related health disparities, and increase access to health care for those with HIV.
This year, for the first time, the AHSR conference was organized by a social worker. With organizational help from the Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston University School of Public Health, the conference also addressed the mission of BUSSW’s newly endowed Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health. Click here to read Leslie Friday’s full article, published in BU Today.
On May 20, 2014, Boston University launched a new Research website to present BU professors’ research to the general public. The website includes Faculty Accolades, Researchers’ Videos, and Top Stories. The new website also includes a Featured Researchers page, highlighting BU’s leading researchers in various disciplines. Included in this group is Boston University School of Social Work Associate Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm for her focus on HIV/STI infections among Asian Americans, acculturation, health risk behaviors including tobacco use, binge drinking, and sexual activity, and other social research.
Before the launch of the new website, BU professors and researchers were limited in platforms to discuss their work. “It’s very important because we don’t necessarily talk about [our research]. There’s no forum to introduce what I’m doing, what the BU researchers are doing on a daily basis,” Hahm told The Daily Free Press’ J.D. Capelouto. “This way, we can disseminate the ideas and what we are doing in the BU community. It’s a really important avenue to learn more about what we are doing as researchers.”
The website, developed in partnership with the Office of Marketing & Communications at Boston University, is currently in beta testing. “We look forward to feedback from the BU community to further improve it and best represent our research and scholarship in a way that is easily accessible to visitors to the site,” Vice President and Associate Provost for Research Gloria Waters told Capelouto.
On September 20, 2014, BUSSW faculty, family, friends, co-workers, and peers gathered to recognize four outstanding individuals during the 2014 BUSSW Alumni Association Awards.
Outstanding Career in Social Work: Sally Johnson
Dorothy Bergold (’81) nominated Sally Johnson (’78), clinical social worker at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and co-founder of BABIS, for the Outstanding Career in Social Work award.
“You can’t talk about BABIS without thinking of Sally,” Bergold said. “There is nobody more deserving to receive this award.”
“I’m so proud to be a social worker, and part of the BUSSW community,” Johnson said in her acceptance speech.
Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Social Work: Lisa Goldblatt-Grace
Deborah Putnam (MSW ’92, MPH ’94) and Rick Cresta (MSW ’93, MPH’ 94) nominated Lisa Goldblatt-Grace (MSW ’94, MPH ’95), co-founder and executive director of “My Life, My Choice,” for the Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Social Work award.
“This nomination came with such ease,” Putnam said. “It was not easy to find people to write on behalf of Lisa, it was VERY easy.”
“Lisa does not desire to take center stage, but she is incredibly powerful when she does,” Cresta added.
“I’m a really lucky woman to get to be a social worker,” Goldblatt-Grace said as she accepted her award. “I feel happily selfish because I love what I do.”
Hubie Jones Urban Service Award: Mojdeh Rohani
Lee Staples and Dean Emeritus Hubie Jones presented the Hubie Jones Urban Service Award to Mojdeh Rohani (’99), co-director of the BRIDGE Program, and associate clinical director of the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center.
“I’ve never met an individual more worthy of the Hubie Jones Urban Service Award,” Staples said when discussing Rohani’s nomination. “You honor me by accepting this award,” Jones told Rohani as he helped present the award.
“To have role models like you, I’m so honored,” Rohani told Staples and Jones. “With your help, I will continue focusing on social justice because that’s what we stand for.”
Outstanding Contributions to the School of Social Work: Jennifer Grahek
“Winners of this award have an incredible commitment to the Boston University School of Social Work,” daSilva-Clark said. “We certainly couldn’t do the program without her.”
On September 10, 2014, Boston University School of Social Work Associate Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, appeared on VATV: Vietnamese American Initiative for Development. Hahm discussed her new study titled Asian Women’s Action for Resilience and Empowerment (AWARE), which is part of the Asian-American Women’s Health Initiative Project. VATV is a bilingual television program connecting Vietnamese America Communities and the larger Boston community to create better understanding and friendships between the two.
As Hahm explained in her appearance, Asian-American women are highly achieved and highly successful. However, they are suffering from higher risks of depression and suicide. “We have a problem and we need to deal with the problem. We need to provide appropriate services specifically for Asian American Women.” Hahm told VATV host Mary Truong. “Unfortunately, there are no specific modules or sessions for them.”
The AWARE study is comprised of ten group therapy sessions as well as daily messages of encouragement. Hahm and her team face many challenges, including the stigma and shame surrounding mental health in Asian American populations. However, Hahm uses her patients’ positive experiences as motivation to continue. She recalls the emotional reaction she had to the following response created by an AWARE participant:
“Through AWARE, my eyes and heart are open. Through AWARE I can understand my parents better. Through AWARE I hope to become a happy person. Because of AWARE I know that I am not useless. Because of AWARE I know that I deserve love.”
In order to test the efficacy, feasibility, and safety, Hahm is going to test AWARE intervention using Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT) with bigger sample size in 2015. Hahm hopes this study will positively impact mental health, substance abuse and sexual health problems faced by Asian American women. Her goal is to one day make it available nationally.
Hahm’s full VATV appearance may be viewed below. More information about Hahm’s AWARE program can be found online.
BUSSW is more than a school, it is a tight-knit community. That’s why this year BUSSW students were eager to offer insights and tips to their incoming BUSSW colleagues.
BUSSSW Alumni Eugene Dawson (SSW ’66) Awarded Presidential Leadership Award for Distinguished Service by the Colorado Gerontological Society
The Colorado Gerontological Society awarded Eugene “Gene” Dawson (SSW ’66) the first Presidential Leadership Award for Distinguished Service at its annual “Salute to Seniors” Ceremony in May.
The award is now titled the Eugene Dawson Presidential Leadership Award, honoring Dawson’s years of service. It will be awarded annually to esteemed recipients making extraordinary contributions to older Colorado citizens and their families.
Dawson credits Lewis Lowy for inspiring him to pursue a career in gerontological services. During the past 47 years, Dawson has served as an educator, administrator and practitioner in the field of aging services.
Boston University School of Social Work Dean and Professor Gail Steketee, PhD, was interviewed for a Harvard Women’s Health Watch article by Stephanie Watson titled “Treatment can Break the Grip of Hoarding Disorder.”
In the article, Steketee discusses the various reasons people hoard, including sentimental attachment. “There is some specific association to an object, or an object is seen to represent a person’s identity in some important way,” Steketee told Watson.
Regardless of the reasoning, experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to help the person understand the reason for their hoarding. Steketee suggests finding a therapist who is specifically trained in hoarding. Also, books such as “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding,” which Steketee co-authored, can also help hoarders and their families find a solution.
Click here to read the full article.