Alumni Panel: Journey to the C Recap

Last week, we welcomed four alumni to speak about their path to clinical social work at our virtual panel discussion, Journey to the “C”, which was co-sponsored by the Mental Health Caucus. The discussion covered an array of topics, including clinical supervision, Institute training, and interview preparation.

Regardless of where each alum started their journey, there were common themes and strategies shared by everyone:

  • Expect bumps in the road, and be open to new experiences.
  • Actively engage in continuing education, trainings, and volunteer work to develop your area of expertise.
  • Seek supervision that allows you to be vulnerable or challenged — this is the most valuable type of supervision, because it will help you to grow.
  • Enjoy the process and experience with your clients and supervisors.
  • Don’t stop learning!

Thank you to our speakers Karisma Ajodah ‘02, Gale Bayer ’87, Jillian DiPietro ’16, and Eric Levanthal ‘02 for their candid insights and advice! Also, much appreciation to Ashley Leeds ’20 for moderating the panel and helping coordinate the event.

For an overview of the panel discussion, review the notes that were taken for the event, which are stored in Career Connect within the Document Library > Workshops / Presentations Folder.

Panel Discussion: Careers and Placements in Policy | Wednesday, February 19

Join us for a panel discussion on how social workers can make an impact in the policy space.

Wednesday, February 19, 12:15 – 1:45 PM
CSSW Room C03

Register here

Speakers will include:

  • Ericka Echavarria ‘08 (Moderator), Associate Director of Field Education
  • Sarah Christa Butts, Director of Public Policy, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
  • Emily Miles ‘13, Chief Policy and Program Officer, FPWA
  • Christelle Onwu ‘15, Lead Advisor for African Communities and Equal Employment Opportunity Recruitment Strategist at the New York City Commission on Human Rights
  • Dr. John Robertson, Social Welfare Policy Professor

Live-stream will be available. Please register via Career Connect for the link.

Hosted by the Offices of Career Services and Leadership Management & Field Education.


ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Ericka Echavarria

Ericka currently serves as an Associate Director of Field Education at Columbia University School of Social Work, and also teaches and provides supervision to graduate level students and Field Instructors at CSSW. She is heavily invested in preparing future social work professionals for direct practice with clients and systems by helping them develop a self-care and self- awareness practice, social justice advocacy skills, the capacity to hold and maintain difficult dialogues related to power, race, oppression, and privilege, and an ethical and professional identity.

Ericka also acts as a consultant in the federal criminal justice system working as a mitigation specialist/sentencing advocate since 2011. Her role involves making the case for life and/or just sentences on behalf of clients in capital murder and other serious federal cases through the use of comprehensive psychosocial investigations, assessments, and narratives. Ericka works closely with defense attorneys to zealously advocate for her clients on both court appointed and privately retained cases. Ericka has also performed forensic advocacy for parents and children involved with the family court/child welfare system in the following types of cases: abuse and neglect, guardian ad litem, and supervised custody/visitation.

Prior to engaging in forensic social work, Ericka gained a world of experiential knowledge while serving adults, youth, and children in mental health clinics, schools, child welfare, and drug treatment programs. Consequently, her expertise lies in the following: criminal and family law, child welfare, addiction, trauma, mental health, cognitive, learning, and emotional impairments, and case management. Her work has included advocating for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, families and children in the child welfare and family court system, men and women struggling with addiction, children facing learning, emotional, behavioral, and psychological difficulties in schools, and defendants in the federal and state criminal justice system. Additionally, Ericka has provided technical assistance to other advocates who interface or provide services to many of these clients by conducting trainings in areas of immigrants’ rights, mental health, self-awareness, difficult dialogues around power, race, privilege, and oppression, and behavior management.

Ericka received her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University in 2008, and her Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School in 2002.

Sarah Butts

Sarah Christa Butts, LMSW, is director of public policy at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), headquarters office in Washington, D.C.  NASW is the largest social work organization in the nation, representing the interests of over 700,000 social workers nationwide, with 55 local chapters in states and U.S. territories. Butts is responsible for leading the association’s public policy, political and legislative affairs agenda, overseeing field organizing, working at both the national level and with NASW chapters, political candidates’ fundraising and endorsement efforts, as well as developing and advancing the association’s strategic goals and objectives related to influencing the legislative and executive branches of government. 

Prior to joining NASW, Sarah served as the first executive director of the Grand Challenges for Social Work, a national initiative modeled after a similar campaign spearheaded by the National Academy of Engineering, whereby 12 science supported challenges were advanced to tackle societies toughest social problems. Sarah is also the founding administrator of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW)—an honorific society for the social work profession and served as an assistant to the dean at University of Maryland, School of Social Work. Butts has also held roles in state and local government, as well as nonprofits, including positions in Maryland’s Department of Human Services, Social Services Administration and the Family League of Baltimore. In 2018 she was the recipient of The Daily Record’s 40 under 40 VIP list award. She is a contributing author on the 2018 Oxford University Press book, Grand Challenges for Social Work and Society and a 2015 AASWSW paper, the Grand Challenge of Ending Homelessness. Sarah is a member of the board of directors of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Sarah holds a Bachelors of Social Work from University of Maryland Baltimore County, a Masters of Social Work from University of Maryland Baltimore and is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy at University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Emily Miles

Emily Miles is the Chief Policy and Program Officer at FPWA, an anti-poverty, policy and advocacy nonprofit with a membership network of nearly 200 human service and faith-based organizations, where she oversees the development and implementation of a policy agenda that seeks to reduce poverty and promote upward economic mobility for all New Yorkers.  In her time at FPWA, Emily has played a lead role in the development and launch of several campaigns and initiatives focused on increasing economic equity across New York City and State through increased access the quality healthcare, criminal justice reform, increased wages for human services workers, and reforming public benefits. In 2015, Emily was honored as a Next Generation Leader by the Human Services Council and a Top 40 Under 40 Rising Star by New York Nonprofit Media.

Prior to joining FPWA, Ms. Miles worked in the Obama Administration in the Office of the Vice President and in the U.S. Department of Education, managing gender-based violence initiatives.  She started her career as a public middle school teacher, working in both Georgia and Maine. Emily has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Georgia.

Christelle Onwu

Christelle N. Onwu is the Lead Advisor for African Communities and an Equal Employment Opportunity Recruitment Strategist at the New York City Commission on Human Rights. She is a 2017 graduate of the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program (ICLP), and serves as an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she teaches a course on Justice in the Africana World in the Africana Department. She is a Board Member at the Historical Memory Project, CUNY John Jay College. A project which cultivates historical memory to memorialize victims of state- sponsored terror, raise awareness of historical injustices in Latin America and beyond, and foster our collective human rights memory. She is a fierce advocate for under-served populations and a member of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. 

She earned her Bachelor degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Social Work Policy at Columbia University School of School Work, where her article titled “Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the United Kingdom within Immigrant Communities” was published in the Social Work Review. She is a proud New Yorker, lives in the Bronx with her family, and hails from Cameroon. She is fluent in French, pidgin, and Eton. 

John Robertson

Dr. John Robertson teaches Social Welfare Policy, the Policy Practice course for policy majors, and Advocacy in Social Work Practice. His interests include community development and organization, employment and family issues, and treatment for people struggling with substance abuse. He is involved in community social work practice in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood and has worked on several national policy research initiatives related to poor families, their employment, family formation, and receipt of public assistance. His publications include “Social Work with Families after PRWORA: Family Systems and Rational Choice Models,” “Relational Discord and Depressive Symptomatology among Non-Marital Co-Parents,” “Using Geographical Information Systems to Enhance Community-Based Child Welfare Services,” “Young Nonresidential Fathers Have Lower Earnings: Implications for Increasing Child Support Payments,” and “Using the Criminal Justice System to Prevent Adolescent Drug Abuse.”

Dr. Robertson has taught research methodology and human behavior courses. He previously taught at the Hunter School of Social Work, where he developed the school’s community organization field placement program, and at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also worked with newly released federal inmates as they return to family, employment, and their communities. Dr. Robertson holds a BA in Economics from St. John’s College, University of Manitoba; an MSW from Rutgers University; and a PhD in Labor Economics and Social Policy from the Columbia School of Social Work.

Career Talk with Ashleigh Washington ’09 | Wednesday, December 4

Join us for an intimate conversation with Ashleigh Washington ’09, Senior Director of Learning and Staff Development at Safe Horizon, on how her talent for innovation and strategic leadership has driven her experiences in social work and nonprofit management.

Career Talk with Ashleigh Washington
Wednesday, December 4, 12:30 – 1:30 PM
CSSW Room C05
Live-stream available; registration required.

Register here

About Ashleigh

Ashleigh Washington is currently the Senior Director of Learning and Staff Development at Safe Horizon, the nation’s leading victims services agency. She leads training and professional development for the agency’s 900+ employees.

Her talent for innovation and strategic leadership has driven her experiences in the field of social work over the last 13 years. Ashleigh has also worked in the fields of substance abuse, public education, healthcare, and supportive housing, providing both direct practice and management in the non-profit sector.

Ashleigh holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and a master’s in social work from Columbia University. She is currently a Ph.D. student in social welfare at the City University of New York.

She is also the founder of HumanizEd Learning, an online professional and career development company for social service professionals. Visit ashleighwashington.com to sign up for a free online course.

Careers in Development with Angelie Singla ’06

Last Wednesday, we had the pleasure of learning about careers in development from Angelie Singla ’06, who spoke about her own journey in the field and how she leveraged her social work background to secure funding for her organizations. Many social work skills and attributes were discussed, including the ability to:

  • Understand the needs, goals, and mission of an organization;
  • Build and cultivate relationships with both donors and internal stakeholders across the organization; and
  • Persuasively communicate and advocate for a cause and inspire others to invest in the issues, whether through grant proposals or other fundraising campaigns.

Thank you, Angelie, for sharing your story, insights, and tips on this career path!

Want to learn more about careers in development? Conduct informational interviews with professionals in the field and explore resources and associations such as Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFPNET), Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Candid (merge of the Foundation Center and GuideStar).

Career Talk with Angelie Singla ’06 | Wednesday, September 18

Learn about one of many careers you can pursue as a social worker at this first in the series of a number of career talks led by alumni and professionals in the field.

This month, we will be featuring Angelie Singla ’06, who will be discussing her career path in the field of development.

Career Talk with Angelie Singla ’06
Wednesday, September 18, 12:30 – 1:30 PM
CSSW Room C06

Register here

Angelie Singla is currently the Director, Corporate, Foundation & Government Relations at South Nassau Communities Hospital.  Previously she was the Vice President of Philanthropy at Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC. Prior to that, as the Assistant Director of Program and Resource Development at the Fund for Public Health in NY she submitted several successful government, foundation and corporate grant applications ranging from $40K to $15.5M.  Prior to graduate school, she was a Site Director at the Queens Community House, where she facilitated programs for students and parents.

In addition to her professional experience, Angelie has taught continuing education courses, graduate social work courses and has given presentations at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, Columbia University’s School of Social Work, Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare and the Network for Social Work Management Annual Conference. She is the Co-Chair, Scholarship Committee of the NYC Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She has been a Selection Committee member for the NYCT Nonprofit Excellence Awards, has been a volunteer mentor for the Network for Social Work Management, and a volunteer Career Coach for Women in Development. She has served on the Board of Directors of Community Mediation Services and as a Team Leader for the Grants Advisory Committee of the New York Women’s Foundation.