Fall 2021 Social Work Newsletter



Welcome back to our Social Work Department Newsletter! We are glad you are here. This quarter's newsletter features student highlights, new faculty introductions, and our first interview in a three part series about working as a cllinical social worker. 


2022 MSW Applications

Applications are now open for summer and fall 2022!

Employment Alerts 

We have a new, weekly, employment alert subscription available for students, alumni and anyone else who may be seeking a job in social work. Jobs are compiled each week and are sent out in one email each Tuesday. 

Alumni & Careers Page

We are excited to announce the launch of our Alumni & Careers web page! This is a page that houses employment statistics, tips from professionals in the field, alumni stories and much more.

September MSW Student Blog

Check out our most recent MSW student blog. This month, Tabitha points out some great resources (study spaces, great food, library resources, parking) for students who are coming to campus for the first time.

Upcoming Social Work Events

Idealist Virtual Social Impact Grad Fair 

October 12, 2021

10am-1pm PST

Seattle U Virtual Graduate Programs Open House

October 13, 2021

4:30pm-6:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Saturday, October 23, 2021

11:00am-12:00pm PST

MSW Virtual Information Session

Monday, November 1, 2021

4:00pm-5:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

12:00pm-1:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Saturday, November 20, 2021

11:00am-12:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Monday, November 29, 2021

4:00pm-5:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

4:00pm-5:00pm PST 

MSW Virtual Information Session

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

12:00pm-1:00pm PST 

Past Social Work Events 

Meet the MSW Directors! 

On October 5, 2021 the Master of Social Work program hosted a virtual meet and greet and Q&A with MSW Field Director, Dr. Estella Williamson and MSW Director and Chair, Dr. Mary Kay Brennan. 

COVID-19 Updates

Check out the latest University guidance surrounding COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and fall reopening. 


Student Highlight, BSW: Rachel Amparano

Student sitting on a metal hippo sculpture in Seattle

Are you involved in any on campus groups, clubs, or activities? 

I am currently not involved in any campus groups, clubs, or activities. During my time at SU, I have tried the Women’s Rugby Team my first year and was part of MECHA my second year. It was not the same during the pandemic since it was online, but I hope to join a club this year.  

Have you received any awards or scholarships? 

I received the Arrupe scholarship for my academics when I received my acceptance letter to SU.

How long have you been attending Seattle University?

This is my fifth year at Seattle University. I decided to do an extra year of schooling so I could have the opportunity to study for a minor in Spanish and study abroad after doing a major switch.

What inspired you to go into social work?

I am inspired to go into social work because it gives me the opportunity to be involved with the members of my community. Social work allows me to be a part of communities that develop a relationship and connection with its members. For most of my life, I have volunteered and it became a large part of who I am. Now I will be able to give back more to my community now that I have learned more about the different systems and be able to advocate for those who want someone on their team.

What are your plans for after graduation? 

My plans after graduation is to pursue a Masters in social work. I am planning on hopefully attending Masters right after Undergrad. My goal for masters is to get my license in social work and to learn all I can before finishing the schooling portion of my life. I want to work in every field I possibly can, but know I want to work in adoption, as a school social worker, and housing at some point in my career.

Do you have a practicum this year? What is it and with what population? 

I have been place in a practicum this year that works with the homeless population, more specifically young adults. I am really excited to start my practicum and start learning more about how I can be more involved with the homeless population.

Do you volunteer or do any social work activities outside of school?

Throughout my time at SU, I volunteered at a food bank that I learned about when I started doing student service learning for one of my classes. Since the pandemic started, I have not been as much involved but want to get back to volunteering.

What has been the most rewarding or exciting part of your time at Seattle University? 

The most rewarding part of my time at Seattle University has been the relationships I have with my advisors and professors. The advisors and professors I have come to known over the years have been so supportive and caring. My first year of college was hard for me; I was a Civil Engineering major but it was not a right fit for me. The Civil Engineering department was supportive while I was looking for a new major and very helpful in trying to find the right major for me. I also have a supportive relationship with the Spanish department here at Seattle University. I have become close with some of the professors and they are the reason why I decided to do a Spanish minor. I never thought about getting a Spanish minor until I realized how much I was enjoying the classes I was taking and the professors I had come to meet. Since I started studying social work, the social work department is amazing. All the people involved in the social work department are so kind, caring, supportive, and just amazing. I feel close with the social work department and they have been so supportive since I joined the major. I have learned so much from my professors throughout my time at Seattle University and am so grateful for them. I cannot fully describe how much the professors I have come to meet have made a difference in my life.


Student Highlight, MSW: Jil Flemmig

Student headshot outside

Have you received any awards or scholarships? 

I'm excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the CSWE Master's Minority Fellowship Program which seeks to reduce health disparities and improve mental/behavioral health outcomes amongst diverse and historically underserved populations. I'm looking forward to clinical trainings that will hopefully expand my repertoire of therapeutic modalities to pull from. I'm also eager to continuously learn how to best cater supportive services and treatments to the unique needs of each client. Another highlight of this fellowship is the opportunity to connect and network with other practitioners-in-training that are passionate about addressing racial disparities and health inequities in the mental/behavioral health field. 

Where did you get your undergraduate degree and what was it in? 

I went to the University of Washington in Seattle for my undergraduate degrees. I received a B.A. in Human Evolutionary Biology as well as Medical Anthropology & Global Health. I minored in Spanish and Microbiology. I started off college in a pre-med track, with the hope of going into biology or public health. As my undergraduate career progressed, I slowly gravitated away from the hard sciences and began focusing more on the social determinants of health as well as different cultural understandings of health and illness. 

What inspired you to go into social work? 

I was drawn to social work because of the profession's focus on supporting underrepresented groups and promoting social justice on a multitude of levels. I am passionate about community advocacy and challenging mental health stigmas to increase the accessibility and cultural responsiveness of mental health services. Social work is such a unique and dynamic field that allows practitioners to work with people in a range of settings and various contexts. The profession's person-in-environment approach highlights how crucial it is to improve the social determinants of health and build a more robust social safety net. Social work offers a unique venue to provide mental health services that match each client's unique socialcultural context, while also investing in community development projects centered around collaboration and empowerment. 

What are your plans after graduation? 

As a biracial immigrant woman, I have a strong passion for working with marginalized folks to enhance wellbeing through culturally-responsive therapeutic interventions. After graduation, I am hoping to work at a community mental health agency geared towards providing mental health services to immigrants/refugees. I would love to be involved in both direct clinical practice and community-building projects that holistically address gaps in care for underserved populations. 

What is your practicum this year and with what population? 

My internship is at Seattle Counseling Service, providing different types of therapeutic support that are specifically catered towards the LGBTQI+ community. I will be providing individual therapy with opportunities to engage in couples or group therapy services. SCS offers a plethora of community advocacy projects and outreach programs to increase the accessibility of supports available to underserved groups. 

What has been the most rewarding or exciting part of your time in the MSW program? 

It has been very rewarding to meet other aspiring social workers and practitioners who are passionate about addressing systemic deficits to improve accessibility and equity in social services. I highly value the anti-oppressive lens that SU privileges in their MSW curriculum, emphasizing the importance of being a collaborative and inclusive practitioner, while intentionally working to dismantle harmful systems. 

Faculty Interview Series 

Follow us in a three-part series where we interview our social work faculty members about their clinical work in the social work field. This quarter, we interview Assistant Professor Dr. Meg Cristofalo, PhD, LICSW. 

Dr. Cristofalo headshot

Where do you work outside of Seattle University and what is your position title?

Kaiser Permanente on Capitol Hill as an Integrated Behavioral Health Social Worker.

How long have you worked there?

Three years.  Prior to that, for 15 years I was an Emergency Department Social Worker at the Swedish Medical Center Emergency Department, right across the street from Seattle U.

What are your main job duties? 

When patients in Urgent Care or Primary Care present with mental health concerns, ranging from mild anxiety to suicidality, or other psychosocial concerns such as domestic violence, we see them in real time for brief assessment and intervention.  In addition, we see patients in Primary Care for up to six sessions of therapy utilizing a variety of modalities, including evidence-based brief interventions like problem-solving treatment and motivational interviewing.   

What population do you mainly work with?

In general, I work with a varied urban population with a wide range of health and psychosocial issues, and demographic characteristics.  Kaiser Permanente in WA has a diverse patient mix socioeconomically (and otherwise), because in addition to offering employer-based insurance and health care, it is one of several organizations that contract with Apple Health (Medicaid) to provide health services for low-income WA residents.

How did you start your career in medical social work?

My MSW practicum experiences at UW were providing counseling/therapy at Evergreen Treatment Services, an opioid replacement clinic, and the Harborview Abuse and Trauma Center.  By the completion of my MSW I realized that providing counseling/therapy to adults, and especially children, was not for me.  I asked my 2nd year practicum instructor at Harborview if I could shadow a social worker in the emergency room and LOVED it.  Consequently, my first post-MSW position was as an emergency room social worker at Harborview, which is a safety net hospital and level 1 trauma center, for 4 years.     

What attracted you to this type of social work?

I love working at the intersection of psychosocial and physical health, being in an interdisciplinary environment, and advocating for social justice, and vulnerable, marginalized patients’ needs in an increasingly complicated and challenging health care system.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

Connecting with patients and families, hearing their unique stories, advocating for them, and having a small, but potentially meaningful, impact on their lives on any given day.  Working with and influencing interdisciplinary colleagues and organizational leaders to carve out a strong social work presence and agenda.  Joining and collaborating with a health care labor union to advance social justice on organizational and systems levels.

What has been the hardest part of doing this work?

Steady, significant cutbacks in funding and resources.  Increasing corporatization of health care and its harmful effects on social workers and our profession’s focal populations.  Managing the distress of being a constant witness to human suffering while continuing to be an engaged, effective social worker.

For the students looking to follow your lead in medical social work, what is your best piece of advice to them? 

Focus on building basic social work assessment and intervention skills, which are fundamental to medical social work.  Be prepared to apply mezzo and macro knowledge and skills, such as policy, navigating organizations/systems, and building collective power, which are increasingly indispensable in health care. 

You do not need to have a practicum in medical social work to pursue it.  Ask to speak to and shadow health care social workers whose work you think you would enjoy.  The world of health care social work is vast and varied and the demand for social workers is high and ever increasing.  Use your early career to experiment and move around to different positions.  And take my medical social work course Winter Quarter! 

New Social Work Faculty & Field liaisons 

We are excited to introduce our new faculty members and field liaisons! 

Alana Honigman, MSW, LICSW

Adjunct Instructor, Field Liaison

Alana Honigman headshot

Alana Honigman received her MSW from Smith College in 2012. She has worked in community mental health since graduation and is now a licensed clinical social worker. Her clinical work has been with children, families, and adults, focusing on trauma, mind-body connection, and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. In recent years, she has turned her focus to supporting clinicians through supervision and program management. She is particularly interested in increasing sustainability in the social work field by community building and advocacy within systems.

Her current role is as Adult Mental Health Program Manager at Therapeutic Health Services, supporting a team of clinicians and supervisors at six locations in and around Seattle. She is passionate about mentoring social workers entering the field. She has worked with Seattle U interns since 2017, initially as practicum supervisor, and now in her role as field liaison and seminar instructor. She looks forward to sharing in the unique and dynamic learning process with her students.


James Knoll, MSW, LICSW

Adjunct Professor 

James Knoll headshot

James Knoll obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in history and religion from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. He obtained his Master’s degree in social work from University of Washington in 2002.

His area of practice is hospice and palliative care, and presently he is a clinical educator for Providence Hospice. In addition, James has a background in gerontology and working with people with developmental and intellectual challenges, and he is advocate for GLBTQ community. Also an avid runner, he is always available to provide recommendations on good running routes.




Youngnan Nancy Namkung, MSW, LICSW

Adjunct Professor 

Nancy Namkung headshot

Youngnan Nancy Namkung graduated from University of Washington School of Social Work program with a Masters in 2012. Nancy has worked in hospice, cancer care, and in adolescent mental health research. She is currently working in a pediatric primary care clinic as their behavioral health consultant.

Nancy has experience in delivering care using the following therapeutic modalities: CBT, TF-CBT, ACT, DBT, and Caregiver Behavioral Management. Social justice and anti-oppression are important values that she holds in her life and in her practice. She is interested in being able to deliver culturally responsive treatment to individuals and families with diverse intersectionalities and identities.




Erika Washington, MSW, LICSW

Field Liaison 

Erika Washington headshot

This is Erika’s first year at Seattle University. She is currently enrolled at the University of Southern California where she is earning her Doctoral of Social Work. Erika is a Seattle University (BSW) and University of Washington (MSW) graduate. After graduating from the University of Washington, Erika served in the US Air Force as a Mental Health Clinician while on active duty and currently as an Air Force Reservist (Major).

Erika presently works for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Senior Social Worker. She brings patience, joy, and enthusiasm to the field experience of social work and is very passionate about the role of social workers in the field and work force. Erika is taking the job to give students what she received at Seattle U; Passion to do the work and create change to better people’s lives and society. She hopes to inspire students to get excited about change and about the future of the profession of social work.



Anna Watson, MSW, LICSW

Adjunct Instructor, Field Liaison

Anna Watson headshot

Anna Watson, LICSW is an adjunct instructor at Seattle University. She received her MSW from the University of Washington in 2009, and has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2012.

Ms. Watson began her career in the field of social work in 2002 as a direct service provider coordinating a community shelter program for homeless youth. Since that time she has worked in a variety of roles including line staff in a juvenile justice facility, legal advocate, and therapist. She has worked extensively with at risk and incarcerated youth and their families, child and adult victims of sexual abuse and assault, as well as individuals struggling with anxiety disorders and other challenges.

She currently maintains a private therapy practice where she specializes in providing evidence based treatments for anxiety disorders including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Disorder as well as evidence based parenting interventions.


Claire Willey-Sthapit, PhD, MSSW


Claire Willey-Sthapit headshot

Claire Willey-Sthapit’s (MSSW) scholarship centers translations between domestic violence research, policy, and practice, both within the United States and across national borders. Her dissertation drew on transnational feminist theory, participatory research principles, and her own family ties and previous work in Nepal, to examine how domestic violence service providers in Pokhara, Nepal negotiate between international policy and knowledge acquired through local practice. Employing analyses of international policy documents alongside primary data generated through Nepali-language interviews, focus groups, and observations with service providers, this dissertation informs contextually and culturally responsive domestic violence policy and programming.

Claire is also currently involved in research related to men's gender equitable attitudes and behaviors. Claire has been a sole instructor for coursework in direct social work practice and social work research, and is delighted to teach social justice and social welfare policy this year.