Date & Time: April 12, 2022 10:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Virtual

The Institute for Social Work and Environmental Justice

CEs: 4


Environmental justice is centered on a person-centric experience of the world around us and is grounded in human priorities and rights. Ecological justice expands beyond this to place “emphasis on justice for the entire ecological system and future generations” (Powers et al., 2019).

The populations’ social workers aim to serve are often the most vulnerable and face the worst effects of natural disasters and environmental degradation, requiring meaningful interventions at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice and scholarship.

Recognizing many social workers face limited resources, including time, alongside increasing demands amplified by the dual pandemics of racism and COVID-19, this conference will offer dedicated space to grapple with these timely issues.

Using a strength-based approach, the conference aims to address social problems by simultaneously advancing environmental and community wellbeing, recognizing their deep interdependence.

This year’s conference theme is “Vital Connections: Fostering Resilience and Cultivating Impact”, and invited and accepted proposals will offer actionable, and replicable tools focusing on the many intersections between practice, policy initiatives, and ecological justice through the lens of connection and resilience.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Explore barriers to environmental justice across policy and practice and showcase gateways to positive, proactive, and collaborative climate and social action.
  • Utilize and comprehend multi-solving solution case studies and planning
  • Prepare practice tools to support mental health at the personal and community level amidst a changing environment
  • Consider the intersections between practice and policy initiatives and environmental justice
  • Build community among social workers and other professionals interested in ecological justice


Monday, February 28th, 2022 – Proposal for Speed Sessions Due

Apply Here

Friday, March 11th – Student Poster Presentations Due

Apply Here

Tuition Rate

$175 Registration

$150 Alumni, FI, FFL, Adjunct Rate

$15 for Current Students (from any University) with promo code

FREE for any Current Adelphi University Students

Register Here

Conference Schedule


Time Section Faculty

10:00 a.m.- 10:10 a.m.

Welcome from Conference Co-Chairs Dr. Kelly Smith and Renee M. Rawcliffe, LMSW

10:10 a.m.- 10:20 a.m.

Welcome from Adelphi School of Social Work Dean Pardasani

10:20 a.m.- 10:30 a.m.

Opening Meditation Dr. Murali Nair

10:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m.

Grounding Session: Post Traumatic Growth and Resilience Dr. Victoria Grinman

11:10 a.m.- 11:15 a.m.

Mini Break  

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Indigenous Experiences and Environmental Social Work Dr. Ramona Beltran

12:00 p.m.- 12:15 p.m.

Networking Mini-Session  

12:15 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion: Community Resilience in Response to Disasters

Facilitator: Dr. Lisa Reyes-Mason

Panelists: Jacqui Patterson, Tonya Hansel, Peter Gudaitis

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch break / Networking Opportunity for Students Dr. Claire Luce

1:45 p.m.- 2:00 p.m.


2:00 p.m.- 2:45 p.m.

Black Feminist Ecosocial Work Dr. Kimberly Compton

2:45 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Food Justice: Theory & Practice Michael Hurwitz

3:15 p.m.- 3:20 p.m.

Mini Break  

3:20 p.m.- 3:45 p.m.

Speed Sessions  

3:45 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

Networking Mini-Session  

4:00 p.m.- 4:45 p.m.

Closing Keynote Dr. Cedric Taylor

4:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks & Meditation

Dr. Kelly Smith and Renee M. Rawcliffe, LMSW

Dr. Murali Nair

Speaker Bios


Renee M. Rawcliffe, LMSW

Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development, Adelphi School of Social Work

Prior to coming to Adelphi, Renee spent 17 years as a social worker for a large NGO, responding to communities and individuals transformed by disasters, many of them a result of climate change. Through this work, both clinical and administrative in nature, Renee engaged in developing trauma-aware programs and training curricula for human service providers responding to these events. In September 2019, Renee joined the School of Social Work as the Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development where she has had the pleasure of managing a robust and growing CE program. Renee is also a second-year student in the doctoral program at Adelphi University School of Social Work.

Dr. Kelly Smith

Kelly is the founder and director of the Institute for Social Work and Ecological Justice developing programming to build social workers’ capacity to confront environmental challenges related to the climate crisis. In collaboration with Adelphi University, Kelly launched the first continuing education course in environmental justice for social workers. She is an adjunct professor at Adelphi University and Columbia’s School of Social Work. Currently, Kelly is a member of the Grand Challenge for Creating Social Responses to a Changing Environment Advisory Council. She is co-editing a book on ecosocial work practice and serves on her town’s Environmental Advisory Board. Kelly holds a master’s degree in Gender and Social Policy from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Manoj Pardasani

Dean of Adelphi University School of Social Work

Manoj Pardasani, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., is a Dean and Professor at the School of Social Work. Previously, he served as an Associate Provost (Graduate and Professional Schools) and Professor of Social Work at Hunter College in New York, and a Faculty Research Scholar at the Ravazzin Center for Social Work Research in Aging and Senior Associate Dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. He has a Master’s of Social Work degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University.

He started his social work career in senior centers and that sparked his lifelong passion for the study of senior centers and community-based services for older adults. He has also served as a social worker, and then as an administrator, in a number of organizations serving the homeless, individuals living with HIV/AIDS and individuals diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness.

He is passionate about public policy reforms and his current research is utilized to inform his policy advocacy endeavors in the fields of aging and social welfare. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in professional publications, and has served as a mentor to emerging scholars. His research has garnered over $1 million in grants and has resulted in significant increases in public funding for gerontological social services in New York City and program innovations in senior centers nationwide. At Hunter College, he oversaw approximately $80 million in research and program grants.

In addition to senior centers, Dr. Pardasani has documented the impact of diverse program models among immigrants, refugees, and other oppressed groups with reference to HIV/AIDS, chronic mental illness and homelessness. His scholarship, teaching and service have always adopted the lens of social justice and human rights.

He is the recipient of several honors including the Mid-Career Exemplary Social Work Leader Award from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Fulbright Specialist award. He has taught as a Visiting Professor in China, Germany, Chile and the United Kingdom. He has been invited across the US and to Chile, South Korea, Taiwan and India to share his research on social welfare policies and services for the rapidly aging population worldwide. He is the past chair of the Social Welfare Action Alliance, past president of the Southwestern Social Science Association and the New York State Society on Aging. Currently, he is a 1st Vice President on the NYC Chapter of NASW, as well as a board member of the NY State Society on Aging.

Opening & Closing Meditations

Dr. Murali Nair

As an authority on engaged learning, Murali Nair combines traditional cross national value systems with evidence based knowledge in the classroom setting.

Over his 45-year academic career, Murali Nair has served as a BSW, MSW, and DSW professor and administrator at five universities in the United States and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at three overseas universities.

In his last positions, Nair was the Clinical Professor of Social Change and Innovation at University of Southern California (2012-2020) and a Professor and the Director of the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University (1992-2012).

His areas of teaching expertise include macro practice, social enterprise, social responsibility, wellbeing innovation, harnessing technology for social good, advancing long and productive lives, and social responses to changing environments.

Nair has published extensively in the area of social development, including 13 books, nine short documentaries, and over 100 journal articles and peer reviewed paper presentations at national and international conferences. His latest books include Engaged Learning, Leading and Managing Human Service Organizations (4tth edition), and Evidence Based Macro Social Work Practice (2nd edition). He is a CSWE member of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice and an Associate Editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work.

Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth

Dr. Victoria Grinman, LCSW

Dr. Victoria Grinman is a therapist, consultant, speaker and transformation agent who has been dubbed “the parent whisperer” and “the secret weapon relationship Spanx” by those that have been touched by her work. Victoria is a dual-licensed clinician with expertise in the experience of Posttraumatic Growth in parents of young adult children with Autism. She is the founder of Growing Kind Minds LLC, a private practice and global community platform where she is a speaker, trainer, contributing adjunct professor and consultant to educational and corporate institutions.

Victoria believes that people want to be seen, heard and understood as the whole person, and is passionate about being an expert companion to people as they authentically connect to their inner strengths so that they can achieve the connections and relationships they desire with the people that matter most to them, at home and in the workplace.

Victoria is a trauma-informed and trained yoga and mindfulness instructor to children and teens, a certified aromatherapist and a dedicated long-time clinical volunteer for Experience Camps, a free one-week grief camp experience for children who have lost a significant person in their life. She is dedicated to being a facilitator of joy and positive change by highlighting the possibility and power in our struggles.

On a personal note, Victoria is a fur-mama to Vanna Goh Goh, a sassy Yorkie named after Vincent van Gogh, and enjoys photography and inspiring travel.

Indigenous Experiences and Environmental Social Work

Dr. Ramona Beltran

Assistant Professor Ramona Beltrán, MSW, PhD, is a mixed race Xicana of Yaqui and Mexica descent and dancer/activist/scholar. Her scholarship is committed to interrupting legacies of historical trauma that affect Indigenous communities. She focuses on disrupting the problem-focused approach to understanding health and well-being that is profuse in mainstream research. Beltrán does this by centering culture, resilience, resistance, healing and arts-based and storytelling methods in collaborative knowledge production with and for Indigenous communities.

The University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work Panel Discussion

Dr. Lisa Reyes-Mason, Facilitator

Associate Professor Lisa Reyes Mason is a social worker, scholar, and advocate for climate justice. She finds purpose and passion in engaging social work—a profession in pursuit of health, equity, and social justice—in confronting the climate crisis to create a thriving and regenerative world for all.

Biracial and bicultural, Dr. Mason draws inspiration from her maternal roots in urban Philippines and paternal roots in rural California. On faculty at the University of Denver, Dr. Mason co-created a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) concentration in Ecological Justice, the first of its kind in the U.S. She also co-edited the book People and Climate Change: Vulnerability,

Adaptation, and Social Justice—a collection of lived experiences and case studies of climate

injustice from the Global South and North—and serves the City and County of Denver as a member of its Sustainability Advisory Council.

Dr. Mason received her MSW and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Chancellor’s Fellow for advancing diversity in the professoriate and Olin Fellow for exceptional women to become leaders in society. Dr. MasonBA is from the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Folklore and Folklife, or the everyday knowledge of people and how wisdom and ways of living are passed from one generation to the next.

Jacqui Patterson

Jacqueline Patterson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chisholm Legacy Project: A Resource Hub for Black Frontline Climate Justice Leadership. The mission of the Chisholm Legacy Project is rooted in a Just Transition Framework, serving as a vehicle to connect Black communities on the frontlines of climate justice with the resources to actualize visions. Prior to the launch of the Chisholm Legacy Project, Patterson served as the Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program for over a decade. During her tenure, she founded and implemented a robust portfolio which included serving the state and local leadership whose constituencies consisted of hundreds of communities on the frontlines of environmental injustice. She also led a team in designing and implementing a portfolio to support political education and organizing work executed by NAACP branches, chapters, and state conferences.

Since 2007, Patterson has dedicated her career to intersectional approaches to systems change. Her passion for social justice led her to serve as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United; Senior Women’s Rights Policy Analyst for ActionAid; Assistant Vice-President of HIV/AIDS Programs for IMA World Health, Outreach Project Associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Research Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University, and U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica.

Patterson has published multiple articles, reports, and toolkits including: “Equity in Resilience Building for Climate Adaptation: An Indicators Document,” “Jobs vs Health: An Unnecessary Dilemma,” “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue,” “Gulf Oil Drilling Disaster: Gendered Layers of Impact,” “Disasters, Climate Change Uproot Women of Color;” “And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership in the Movement Towards a Sustainable Planet;” “In the Eye of the Storm,” “Our Communities, Our Power,” “Fossil Fueled Foolery.” She’s also authored chapters in two books as follows: “Equity in Disasters: Civil and Human Rights Challenges in the Context of Emergency Events” in the book Building Community Resilience Post-Disaster, as well as, “At the Intersections” in the book, All We Can Save.

Patterson holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards for Center for Earth Ethics and the Hive Fund for Gender and Climate Justice, on the Governance Assemblies for Mosaic Momentum, Environmental Justice Movement Fellowship, and the Equitable Building Electrification Fund, as well as on the Boards of Directors for the Institute of the Black World, the Bill Anderson Fund, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, the Movement Strategy Center, the Just Solutions Collective, and the National Black Workers Center Project.

Peter Gudaitis

Mr. Gudaitis currently serves as Executive Director & CEO of New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS) and its affiliate the NYC Emergency Shelter Network, Chair of New York VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and President of the National Disaster Interfaith Network (NDIN).

Founded in 2001, NYDIS is a 501(c)(3) federation of 62 faith-based human service providers, charitable organizations and faith communities working in partnership to provide disaster readiness, response, and recovery services for New York City. NYDIS collaborates with local, state, and national organizations to facilitate the delivery of non-sectarian spiritual care, relief, recovery services and planning support – as well as providing mitigation education, preparedness training, and risk communication tools to the New York City faith sector and its partners. NYDIS’ relief and recovery services are principally targeted toward under-resourced victim’s families, survivors, and impacted under-served survivor communities. NYDIS’ 2021 programs provided direct services to over 6,000 New Yorkers as well as training, outreach and preparedness tools and resources to 5000+ NYC houses of worship and their leaders. NYDIS’ Emergency Shelter Network consists of 41 emergency respite bed sites for persons experiencing street homelessness, and one human-pet co-shelter in Manhattan.

He has over 35 years of experience in chaplaincy, disaster and public health emergency management, faith-based philanthropy, and long-term recovery – including a decade in Emergency Medical Services.

Currently, Mr. Gudaitis is a member of the Faith-based Caucus of the International Association of Emergency Managers; Guest Lecturer and Advisory Board member for the Metropolitan College of New York, Emergency and Disaster Management Program; Contributing Fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California; Chair of New York State VOAD (Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster) and, on the Board of Directors of New York City VOAD since 2014.

In 2012, he was appointed to the New York State Respond Commission for SuperStorm Sandy by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In 2015, he was appointed to the New York City Charitable Organization & House of Worship Recovery Task Force by then New York City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. Since 2016 he has been the Co-Chair of the NYC Faith Sector Community Preparedness Program Advisory Board of the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. In 2018, he was appointed to the New York State Puerto Rico Recovery & Reconstruction Committee by Governor Andrew Cuomo. He currently serves on the National VOAD Emotional & Spiritual Care Committee.

Mr. Gudaitis holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, and an M.Div. from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. He lives in Scarborough, New York with his husband of 22 years, the Hon. Anthony Cannataro, Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, New York’s high court.

Dr. Tonya Hansel

Tonya Cross Hansel is a social worker with expertise in research, statistics, disaster mental health, trauma, and maximizing outcomes for social service agencies. Dr. Hansel’s interest in research began as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer, where she helped coordinate research addressing the social problems associated with transmission of HIV and AIDS in the Gambia West Africa.

Following her service, she attended Tulane University, completing her PhD in Social Work and broadened her research to include terrorism and its impact on divorce rates. Dr. Hansel joined the faculty of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Department of Psychiatry in 2007 and held the titles of Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Evaluation and Research. Her research efforts center on evaluation of general trauma services, disaster response work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and towards a better understanding of technological disaster following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.

Together these experiences have allowed her to focus on measuring traumatic experiences and implementing systematic recovery initiatives that are effective at reducing negative symptoms, but also at emphasizing the importance of individual and community strengths that contribute to recovery. Dr. Hansel, is currently an Associate Professor with the Tulane University School of Social Work, where she directs the Doctorate of Social Work. As the Program Director, she plans to extend research methods and data analytic techniques to the curriculum, creating a practical foundation for the future of applied researchers.

Dr. Kimberly Compton

Kimberly S. Compton, Ph.D., M.S.W., is assistant director of the M.S.W. Program and an instructor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work.

As a practitioner, instructor and researcher, Dr. Compton actively seeks out unexpected intersections of multiple disciplines, spaces and vocations with social work. For Dr. Compton, social work has a lot to offer other disciplines, but it also is in need of its own growth and transformation. She explores these opportunities for growth through her work in the community and across disciplines; for example, at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU or exploring methodologies in Geographic Information Systems and new directions in neighborhood-and place-based research. As a researcher, she investigates the work of environmental justice advocates using a critical race lens. Dr. Compton merges these intersections in the classroom and has even developed an elective course giving students the tools to creatively invite the natural environment into their social work practice.

Prior to joining the School of Social Work in 2019, Dr. Compton was executive director of ReEstablish Richmond, a refugee-focused nonprofit. She also worked on an urban farm in Richmond’s East End that provided fresh vegetables to the corner stores. She is a 2021 graduate of the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. Program and a 2013 graduate of the VCU M.S.W. Program with a concentration in social work administration, planning and policy. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Dr. Compton earned a B.A. from The College of William & Mary in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in Studio Art. She loves living near the river and spends her free time rock climbing, backpacking and hiking nearby.

Food Justice

Michael Hurwitz

A transformative leader and bold advocate for social change, Michael Hurwitz recognizes the impact that mentors have had in his life—family members and others across generations whose imprints forever shaped his worldview. He embraced their influence with responsibility and passion, achieving repeated success in creating and growing mission-driven organizations that prioritize needs of youth, families, and communities and drive systemic transformation.

In 2021, Michael founded Landing Lights Strategies—a consultancy specializing in senior-level strategic support for nonprofit and for-profit clients. Previously, he served as the Director of Food Access & Agriculture for GrowNYC—a nonprofit organization committed to improving quality of life across the city’s five boroughs. Serving GrowNYC from 2007 to 2021, he transformed and strategically grew the +30-year-old Greenmarket division into the nation’s largest farmers market-based food access and agriculture initiative. Driven by a two-part mission to support regional farmland and ensure equitable access to the highest quality foods, this work included the creation of a robust infrastructure and breakthrough programs which supported expansion to +80 retail sites and year-over-year growth in budget resources.

Earlier in his career, after serving as a Clinical Coordinator and Director of Social Services for the Red Hook Youth Court, Michael co-led the launch and management of Added Value & Herban Solutions, Inc. Working with an incredible team of young adults, he grew this startup into a 2.75-acre farm in Brooklyn and multiprogram incubator for new generations of youth leadership.

Michael holds a J.D. degree from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, an M.S.W. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. degree in history from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Drive Change and Meals for Good and contributed as a member of Mayor Eric Adams’s Transition Committee for Food Policy. He is an Adjunct Professor and former Food Policy Fellow for NYC’s Hunter College.

Michael lives with his wife and children in Queens and can be found eating his way through the most diverse borough in the world.


Dr. Cedric Taylor

Dr. Taylor is a Jamaican-born sociologist and documentary filmmaker. He holds the posts of Associate Professor of Sociology at Central Michigan University and Visiting Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. His scholarly and creative endeavors focus on racial health disparities, environmental justice and visual sociology. Dr. Taylor is a public sociologist who employs documentary film, visual media, and storytelling to engage the wider community in conversations around environmental justice and other manifestations of inequality. He is the director, and co-producer of Nor Any Drop to Drink: Flint’s Water Crisis (2018).

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Continuing Education Credits

This program has been approved for the following continuing education credits:

  • NYSED Social Workers
  • APA Psychology

Successful completion for the award of approved continuing education credits requires attendance at the entire training/workshop and submission of a completed evaluation form. See full credentialing information and CEUs New York State Office of the Professions (NYSED) regulations require that participants must be present for the entire approved educational activity in order to receive a certificate for continuing education hours. There is no accommodation in the State regulations for late arrival, late return from lunch or breaks, or early departure. According to NYSED, in order to award social work CEs; “When you offer a multi-day or multi-part course/educational activity, the learner must complete all parts in order to earn the certificate for contact hours, in the same way that a student must complete a semester-long course to receive college credit. You may not award partial credit for a program, even a one-day program, if the learner does not complete all requirements at that time.”

Cancellation Policy

No refund can be made for cancellation seven or fewer working days before the onset of the postgraduate certificate program. Cancellations occurring more than seven working days before the onset of the program will result in a refund less the amount of the deposit. Requests for refunds must be received in writing.

Disclaimer: The University reserves the right to cancel this or any program due to insufficient enrollment. Registrants will be notified and full refunds will be issued.

Accessibility Statement

The Student Access Office ensures equal access to all of Adelphi University’s programs, services and facilities for students with documented needs. Through assistance, advocacy and reasonable accommodations, the office provides an accessible and supportive campus environment. The Student Access Office provides cost-free assistance and services that are tailored to meet the needs of individuals based on their specific, appropriately documented needs, while preserving Adelphi’s academic integrity and high standards of academic expectations and performance If you are a student with a documented disability and wish to request accommodation services, please submit a Petition for Reasonable Accommodations form along with the required information as detailed in the Guidelines for Documentation. Please be aware that all decisions regarding accommodations and equal access are made in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and prevailing University Policy.

For further information, please contact the Student Access Office at 516.877.3806 or

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