Barry University School of Social Work
Calendar  December 2018 Issue

Dr. McGhee with community panelists.

S.O.O.T. (Striding Over Obstacles Together) Documentary and Community Panel Bring to Light Social Justice Issues in Liberty City

In partnership with the Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI), a nonprofit organization in the heart of Liberty City focused on transforming the area into a “prosperous community,” Dr. McGhee and the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice at Barry University’s School of Social Work hosted on Oct. 2 a showing of the S.O.O.T documentary along with a panel of community members.

MCI’s Chief Executive Officer, LaTousha Daniels, stated she was proud to share the documentary as a demonstration of the strengths of the residents of Liberty City and some of the work currently being done and services received through MCI.  S.O.O.T. features resident testimonials and interviews with advocates, including Watley Clervoix. It was filmed by local cinematographers Michael Marko and Frantzy Moreau. According to the documentary’s creator, William Foncham II, the film aims to change the narrative about the Liberty City neighborhood and the people who live there.

The community panel included Daniels; Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press; Commander Simmons of the City of Miami Police Department; Sergeant William Baskins of the Miami-Dade Police Department; Brother Lyle Muhammad, executive director of the Circle of Brotherhood; Barry student Barry Dudley; and community resident Ed Hayes.

The panel shared their thoughts about the importance of the documentary and responded to questions about services provided by MCI, community policing, crime, and how community agencies can have a positive impact.

Social work students were inspired by Muhammad’s comments as he related the tenants of social work values to his work in Liberty City with the Circle of Brotherhood, a local community organization made up of men who are interested in doing good in their community. Over 30 members of the Circle of Brotherhood also attended the screening. Barry MSW student Vernell Robinson revealed her enthusiasm for having the opportunity to see the documentary, sharing she was born and raised in Liberty City and she plans to go back to help.  “I am Liberty City,” she said.

Barry University School of Social Work BUSSW participates in Latino Social Workers Organization (LSWO) Conference in Chicago

Barry University School of Social Work (BUSSW) students and faculty participated in the 2018 Latino Social Workers Organization conference held in Chicago, Ill., from Oct. 17-19. The theme of the conference was “Advancing the Latinx Community Through Social Work and Social Justice: Strategies for Advocacy, Resistance, and Resiliency.” The conference was held at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Jane Addams School of Social Work, which is adjacent to the iconic Hull House, the settlement house established by social work pioneer Jane Addams.

Two BUSSW graduate students, Melanie Sherzad and Stephanie Vasquez, displayed and presented their research poster titled “Food for Thought Ethnography of Migrant Workers’ Mental Health,” which details the dire need for mental health services among migrant workers in Homestead, Fla., and looks at the role of advocacy organizations locally and across the U.S. In some of the pictures, Sherzad and Vasquez can be seen presenting their poster to conference participants.

Also at the conference were two BUSSW’s faculty members — Drs. Michael Alicea and Fabio A. Naranjo. Apart from attending to learn about the conference’s logistics by shadowing its planners, Alicea and Naranjo presented Alicea’s workshop presentation titled “Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico: The Social Worker’s Role in the Aftermath”; and Naranjo’s plenary session was titled “The Role Advocacy and Social Justice in Social Work Practice: Responding to Current Issues.”

Dr. Ashley Austin presents at the 25th World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium in Argentina

This past November, Dr. Ashley Austin traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to present her research at the 25th World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium, an interdisciplinary symposium dedicated to disseminating scientific research, as well as advancing medical and clinical expertise among professionals working with transgender individuals across the globe. Austin, along with research partner Dr. Shelley Craig from the University of Toronto, presented their Transgender Affirmative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, an empirically supported intervention which targets unique sources of stress and resilience among transgender youth (see Austin & Craig, 2015 and Austin, Craig, & D’Souza, 2017). They also presented emerging research from #Project Queery (PI: Dr. Craig), which elucidates the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on depression among transgender youth. 

Enhanced Collaborative Human Trafficking Task Force training for Palm Beach Gardens SSW Students

Through the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, Drs. Sarah Lewis and Heidi Heft LaPorte have been working as faculty partners with Dr. Gena Rowlands, Barry University School of Social Work PhD graduate and grant coordinator on the Enhanced Collaborative Human Trafficking Task Force.  On Sept. 21, key members of the task force provided training for the Barry University Community in Palm Beach Gardens and Miami Shores as part of the Peace Week activities. This was livestreamed from the Palm Beach School of Social Work satellite campus.  Faculty, students, agency directors, and administrators were present. The presenters included Lt. Randy Foley, Palm Beach County Human Trafficking, task force coordinator; Shaun O’Neill, FBI, supervisory special agent; Greg Schiller — United States Attorney’s Office; Carol Messam-Gordon, MPA, program coordinator Palm Beach County Victim Services; and Laura Stevenson, chief of finance and associate director of Catholic Charities Diocese. Each presenter spoke about their work and the extent to which trauma-informed training and knowledge of indicators has increased community and law enforcement awareness of the prevalence and scope of human trafficking. The task force has leveraged resources to address the problem from a victim-centered approach, while concomitantly prosecuting of those who commit crimes of commercial sexual exploitation and labor trafficking.

Pridelines Thanksgiving Dinner

By BSW Student/CHRSJ Community Advocate Aiyana Gonzalez

On Nov. 9, a group of BSW and MSW colleagues, along with some friends and family,  went to do what they do best — serve the community! They volunteered their services at Pridelines Center, whose mission is to “support, educate and empower South Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and the community at-large in safe and diverse environments through affirming programs and services to promote dialogue, wellness and foster social change.” The volunteers served a delicious Thanksgiving dinner to the distinguished guests who support the Pridelines Center. Their smiles reflect their Barry pride!

Professor Sambra Zaoui Presents at the Just Conference — The Nation’s Leading Conference on Juvenile Sex Trafficking

Professor Sambra Zaoui, LCSW, EMDR certified clinician, presented her innovative approach to clinical practice with survivors at the The Just Conference in San Diego, Calif. The Just Conference is one of the largest international anti-trafficking conferences that hosts national and international experts, survivor leaders, and allies.

Zaoui shared her expertise through a workshop titled “The Consequential Relationship: Childhood Sexual Abuse & Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” This workshop highlighted the indisputable connection between childhood sexual abuse (CSA), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), as well as evidence-informed clinical strategies for healing and post-traumatic growth. Zaoui's worskhop aimed to bridge the gap between innovative trauma interventions and clinical practice with survivors of CSA and DMST. She introduced attendees to innovative approaches for integrating mind and body, such as mindfulness, somatic experiencing concepts, sensorimotor psychotherapy, EMDR, narrative therapy and animal assisted therapy. Additionally, Zaoui's raised awareness about the potentially distinct experiences and treatment needs of boys/males affected by CSA and DMST. Her workshop was one of the most well-attended and well-received at the conference, impacting dozens of practitioners, survivors, and advocates.

Dr. Jill Levenson Presents on Sex Offender Management Policies and Housing Restrictions

Dr. Jill Levenson presented at the Palm Beach Re-entry Summit on Oct. 5. She and her co-presenter, Justine Patterson, regional director for community corrections in South Florida, spoke about sex offender management policies and housing restrictions. The summit featured participants from around the country and focused on evidence-based strategies for successful reintegration for people who have been incarcerated.

Field Education Highlights

What’s New in Field Education?

Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring
Meredith Ball Meredith Ball

BUSSW welcomes Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring, Director of Field Education and Meredith Ball, Associate Director of Field Education. The Field Education Office is buzzing with new ideas and fresh energy focused on engaging students, faculty, administration, staff, and community partners in collaborative efforts to improve the overall implementation of Field Education curriculum.  Field Education’s 2018-19 theme, “Field Education is the Heart of Social Work Education,” will be expressed through various programs, events, and activities aimed at increasing opportunities for students to gain more depth and breadth in the application of social work practice theory and skills needed to become effective agents of change in an ever-changing global society. Field Education invites you to join us as we journey and strive toward achieving excellence in our signature pedagogy. 

November Field Advisor/Field Educator Exchange

We are grateful for all of our fabulous learning experiences for students this past semester!

Spotlight on Field Educator:

David J. Dowd, LCSW

David J. Dowd, LCSW David J. Dowd, LCSW

After a 20-year social science research and policy analyst career with the federal government and a 10-year career as a business owner, David Dowd decided to follow his true calling to be a social worker and received his MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2004.

While pursuing his degree, Dowd held the position of senior research coordinator at Johns Hopkins University, managing a $3 million research contract evaluating the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program in the Baltimore Public School system. As a social worker, Dowd has worked in the fields of domestic violence, addiction with adolescents and adults, and as the director of Mental Health Services at the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center. He has worked as a therapist in a juvenile sex offender treatment program and as a therapist with psychiatric patients at a state prison for women. Dowd works as a qualified supervisor for licensure, is currently an adjunct professor and field advisor at the BUSSW and is the chief clinical officer with the Active Community Health Center located in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Dowd also serves as a field educator for BUSSW students at Active Community Health Center. With these many roles and his busy schedule, Dowd always makes time to stop and listen, smile, and share words of wisdom.

Marquel Jones, a MSW student who excels in his field placement at Active Community Health, shares the following about his field educator:

“A few words to describe Professor Dowd would be wise, knowledgeable, and compassionate. One of the amazing qualities about Professor Dowd is his willingness and eagerness to teach. I have had the pleasure of being one of his interns at Active Community Health Center for about a year-and-a-half, and it has definitely been a remarkable journey.”

Spotlights on Field Education Student:

Ms. Sophia Coulanges

Ms. Sophia Coulanges Ms. Sophia Coulanges

My name is Sophia Coulanges and I am a proud graduate student in Barry University’s Social Work Program. I graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and I am currently an advanced standing student.

“Let us think of education as a means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” — John F. Kennedy

With this statement in mind, it is indeed a privilege and honor to pursue my education in the social work field. In my pursuit to advance in the field of social work, I aspire to utilize the skills that I have acquired within the classroom as well as in practicum, to become an active voice for the voiceless; one that promotes change in policies, communities, laws, and education.

My philosophy is “as one desires to lead, one must first be willing to serve.” My previous acts of services range from mentoring young girls within my church to develop self-confidence, build their faith and learn new coping skills  when dealing with difficult situations, to feeding the homeless and providing them with sanitary items, as well as providing psychoeducation to survivors of domestic violence with the creation of their desired  safety plans, educating them on the dynamics and cycle of domestic violence,  in addition to helping them learn and identify new ways to gain personal autonomy from their experiences.

As I continue to add instruments into my toolbox, I currently find myself developing a voice of advocacy while at my current field placement. Childnet has allowed me to serve as a liaison for families striving for reunification, by linking clients to services, advocating for client rights, and assessing parental capacity on a weekly basis.

As I continue to hone my therapeutic skills, I plan to keep demonstrating the tenets of my faith, the motivation in my heart, and the courage of my strength as fuel for the pursuit of success as a distinguished Barry alumna.

Doctoral students’ field trip to the Broward County Commission

Doctoral students in the Social Welfare Analysis and Change course engaged in an experiential learning experience by traveling to the Broward County Commission. They were fortunate to have a private meeting with County Commissioner Nan Rich. In fact, Rich has been a champion of social workers in Florida for decades when she was Sen. Rich and led efforts for social work title protection.  


by MSW Graduate Student Roseman Shirley

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, especially as a person of color, doesn’t come with guidelines for a successful life. Unlike straight and cis people, we don’t see many positive representations of ourselves in the media, or even in our own lives. When you don’t see yourself represented anywhere, it’s almost impossible to imagine a positive and meaningful future for yourself. For a community constantly fighting for basic human rights, events like PRIDE Week are crucial on university campuses. PRIDE Week allows LGBTQ+ students to feel valued at Barry, find resources, connect with their peers, and just enjoy being around people who understand them.

One of the events hosted during PRIDE week was called Lavender Mentorship, a speed dating event where groups of students met with an out LGBTQ+ individual and asked questions about their experience. Every 10 minutes the groups would switch tables so they could speak with another mentor. Lavender Mentorship is an important event because it allows students to connect with professionals who are publicly out and thriving. LGBTQ+ students and allies were able to meet with and speak to mentors who shared their stories of struggle, perseverance, and love. Events like PRIDE Mentorship are invaluable because students need to know that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is something to be proud of and that success does not have to be hindered by our gender or who we love. Legal progress is eventually inevitable for LGBTQ+ rights, but events like Lavender Mentorship are pivotal because they allow us to know that we cannot just exist, but must live fulfilling lives.

Ark of Freedom Alliance Resilience Awards

by MSW Graduate Student/ CHRSJ Community Advocate Gilbert Champion

Students from the Palm Beach Gardens campus attended the ARK of Freedom Alliance Inaugural Resilience Awards Event on Nov. 1.  Through the generosity and kindness of the dean of the School of Social Work and the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, five students received scholarships to attend the event, and with friends and family, nine of us represented Barry University. ARK is an agency that advocates for persons being sex trafficked, in particular, male victims of human trafficking that are often the forgotten.

The event was enlightening and encouraging and included testimonies from advocates in our community standing in solidarity for the victims of human trafficking. Awards were presented to the Resilience recipients. Another highlight of the evening was guest speaker Marti MacGibbon, who shared her experience, strength, and hope in being trafficked. 

Through the event we grew in understanding reinforced our commitment to advocate for persons being human trafficked.

Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience

By BSW Student/CHRSJ Community Advocate Aiyana Gonzalez

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, held each year on Nov. 20, is a worldwide event that honors the lives of trans people who have suffered death as a result of transphobic hate crimes, violence, and suicide. Each year, Dr. Ashley Austin from the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) in Barry’s School of Social Work co-sponsors South Florida’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience. This year’s event was exclusively led by an amazing team of trans activists, including Jack Jordan, Logan Meza, and Landon Woolston. The result was a solemn, yet celebratory, event that brought together more than 100 trans community members and allies to show solidarity for the transgender community. Attendees took part in an emotional name writing ritual of all 400-plus transgender people who lost their lives this year to transphobic violence. It was beautiful to witness strangers embracing strangers as tears were shed and silent hugs exchanged.

“As a BSW student, I am reminded that there is work to be done, unceasingly, until we no longer have a need to mourn beautiful lives lost to hate crimes. We lift those lives lost in love and light and we embrace all people in the LGBTQ Community.”

Aiyana Gonzalez, BSW student, Miami Shores campus

“Even before I had any clue I would be attending Barry for my MSW, I was coming to TDORR for some years at the University. As a student who identifies as genderqueer and works with the transgender population, this day is heavy. Yet, it holds a powerful message for our society, reminding us that the fight isn’t over. I’m proud to be graduating this year from a school that supports and fights for the trans community.”

Alicja Majer, MSW student, West Palm Beach campus

"Social workers are often on the frontlines of trauma-informed care, but we are often behind in supporting trans and gender, non-conforming people. Even though the event was somber and emotional, seeing Barry University and the CHRSJ supporting TDORR makes me, as a cis queer woman, #BarryProud."

Shirley Roseman, MSW student, Miami Shores campus

It is with great pride that The Center for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) welcomes three Social Work students to join the Community Advocates Leadership Program. The Community Advocates are members of the Barry Service Corps and participate in Federal Work-Study Community Service. These paid positions are based in social justice and human rights work. The students will work closely with the center’s staff and affiliated faculty to promote educational programing of the CHRSJ, as well as work directly with community organizations and partners such as the Life of Freedom, Pridelines, Aqua, Transcon, Ark of Freedom Alliance, Miami Children’s Initiative and others. Please join me in welcoming Gilbert Champion, Anh Luong and Aiyana Angeni Gonzalez.

Anh Luong

Anh is originally from Washington, D.C., and received her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va. After graduation, she worked at a law firm where she assisted in the logistical and operations of planning annual conferences and events. While she was working at the law firm, she volunteered at the International Justice Missions organization in Alexandria, Va., a Christian-based organization that focuses on combating against human trafficking across the globe. Volunteering at this organization made her remember her passion and ultimately pursue her MSW at Barry University. She is interested in finding new ways to work in combatting against human trafficking.

Aiyana Angeni Gonzalez

Aiyana Angeni Gonzalez is a Barry University junior earning her BSW in Social Work. In April of 2016, she was inducted into Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and currently remains in good standing while maintaining a GPA of 3.84.

She is currently in the work/study program at the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice at Barry University and is a mentor within the LGBTQ Pride group. Aiyana has contributed by sharing her story as a transgender female to the Barry University LGBTQ Pride group, the Young Democrats, and has lent her singing talents to the Campus Ministry event, “Transgender Day of Remembrance.” In 2017, she was a panelist for the “Community/Religion Conference: Religion and LGBTQ” event, along with others in representation of the transgender community to answer questions related to LGBTQ issues and religious leaders, as well as community members. She is currently in the undergrad Social Work program and working toward her MSW in 2020.

Aiyana believes that the LGBTQ community is one that is strong, resilient, and very powerful, and has not yet learned to embrace that they are “Victors” and not “Victims”. She lives her life as an example of such. She is an ambitious, detailed, creative, and spiritual woman, lover of life and all people. She embraces all situations and acknowledges that there is only good unfolding in our lives... no matter what that looks like.

Gilbert Champion

Gilbert Champion is a first-year MSW student at the Palm Beach Gardens campus. He has worked as a children's and youth director for several Episcopal churches and homeless shelters for youth during his volunteer year with Jesuit Volunteer Corp (Americorps).  He’s held several management positions in corporate America, as well as owning a business. His current interests include working for ARK of Freedom Alliance on human trafficking and greater understanding and serving the LGBTQ community. 

SSWA Elections

By BSW Student Bryan Torres

The School of Social Work Association empowers and promotes academic and professional growth for students within the BUSSW. Nearly a month ago, students voted for their new executive board officers. After a smooth transition to their positions, they have announced that the general body meetings will begin soon. The School of Social Work congratulates the new officers.

Shivani Budhram President
Shivani Budhram
Martesha Collins Vice President
Martesha Collins
Yolmar Chacon Treasurer
Yolmar Chacon
Ashley Ferguson Historian
Ashley Ferguson
Natalie Alvarez Secretary
Natalie Alvarez
Aiyana Gonzalez SSWA Student Organizations Council Representative
Aiyana Gonzalez

Congratulations to our faculty and staff, whom presented at this year’s Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Program Meeting (APM) in Orlando, Fla. The BUSSW is immensely proud of its faculty and staff for their contributions towards evolving social work practice through research and scholarship, as well as their commitment to the service of vulnerable populations and communities.  As a result, the BUSSW was proud to sponsor the Human Rights Advocacy Event, the APM Awards Luncheon, and the Council on Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity Reception during the 2018 CSWE APM.

  • Eva Nowakowski-Sims
  • Fabio A. Naranjo
  • Increasing Self Efficacy of Legislative Advocacy Among Social Work Students
  • Susan Gray
  • Janet Courtney
  • Research Findings Identifying Competencies for Ethical Touch Practice With Children: Teaching Recommendations 
  • Greg Tully
  • Carol S. Cohen
  • Olga Molina
  • Mark Smith
  • Brian Kelly
  • Shirley Simon
  • IASWG and CSWE: The Group Work Method in Social Work Education
  • Mitch Rosenwald
  • Carolina Rios
  • Patricia Ramlow
  • A Social Work-Human Resources Partnership to Facilitate Prejudice Reduction on Campus 
  • Mark Smith
  • Tania Paredes
  • Egalitarianism, Coping Skills, and Depressive Symptoms in the Latino Father
  • Tracey Mabrey
  • Tracy Whitaker
  • Olga Osby
  • Using Ethics to Address Micro aggressions Against Mature African-American Women Social Workers
  • Sheila McMahon
  • An Exploratory Factor Analysis for the Trauma-Informed Care Scale

    Social Justice Fellowships for School of Social Work Students

    Call for Proposals

    The Center for Human Rights and Social Justice is accepting applications from BSW and MSW students for three fellowship opportunities for the 2019 spring semester.

    1. Violence Prevention Fellowship $2,000
    2. CHRSJ Teaching Assistantship $2,000
    3. Office of Public Guardian Fellowship $2,000

    The purpose of these awards is to attract applicants that are interested in advancing their research, leadership, and advocacy skills in social work practice with a focus on social justice issues, teaching experience and/or the legal guardianship of vulnerable adults adjudicated as incapacitated.

    If you are interested in applying and for more information, please contact CHRSJ Coordinator Carolina Rios at

    Upcoming Events

    Trauma-Informed Human Trafficking Certificate


    Trauma-Informed Human Trafficking Certificate


    Campus Based Field Education


    Night on the Streets: Ending the Trafficking of Homeless Youth with Ark of Freedom Alliance — Center for Human Rights and Social Justice


    Post-Masters Certificate on Mindfulness and Therapeutic Practice


    Practice Directed Seminars


    Clinical Supervision and Field Educator Training


    Heart of Social Work Appreciation Celebration — Field Education


    Latino Social Workers Organization (LSWO) Spring Conference

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    11300 NE 2nd Ave, Miami Shores, FL 33161 Phone Number: 305-899-3919

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