SSA graduates – now more than 8,000 worldwide – provide thousands of hours of compassionate and effective service every year, touching the lives of millions. Because of their rigorous training, SSA graduates typically rise to leadership roles – applying knowledge and evidence to inform and improve the design and delivery of human services, making organizations more effective, and giving voice to those who have long been unheard. Read more about these remarkable SSA graduates and how they are working to create a more just and humane world.

Recent SSA graduates

Alumni Profiles by field of interest

Below are the profiles of SSA alumni organized by their interest and careers.

Academia

  • Barbara Berkman, AM '60, is the Helen Rehr / Ruth Fizdale Professor of Health and Mental Health at Columbia University School of Social Work and Adjunct Professor, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
  • Llewellyn Cornelius, AM '85, PhD '88, the Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professor of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies at the University of Georgia School of Social Work, has more than 29 years of experience in equity and disparities research and has been involved in the design and implementation of a multitude of community, state, and federal studies.

  • Gerson David, AM '60, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work, has made many contributions to the areas of social development, social justice, and aging.
  • Richard L. Edwards, AM '67, is the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; Chancellor, Rutgers—New Brunswick; and professor at Rutger's School of Social Work. He was previously a dean and professor of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • E. Aracelis Francis, AM '64, implemented child care service reform in her home of the Virgin Islands and as a professor made efforts to improve diversity and cultural understanding in higher education.
  • Inabel Burns Lindsay, AM '37, is the founding dean of Howard University's School of Social Work.
  • David Protess, AM 70, PhD '74, is a professor of journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School and faculty fellow at the university’s Institute for Policy Research.
  • Edwina S. Uehara, Ph.D. '87, serves as dean of the University of Washington's School of Social Work.

Anti-Poverty, Housing, and Socio-Environmental

  • Jelani McEwen, AM ’13, focuses on repairing the socio-environmental relationship between the city and its residents in areas damaged by racism, political corruption, and segregation; he now works at the Charter Support Manager of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and looks to expand upon his interdisciplinary approach that conglomerates ecological systems and human development theories.

  • Julia Conte, AM ’12, was a part of the University’s AM/MPP program and is interested in anti-poverty programs and housing issues; she has continued her studies post-graduation as a recipient of the Presidential Management Fellowship in which she worked for the Office of Family Assistance that aids eligible low-income families through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • H. Luke Shaefer, AM '05, PhD '08, co-wrote "$2.00 A Day," a book about extreme poverty in the U.S.
  • Jeff Simms, AB ’12, was a recipient of the Presidential Management Fellowship and worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; he hopes to positively change the environmental influences of those who are in poverty and without homes by utilizing the knowledge he gained from his SSA studies to develop and analyze policies.

  • Ann Stock, AM ’12, is interested in reducing poverty and innovating health care systems; she was a recipient of the Presidential Management Fellowship and worked in the Department of Health and Human Services; she will also work as a Program Analyst for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Children, Adolescents, and Families

  • Silvia L. Acosta, AM ’14, hopes to reduce mental health disparities amongst the youth, particularly those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, through culturally competent and integrated treatment; she hopes to further both her dreams the dreams of the immigrant youth by working for Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders.

  • Nikel Bailey, AM ’12, has combined her passion for helping youth and families with her commitment to the logistical and strategical aspects of program management in both her field work and her studies; she is a recipient of the Presidential Management Fellow and worked for the Office of Field Policy and Management at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Darryl Clayton, AM ’12, has utilized his degree from the SSA to further his journey and passion for working with children; he hopes to become the executive director of a youth-focused agency similar to the Gary Comer Youth Center at which both he completed his first field study and solidified administrative and social service experience.

  • Skylar Cole, AM ’14 is a Senior Education Specialist at Treehouse in Seattle, WA, where she supports youth in foster care. "I’m really proud of being a social worker who graduated from SSA!"
  • Zehua Cui, AM ’14, is interested in the social and emotional issues of children, particularly as it relates to the breaking of the cycle of poverty through education; she has contributed immensely to the cultural dynamic and learning environment of Namaste Charter School and Johnson College Preparatory High School.

  • Jacob Dancer, III, AB '89, AM '04, is responsible for two programs designed to help address socio-emotional needs of youth who have experienced trauma as the program supervisor for UCAN’s 360⁰ Model and HomeWorks initiatives.
  • Kara Whittaker Fox, AB ’12 AM ’13, was a part of the University’s BA/MA program and her senior thesis focused on Orphan Trains, a social experiment that transported homeless and orphaned children from East coast industrial cities to family homes across the country; she hopes to pursue her LSW license and to work in infant and early childhood mental health and intervention.

  • Jaques Hamilton, AM '11, is the founder and president of L.I.F.E., a nonprofit that provides resources and opportunities for more than 15,000 youth in Chicago, Memphis, and Houston.
  • Allison Hollander, AM '10, spent two years working with Teach for America and volunteering at the Night Ministry in Chicago’s West Town before coming to SSA for her graduate studies, where she did her second year field work at the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services.
  • Sean Hudson, AM ’14, is a data and research associate at an early child care and education service, and advocacy organization in Chicago, the Illinois Action for Children (IAFC).
  • Eric Johnson, AM '90, is the Executive Director of Neighbor to Family Inc., Illinois, and Co-Founder of the Cultural Enrichment Center and Johnson and Johnson Consulting-CFLS.
  • Denise Kane, AM '78, PhD '01, has reformed and strengthened the child welfare system in Illinois as the first-ever Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Jeri Laureano, AM ’83, is the CEO of ChildServ, a nonprofit in Chicago which provides comprehensive, community-based programs – including foster care – to help at-risk children and families in Cook, DuPage, Kane and Lake counties build better lives and achieve their potential.
  • Erwin McEwen, '98, oversaw programs and services for 100,000 kids across the State of Illinois in his role as Director at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Amzie Moore, AM '10, following the legacy of his father, a civil rights activist, kept his job as case manager for the screening assessment support services program with the Community Mental Health Council while taking classes at SSA.
  • Robyn Offenbach, AM '11, created a grief support group for adolescent girls, provided therapy to clients who experience trauma, and worked with case management for the Chicago Housing Authority through her field placement at UCAN.
  • Sharon Osborne, AM '72, was a crucial member of leadership of the Children's Home Society of Washington and served as a liason to the United Nations representing International Forum for Child Welfare; she was fundamentally influential in the Seattle referendum for universal preschool and now serves on the Board of Trustees for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities International, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services.
  • Frederic Reamer, PhD '78, a professor in the graduate program at the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College, chaired the national taskforce that wrote a major revision of the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
  • Naomi Rosen, AM '15 and Steve Rosen, AM '15, are a part of a family of social workers. Steve is working with a north suburban group practice serving couples, parents, and families, launching an innovative technology resource and app called "Dad's Place". As the first SSA recipient of the German Chancellor Fellowship, Naomi is exploring the intersection of arts with social work therapies, and developing a resource for practitioners serving women who are survivors of female genital mutilation arts-based methods.

Education

  • Erik Brown, AM '08, completed his field placement at Children's Memorial Hospital and is currently working at a research institute that conducts studies related to urban education and reform within the Chicago Public School system.
  • Tawakalitu Jogunosimi Mitchell, AM '01, used her experience at SSA to help her succeed as an administrator in educational institutions and other public and social service agencies
  • Vivian Loseth, AM '69, is the former Executive Director of Youth Guidance, one of Chicago’s oldest and most established nonprofit social service agencies.
  • Ji Yoon Noh, AM '15, is a Fulbright Korea English Teaching Assistant.
  • Marlene Owens Rankin, AM '78, is the Vice President and Managing Director of The Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholars Foundation at The Ohio State University and currently serves on the Know Your Chicago Committee of the University Of Chicago Graham School Of General Studies.
  • Earlie M. Washington, PhD '90, is the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University.

Foundations and Philanthropy

  • Evette Cardona, AM '98, senior program officer for the prominent Chicago-based Polk Bros. Foundation, is advancing both philanthropy and community activism.
  • Frank Farrow, AM '71, has spent his career making big plans work at the community level through the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
  • Sunny Fischer, AM '82, worked with the Sophia Fund and the Chicago Foundation for Women before becoming the executive director of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
  • Arlene Gordon, AM '46, for whom the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute is named, started at Lighthouse International as a Senior Social Worker in 1965 and retired in 1990 after serving as Associate Executive Director in differing leadership roles for seventeen years.

  • Beatrice "Buddy" Mayer, EX '47, was among the original members of SSA’s Visiting Committee and now serves as a Life Member.
  • Esther Nieves, AM '87, worked as a public official, an executive of a social service organization, and as a foundation leader, having worked for Chicago Mayor Harold Washington’s Commission on Latino Affairs, the Field Foundation of Illinois, Erie House, and the Kellogg Foundation.

Government and Politics

  • Angela Bailey, AM '10, had a field placement at the Heartland Alliance and an internship through the prestigious City of Chicago Mayor’s Office Fellowship Program during her time at SSA.
  • Jarred Butto, AM '07, is a Program Officer with the U.S. Department of State's EducationUSA network, which provides support and guidance for international students.
  • Maria Choca Urban, AM '83, is currently the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at Cook County Bureau of Administration.
  • Callie Freitag, AM '15, has a background in mathematics and experience in the US Department of Human Services Budget Office as an analysist. She is interested in work in applied policy research.
  • Sarah Humpal, AM '10, worked as a Fellow in the Mayor's Office Fellowship Program at the heart of Chicago government, where she emphasized the connection between public policy and social work.
  • Craig Kennedy, AB '74, AM '80, MBA '80, is the president of The German Marshall Fund of the United States, which sponsors a variety of programs related to foreign, economic, immigration, and environmental policy, and fosters political exchanges between the U.S. and Europe.
  • Ruth Knee, AM '45, served in the U.S. Public Health Service during the 1940s and in the then-new National Institute of Mental Health, where she was a liaison for policy development and technical assistance concerning the mental health components of Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Ann Maxwell, AM '96, has had an opportunity to improve services for millions of people in her position as a project leader in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Evaluation and Inspections.
  • Ameya Pawar, AM '16, is alderman of Chicago's 47th Ward and won with a 1,000 vote margin over 35 year incumbent Eugene Schulter's hand-picked would-be successor, Tom O'Donnell.
  • Jerry Wolf, AM '74, MBA '75, has worked for a large accounting firm that did work in public sector finance as well as a start-up consulting firm. He later joined a consulting firm specializing in public financing in health and human services and in 2013 started a new company specializing in local government public finance.

Healthcare, Community Health, and Advocacy

  • Kelli Bosak, AM '15, is working in behavioral health.
  • Karen Gilman, AM '80, is a bi-lingual clinical social worker who works with parents of developmentally disabled children up to age three at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation Early Start program.
  • Aida Luz Maisonet Giachello, AM '71, was part of the first group of ten Latino students actively recruited by SSA in 1968. She founded the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center in 1993.
  • Louise Doss Martin, AM '59, AM '63, has used social work research to advocate for improved health care for women and children, the mentally ill and the homeless.
  • Leso Munala, AM '08, had her field placement at The Enterprising Kitchen, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides workforce development and support services to women working toward self-sufficiency and economic independence.
  • Jacqueline Reed, SSA Alumna Jacqueline Reed helps bring promise the Austin neighborhood through the Westside Health Authority.
  • Rocio Reyes, AB ’11 AM ’12, was a part of the University’s BA/MA program and completed her field work in therapy at Resurrection Outpatient Behavior Health, working closely with the Latino population; she hopes to continue her work in mental health care as a clinician in Chicago.

  • Sandy Rubovits, at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, a variety of programs help patients and their families prepare for a longer life. Sandy Rubovitz is integral in this mission.
  • Georgia Ball Travis, AM '31, who spent most of her career as a medical social worker, founded in 1992 the Georgia Travis Day Center for Homeless Women and Children in San Jose, California.

  • Hazel Vespa, is a retired social worker from the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Hazel Vespa helped develop a variety of programs to help patients and their families prepare for a longer life.
  • Jan Harris Wolf, AM '74, worked as a medical social worker before going to law school. She is currently a corporate counsel for a consulting firm that works on public transportation issues.

HIV Prevention/Treatment

  • Bria Berger, AM ’14, was a part of the project READY (Resisting, Empowering, Advocating for Youth), which seeks to promote resilience and prevention against HIV amongst African American and Latino same-gender-loving and transgender men and women; her research has inspired her to continue her work full time at Chicago House with HIV positive adults.

  • Max Beshers, AM ’14, was a part of project READY (Resisting, Empowering, Advocating for Youth) and seeks to prevent HIV through the promotion of socio-emotional support for the youth; he has extended his academic research and now works at the Broadway Youth Center to provide clinical counseling for homeless LGTBQ.

  • Robert Cordero, AM '97 joined Harlem United as its inaugural Deputy Director for Operations and helps to launch new initiatives, manage growth, and raise funds to address the AIDS epidemic and homelessness in Harlem.
  • Nathan Linsk, AM '74, PhD' 82 has helped organize HIV/AIDS education programs in Chicago and the Midwest, started a para-social work program targeted at orphans of the disease in East Africa, launched a journal dedicated to social work around the issue, and has been an advocate for more support and attention to HIV/AIDS and patients who have the disease.
  • Karen Reitan, AM '93, earned her MA from SSA with a concentration in policy analysis in 1993, and is now Associate Executive Director for Operations at the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago.

Human Resources

  • Bernard "Bernie" Dyme, AM '79, is the President and CEO of Perspectives, Ltd., a human resources firm specializing in the delivery of employee assistance programs, managed behavioral healthcare, work/life services, and organizational/management consultation.

Immigrants and Refugees

  • Mary Bunn, AM '05, had a fellowship to do work in Cambodia with a population traumatized by war and government brutality and currently works for the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. She is now a SSA doctoral student.
  • Valeria Guerra, AM ’13, completed an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in which she implemented a therapy project centered on music as a medium for emotion expression and regulation for traumatized refugee and immigrant children; she has continued her fieldwork and now conducts individual and group therapy at Heartland international FACES refugee mental health clinic for adults.

  • Ifrah Magan, AM '11, is dedicated to improving the path refugees follow in America and worked with the Refugees and Immigrant Community Services department for the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.

International Social Work

  • Maddie Brigell, AM '10, was a University of Chicago’s Human Rights Fellow and spent time at the Centro Bartolome de las Casas in El Salvador.
  • Kate Englund, AM '11, received a grant from the International Social Welfare Group and spent ten weeks in Ethiopia working with four foster care homes through the Gladney Center for Adoption.
  • Barbara "Bobbie" Gottschalk, AM '66, helps Seeds of Peace defuse international conflict by making it personal. 
  • San Luong O, AM '84, became the Director of Programs for the South- East Asia Center and shaped the organization into what it has become today - a viable, active community center serving various Asian constituencies.
  • Caitlin Morris, AM ’13, was a recipient of the SSA’s Social Innovation Fellowship in which her work in Kenya strove to partner local community members to build sustainable social businesses through the leverage of their existing resources and talent; her interests are now centered upon macro-level education policy, programming, and administration.

  • Liz Mullen, AM ’13, was a recipient of the SSA’s Social Innovation Fellowship in which she worked in a children’s home in Johannesburg, South Africa; she now aspires to improve the allocation of youth development programming and services to public schools.

  • Scott R. Petersen, AM '02, worked with the Heartland Alliance's Integrated Torture Treatment Services in Rural Iraq project.
  • Shauna Taylor, AM '15, looks forward to working with an organization that addresses both domestic and international human rights.
  • Jonathan Wildt, AM '07, as he finds his place in the world of international aid, Jonathan provides a social work perspective in Darfur.

Mental Health Services

  • Charles Curie, AM '79, is the principal and founder of The Curie Group, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in supporting leaders in the mental health and substance use treatment and prevention areas.
  • Rachel Forman, AM ' 87, is a recipient of the SSA's Distinctive Innovation in Social Services Award and is the executive director of the Grand Avenue Club, a part of the international network of models focused on relationship and community building, rather than pathological diagnosis.
  • Rory Gilbert, AM '79, co-founded The Police Assistance Center, also known as St. Michael’s House, a nonprofit counseling facility for police officers and their families.
  • Karen Kozlowski Graham, AM '82, is the co-founder and CEO of SignOn: A Sign Language Interpreting Resource, and is also a transition consultant, leadership coach and psychotherapist at Karen Kozlowski Graham, LCSW.

Older Adults

  • Tina Chen, AM '10, had her field placement at the Illinois Department on Aging and co-authored "Volunteer Prisoners Provide Hospice to Dying Inmates,” which was published by the Annals of Health Law during her time at SSA.
  • Robyn Golden, AM '81, is the director of older adult programs at Rush University Medical Center, has served as the chair of the American Society on Aging, and has co-founded several coalitions including the National Coalition on Care Coordination.

Social Service Agencies

  • Ann R. Alvarez, AM '76, as CEO of Casa Central, a Midwest Hispanic social service agency, has guided the agency to considerable success.
  • Ricardo Estrada, AM '93, is the president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, a human services agency.
  • Jane F. Quinn, AM '69, is a recipient of the Edith Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement, vice president of the Children's Aid Society in New York City, and the director of its National Center for Community Schools; she was a crucial architect in the formulation of the community schools model and a leader in the strategic planning process of determining how best to invest $30 million a year to serve low-income children.
  • Michael Rodriguez, AM '07, is the executive director at Enlace, a human services agency.

Substance Abuse

  • Kashmir Kustanowiz, AM ’13, completed an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in which her project focused on the creation of a forum for individuals with histories of trauma and substance abuse to find support and inner strength, ultimately to prevent relapse; she interested in helping individuals overcome the limitations of the correctional system and looks to succeed in a change-oriented profession.

  • Margaret Marion, AB ’12 AM ’13, was a part of the University’s BA/MA program and her studies as a clinical student at the SSA concentrated on alcohol and substance abuse; she hopes to return to Detroit and to continue her work in community building and youth development.

  • Pamela Rodriguez, AM '82, is executive vice president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, Inc., an organization dedicated to treating individuals who are ensnared in the criminal justice system and have a history of substance abuse.

Violence Prevention and Interventions

  • Eddie Bocanegra, AM '15, is the co-executive director of Youth Safety and Violence Prevention of the YMCA of Metro Chicago. He previously worked with the Chicago CeaseFire organization and was featured in the film, “The Interrupters.”
  • Vickii Coffey, AM '97, is a past executive director of the Chicago Abused Women Coalition. As president of Vickii Coffey & Associates, she provides programmatic, policy, advocacy, and community organizing services for clients working in domestic violence prevention and intervention.
  • Rachel Durchslag, AM '05, founded the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
  • Abigail Erikson, combats violence against women and girls in two Burmese refugee camps.
  • Lauren Feig, AM ’14, was a part of the SSA’s Violence Prevention and Family Support programs of study and focused on the exploration of protective factors that buffer the impact of peer victimization on aggression; she plans to pursue a doctoral degree to further her studies in human development and looks forward to continuing her work with the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention. 

  • Kara Guminski, AM ’13, now complements her skillset as an attorney with her studies as a graduate of the SSA, allowing her to capitalize on both her logical and emotional sides in legal and social advocacy; she is particularly interested in women’s rights and human trafficking and completed her field work with Rape Victim Advocates and Inspiration Corporation.

  • Michael D. Rodriguez, AM '07, is a recipient of the Elizabeth Butler Award and was the director of Little Village High School Initiative for the nonprofit Instituto del Progreso Latino; he now serves as the executive director of the Enlace Chicago and sits on the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission; he has been honored by  President Barack Obama as a “Champion of Change” in Youth Violence Prevention.

In Memoriam

  • Edythe Kirchmaier, EX '34, was still volunteering until her passing at age 107. Always a social worker.
  • Shirley Brussell, EX '42, founded Operation ABLE (Ability Based on Long Experience), a nonprofit organization aimed at serving the employment and training needs of people over 55.
  • Janet Gray Hayes, AM '50, served as the mayor of San Jose, California, from 1975 to 1983.
  • Beulah Compton, PhD '71, professor and director of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Mississippi, held a variety of social work positions and has served as a case consultant to family service agencies.
  • Lorraine Suzuki, PhD '73, devised more efficient systems for information processing and to document interrelated service systems for Asia in her roles with the Asian Division of the University of Maryland University College Extension.