SSA Alumni Association Board's Mission
The Alumni Association Board is dedicated to advancing the mission, vision, and values of SSA. We strive to build, strengthen, and maintain strong, mutually beneficial relationships between the alumni and all facets of the School. We connect with students and alumni across the country, advance the reputation of the School, and develop a pipeline to build capacity for student scholarships. The Alumni Association Board's main mission and purpose is to:
--Drive engagement among the alumni and with SSA's students, faculty, and staff by attending SSA sponsored events.
--Increase participation to The SSA Fund among all alumni.
--Provide resources for alumni networking, professional development, and career advancement.
--Elevate the SSA brand among its alumni and nationally.
--Assist current students in career placement.
--Facilitate bi-directional communication between alumni and SSA.
Meet the 2019-20 SSA Alumni Association Board
Click the names below to view each board member's profile.
- Eugene Robinson Jr, AM ’09, President
- Loretta Maestranzi, AM '14, Vice President
- Peter Gaumond, AM '93, Vice President
- Paul W. Colson AM ’82, PhD ‘90
- Louise Doss-Martin, AB '59, AM '63
- Ronda Franks AM ’74, LCSW
- Jeff Glick, AM '75
- Joy Levin, AM ’11
- Joanne Medak, AM '74
- Tawakalitu Mitchell AM ‘01
- Elizabeth Mullen, AM '13
- Jesus Palafox-Valdovinos, AM ’17
- Caitlin Worm, AM '12
Emeritus Alumni Board Members
Eugene Robinson Jr. is the Director of Postsecondary Support & Strategy for the Office of Innovation and Incubation (I&I) and the Options Schools (which is the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) network of alternative high schools). Prior to his current role he was the Manager of Postsecondary Initiatives for the Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising (OSCPA). As manager, Eugene oversaw the district-wide implementation of the college and career enterprise tool, Naviance for over 500+ CPS Middle & High Schools, as well as senior seminar and other special district postsecondary initiatives. Eugene has over 13 years of experience in K-12 education, higher education and social work. Over the years, Eugene's passion for postsecondary has led to the successful implementation of both school-based and district initiatives. Eugene earned his undergraduate degree from the Chicago State University and a master's degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
After raising two sons to young adulthood and building a 15-year career in in social service management, Loretta decided to apply to the Extended Evening Program (EEP) at SSA. Upon receiving her acceptance letter, Loretta felt as if she had won the lottery! While an SSA student, Loretta led the SSA Student Government Association (SGA) and worked collaboratively with SSA Administration to achieve several precedents: the reinstatement of health insurance to EEP cohorts; the institution of the CTA U-Pass for all SSA students; SSA student representation at Springfield’s Annual Advocacy Day; and executing the first ever “Social Innovation Conference,” engaging nonprofit leaders from all over the Metro Chicago area to present at SSA. In addition, Loretta was the SSA Representative for two years on the University of Chicago Student Health Advisory Board and was part of the selection of a new health insurance plan for all University of Chicago students.
Prior to attaining her degree at SSA, Loretta developed, managed, and implemented a Medicaid Waiver funded program that grew to the largest of its kind in the state of Illinois, while achieving consistent exemplary accreditation ratings from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Council on Leadership and Quality. While directing this program, Loretta started a nonprofit to serve adults with disabilities and successfully led the first fundraising effort with a ROI of 203%. Today, Loretta is part of the Interdisciplinary Leadership Team (IDT) at Presence Resurrection Life Center, a five-star rated post-acute care center accredited by The Joint Commission and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Loretta is a contributor of the Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement Committee and also acts as the Manager on Duty for the entire facility when needed.
As a Board Officer of the SSA Alumni Association Board of Directors, Loretta has worked closely with fellow Board colleagues to: (1) develop a strategic plan that identifies main goals to assist the School in meeting its mission; (2) help create effective content in a “Voice of the Customer” survey to identify the needs and preferences of SSA Alumni; and (3) advocate to obtain a seat on the newly formed SSA Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity Committee. As Chair of the Board Development Committee, Loretta has led the recruitment of SSA Alumni to attain full Board Membership capacity, with future goals of ongoing rolling recruitment of talented SSA Alumni, particularly in the geographic areas of high SSA Alumni concentration.
In the coming year, Loretta will continue to work alongside SSA Alumni Association Board colleagues to strive for more meaningful connectivity among SSA Alumni and fellow SSA stakeholders; and hopes to continue to contribute to meeting the SSA mission and serving SSA Alumni worldwide.
Peter has more than 25 years of experience in the substance use disorder treatment and recovery field. For the past seven years, Peter has played a key role in the development of federal drug policy and in coordinating its implementation across federal agencies. He has focused especially on policy development in relation to addiction treatment and recovery support, including the national opioid crisis.
Prior to his work with the federal government, Peter served as a Senior Associate at Altarum Institute, where he provided technical assistance to states and tribes implementing programs under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) Access to Recovery Program, and at Abt Associates, where he served as Project Manager for the SAMHSA/CSATPartners for Recovery Initiative. Before moving to the Washington, DC area, Peter served as the Administrator of Program Development for the Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA). In that role, he was charged with improving systems and services, and overseeing a wide range of initiatives, programs and projects budgeted at approximately $30 million annually. He led a team of 10 who applied for and managed federal grants and who implemented and managed innovative projects funded by the state, such as the development of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder treatment networks, compulsive gambling treatment, and cross-system, cross-agency teams to serve homeless people with substance use, mental health, or co-occurring disorders. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Continuum of Care. Peter’s service with the State of Illinois began in 1993, when he served as an analyst in the Illinois Bureau of the Budget (now the Illinois Office of Management and Budget), where he was responsible for the budgets of the Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, the Department of Aging, and the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. Before joining the State of Illinois, Peter served as a program director, family educator, and counselor in the addictions treatment field; as an English and French instructor; and, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina-Faso, West Africa, where he taught at the University of Ouagadougou.
Inspired to enter the addictions field by his personal experience of addiction to alcohol and recovery from it and his experience growing up in a family affected by alcohol addiction, Peter has worked personally to reduce the stigma and misunderstanding that surround addiction and recovery by educating the public and policy makers about the science and the experience of addiction and recovery. To this end, he speaks publicly and writes as a person in recovery from addiction.
Peter holds an AM from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a BA in English from Marquette University. He also studied at the Université de Paris V (Académie Rene Descartes) and at the Université de Paris IV (La Sorbonne).
In 1989, he relocated to New York City where he served as an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York – Stony Brook and held various roles at the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University.
During the majority of his 23 years at Columbia, he directed research and training projects concerning tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS at Harlem Hospital. After retiring from Columbia in 2018, he returned to Chicago where he continues to work on a Penn State University project promoting HIV testing in healthcare settings while volunteering with his local alderman, Andrea Vasquez.
Louise Doss-Martin, AB ’59, AM ’63, is a renowned mental and public health professional with a career spanning 56 years as administrative clinician, academic researcher, international consultant, prolific author, and policy/program developer in inner-city Chicago. After being recruited as Director of Social Work at two federally qualified community health centers, Louise directed a psychiatric program for chronically mentally ill patients at Northwestern University Medical Center. She was appointed to the faculty there while serving as field instructor teaching medical and social work students at the University of Chicago.
In collaboration with Kristine A. Siefert, Edith S. Gomberg Collegiate Professor Emeritus, at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, Martin investigated the rate at which black women were dying from pregnancy and childbirth causes, compared to white women in Chicago and Detroit from 1979-1984. Their study resulted in a $35 million program in Illinois to provide comprehensive prenatal care for underserved women.
Finally, Louise served as Regional Social Work Consultant in the U.S. Public Health Service's Chicago office covering six Midwest states, ending her career at rank of Captain in the Commissioned Corps, in the federal Maternal & Child Health & Family Planning programs.
After SSA, she worked as a school social worker before practicing psychotherapy with children and families. After her MAT, she taught Language Arts to 7th and 8th grade students and also served as a member of the Northfield District 29 School Board as the Vice-President and Chairperson of the Education Committee.
Currently, Ronda co-facilitates parent discussion groups through her co-founded organization that are aimed to provide information about education and psychology strategies related to parenting and child development that will help children grow into independent, resourceful, and confident young adults.
Jeffrey Glick, AM ’75 has more than 35 years experience working in emergency management and disaster response where he has made significant contributions to the development and implementation of emergency management policy and programs. He currently leads the Interoperability Communications and Technical Assistance Program within the Office of Emergency Communications, DHS. He directs communication experts across the United States through developing and strengthening communications and interoperability at the federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governmental levels, and with non-governmental organizations and first responders.
Previous to his current position, Jeff worked as a Senior Policy Advisor for Emergency Programs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President working on various policy issues, including active shooter response, unaccompanied minor immigration, and disaster management. Prior to the White House, Jeff lead the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, DHS, where among other duties, his office was responsible for coordinating communications response during presidentially declared disasters with federal agencies and the private sector. In addition, Jeff worked for 20 years at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in various managerial positions developing plans and operational capabilities, and helping build FEMA’s mobile communications capabilities. In this role, his teams responded to and provided support during many disasters, technological and terrorist events.
Jeff has a PhD in Engineering Management from George Washington University, an MA in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University, and an AM from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. He is an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Tech.
Joy Levin, LICSW, AM ’11, graduated from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in 2011 with specializations in school social work, trauma, and mental health. After working with young adults as an intern in a high school setting and obtaining her Type 73, she changed course and took a job at Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers, specifically, at The Dincin Center for Recovery, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, working with adults with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and mania. Joy subsequently took a job as a therapist with the Juvenile Protective Association (JPA). There she provided non-directional play therapy using a psychoanalytic lens for children in the Chicago public schools in North Lawndale. At JPA she also had the opportunity to serve as a mentor and supervisor to masters level students and interns. After moving to Boston for personal reasons, Joy joined the Children’s Charter Trauma Clinic where she is continuing her work with trauma victims of all ages both in the clinic and in the home setting.
Joy’s interest in mental health and advocacy extend beyond the workday. Over the past several years Joy has engaged in multiple extended educational programs, including the Womencare Counseling Center’s Trauma Consultation Training Program and a fellowship at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. Joy has remained an active member of the University of Chicago SSA alumni community through her work on the Networking and Professional Development Committee since 2015.
Joanne Medak, AM ’74, is a clinical social worker with more than 40 years of experience in the field. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College and a Masters of Arts degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Most recently, she worked for 18 years in a public high school where she led a team of teachers charged with early identification of students at risk and active intervention for students and their families. Her team also established training programs for teachers to address social-emotional learning and adolescent mental health concerns, and established a partnership with agencies in the surrounding community to provide services to students, regardless of their ability to pay for treatment. Joanne has also maintained a private practice for 35 years; she continues to work with individuals and couples. She has supervised and mentored counseling and social work interns and served as a field work supervisor for SSA.
As a board member Joanne would like to increase communication between SSA students and alumni to support active mentorship and to introduce more opportunities for life-long learning to SSA alumni. Joanne loves Chicago Theater and reading, and she is a long distance runner and hiker.
Tawa earned her Bachelors in English from Spelman College and Masters from SSA. After graduation, she served various roles with Chicago Public Schools as the CEO of Planning and Development and as Senior Manager of the Community Schools Initiative before serving as the Assistant to Mayor Richard Daley for Education.
Tawa then served as the Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at the City Colleges of Chicago before returning to the Mayor’s office (Mayor Rahm Emanuel) as the Director of Education Policy and Partnerships and the Interim Director for Thrive Chicago.
She currently serves as the Senior Program Officer at the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation where she has the responsibility for grantmaking in the Chicago Commitment program, a portfolio aimed at achieving a city that is connected and integrated, sharing prosperity, equitable in opportunity, and civic and cultural assets are made available to everyone.
Elizabeth Mullen, AM ’13, is currently the Milieu Treatment Manager at Lawrence Hall's Child and Family Treatment Center, a residential treatment program for youth in care throughout the state of Illinois. After graduating from SSA in 2013, Liz worked as a Social Worker at a therapeutic day school for students who had been removed from their home schools due to emotional and behavioral challenges. Prior to SSA, Liz's previous positions included those with the Senate Office of Barack Obama, AmeriCorps, and Woodlawn Childrens Promise Community. Liz is currently a certified trainer of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention through Cornell University.
Liz graduated from SSA with a Social Administration concentration and she completed the Community Schools program of study. As a first-year student, Liz was chosen for the Social Innovation Fellowship, which she used to further her study on trauma during childhood and adolescence within a children's home in Johannesburg, South Africa. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English from Augustana College.
Liz is interested in examining the role that trauma plays in youths' development and their ability to successfully navigate multiple settings. She is passionate about developing capacity for school, home, and community-based settings to better respond to and support youth who have experienced significant and chronic trauma.
Caitlin Worm, AM ’12, is the Managing Director of Blackbird. She is also on their Board of Directors and is President. Caitlin, who is from South Bend, Indiana, counsels nonprofits, small businesses, and political campaigns on strategy related to marketing, fundraising, communications, philanthropy, grant writing, and social enterprise. Since 2006, she has worked on over 25 political campaigns at all levels of government and is an active member of her community as a volunteer for several organizations focused on economic empowerment. As a professional fundraiser, Worm has worked with nonprofit leaders to return $4 million dollars investment in human services organizations in Northern Indiana over the last eight years. She serves on the Board of Directors for a national organization that educates women leaders on issues related to foreign policy, nuclear arms, and defense. Worm holds an AM from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration where she focused on Social Welfare Policy and Management and a BA in Political Science from Indiana University.
Emeritus Alumni Association Board Members
Jacob Dancer III, AB '89, AM '04, LCSW, is the Program Manager for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Services Department for UCAN. He has been working in the field since 1991 and for UCAN since 1994. Currently, Jacob manages programming of UCAN's violence intervention and prevention services department in the North Lawndale community. In this role, Jacob develops and coordinates a range of mentoring, youth leadership, and mental health and family-related services through engagement and collaboration with North Lawndale community organizations and various departments of UCAN.
Jacob actively works to address levels of violence in North Lawndale through supervising and administering a unit of assigned youth development coaches. The coaches direct, guide, and support youth in becoming more involved in outside-of-school activities such as counseling, employment, and recreation as well as working with youth on violence prevention skills (i.e., anger management, conflict resolution, life skills). Jacob also supervises and administers clinicians providing a wide range of therapeutic services to participants in community-based outpatient counseling settings.
Jacob plays an integral role in establishing and maintaining beneficial partnerships with community organizations in order to facilitate learning and growth opportunities for youth at risk for becoming victims of and/or committing crimes. Dancer drives these opportunities through training North Lawndale social service agencies to help them become model trauma-informed agencies.
Marshall Jacobson, AM ’65. After graduating from SSA in 1965, Marshall served in the Jewish Community for over 40 years. He began as the Assistant Director of the Kansas City Jewish Federation. After learning the intricacies of working in the Jewish community and further developing his leadership skills, Marshall was selected as the Executive Director of the Louisville Jewish Federation. In 1974, he became the Associate Director and Director of Fundraising for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland where, with the help of great volunteers, he raised nearly $180 million dollars over a 10-year span.
He moved with his family to New York in 1984 to become a Vice President of the national United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and was instrumental in the effort to rescue both the Soviet and Ethiopian Jews and led the effort to raise several hundreds of millions of dollars for their resettlement. Marshall finished his career in Chicago serving as the regional Director for the Midwest for the UJA, which had just merged with the Council of Jewish Federations. His final work before retirement was serving as an American representative of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
In 2005, Marshall retired. He is currently a volunteer for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago consulting with non-for-profits; a student at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern; and owner and president of Tours R Us Chicago LLC, a touring company he began in 2007. He was very pleased to serve on the SSA Alumni Board of Directors for the School which gave him the opportunity (in some small ways) to help repair the world!
Alison Weston, AM '08, MHA, is a Performance Improvement Consultant at Rush University Medical Center where she leads projects to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. Prior to her work at Rush, Alison was an Analyst in the Community Health Department at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, where she helped realigned departmental strategy to better meet the needs of low-income and disparate populations. Prior to FirstHealth, Alison was the Health Policy Coordinator at the American Lung Association where she advocated for the successful Smoke Free Chicago and Smoke Free Illinois campaigns.
Alison graduated from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration. While at SSA, she studied administration and participated in the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) as a Brown Fellow. Alison holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, a certificate in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and a Master of Healthcare Administration from UIC.
Alison joined the SSA alumni board in 2012. Alison is committed to promoting networking among social workers to strengthening our partnerships with each other and improve our collective ability to serve our communities and clients.