This website uses cookies to understand how you use the website and to improve your experience. By continuing to use the website, you accept the University of New England’s use of cookies and similar technologies. To learn more about our use of cookies and how to manage your browser cookie settings, please review our Privacy Notice.


March/April 2017

MSW News: Totally UNExpected
director's greeting

On a sparklingly cold St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself in front of Senator Susan Collins’ office having a conversation with a perfect stranger. He was about my age and like me, was carrying a placard. Mine was a hand-me-down sign brandishing support for Medicare; his was backing Planned Parenthood. “It’s been a while since I’ve held a sign protesting anything,” I said. “Me, too,” he responded. He pointed to the time-worn wooden handle that held his sign. “That’s my youngest son’s hockey stick. He’s graduating from college this spring.”

We stood enjoying the sun and solidarity that had brought us together to voice opposition to the proposed American Health Care Act, the initiative developed by congressional Republicans and insurance lobbyists to repeal and replace the ACA. The small gathering of people was chatty; passersby either nodded acknowledgement or ignored us. As the group began to disperse the stranger turned to me and said, “I felt like I had no choice but to get back to the rallies and protests.”

I felt similarly, though my urgency was underscored by social work values and identity. My choice was not whether to be an agent of change but whether, as Marie Louise Kondrat, a critical social work theorist would say, “to be a more conscious agent of change”1 (Kondrat, 1999)

These musings are most appropriate given the fact that March commemorates Social Work Month. The 2017 campaign slogan is Social Workers Stand Up, a theme aimed at raising public awareness about the many and significant ways social workers contribute to individuals and society (see below).

This issue of SSW News celebrates Social Work Month with our own theme — Voice and Choice. Throughout the pages, you’ll learn about ways in which UNE SSW students, faculty, alumni, friends and stakeholders have used their voices and choices in daily interactions with clients and colleagues and in work with social structures, communities and policies. Their individual stories come together to form a cohesive narrative — one that reminds us that social workers are by necessity committed to social change and advocacy. The choice is now — proclaim your intention to become a conscious and conscientious agent of change and join the conversation with social workers across the globe to:

  • Work in all areas of our society to improve participation, health and prosperity
  • Ensure equal rights for all
  • Advocate for legislation and policies including renewal of the Voting Rights Act, The Violence Against Women Act, The Civil Rights Act, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, workplace safety and Social Security benefits
  • Work with people to overcome substance use disorders, chronic health conditions and mental illnesses
  • Help with disaster relief to help people and communities return to peace and prosperity


1Kondrat, M. E. (1999). “Who is the “self” in self-aware: Professional self-awareness from a critical theory perspective’. Social Services Review, December, pp. 451-75.

In this Issue

News and Happenings


Thank you everyone for coming out to the opening in February of the "Artists of Shalom House" exhibit. The show has been a marvelous success and thank you to those who have stopped by to view the art work that is up on the fourth floor of Hersey Hall. The work will be up through the month of April. For more info on the Shalom House and their wonderful Art Program please check out their website!

une produced two great videos highlighting alumni!

Video highlighting Caroline 'Tookie' Bright ('10) where she discusses how her work as a youth and family services counselor enhances the wellbeing of families, individuals and communities using the training she received at UNE.

Watch the video

Video highlighting Charlotte Warren ('08) and her work as a representative in the Maine State Legislature

Watch the video

international service learning in jamaica

See what UNE MSW students have been up to during their journey to Jamaica in January!

Watch the video

For those standing on the median, ‘flying a sign’ is an exercise in humility — PPH article by msw student katy finch

For three days in early January, with camera and microphone in hand, we embarked on a project to document people’s experiences of standing on the median or along the street with cardboard signs. The practice, which is called “flying a sign,” is an issue of intense debate in Portland and beyond. We wanted to know what motivated people to fly signs, what they used the money for and what they did on a day-to-day basis to survive. We interviewed 10 people, and here is what we learned...

Read the aRTICLE

Hot Dog and Dialog: Social Worker turned hot dog vendor — Phoenix article by professor thomas mclaughlin

Article talking to and about Mark Gatti of Mark's Hot Dogs, a fixture of the Portland Old Port for 34 years.

Read the Article


Banning refugees and immigrants brings back the worst — and best — of episodes from our history.

Read the ARTICLE

We need to support the most vulnerable people in our state — PPH article by professor frank brooks

An important program is targeted for severe cuts in reimbursement as a result of DHHS reviews.

REad the article

We are all immigrants, and we all have stories to tell — BDN op-ed by professor thomas mclaughlin

I must confess, I don’t like attending rallies. Perhaps it comes from too many years of policing them or maybe because I haven’t really seen how rallies, protests and marches make a difference. They all seem to follow the same formula: chanting, impassioned speeches, more chanting, then some call to action. It’s the action part that never seems to happen. If it does happen, it doesn’t carry the weight or force of the rally. It seems disconnected. But in the last two weeks something has changed...

Read the ARTICLE

Maine Voices: Immigrants made America great — pph article by professor cyndi amato

The story of America is only the story of new arrivals arriving, striving and becoming Americans in their own ways...

Read the Article

the shared spaces of ernest and mike: phoenix cover story by student support specialist meg webster and professor thomas mclaughlin

When two people physically occupy a shared space in shared time, does it strengthen their commonality? Does the culture and community of Portland foster commonality?...

Read the article

congratulations to some of our amazing faculty: Appointments and promotions!

  • Amy Coha – Clinical Professor, reappointment and promotion
  • Craig Owens – Assistant Clinical Professor, reappointment
  • Wanda Anderson — Clinical Professor, reappointment and promotion 
  • Amy Storch — Senior Lecturer, reappointment and promotion
  • Mary White — Associate Clinical Professor, reappointment and promotion

Best wishes to you all on work well done!

visiting faculty timo toikko

visiting faculty from finland discusses social welfare in finland and europe with research students

Dr. Timo Toikko, a principal lecturer and Master of Social Worlk program coordinator from the Seinajoki University of Applied Sciences in Seinajoki, Finland, stopped by Tom's research class this month to talk to students about the systems of social welfare in Finland and Europe. Timo has been working closely with Tom over the past 10 years on several projects including an analysis of youth confidence in the social welfare system or the welfare state. The two of them, along with another colleague, Teemu Rantanen from Larea University of Applied sciences in Finland, published a paper on confidence and attitudes toward welfare and poverty. Also, Timo and Teemu have just published the findings of another study about the welfare state model, political attitudes and attitudes toward poverty. Here is a link to that article.

shelley cohen konrad presents at the morrison center

shelley cohen kondrad presents at the morrison center

Shelley was pleased to present 'Unexpected Lives' at the Morrison Center, focusing on grief and loss related to parenting and caring for children with disabilities and life-affecting illnesses. With her at the presentation were alumni Laura Prime ('09), Michelle Scontracs Dupuis ('09), and Sara Filliettaz ('02) who are all social workers at the Morrison Center.



une school of social work is now on twitter!

Please follow us and stay updated! @UNE_Social_Work

Our Voices, Our Choices: Activism, Advocacy and Social Change 

karen distefanoThe spirit of awakening

By Karen Distefano

Karen Distefano (MSW Candidate '19) is a student in our online program. A former Marine reservist and current mother to three teenage boys, she has been in Massachusetts for more than 10 years, and currently works with district schools to promote community engagement, support and resources to families at risk.

As a mother of three teenage boys, educator and therapeutic foster parent, I have considered myself an advocate for more than thirty years. Last July, I went for a job interview that changed my life. Why was I applying for a teaching position when everything I have done seemed more like a clinician? My first “ah-ha” moment. Two weeks later, I applied to the UNE Graduate School of Social Work as a distance learner. Since that day, my moments of awakening are too numerous to count.

I am busy, and I have been involved in PTO, coaching and teaching religion to seventh graders. I was already doing more than anyone I knew, and was proud of my foster work. But Policy humbled me. I realized how little I knew about the battles that are being fought every day in this country, and how our fate is interwoven with communities around the world. I work as our town coordinator for the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant that is funded by the MA Department of Early Education and Care. The CFCE promotes literacy to young children and their caregivers. Recently, when I was asked to join other CFCEs on Advocacy Day at the Boston State House, I hesitated for a moment, but Policy taught me that I, as a social worker, need to be part of the policy making and the voice of those who are unable to be heard. I said “yes,” and brought my co-worker with me. It was an honor to be surrounded by other advocates and tell our representatives how the CFCE serves their constituents. 

After joining the Domestic Violence Coalition, I included members from the High School Student Council and Honor Society, which includes my seventeen-year-old son. In the wake of college campus violence and rape cover-ups, it is a concern for all teens. Additionally, I asked the Recycling Club for help with a project I am planning for Earth Day, and was put in touch with an array of people. With theirs, and the International Club’s help, money raised will go to the Mohammad Technical High School in the Congo. Unlikely groups are coming together, which is my goal as coordinator for community engagement. It may not have been the original intention of the grant, but it is the spirit. I do not have to do it alone, but I have the obligation to do everything within my abilities. The best gift I can give my children is the awareness of their personal obligation to do the same. 

hafa adai!: Visiting guam and the northern mariana islands as a samhsa site visit coordinator

arabella perez


By Professor Arabella Perez, LCSW

Hello, in Chamorro! I traveled to the future and am back to tell you all about it. Seriously, though, I crossed the international date line and visited Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) as a federal site visitor for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) Children’s Mental Health Initiative. I know, a mouthful, right! I’ve been fortunate to travel across the U.S. as a “content expert” and as a SAMHSA site visit coordinator, hearing from providers and community members about their experiences with mental health services. I’m coming up on 5 years of offering such consultation and I always come back better informed and a bit humbled by the work that other communities are doing with these grant dollars. 

So, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I was contacted in the fall and asked if I would be the federal site coordinator for both Guam and CNMI. I knew that Guam and Puerto Rico were territories that had a SAMHSA cooperative agreement but did not know that CNMI (a US territory!) was recently awarded a grant to enhance and develop services offered on the islands of Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. Of course, I said yes and am here to tell you all about it.

First, it was a lot of work. I met with island mayors, senators, and legislators. I also met with state agencies and providers. And on the island of Guam, I got to meet one of our UNE SSW online students, Toni Lawson, who is doing her placement with Guam Behavioral Health. What a pleasant surprise to have her walk into a large stakeholder meeting full of legislators and the Director pauses to announce that Professor Perez must stop and take a photo with Toni. Smiles greeted us all around, pleased to know that we are a small world, after all. By the way, their federally funded initiative is called, I Famagua'on-ta (Our Children). Says it all, which is a great segue into the highlight of my travels, meeting with family and youth for community dinners each night. It’s an honor to be welcomed to a table and hear first hand from families and youth about their own personal stories. I think I’m actually a cultural anthropologist disguised as a social worker!

A little bit of history, the indigenous people on all the islands are Chamorro and are bilingual in their native tongue and English. It’s an actual mandate that they be taught in both languages. Many of the Chamorros have bloodlines that are mixed with those of their native Polynesian tribes, Spaniards, Filipinos, Chinese and Japanese. If you don’t realize already, these are islands that have a long history of colonization, occupation and forced enslavement.

While there I discovered that their language is influenced by Spanish, as is their food. You would see signs at the airport bidding you, “Adios” and every meal had their version of Spanish rice, empanadas and plantains. I felt like I was on my ancestral island of Puerto Rico and was often pleasantly mistaken for Chamorro, especially because Perez is a very common name on the island. I have rarely met a more inviting, resilient and engaging group of individuals. They fed me constantly and offered hugs with shell and seed leis at each reception. I have a collection that I plan to wear often.

The darker side of the island unfolded quickly as I heard story after story of historical, cultural and personal trauma. This is a U.S. territory that has relegated the indigenous people to a second-class status. During the nearly three years of occupation during WW2 by the Japanese, 1,170 Chamorros were killed, with another 14,721 suffering from atrocities of war — beatings, forced labor, torture, rape, murder, beheadings, massacres, forced marches and concentration camps

With limited resources and little to no voice in governance, these islands struggle with a complicated relationship involving paying reparations from WW 2 and accepting more of our military presence. If you don’t already know, Tinian is where the B-29 bombers that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, took off. It’s also the site of mass suicides by Japanese civilians, which included children, who jumped from two cliffs to their death. A tragic end to the war.

Being trauma-informed on these islands meant that instead of being a content expert I was an observer and listener. I was fortunate that the federal SAMHSA Project Officer, a public health officer, is also a member of the Lumbee tribe of South Carolina. He approached the visit as he would a visit to one of the native tribes on the mainland. We graciously accepted and ate every meal (even if I had just eaten a large breakfast an hour ago), traveled on small 5 seater planes to visit communities (I get motion sick), learned a bit of the native language, attended street festivals and visited cultural sites. As I heard them describe services and supports it was evident that traditional mental health was not a culturally responsive model. And how could it be when two of the three Mariana Islands have only one therapist apiece and the last had no mental health therapist at all. Instead, the communities use a model called “natural helpers” taught to all school children and have trained more than 300 islanders in Mental Health First Aid. Because they have a federal grant they are trying to create a traditional mental health model and struggling with the nuts and bolts. At the end of the visit, I took one of the clinicians aside and told her that all this talk of evidence-based outpatient therapy was culturally stifling and unsustainable. Instead, what they had proudly described to us as teaching islanders to care for each other’s mental health and wellness was the best example of community evidence and the most sustainable.

So what did I hear from the families and youth? Pride of culture and language. The value of “Poksai”: raising each other’s children. The notion that we and our surroundings are all interconnected. A deep connection to the divine expressed through religious and cultural practices. And a love of island and home.

I thank the Chamorro people for sharing their islands with me and teaching me that culture matters above all else. It is one of the most important protective factors we have that binds us to our ancestors and our history. It may be the only thing you have left when services and supports disappear. Everyone has it and everyone can teach it. The Puerto Rican in me felt at home.

P.S. I ate bat soup. Yep, that happened. And no, it doesn’t taste like chicken.

lori K. gramlich, lmsw ('97), executive director of nasw — maine chapter

Column originally published in the NASW March '17 Newsletter

With our new administration in Washington offering their first piece of legislation, all eyes are on health care. Ultimately, it appears that more decision making authority, relative to health insurance coverage and namely, Medicaid, will go to individual states. As we know in the state of Maine, when the Affordable Care Act was introduced in 2010, Governor LePage opted not to participate in the exchange, so that more Mainers would not only have access to health insurance coverage, but so that more Mainers would be able to afford coverage. Currently there are approximately 60,000 Mainers who go without health care coverage because they simply are unable to afford to purchase it. If — and more pointedly when — these decisions get shifted to the state, I grow increasingly concerned about the folks who will not have health care — health care, which in my opinion, should be a basic right for all — not just something for those who can afford it. This speaks directly to our Code of Ethics and our advocacy for less fortunate populations.

Additional changes we see coming from Washington, which will have significant implications on Mainers, is the proposal to completely de-fund Planned Parenthood. This concern is not intended as a statement from me or our Chapter relative to the issues of pro or anti-choice — it is an issue related directly to health care. The administration in Washington, with its intent to essentially close Planned Parenthood, by way of completely eliminating Medicaid funding will mean Mainers who rely on these services for their wellness exams, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections for women and men, will no longer be able to receive these services.

We further understand that the distribution of funds for Federal programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP block grant program will be distributed by means of block grants to the states. The Federal government would give a set amount of money to each state for Medicaid; it would be up to the states to spend it however they like.

Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, Kevin Concannon, who is currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, believes there's good reason to worry over the possibility of block grants. Mr. Concannon’s concerns, like many in the state of Maine, is that if left up to our current administration in Maine, our vulnerable populations who rely on assistance, may potentially no longer be able to access assistance.

So what can we do? We as social workers have an ethical responsibility to work on these public policy initiatives. Many at times, feel overwhelmed with the complexity of these issues and often wonder where to start. We can consistently let our Congressional Delegation in Washington understand our position on these above referenced initiatives. We can also start in our Maine legislature. We have a number of priorities in this legislative session that social works can be involved in.

  • LD 530 – An Act to Ensure Medical Assessment for Youth in Foster Care – Rep. Hamann
  • LD 582 – An Act to Provide for the Comprehensive Assessment of Children Entering State Custody – Sen. Gratwick
  • LD 912 – An Act to Clarify the Scope of Practice of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy – Rep. Fecteau

We are also following the additional bills which have not been printed:

  • LR 1498: An Act to Ensure Transparency in the Distribution of Federal Block Grant Funds — Rep. Jorgensen of Portland
  • LR 1618: An Act to Ensure Access to Behavioral Health Services — Rep. Perry of Calais
  • LR 1396: Resolve, To Establish a Moratorium on Rate Changes Related to Certain Community Mental Health Services — Rep. Gattine of Westbrook
  • LR 1783: An Act to Support Substance Use Prevention, Treatment and Recovery – Rep. Beebe-Center of Rockland
  • LR 1965: An Act to Restore Community Support Services for Adults with Mental Illness — Sen. Bellows of Kennebec.

We clearly have much work to do. In these times, it is more apparent than ever, that we need to have social workers engaged in advocacy efforts and in public policy to affect systemic change on behalf of our clients and for our profession.

Exploring shared spaces and finding a common voice in an uncommon time

by Professor Thomas McLaughlin and Student Support Specialist Meg Webster

Vaclav Havel is quoted saying “it is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” We feel like there is plenty happening in our world that can seize us up. But we also think there is opportunity in finding commonality, wisdom and a sense of community.

But how do we really see one another? What makes us really listen to each other? Though we know the things that divide us are immensely layered and complex, we feel there is something very rudimentary and key to this notion of finding familiarity and intimacy within our diversity. And as Vaclav Havel so poignantly expresses — it’s not enough to simply stare, but let us engage…

To that end, we have been thinking about those spaces which all of us occupy. Maybe it’s a seat in a classroom which is shared by many different students throughout the day, maybe it’s the space in the checkout aisle of the grocery store where your curiosity about what the person in front of you will prepare with those potatoes they are purchasing. Shared space is something we think most of us take for granted. Stop and see that this shared space is filled with people who have gifts — gifts to share. Perhaps sometimes those gifts are simply a smile or even curious ensemble which invites the imagination to consider possibilities. It’s difficult to overlook or forget someone in the shadows when their story is known...felt. At a time when it really does feel the world could seize us up in one giant gulp, perhaps it’s the most opportune time to pause. To stop. To reflect on what exactly we are immersed in. We are among one another. The real heroes are sometimes not where we think they are, but right here among us in these spaces we share. But how do we talk and write about this?

This project, in itself emerged out of finding commonality. Both of us approached the Portland Phoenix independently — our ideas similar yet angles slightly different. Together we found a way to merge them into a shared voice to create these pieces. Through this collaboration, openness to ideas and conversation, not only have we found a way to share the space of the blank page, but we hope to bring these Portland faces to the forefront and accentuate our belonging — to shed light on the hidden gems of this beautiful, rich, diverse city in which we all live.

Stay tuned! 

social justice advocacy group forum: inaugural event with kate chesney, esq. from ilapsocial justice advocacy group event

On February 22, 2017 the Social Justice Advocacy Group held it’s first forum. Kate Chesney, Esq., Staff Attorney for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) spoke to students and faculty about the services ILAP offers and the impact of the President’s Muslim Ban. 

ILAP’s mission is to advocate for and to improve the status and well-being of Maine’s low-income non citizens and their families by providing affordable legal services, and by educating and working with service providers, policy makers and the public concerning legal issues unique to non citizens. ILAP is Maine’s only statewide nonprofit provider of free and low-fee comprehensive immigration law services to low-income Mainers.

Ms. Chesney provided the following information on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities taking place throughout the county.

In addition to ICE officers conducting raids in their search for undocumented workers, Sheriff departments and other law enforcement agencies are being encouraged by the president to sign 287(g) agreements. These agreements encourage communication between state/local law enforcement and immigration. Sheriff departments receive financial support when their deputies agree to act as ICE officers. Thirty two law enforcement agencies have signed 287(g) agreements with ICE in sixteen states. This statistic may not be an accurate representation of the current number of law enforcement agencies currently working with ICE. What is especially troubling about these agreements is that victims of crimes may no longer feel safe in asking law enforcement for help.

What social workers need to know when working with immigrants/refugees: 

  • Immigrants/refugees are urged not to carry passports or other forms of identification. If they are undocumented they should not carry proof that they are a foreign national (aka their passport or ID card from their home country). However, they should carry ID if they are documented (i.e. their green card or state ID).

In responding to ICE or police remaining silent and giving them a Red Card

  • If they are arrested they should not say ANYTHING, just ask to speak with their attorney and have the number of one they plan to use on them at all times (or committed to memory). If they are undocumented, it can also be helpful to have a power of attorney done in advance for financial matters in case they are detained (so someone they authorize, for example, can obtain their final paycheck in order to pay their bond). It may also be a good idea to speak to their children’s school ahead of time and give authorization for someone to pick their children up at school, should they be detained.
  •  All people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have certain rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution. The Red Cards were created to help people assert their rights and defend themselves against constitutional violations. Knowing and asserting rights can make a huge difference in many situations, such as when ICE agents go to a home. Red cards provide critical information on how to assert these rights, along with an explanation to ICE agents that the individual is indeed asserting their rights. Red Cards are printable and available free of charge from this website.

red card sampleThere have been various accounts of ICE agents requesting that individuals sign forms waiving their rights. Ms. Chesney reported that she could not verify this or find the form name, but the most important take away is that they NOT sign anything until they have the opportunity to consult an attorney and until they have read the form in their native language.

Social workers’ have an important role in many immigration cases. In order for attorneys to provide certain elements of a case they may request a detailed letter from a social worker or treatment notes/records. If you receive a request from an immigration attorney/or client to do so, please take this very seriously because that letter or those records could be the deciding factor in whether or not your client is granted status in the US or allowed to remain here in safety.

who is your social work hero?

In honor of Social Work Month, we sent out a survey to students, faculty and the UNE Community asking 'Who is your Social Work hero?' Here are some lovely responses:

My son has a serious mental illness. His amazing social worker has formed a trusting, caring relationship with him. Under her care he has blossomed and grown and respects and values her option. She is wickedly funny, sassy and can relate to young adults. She has changed our lives forever. — P.D., UNE Staff

My social work hero is Trudy Cole at the Children, Youth and Families Department in Clovis, New Mexico. As a child I was in foster care and for the 8 years that I was living as a foster child in a relative placement Trudy was my social worker. She even changed positions within the agency, yet she CHOSE to take my case with her because she knew it was in my best interest. I will forever be appreciative of the dedication and care she gave me. I wouldn't be where I am if she weren't the social worker she is. -K.S., UNE MSW student

Julia Davidson was my field instructor. She was wonderful. She was very supportive and even when I was going through stuff, she was always there to encourage me and give me strength to keep on going even when I wanted to give up. Not only was she caring, but I also learned a lot from her as a social worker. Even when she broke both her legs during my semester, she still managed to be there for me, and finish all my paperwork. She definitely is an inspiration and what social work is all about. -P.E., UNE MSW Student

My Social Work hero is Dr. Katherine Emerson, DPA, MSW, my BSW field advisor and friend. She inspired me with her knowledge of Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse and was open to creating a unique field experience for me that incorporated writing, research and speaking on disability topics. Her passion for and innovation in Macro Social Work and her students' success has always been a large inspiration to me and I am grateful for her support. -L.M., UNE MSW Student

My undergraduate supervisor at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts was Pamela Lucci, LICSW, an incredible mentor and now friend. Pam is an incredible, patient, flexible and integrative social worker. Her intention to work well with and for each of her clients is conducted through genuine presence and transparent professionalism. She is an asset to the field of social work! -J.G., UNE MSW Student

My Social Work Hero was my first supervisor in the field of social work after receiving my Bachelor's degree. He was my mentor. He was always calm, patient and level headed, even in the most difficult situations. He was hands down, the best supervisor I've ever had and I've had several since my first social work job (15 years ago). I'm very thankful that I had the honor of working for him. -S.L., UNE MSW Student

Opportunities & Information

social justice advocacy forums for students, faculty, alumni and staff on the portland campus

The UNE School of Social Work Student Organization has begun an exciting collaboration with our faculty to explore the ways in which we can best respond to social injustices as individuals, as a school and as a community. As the Social Justice Advocacy Group continues to evolve into a sustainable project, it is a goal that it will create opportunities to educate, inspire and connect us to one another and to firm action steps. We look forward to engaging with speakers from various agencies and organizations, such as ILAP and the ACLU, to facilitate discussion around needs and channels of involvement. The Social Justice Advocacy Group directly aligns with the NASW ethical principle of challenging social injustice, and creates an exciting opportunity for students, faculty and our broader community to connect to create positive change. The structure for each meeting will be:

  • Invite speakers from community agencies/programs who are engaged in working with and advocating for the rights of individuals and groups who are being targeted by the current administration because of their religious beliefs, race, ethnicity, immigrant/refugee status, undocumented workers/families, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Other topics will include healthcare, reproductive rights, voting rights, building additional detention centers for undocumented workers/families, environmental issues impacting the health and wellbeing of Native Americans. etc. (This is not intended to be a definitive list. Rather it is intended to provide information on issues of concern that we believe demand a response.)
  • Each presentation will be structured to include the following areas: Presentation, Conversation, Action Plan. The action plan may be completed during the 1-½ hours of the presentation, or after depending on the action.
  • The School of Social Work Newsletter will provide a summary of the forum as well as how to participate in action plans. (Please see the write-up of our first Social Justice Advocacy group with ILAP's Kate Chesny above!)

Committee Members: Frank Brooks, Amy Coha, Thomas McLaughlin, Craig Owens, Arabella Perez, Lori Power

Student Organization: Rebecca Baker, Karri Beling, Elizabeth Compton, Caleb Demers, Alanna Eaton, Tim, Fuller, Jason Hull, Seth Hunsicker, Jaimie Mastrorio

Below under 'Events' please see the listing for our next Social Justice Advocacy Forum with the people from the ACLU!

Stay tuned for more, and GET INVOLVED!

survey for alumni!

The SSW is committed to preparing graduate social work students with the practice skills and the theoretical foundation needed to affect change on multiple systems levels. As such, we are asking alumni to share how their social work education at UNE has, or has not, prepared them to meet the challenges of the practice environment. Please click on the link below to tell us your thoughts!

Take the SURVEY

submit a performance piece for upcoming 'listen up' event!

The UNE Applied Arts and Social Justice program is hosting the musicians from the Listen Up community supports program for an evening of music and spoken word performances at Ludcke Auditorium on April 13, 5-7 p.m. In order to encourage a collaborative spirit of social inclusion and participation between the UNE School of Social Work and the Listen Up communities, we are opening this performance up to submissions from UNE MSW students, faculty and alumni. Anyone interested in coming up on stage and reading a poem, monolog, or singing a song they have composed, maybe addressing a social justice Issue, relevant to current events locally, nationally, or globally, is encouraged to email a copy of their written work to Elizabeth Pierce and Theo Mazur.

une msw honor society: sigma lambda

Interested in Joining the UNE MSW Honor Society Sigma Lambda? We would love to have you as part of our organization! In order to join you need to have a 3.5 GPA and need to have completed one term of classes. You must send an email from your UNE account to Amy Scholl and send your transcripts to Sunyana Benjamin. There is a $30 fee that covers the cost of the certificate and pin and must be paid by cashier’s check or money order only. Once the email, transcripts and money are received, members are added to the UNE MSW Honor Society page quarterly. Please feel free to post any questions on the Interested in Joining the Honor Society Facebook page and we will address them. Honor Society officers are: President Amy Scholl, Vice President Amy Tracy, Secretary Sunyana Benjamin and Treasurer Judy Barrett.

student organization meetings!

Hello students! Your Social Work Student Organization (SWO) officers are looking forward to be working alongside all of you to make some great things happen here on campus, and beyond! We encourage students to come with ideas for events, resources to share with colleagues, and thoughts on how to best advocate both for those we serve and for ourselves. As an organization, we are excited to build a network of support, connection and idea sharing among our student body. We hope to see you at a meeting!

Next meeting times (taking place in Alexander Wing Study Lab from 12-1 p.m.):

2017: April 5 & 19 and May 3

SWO is now recruiting! There are many officers who will be graduating in May and student leadership positions are available. We will be looking for candidates for the soon-to-be vacated positions of President, Vice President, Treasurer, GAPSA Senator and GAPSA Councilor. Any current student interested should reach out to one of the officers below:


Do you know of an artist or group whose art has a social justice theme? The art can address such themes as poverty, addiction, environment, gun violence, food security and many others! We need new art for the Hersey fourth floor hallway, and perhaps even the hallway near Parker Pavilion! If you, or an artist or group you know, would like to hang their art for a period of two or three months, please contact Lori Power, (207) 221-4493. Many thanks!


If you have graduated from UNE with your MSW two or more years ago, and are interested in a volunteer opportunity that will enhance your skills as a professional social worker, we need you! Our program is full of amazing students who need field instructors for their foundation and advanced field placements. As an alum, you understand the importance of field education and the expectations of students in our MSW program. Our field instructors have flexibility in how field instruction is delivered. You may meet with your student by phone, video conference, or face-to-face. If you'd like to provide field instruction to one or more students, please contact Director of Field Education Kelli Fox. Thank you!

Upcoming Events

social justice advocacy forum event with the maine aclu

The School of Social Work's newly formed Social Justice Advocacy Group would like to invite you to a panel featuring staff from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. The panelists will provide an overview of the work of the ACLU of Maine in the areas of criminal justice, freedom of expression, immigrants' rights, LBGTQ rights, privacy and racial justice.

We will then have a question and answer session and a group discussion to explore strategies for collaboration between the ACLU of Maine and students, faculty and community members.

Bring your lunch! Coffee, tea and dessert will be provided.

Wednesday, April 5, from 12-1:30 p.m.

Celebrating Empowerment: A Multicultural Showcase — rescheduled date!

Join us for art, music, film and food as we celebrate the accomplishments of local Maine immigrant community members!
The event will showcase local multicultural artwork, and there will be a short film screening followed by a panel discussion with individuals from the film and members of the Portland, Maine immigrant community at large.

Out of the Shadows: The Immigrant Woman (Written and Co-Directed by Meg Webster and Donna Gaspar Jarvis; Filmed, Edited and Produced by Meg Webster)


Created for the inaugural Maine Empower The Immigrant Woman Conference this short film offers innovative perspective on the modern day Maine Immigrant story. Six Maine immigrant women share their unique journeys and offer insight into how they persevered to overcome barriers to start businesses and organizations, further their education and give back to their local Maine communities. Their words of wisdom reach across cultures, race and class to resonate with any individual desiring to feel empowered.

Please join us on Wednesday, April 5 in Ludcke Hall (Portland Campus), 5:30-8 p.m.

This event is brought to you by the UNE SSW Student Organization, and Empower the Immigrant Woman.

poverty & addiction: half-day training opportunity with marjorie withers, lcpc

The University of New England’s School of Social Work is hosting a half day training presented by Marjorie Withers, former Director of the Community Caring Collaborative in Washington County, on Poverty & Addiction — Friday April 14, 1-5 p.m. in Ludcke Auditorium.

Join presenter Marjorie Withers as she shares her professional experience and wisdom of serving Maine’s rural poor. The training will focus on rural advocacy, reducing stigma and fostering strength in children, families and communities.

This training is free and open to the public. Contact hours will be provided. 


upcoming ipec events

These events are geared toward students but are free and open to the public

Wednesday, April 5

  • IPEC Event: Green Dot Training (Green Dot training is a comprehensive approach to violence prevention centered on bystander intervention and social change)
  • 12-1:30 p.m.
  • Ludcke Auditorium, Portland Campus | Decary Café Chretien Function Room 1, Biddeford Campus (Livestream)
  • HD/CUP and the SBIRT Student Leaders Program. A light meal is served on the Portland campus.
  • Co-sponsors IPEC, ISE, SBIRT

Wednesday, April 12

  • IPEC Event: Mental illness and Addiction – A client centered approach (student-led panel discussion)
  • 12-1:30 p.m.
  • Ludcke Auditorium, Portland Campus | Decary Café Chretien Function Room 1, Biddeford Campus (Livestream)
  • Attendance at this event qualifies for the IP Honors HD/CUP A light meal is served on the Portland campus.

Wednesday, April 19

  • IPEC Event: Mercy Pain Clinic (Student Presentations)
  • 12-1:30 p.m.
  • Ludcke Auditorium, Portland Campus | Decary Café Chretien Function Room 1, Biddeford Campus (Livestream)
  • HD/CUP A light meal is served on the Portland campus.

Wednesday, April 26

  • IPEC Event Poster and Presentation Session
  • 12-1:30 p.m., Ludcke Auditorium
  • Portland Campus Only (Recorded, but not livestreamed)
  • Attendance at this event qualifies for the IP Honors Distinction application and a full lunch is served.
  • Livestream
  • To LiveTWEET: #ipeune @uneipe