We recently caught up with Susan Pullen. Pullen earned her MSW at BUSSW in 1990. She is currently a Behavioral Health Clinician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care.
We recently caught up with Susan Pullen. Pullen earned her MSW at BUSSW in 1990. She is currently a Behavioral Health Clinician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care.
What made you choose BU and social work?
I was really drawn to the strong urban tradition of the school, and the focus on social justice was a big part of the school’s mission. BUSSW really exemplified that value—the faculty and students were working in diverse communities throughout the city. I studied at Tuft’s University for my undergraduate degree. I had done some volunteer work in the city and knew social work was the right path for me.
Did you begin the program with an interest in clinical or macro practice?
There were a lot of options and variety—clinical concentration, macro social work, policy and planning, etc. That was really appealing for me at the time because I wasn’t sure of which exact direction I wanted to go in. I also felt a strong sense of the approachability of the faculty. They made a big effort to personally connect with the students. Ultimately, I did my field internship in a clinical area and really valued the experience.
How did your education at BU set your career in motion?
At BU, my field experience provided me with the opportunity to work with and interact with diverse communities of people that I might not have otherwise. This experience really changed my perspective on the world—and my own place in it. In particular, working with an urban, inner city population opened my eyes to what I wanted for my career. While at BU, I worked in a community mental health setting, as well as at University Hospital, which is now Boston Medical Center. Both of those internship experiences taught me a lot about the opportunities I had been given in my life. Seeing the strength and resilience of the people I worked with was humbling.
What were your next steps post-graduation?
Following graduation, I worked at Boston City Hospital with the Pediatric HIV Program. My responsibilities were an extension of the work I had done with children and families in community mental health and at University Hospital during my master’s program.
What kind of work were you doing?
I worked collaboratively on a multidisciplinary team on a coordinated care system, and also in connection with parents and caregivers of patients. One of the experiences that was most rewarding to me during this time was helping to organize a trip for the families to the National Pediatric HIV Awareness Day that was held on the Mall [National Mall] in Washington, DC. Some parents of the children cared for in the clinic spoke at the event. Helping organize the trip and going along with them was really special.
Tell us a little about how your career has progressed over the years.
A common thread throughout my entire career so far has been working with children and families. From 1995-2001, I enjoyed facilitating and teaching a psycho educational group called the Parents in Distress Program developed at Dartmouth College. This was a court-mandated program for parents and children following substantiated child abuse and neglect. I saw that people would begin this group feeling angry about being made to attend by the court. What was rewarding was seeing that by the end of the process, the individuals who stuck with it were changed by having been a participant in the program and were confident in saying their family situations had improved. Witnessing this change in people was remarkable. The program was curriculum based. This experience helped me realize how much I enjoyed the creativity of teaching and the empowerment that comes through learning. I was inspired to go back to school for certification in elementary education. I taught middle and upper elementary school for 9 years.
What are you up to these days?
I work at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care. My title is Behavioral Health Clinician. My role is to support the mental health needs of patients in a primary care setting. This is a new program at Dartmouth that is still under development. An initial aspect of our program is to screen all patients 12 and up during their annual “well-child” visits. The screening instrument is on a tablet; included on the tablet are measures of risk for depression, and for risk of substance misuse or abuse. Those are two groups that we’re identifying, reaching out and responding to. The response might involve meeting with a patient and a provider during a medical visit. I also meet with patients outside of the scope of the medical visit to complete further assessment. I work with patients to develop a care plan and coordinate with professionals in the community. Some of my work also involves providing counseling in the primary care setting. The longer-term vision is to integrate behavioral health care by infusing education about these important issues throughout the primary care system.
Outside of work—how do you engage in self-care? What are some of your hobbies?
I like to sing. I’ve always enjoyed being physically active—running, exercise classes, dancing. I love to read and am a member of a book group. I’m a member of a spiritual companions group and am a member of my church. I like to play piano. And I especially like to spend time with my family. Both of my daughters currently attend BU, so I frequently visit the campus and still find it very near to my heart.
On December 2, 2014, Broadway World announced the premiere of BURQ OFF!, an autobiographical one-woman show written, produced and performed by BUSSW graduate Nadia P. Manzoor. BURQ OFF! features 21 different characters and navigates the complexities of life as a modern Muslim Woman in the West.
“It’s through expression and sharing of our past that we are able to let go of things that inhibit us,” Manzoor said in the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of Currents. “Through theater, comedy, film and art, we can move forward.”
On November 30, 2014, Dan Adams of The Huffington Post published “Seven things you should know about Barry Shrage.”
Shrage, the president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, has dramatically increased the organization’s assets since assuming management. Adams spoke to Shrage to learn more about his past, including his experience at the Boston University School of Social Work and his field work at the Belchertown State School.
“It was human insanity. There are laws against treating animals like that. Naked people screaming, feces on the wall — you’re talking about the bottom of hell,” Shrage told Adams. “It was incomprehensible. I couldn’t stop crying. But it felt like a solvable problem and I knew I needed to do something about it.”
Click here to read Adams’ complete article.
Photo: Photo: David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
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.”
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.
BUSSW Alumna Christina M. Ciociola Named Senior Vice President at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Effective July 28, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven named Boston University School of Social Work Alumna Christina M. Ciociola Senior Vice President for Grantmaking & Strategy. Ciociola graduated from BUSSW with a speciality in gerontology and received her MPH from Boston University School of Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics. In her new senior programmatic staff position, Ciociola will be responsible for the grantmaking, strategy development and implementation, and community knowledge work of The Foundation.
Ciociola joined The Foundation in 2002. As Director of Knowledge and Evaluation since 2008, she led The Foundation’s efforts to promote local philanthropy through giveGreater.org® and the The Great Give®. In addition, Ciociola maintained The Foundation’s efforts in the workforce arena through the Partnership for Economic Opportunity.
“Christina has long been an outstanding member of the Community Foundation staff and has risen steadily through the organization over many years,” said William W. Ginsberg, president & CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. “Christina has led many of The Foundation’s new initiatives in recent years. She has a deep understanding of our community and its opportunities and challenges, and knows our local nonprofit sector intimately. She will bring great commitment, understanding, knowledge and know-how to her new position.”
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven awarded more than $24 million in grants and distributions in 2013 from an endowment of approximately $430 million and comprising hundreds of individually named funds. In addition to its grant-making, The Community Foundation helps build a stronger community by taking measures to improve student achievement, reduce New Haven’s infant mortality rate, promote local philanthropy through GiveGreater and encourage community awareness. For more information about The Community Foundation visit its website, or connect on Facebook or Twitter.
A Conversation on Community Organizing: Alumnus Greg Rosenberg Discusses His Work in Community Land Trusts
We recently sat down with alumnus Greg Rosenberg (SSW ’85) to learn more about his work in community organizing. See what he had to say…
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I graduated from the School of Social Work in 1985 with a degree in Community Organizing, Management and Planning (COMP), with a minor in group work. I became attracted to the notion of working to change underlying social problems instead of assisting people in being better able to accommodate existing conditions. I didn’t want to be a Band-Aid, I wanted to be part of the solution. Dean Hubie Jones was a huge inspiration. My second year, I gave a speech at a student assembly about the need to improve the quality of instruction at BUSSW. Instead of reprimanding me for criticizing for his school, Dean Jones told me that I would have to do a lot better than that if I was going to be an effective community organizer. He was right, of course, and he won me over immediately. He taught me that fiery speeches without any strategy for moving things forward were empty gestures. He said real change takes time and hard work.
For more than 25 years, I have been involved in housing-related issues, albeit with a few detours. I started as an organizer in a Hyde Park neighborhood that had been torn apart by blockbusting, and I went on to spend the next eight years of my life doing civil rights-related work, primarily focusing on fair housing. Next, I went to law school to add some more tools to my toolkit, and became deeply interested in the nexus between mental health and criminal justice. I worked for a few years as an attorney representing forensic mental health patients. After a few unexpected twists and turns, including running a Braille translation software company, I found the work that has occupied me for the past 11 years—community land trusts. A community land trust is a nonprofit corporation that develops and stewards affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces, and other community assets on behalf of a community. “CLTs” balance the needs of individuals to access land and maintain security of tenure with a community’s need to maintain affordability, economic diversity and local access to essential services.
I was the executive director of the Madison Area Community Land Trust for nearly 10 years. As part of that work, I was the developer of Troy Gardens, a 31-acre project which includes a working farm, restored prairie, community gardens, nature trails, and a 30-unit mixed-income co-housing community—all right in the city. Though all we were trying to do at the time was implement the hopes and dreams of a neighborhood, we ended up with a project that has gotten an enormous amount of attention across the U.S., and internationally as well. While I was working on Troy Gardens, I was also deeply involved in the founding of the National Community Land Trust Network. In 2010, I went to work for them as their first academy director, running national education and research programs. Recently, I joined the world of consulting (Rosenberg and Associates), and have been involved in a wide variety of projects, including mentoring, strategic planning, website design, software development, curriculum development, teaching, and research. The most exciting project I’ve been involved in lately has been my work with the East London Community Land Trust, centering around the development of a community land trust on the London Olympic Park site.
Can you tell us about your work in London?
My work with Troy Gardens put me in conversations with people around the world, including Dave Smith at the East London Community Land Trust (CLT). He was inspired by that project, and was interested in learning how to apply some of the lessons we learned to his work in East London because Troy Gardens was based on a long-term community organizing effort. Every year, he brings over a speaker for his annual meeting, who also meets with various government officials to promote the community land trust model. They brought me over this past August to give a speech about developing a community land trust at the Olympic Park, and also to meet with lots of folks, including members of the London city council and the head of real estate development for the Olympic site. The East London CLT was established by London Citizens, who do really effective community organizing work all around London, and in other parts of the U.K. It was great to see the connection between organizing and housing, because I believe that a big part of the “community” in community land trusts is community organizing.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
It was difficult to sort out ideas for a community land trust at the Olympic Park without ever having visited the site, and without having a clear sense of the surrounding neighborhood. I read everything I could about it, and also did research on the impact past Olympics have had on the neighborhoods in which they are located. The Summer Olympics are often located in low-income neighborhoods, which results in the displacement of a lot of folks and the hyperinflation of housing prices. The Olympics were great for London, but they were rough for East London.
What has been the best part of your experience working on this project?
I was pretty nervous going into this trip, because they were talking me up as a very impressive expert from America, and I wanted to do my best to live up to the reputation. Once I got there, I got engaged in the work, and had great meetings with some really interesting people. My speech went well, but at the time I thought I bombed because the audience was so quiet—it turns out that is just the nature of English audiences, and they were appreciative of my comments. Of course, it was great to spend a week in London. It is truly one of the world’s great cities, though the hyperinflation of housing prices is really having a devastating effect on many thousands of residents.
Do you see any differences between U.S. and London in how they organize communities?
London Citizens uses an Alinsky-based organizing model, so they were very much inspired by the U.S. community organizing movement. They are all about organizing to build power—and then presenting workable solutions to pressing issues. It is one area where there seems to be a lot of commonality.
What are the future goals for this project?
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been organizing international support for a community land trust at the Olympic Park. We’re putting together letters from people around the world that will be bundled together and presented to London Mayor Boris Johnson in December. We’re going to keep pushing at it until there is a firm commitment for a community land trust at the Olympic Park, in particular one that will be done the “right way”, so it can be an inspiration to other communities around the world.
Implications of the National Election on Social Work and Beyond
Featuring Dean Emeritus Hubie Jones, SSW ‘57
Thursday, November 8, 2012
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Boston University George Sherman Union
Terrace Lounge (2nd floor)
775 Commonwealth Ave
Please RSVP to Kathy Lopes at email@example.com or 617-353-3761.
2.0 Social Work CECs will be awarded at no cost to the BUSSW community. Space is limited, so early
registration is strongly encouraged. There is no charge for this event.