Program Highlights

Thursday – January 16, 2020

7:30 am – 8:00 pm         Registration Open
8:00 am – 12:00 pm         Research Methods Workshops (separate fee required)
8:00 am – 12:15 pm         Special Sessions on Research Priorities & Capacity Building (separate fee required)
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm     “Meet the Scientist” Luncheon

Welcome and Introductions: Elizabeth Aparicio, University of Maryland, Emma Carpenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Senior Scholars: Tricia Bent-Goodley, Howard University; Larry Davis, University of Pittsburgh; Tonya Edmond, Washington University in St. Louis; Amy Hillier, University of Pennsylvania; Nancy Hooyman, University of Washington; James Jaccard, New York University; Brenda Jones Harden, University of Maryland; Kristen Slack, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Fred Ssewamala, Washington University in St. Louis; Richard Tolman, University of Michigan; James Herbert Williams, Arizona State University

The Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) will be holding the “Meet the Scientist” Luncheon to be held at the SSWR 24th Annual Conference in Washington, DC. This special session provides a forum for early career scholars and doctoral students to talk and interact with established senior scholars who are leaders in social work research and the Society. Early career scholars and doctoral students will have the opportunity to ask questions about career development, challenges in the field, research initiatives, and where the field might be heading. Each senior scholar will be seated at a table with up to 6 early career scholars and doctoral students.

3:15 pm – 4:45 pm         Invited Journal Editors’ Workshop I

Publishing Research in Peer-Reviewed Journals: Talk with the Editors

Speakers: Jeffrey M. Jenson, PhD, University of Denver, Mark E. Courtney, PhD, University of Chicago, Bruce A. Thyer, PhD, Florida State University, and Charlotte Lyn Bright, PhD, University of Maryland

This symposium brings together a panel of editors from four generalist research journals in social work: Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, Research on Social Work Practice, Social Service Review, and Social Work Research. The editors will describe their respective journals, offer guidance on submissions, explain the editorial decision-making process, and advise on the process of creating publishable articles. Time will be provided for questions, comments, and suggestions from the audience and responses from the editors.

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm         Opening Plenary

Keynote speaker: Feminista Jones, Intersectionality Expert, Author & Award-Winning Blogger

Feminista Jones is a Philadelphia-based feminist writer, public speaker, retired social worker, and community activist. She is an award-winning blogger and the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed 2019 release, Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets. Her writing and activism centers Black American culture, feminism, critical race theory, intersectionality, mental health, poverty, and women’s health and well-being. Feminista sits on the boards of the Wayfinder Foundation, a grant-making organization that invests in women making a difference in their underserved communities, and The Hope Center for Community College & Justice, a non-profit research organization that advocates for the needs of disenfranchised college students.

Feminista’s passions are for writing and supporting marginalized people. Her thought-provoking, conversation-starting writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Essence, Complex, Vox, Salon, and EBONY. Feminista began her career as a social worker in 2002 and dedicated seventeen years of her career to advocating for and supporting people experiencing poverty, hunger, homelessness, substance addiction, and psychiatric disabilities until 2018. In 2017, Feminista was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia by Philadelphia magazine and in 2018, she was featured in Philadelphia Style magazine for her community and activism work.

Since 2013, Feminista has presented and lectured at various colleges and universities, including Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Boston University, UC Berkeley, and The University of Pennsylvania. She is a highly sought-after presenter for major conferences and has presented at several, including Women @ Pinterest, SXSW, Netroots Nation, BlogHer, Woodhull Freedom Summit, Stanford University’s Online Feminism Conference, Drexel’s Racism in Medicine Conference, and more. In 2018, she was honored to give the Baccalaureate speech during Vassar College’s Commencement weekend.

In 2015, she co-founded and served as General Director of the Women’s Freedom Conference, the first all-digital conference completely organized by and featuring only women of color. For her work, she was named one of SheKnows 2015 “Voices of the Year”. In 2014, she launched a global anti-street harassment campaign (#YouOKSis) and a National Moment of Silence protesting police brutality (#NMOS14), both of which received international media attention. That same year, she was named one of the Top 100 Black Social Influencers by The Root.

Feminista is also a mom, a mentor to young girls and women, and an outspoken advocate for the homeless, people living in poverty, and those living with psychiatric disabilities.

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm         Opening Reception

Friday – January 17, 2020

9:45 am – 11:15 am         RCDC Research Roots & Wings Roundtable 1

Holistic Mentoring Practices for Today’s Research Careers – Perceptions from Students and Faculty

Speakers: Mo Yee Lee, The Ohio State University; Charlotte Bright, PhD, University of Maryland; Ray Eads, MSW, LISW, The Ohio State University; Nancy Franke, MSW, University of Maryland

Mentoring is a significant part of learning for doctoral students and is becoming even more important because of the increased complexity of the educational environment, competitiveness of the job market, and increased expectations on doctoral students to perform. Strategic mentoring includes navigating multiple demands and being confidently prepared as emerging scholars.  In the very full lives of early adulthood, this includes “nonacademic” stressors and challenges as well as academic and professional issues. These might include developmental milestones such as parenthood, unique mental health challenges, or just normal stress in going through an intense doctoral educational process.  Also, in an increasingly diverse and complex social environment, mentoring pertaining to diversity and inclusion is an important issue needing further exploration. 

This roundtable aims to generate a dialogue around mentoring practices that promote self-efficacy, growth, and confidence in doctoral students as emerging scholars in evolving and high-pressure research environments.  In particular, this roundtable brings together featured panel participants and audience members to explore findings from a recent GADE survey focused on helpful and unhelpful mentoring practices and challenges —as perceived by doctoral students and faculty—on the following:

  • academic/professional-related competencies
  • non-academic concerns
  • diversity and inclusion issues
  • challenges pertaining to mentoring

Featured participants will succinctly present findings of the GADE survey on mentoring to allow a common foundation of perspectives for an active roundtable conversation with the audience. Please bring your own experiences and perspectives to add to this timely conversation!

11:30 am – 12:30 pm    Presidential Plenary

Keynote speaker: David R. Williams, PhD, Harvard University

David R. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. Previously, he served 6 years on the faculty of Yale University and 14 at the University of Michigan. He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized social scientist focused on social influences on health. He has been invited to keynote scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, South America and across the United States. His research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. He is the author of more than 400 scientific papers and he has served on the editorial board of 12 scientific journals and as a reviewer for over 60 others. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is one of the most widely used measures of discrimination in health studies.

He has received numerous honors and awards. In 2001, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) and in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the first non-white scholar to receive the Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association. He has also received the Stephen Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions in Public Health from the New York Academy of Medicine and an inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Award. He was ranked as one of the top 10 Most Cited Social Scientists in the world in 2005 and as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in 2008. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the sponsorship of the World Health Organization, Dr. Williams directed the South African Stress and Health Study, the first nationally representative study of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in sub-Sahara Africa. This study assessed the effects of HIV/AIDS, exposure to racial discrimination and torture during apartheid, on the health of the South African population. He was also a key member of the team that conducted the National Study of American Life, the largest study of mental health disorders in the African American population in the U.S. and the first health study to include a large national sample of Blacks of Caribbean ancestry.

Dr. Williams has been involved in the development of health policy at the national level in the U.S. He has served on the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and on eight committees for the National Academy of Medicine, including the committee that prepared the Unequal Treatment report. He also served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health inequalities and identifying interventions to address them. He served as the staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America. This national, independent and nonpartisan health commission was focused on identifying evidence-based non-medical strategies that can improve the health of all Americans and reduce racial and socioeconomic gaps in health. He has also worked on ethnic inequities with the Toronto Public Health Department, the National Health Service in the U.K. and the Pan American Health Organization.

He or his research has been featured by some of the nation’s top print and television news organizations and his TEDMED talk was released in April 2017. He was also a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm         Invited Symposium I

Social Work’s Response To Anti-Semitism in the United States

Presenters: Laura Abrams, UCLA; Cherie Brown, National Coalition Building Institute; Tina Sacks, UC Berkeley; Rafael Engel, University of Pittsburgh

Antisemitism is an historical and current form of oppression that is often left out of discussions of “isms” in social work scholarship and education. Since the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016, the Anti-Defamation League reports an increase in antisemitism incidents of 60%, and destrucive incidents of direct violence, deadly shootings, and defacement at Jewish places of worship have taken place. This symposium will examine various aspects of social work’s response to antisemitism from intersectional perspectives. Some key questions will be considered, including:

  • What are barriers and opportunities to aligning work against antisemitism with related social justice movements for economic and racial inequality?
  • Recognizing intersectionality among the Jewish community, how can social work scholars study and frame antisemitism in relation to other forms of oppression?
  • What is and should be the role of social workers in preventing/responding to antisemitic attitudes, actions, and hate crimes?

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm         Brief and Brilliant Session

Moderator: Kimberly Bender, University of Denver
Speakers: Ramona Beltran, University of Denver; Judy Krysik, Arizona State University; Mark Rank, Washington University of St. Louis; Tina Sacks, University of California, Berkeley; Anna Ortega-Williams, Hunter College; William Frey, Columbia University

In this year’s Brief and Brilliant session, leading social work scholars will engage the audience through TedX-style talks using images, story-telling and media. Each speaker will complete the statement “I dream a world…” to share the most important ideas facing social work research and practice.

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm        Invited Journal Editors’ Workshop II

Forum on Publishing Qualitative Research

Presenters: Sondra Fogel (Families in Society), Karen Staller (Qualitative Social Work), Susan Robbins (Journal of Social Work Education), Rupaleem Bhuyan, Yoosun Park, & Stephanie Wahab (Affilia). Chair: Jane Gilgun, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

This workshop is for conference participants seeking to publish qualitative research and scholarly work in social work journals. The workshop brings together a distinguished panel of editors, former editors, and researchers from four journals: Qualitative Social Work, Affillia, Journal of Social Work Education, and Families in Society. These journals are highly regarded in the profession and share commitments to excellence in social work research and publication.

In this session, the editors describe the aim of their respective journals and the editorial decision-making process. Most important, they will create a discussion with participants about what constitutes a publishable qualitative study that influences practice and policy. Before the session starts, participants will write their questions and comments on 3×5 cards. The chair will collect the cards and  and use them to facilitate discussion. In this workshop, the editors contribute to the scholarly development of the participants by building skills related to successful publications.

The editors will discuss several issues, including how to match topics to specific journals, review processes, features of articles they’ve accepted for publication, how to respond to reviewer comments, and how to address the implications of their research for practice and policy.

7:00 pm – 7:45 pm         AASWSW New Fellows Induction Ceremony

Saturday – January 18, 2020

8:00 am – 9:30 am         Invited Symposium II

The Road to Abolition: Slavery, Mass Incarceration, and Social Work in 2020 

Presenters: Kirk James, NYU Silver School of Social Work; Cameron Rasmussen, Columbia University

The rhetoric of ending “mass criminalization,” “mass incarceration,” and advancing “racial justice” are relatively new concepts in the historical struggle for equity and shared humanity in the United States –– yet what do these concepts really mean, and how do we achieve them? In her groundbreaking book, “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander (2010) illustrates that not only are more Black men incarcerated today than were enslaved in 1850, but that Black men, women, and children are significantly overrepresented in every facet of the “justice” system. Alexander further points out that this overrepresentation is not accidental, or related to inherent “criminal” tendencies or actual crime rates, but is the result of an intentional strategy designed post-chattel slavery to continue the legalized control, exploitation, and oppression of Black bodies in America. Alexander’s assertion is further substantiated by decades of quantitative and qualitative data from impacted people and academics –– which then begs the question: What is the responsibility of the social work profession in addressing this human rights crisis?

This plenary will begin to explore that question by analyzing and discussing:

  1. The evolution of slavery in America under the guise of the “justice” system;
  2. The system’s varied impact and intersection to Social Work practice at all levels;
  3. And finally, theories and practices from “Reform” to “Abolition” that social workers can utilize in their respective fields of practice to advance equity, justice, and liberation.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm     Aaron Rosen Lecture

Keynote speaker: Karina Walters, PhD, University of Washington

Karina L. Walters, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is the Associate Dean for Research, the Katherine Hall Chambers Scholar, and the Director and Principal Investigator of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI; NIMHD P60MD006909) at the University of Washington. IWRI is one of 16 National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Comprehensive Centers of Excellence and one of two devoted to American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) research in the country. Dr. Walters has over 20 years of experience in social epidemiological research on the historical, social, and cultural determinants of health among AIAN populations as well as chronic disease prevention research (e.g., HIV, AOD, obesity). Dr. Walters has presented at over 320+ national and international conferences; was an invited speaker for Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) at the NIH; and was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Walters has served as Principal Investigator or Co-I on over 37 National Institute of Health (NIH) grants (13 as PI) from diverse NIH institutes; has mentored over 90 scholars from historically underrepresented populations including 35 AIAN scholars; and has participated in 14 national research training programs for underrepresented ethnic minority scholars. Dr. Walters received her B.A. (sociology) in 1987, her M.S.W. (clinical) in 1990, and her Ph.D. in 1995 all from the University of California, Los Angeles. After serving on faculty as an Assistant and Associate Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work (1995‐2001), she joined the University of Washington faculty in 2001 and became Full Professor in 2011. She has served as Director of the Doctoral Program (2003‐05) and as Associate Dean for Research (since 2012). Prior to her career in academia, Dr. Walters was a community-based psychotherapist and served as Commissioner for the Los Angeles County American Indian Commission.

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm     Doctoral Student Session and Luncheon

Building a Social Justice Research Agenda Across a Research Career

Speakers: Tova Walsh, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Tina Saks, University of California, Berkeley; Bonnie Duran, University of Washington; Tricia Bent-Goodley, Howard University

Join us for the annual doctoral student luncheon! In addition to  a space for networking with fellow doctoral, this year’s luncheon will focus on building a research agenda in support of social justice. We will hear from faculty members across the career stage about how they’ve used a social justice lens to inform their work.  All students are welcome. Lunch will be provided for doctoral students.

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm     Grand Challenges for Social Work Roundtable

Western Consortium for the Grand Challenges—Promoting the Development of University-Community Collaborations to Advance the Grand Challenges for Social Work

Speakers: Audrey M Shillington; Carlton D Craig; Martell Teasley; James Herbert Williams; Marilyn Flynn; Edwina S Uehara; Nancy Meyer-Adams

In January 2016, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare launched the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work. During the initial years of this important initiative, the leads have been primarily at larger research-intensive universities. However, for schools that are smaller, often with tighter fiscal parameters—with a more balanced research-teaching mission or primarily teaching and service mission—their roles in the initiative have not been well defined. These programs, together with community practitioners, have significant and vital roles to play for the full implementation of the Grand Challenges, bringing an essential array of fresh perspectives.

To strengthen the impact of these individual stakeholders, members of the Grand Challenges for Social Work leadership have developed a replicable consortium model. The Western Consortium for the Grand Challenges serves as a regional collaboration working together, leveraging talent and resources, to address shared concerns in their region. The Consortium identifies strategies for responding to regional issues and implements creative initiatives involving teaching innovation, translational and implementation science, curricular infusion of the Grand Challenges, new community practices in the field, scholarly professional learning networks, and fresh concepts of community service.

In 2016, the University of Washington, the University of Southern California, and Portland State University led the formation of a Western Social Work Consortium comprised of approximately 61 accredited departments and schools in the western United States. In 2019, the Western Consortium was led by Colorado State University and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This roundtable will explore the development of this consortium model and outcomes from its 2019 conference, including strategies for collaboration, curriculum development, engaging the community, developing practice-based research networks, and innovations from the field for tackling the 12 Grand Challenges.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm         Fellows and Awards Presentations
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm         Annual Social Policy Forum

Keynote speaker: Stacey Abrams, JD, MPA

Stacey Abrams, JD, MPA

Stacey Abrams is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for eleven years (2007 to 2017) in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven (2011 to 2017) as Minority Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, when she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. In February 2019, she became the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight (  to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system.

Sought-out to speak everywhere from TED, where her talk has racked up over a million views and counting, to college campuses, to the Commonwealth Club, Abrams is a powerful and passionate speaker heralded for her candid insights on politics, leadership, entrepreneurship, social justice, and being a true force for change. As TIME wrote of her, “People tend to remember the first time they heard Stacey Abrams speak, and it’s easy to see why.” Abrams’  New York Times bestselling book Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change, is a personal and empowering blueprint for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge. From her experiences launching a company, to starting a day care center for homeless teen moms, to running a successful political campaign, Abrams illuminates that finding what you want to fight for is as critical as knowing how to turn thought into action.

Dedicated to civic engagement, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. A recipient of Harvard’s Institute of Politics’ John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, Abrams has also been named a “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine. 

She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress. In addition to Lead from the Outside, Abrams has also written eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Salena Montgomery.

Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School. She and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi and were raised in Georgia.

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm         Invited Symposium III

Racism: The 13th Grand Challenge for Social Work

Presenters: Martell Teasley, University of Utah; Michael Spencer, University of Washington; Melissa Wood Bartholomew, Boston College

At the root of most of the social problems social workers address are a host of structural and systemic issues that put disenfranchised communities at risk.  Racism is certainly at the forefront of these issues.  Although many of the scholarly papers that make up the Grand Challenges underscore the need to include race and discrimination as variables, the distinctiveness of racism as an overarching and causal factor is not captured within this collective body of work. This session will highlight the profound impact of racism on society, its importance to social work research, and will demonstrate why it is necessary for race and racism to not only be prominently integrated into every Grand Challenge, but also to emerge as the 13th Grand Challenge for the Social Work profession. The first speaker will provide an overview of the far reaching parameters of racism in society, and how it relates to existing Grand Challenges, and social work at large.  The second speaker will provide a specific example of how racism impacts health disparities and attempts to close the health gap. The third speaker will discuss the importance of integrating racism into existing Grand Challenges and designating racism as the 13th Grand Challenge for the Social Work profession. 

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm         RCDC Research Roots & Wings Roundtable 2

The Intersection between Racial and Economic Inequality and Its Impact on Navigating the Academy

Speakers: Henrika McCoy, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago; Camille R. Quinn, PhD, The Ohio State University; Y. Joon Choi, University of Georgia; Jacquelynn Duron, Rutgers University; Jenny Jones, Clark Atlanta University; Von Nebbitt, Washington University in St. Louis; Bernadine Waller, Adelphi University

Success in the academy requires that scholars be socialized and provided the skills and knowledge they will need as educators and researchers. Notably, how an individual understands their role as a faculty member begins not with the first faculty position but actually during or prior to their graduate school experience. Without the socialization process, and mentorship, doctoral students are likely to struggle and commit avoidable mistakes. For many, such as scholars of color, success in the academy does not allow room for error, and undoubtedly those errors can cause individuals to suffer lasting consequences. Those mistakes are often the result of limited access to information, as well as a lack of the social capital that is required for a successful academic career. Furthermore, for scholars of color, the intersection of race and class/SES, which can be even more complicated by gender and ethnic identity, is deeply imbedded in our historical sociopolitical systems. That history, and one’s intersecting identities, can be a catalyst for individuals entering into the academy. Unfortunately, they can also serve as the foundation upon which significant race and gender disparities experienced by  social work doctoral students, tenured and tenure-track faculty, and administrators are promulgated. The participants of this roundtable will share challenges they have experienced, due to the intersections of race and class/SES, while managing life in academia. Central points for discussion with attendees will include:

  • Identifying and applying the intersectionality of racial and economic inequality on those engaged at various levels in social work doctoral education.
  • Identifying and understanding the structural and systemic barriers (e.g. institutional capital, resources and knowledge) to success for those impacted by race and economic inequality and engaged at various levels in social work doctoral education.
  • Presenting examples of how scholars succeed, survive, and thrive in academic careers from student, faculty, and administrator perspectives

5:45 pm – 6:15 pm         Membership Business Meeting
6:15 pm – 7:15 pm         President’s Reception

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