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VCU School of Social Work
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What's a world without social work?

As we celebrate Social Work Month, have you ever stopped to wonder what a world without social work would look like?

As alumni of the VCU School of Social Work, you know this premise is, naturally, unimaginable. Social workers are at the crux of every social and systems construct. They are defenders of and advocates for our most vulnerable populations.

You know from your coursework, field internships and professional skill sets that your degree is valuable, rooted in ethical principles and applicable across a multitude of disciplines. You know how vital your work is to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Our goal is to take this valuable knowledge and depth of experience — combined with that of our students and faculty — and improve the story we tell to university partners, donors and the broader community about the impact the VCU School of Social Work has every day and our ongoing mission to produce the next generation of social workers.

And impactful storytelling starts with you. Dean Angell recognizes the rich history of the school and the long legacy of change agents who have graduated from our programs. She recently said, “Where you see social work, you see VCU.” Our alumni currently work across a variety of disciplines, and your stories highlight the versatility of the degree. We ask that you join us in fostering an environment of celebrating the profession by sharing news about the work you and other classmates are doing.

In this vein, we are also excited to share with you the latest edition of Shafer Court Connections, where 17 of our graduates are listed as Power Players in the community. Here is a quick key to where your fellow alumni are highlighted for their accomplishments:

Social impact and public service
  • Lynn Doss (B.S.’74/SW): Worked three decades at social service agencies in Texas and Virginia; pledged second-largest gift in history of VCU School of Social Work
  • Bev Koerin, Ph.D. (B.S.’69/SW; M.S.W.’74/SW): Serves on the board of Richmond free clinic Health Brigade
  • Nancy Kropf, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’90/SW): Professor and associate dean for research and strategic planning at Georgia State University School of Nursing
  • Jeanine Harper Maruca (B.S.W.’86/SW; M.S.W.’93/SW): Executive director of Greater Richmond SCAN, an organization addressing child abuse and neglect; named a VCU Alumni Star in 2019
  • Hayley Mathews (M.S.W.’07/SW): Past executive director of the Family and Children’s Trust Fund of Virginia
  • Robert W. Peay (M.S.W.’74/SW): Past director of the Richmond Opportunities Industrialization Center and VCUSSW faculty member
  • Karen Reilly-Jones (B.S.W.’94/SW): Children’s Service Act coordinator with Virginia Office of Children’s Services; clinical social worker
  • Ronnie Sidney (M.S.W.’14/SW): Author of graphic novel series “Nelson Beats the Odds,” which addresses diversity, inequality, abuse, disability and violence; founded Creative Medicine: Healing Through Words, an expressive writing workshop he gives in regional jails
  • Jacqulyn “Jackie” Washington (B.S.W.’16/SW; M.S.W.’17/SW): Community engagement liaison for Storefront for Community Design and Storefront’s Six Points Innovation Center, nonprofits focused on affordable design and green construction for youth
Health care
  • Paul Brasler (M.S.W.’99/SW): Behavioral health specialist at Daily Plant Health Services, a substance abuse clinic
  • Leslie Eckford (B.S.W.’83/SW; B.S.’85/N; M.S.W.’95/SW): Clinical social worker and registered nurse who co-authored “Aging With Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home”
  • Suzanne Gore (M.S.W.’04/SW): Founded State Health Partners to improve health care and access; past deputy director of Virginia Medicaid; former Virginia deputy secretary of health and human services; former Virginia special assistant of health and human resources
  • Karen Kimsey (Cert.’96/HP; M.S.W.’96/SW): Chief deputy to the Virginia Medicaid Program
  • Katharine M. Webb (M.S.W.’73/SW): Senior vice president of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association; helped establish Child Health Insurance Program to extend coverage for those ineligible for Medicaid
  • Ira Colby, D.S.W. (M.S.W.’75/SW): Retired dean and professor emeritus at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work; author of textbook “Introduction to Social Work: The People’s Profession”; consulting editor for Journal of Social Work Education; past president of the Council on Social Work Education; named NASW Social Work Pioneer
  • Marcia Harrigan, Ph.D. (M.S.W.’74/SW; Ph.D.’89/E): Retired senior associate dean at the VCU School of Social Work who established the Fostering Success Scholarship at the school; formerly worked in children’s foster care in Ohio and Virginia and in juvenile justice in New York
  • John Bricout, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’98/SW): Director and professor at University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities School of Social Work
10 Under 10 Awards
  • Elaine Genise Williams (B.S.’17/SW)
In the spirit of NASW’s theme for the month, Social Workers: Generations Strong, let’s work together to elevate the narrative being told about the field of social work. Let’s encourage people to see that social workers are woven into the fabric of society and are critical to supporting individuals and groups seeking someone to walk alongside them.

With your help, we can show others just why the VCU School of Social Work is nationally ranked and is the best talent development pipeline for passionate, capable and accomplished social workers.

With warm regards,
Mary Riddick
Mary Riddick
Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Alumna makes a difference

Trenette Clark Goings
Trenette Clark Goings (M.S.W.’08/SW) was presented with the VCU SSW’s Making A Difference Award. Goings, an associate professor of social work at UNC-Chapel Hill, received the award at a reception during SSWR
VCU SSW faculty and students present at SSWR 2020

VCU SSW faculty and students present at SSWR 2020

Our faculty and students had a great time at the 2020 Society for Social Work and Research Conference in January 2020. M.S.W. and Ph.D. students presented their research at the conference on topics such as changing perceptions and making a difference in the learning environment of Spanish-speaking elementary schoolchildren. Many faculty also presented their research. Two VCU School of Social Work professors received national awards at the conference.
Read more
Opioid grant funds expanded curriculum and field agencies

Opioid grant funds expanded curriculum and field agencies

The VCU School of Social Work received one of 10 opioid-focused grants from the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Alumna named to leadership role

Alumna named to leadership role

Jan Ivery, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’04/SW), is the new assistant dean for academic programs at Georgia State University.
COVID-19 update

COVID-19 resource guide

VCU's medical library has created a COVID-19 resource guide with
information from trusted sources.
In memoriam

In memoriam

See pages 57-62 of the most recent Shafer Court Connections to read the list of fellow alumni who passed this year.

To connect

For more than 100 years, the VCU School of Social Work has educated future generations of social work professionals in theory and practice. Sixty-nine percent of our alumni choose to stay in Virginia to live, work and practice. Connect with us and 10,000 alumni making a difference every day.

University news

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