Alumni and Friends Day in the Hudson Valley
Social Work, Social Change, Social Action
Social Work, Social Change, Social Action
Our world is riddled with varying degrees of violence, extensive levels of distrust, systemic racism, antisemitism, homophobia, environmental and other forms of social injustice. While it is still important for us to spend some time exploring how we got here, one of the most crucial tasks for social workers in times like this to focus on our profession’s primary goal which is defined in the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers as “to help people in need and to address social problems.” Being social workers, we do not have the luxury of being bystanders as our world’s crises leave so many of our fellow human beings traumatized, oppressed, dispossessed of their basic human rights and subjected to myriads of emotional and physical hurts too many to name. We understand that we cannot address all of the ills that plague our world, nor can we help everyone in need. However, as advocates for social justice, social workers have a responsibility to engage in social action to bring about change in all societal systems with which they interact. By doing so, we can hope to play our part in building a better world.
This conference will bring together scholars and practitioners to examine some of the social issues that require social work attention and explore strategies for social work engagement. We will examine these issues within the contexts of policy and clinical practice. The conference will open with a plenary session where Dr. Samantha Fletcher, Executive Director of NASW-NYS will give the keynote lecture titled Social Work, Social Change, Social Action. After that we will have the four breakout workshops highlighted below:
- Manoj Pardasani – Leading Through a Social Justice Lens
- Patricia Joyce & Dr. Daniel Kaplan – Creating Grassroots Social Action for Any Cause
- Llonia Rojan Jackson – Building Equity and Inclusive Spaces in Social Work Practice.
- Elizabeth Greaney – Social Work Practice with Immigration & Refugees
4 CEUs will be awarded to licensed social workers for participating in this conference.
This event is free, but pre-registration is required.
Keynote: Social Work, Social Change, Social Action
Samantha Fletcher, MSW, Ph.D. Executive Director, NASW-NY
Samantha Fletcher earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Tulsa (2000), a Master’s degree in Social Work (2014) and a Ph.D. (2018) from the University at Albany School of Social Welfare. Prior to her tenure at the University at Albany, she worked for over 15 years in human services including a family law firm, a crisis pregnancy center, an Islamic school, as well as a personal training business.
While pursuing her Ph.D., Samantha served as the project coordinator of a peer support program for veterans, funded by the Joseph P. Dwyer Statewide Veteran Peer Support Program (Dwyer Program). She supervised the program development, implementation, and evaluation of 16 non-profit county programs focused on peer-delivered services (e.g., individual mentoring, support groups, volunteerism, community education, and referral to veteran-focused services). As the senior research assistant, Samantha implemented a mixed methods study evaluating the Dwyer Program in 11 New York counties. She also organized a yearly conference for key stakeholders in each county and senate staff featuring nationally recognized veterans and, along with the Principal Investigator of the project, disseminated the findings of their evaluation to New York State Senate and at multiple national Social Work conferences.
After earning her Ph.D., Samantha served as the Assistant Dean of Academic Programs and the Director of Admissions in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany. She worked with a diverse team of administrators and faculty to implement quality educational programming for social work students at all levels (BA, MSW, and Ph.D.). In addition to enacting New York State and the Council on Social Work Education mandates for the School, a special emphasis of her work was to deepen and expand the School’s focus on social justice.
Samantha partnered with the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to implement a social justice group for students, faculty, and staff called “The Gathering;” this endeavor increased awareness of social injustice for all members of the community and instantiated an on-going method for critically examining inequality at micro-, meso-, and macro-levels of analysis. The approach highlighted the inclusion of community activists and other experts who worked with participants to create a safe, active, and reflective environment. Group members explore personal assumptions/biases, values, and beliefs via exercises and activities that ultimately provide a sense of responsibility about becoming a change agent. This work has been particularly useful for helping aspiring social workers make inclusiveness a habit in their practice as well as in their everyday lives.
Samantha’s career has highlighted social activism as a key area of research and practice. Her interest in injustice of all kinds led her to address the lived experiences of lifelong social activists as part of an independent investigation. Via multiple interviews with older adults who identify as liberal social activists, she analyzed their narratives, as well as historical documents including newspaper articles, flyers, diaries, meeting minutes, and the like to better understand how these seasoned activists remained motivated, for decades, to fight for policy and practical change at local, state, and national levels. The participants inspired Samantha to follow in their footsteps by remaining vigilant, determined, and thoughtful about the socio-political context in which social movements begin. In this new position, Samantha looks forward to supporting and learning from the diverse members of NASW NYS, promoting the profession and advocating for policy change to create a safe, inclusive, and just society.
Manoj Pardasani, PhD, LCSW
Dr. Manoj Pardasani is 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 (PhD) 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.
Patricia Joyce, DSW
Patricia A. Joyce’s broad-ranging research interests include non-offending mothers of sexually abused children; cultural competence and PTSD; domestic violence; and secondary trauma and ethnicity.
She has authored and co-authored numerous conference presentations and academic articles in journals including Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma and Clinical Social Work Journal. She is the recipient of five grants, and serves on the board for Turning Point, an organization that provides domestic violence and youth development services to Muslim women and their families.
Joyce earned her DSW from City University of New York and her MSW from Hunter College. She also holds a BA from St. John’s College.
Daniel B. Kaplan, PhD, LICSW, LMSW, CSW-G, QDCS
Dr. Kaplan is a gerontological clinical social worker with expertise in mental and neurological disorders. He is an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University School of Social Work. His research includes intervention studies and workforce development initiatives to optimize services, clinical interventions and supportive environments for older adults with mental and neurological disorders living in the community. He is the former National Director of Social Services for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Dr. Kaplan holds clinical social work licensure in New York and Massachusetts, as well as an NASW certification in advanced gerontological clinical social work. He earned his doctorate at Columbia University and then held a postdoctoral research fellowship in the NIMH Geriatric Mental Health Services Research program at the Weill Cornell Institute for Geriatric Psychiatry.
Llonia Rojan Jackson, LMSW
Ms. Rojan Jackson is the Director of Cultural, Diversity, and Belonging at the University of Hartford. In her role, she is responsible for intentional DEIJB programming designed to support student learning and success. In fall 2021, Llonia expanded the Black Student Union (BSU) Book Fund to include a scholarship to assist students with critical needs not covered by financial aid. In its first six months, the scholarship fund raised over $16,000. She previously served in several significant roles across the University, including Director of Student Engagement and Inclusion, Director of Multicultural Programs, and Associate Director of Alumni Engagement.
Llonia serves as an instructor in the Success Team for Readiness, Improvement, Diversity, and Excellence (STRIDE) program. Through strategic tutelage and mentorship initiatives in the program, she supports Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students achieve success during their first year of college and beyond. Llonia is an adjunct professor in the University Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of Hartford and in the School of Social Work at the University of Connecticut.
Before joining the University of Hartford in 2015, Llonia was the Assistant Director of Field Education at Adelphi University, where she directed the Hudson Valley Center, Master of Social Work, Field Education program. Her prior work experience spans academia, nonprofits, government, and community relations. Llonia started her college career at the University of Hartford where she was a founding member of the BSU Book Fund, and one of 42 inaugural Hartford Scholars in 1990. Both programs, now under her leadership, are still thriving and have grown.
Llonia holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from the University of Hartford. She is a Licensed, Master Social Worker. Llonia regularly serves as a speaker and panelist on DEIJB, women’s initiatives, student engagement, and higher education topics. In February 2022, Llonia was honored with the University of Hartford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Beloved Community Award. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Elizabeth Greaney, LMSW
Elizabeth Greaney is a graduate of Adelphi University School of Social Work and has been working in the field on immigration for over 9 years. Her professional platform has been built on a passion for Human Rights and International Social Justice. In 2011, she travelled throughout South America for a year to pursue volunteer opportunities and increase fluency in the Spanish Language. Her return to the United States led her to working in the field of immigration. She is currently the Assistant Director of a Shelter that facilitates family reunification with unaccompanied children. She has engaged in research regarding immigration and was published as a co-author on “Treacherous Crossings: Responses to the Influx of Unaccompanied Minors in the Hudson Valley” in the March 2018 edition of the journal Children and Youth Services Review.