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
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 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 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 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 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.
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.