Spring 2021 Social Work Newsletter

Message from the Field Director


Welcome to Seattle University’s Social Work Department Newsletter! This newsletter was created to provide the latest news in social work education, upcoming events related to social work, and professional guidance to help launch social work careers. This newsletter will also highlight students’ experiences in the program, as well as their impact on vulnerable communities through field practice. It is my privilege to introduce the launch of the Spring/End of Year 2021 Newsletter of the Social Work Department. Enjoy!

-Dr. Estella Williamson

In This Issue

Upcoming Social Work Events 

Information Session

July 8, 5:00pm-6:00pm (PST)

Professor Highlight-Dr. Cristofalo

July 29, 5:00pm-6:00pm (PST)

Information Session

August 19, 6:00pm-7:00pm (PST)


COVID-19 Guidance

On April 13, the university announced that all SU students—undergraduate, graduate and professional—will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and report it to the university prior to arriving on campus in the fall. Read more here »

Read the latest COVID-19 guidance from the university here

Student Highlight, BSW: Elizabeth Vargas 

Student posing in front of a field of pink tulips

Meet Elizabeth Vargas; Elizabeth is a graduating Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) student at Seattle University. During her time in undergrad, she has been a recipient of the Messina and Alfie scholarships, a member of multiple on-campus honor societies, and a President’s List recipient. In addition to this, Elizabeth worked at Catholic Community Services within the Rapid Rehousing and Keeping Families Together Program for her BSW practicum. Elizabeth will be continuing her social work education next year in Seattle University’s Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program. She is excited to complete her practicum at Consejo Counseling and Referral Service, where she will have an opportunity to work within the Latinx community.    

Student Highlight, MSW: Jamie Vo 

Student sitting on a bench

Meet Jamie Vo; she’s an alumnus of Seattle University holding a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Currently she’s a Master of Social Work student preparing to graduate this June.

During her time at Seattle University, Jamie has been a strong advocate for racial equity and mental health services on campus. She is a First to Soar Mentor, Practicum Advisory Board Representative, Student Peer Research Consultant, and so much more.

The Seattle University community will surely miss her presence, but we are so excited to see the impact she will make in her professional career. Jamie looks forward to getting her LSWAIC in June and continuing to provide counseling services at a community mental health center. She’s passionate about working with the Asian and Pacific Islander community and is hopeful that she will continue working with this population in the future. 

Congratulations, Graduates!

Read on to see graduation stats and congratulation messages from our BSW director, Dr. Mary Kay Brennan and our MSW director, Dr. Hye-Kyung Kang. 

Seattle U BSW Program

Number of 2021 BSW Graduates

2021 Award Recipients-BSW

Erica Calloway: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Erica Calloway

Award: Taylene Watson, MSW Social Justice Award & Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Major: Social Work, Summa Cum Laude

Olivia Gaughran: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Olivia Gaughran

Award: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Major: Social Work, Summa Cum Laude

Megan McCreedy: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Megan McCreedy

Award: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Major: Social Work, Summa Cum Laude

Elizabeth Vargas: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Elizabeth Vargas 

Award: Dr. Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award

Major: Social Work, Summa Cum Laude

BSW Graduation Message: 

A heartfelt congratulations to you all! You have worked so hard to get to this point of completion especially with the added strain of the pandemic. You have persisted and persevered.

From that moment when you declared SW as a major, you were committing to a profession that at its heart, values and advances social justice and social change.

You have deeply engaged in Seattle University’s BSW education that focuses on community-based generalist practice with an anti-oppressive practice lens. You have gained the knowledge, values, and skills to

  • be an advocate and activist to challenge racial, economic, and social injustices
  • center the experience of communities on the margins for policy and organizational reform
  • improve the well-being of people through accompaniment, cultural humility, and empowerment by honoring their strengths and deep listening to their experience

I would like to acknowledge several of your colleagues who have earned the following departmental awards:

Taylene Watson Social Justice Award : Erica Calloway  

Madeline Lovell Academic Excellence Award: Erica Calloway, Olivia Gaughran, Megan McCreedy, and Elizabeth Vargas


-Dr. Mary Kay Brennan

Seattle U MSW Program

Number of 2021 MSW Graduates

2021 Award Recipient-MSW

Jamie Vo: Leadership and Professional Engagement Award

Jamie Vo

Awards: Leadership and Professional Engagement Award & Provost's Awards for Graduate Student Excellence

Program: Master of Social Work

MSW Graduation Message

As students of this program know, the MSW program is a highly demanding program that involves completing 66 credits of courses for 2-year students, and 39-credits for Advanced standing students, while completing a rigorous field practicum program. This is a big commitment that takes rigor and persistence.

And the past year and half was further complicated by the pandemic and its many continuing consequences. No one had any idea when you started this program what our world would be like today.

And you showed all of us, and perhaps most importantly to yourselves, that you kept your purpose and rose to meet whatever the challenge that was thrown at you.  You indeed stepped up, and I applaud you for that.

Now, Class of 2021, you are ready to embark on a new journey as professional social workers in an environment that needs you more than ever.

I urge you to know your purpose as a social worker at this time when our world is ripe for revolutionary change. What is your purpose as a social worker? Social workers have to be clear about their purpose because the lives of the people that we are entrusted to work alongside, and the people's journeys that we are graced to be a part of, are most complex. And because, as social workers, we work not only to help and heal but also to challenge and change. Because we strive to enact social justice where injustice and inequity persist.      

This, my new colleagues, is the most important time for social workers to be clear about our mission, our purpose. Now as you are ready to join the profession, I am thrilled to see that you are ready for that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Class of 2021, welcome to the social work profession. Congratulations!

Ignite Change! May the force be with you.

-Dr. Hye-Kyung Kang 

Faculty Highlight

Learn more about your Social Work faculty! This quarter, we interviewed Dr. Joseph DeFilippis, Associate Professor in the Social Work Department. Read the full interview below:

Dr. DeFilippis headshot

Can you tell me more about your area of social work?  

My social work practice has focused on community organizing and public policy. 

What does your social work practice look like outside of teaching?  

I spent over 15 years of practice in community-based work. In the 1990s, I spent years doing volunteer work as a welfare-rights organizer, and from 1999-2002 I served as a member of the Steering Committee for New York State’s Welfare Reform Network.  From 1999-2003, I was the Director of SAGE/Queens, an organization for LGBT senior citizens.  The program primarily served to provide community and socialization for a population that was often isolated, but also provided clinical services and engaged in political advocacy. I also served as a member of the Steering Committee for the NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Network (1995-2005) and the Queer Economic Justice Network (1999-2003).  

What classes do you teach?  

My teaching at Seattle University focuses on social welfare policy and on social justice. Before coming to Seattle University in 2015, I spent five years in Portland, Oregon getting my PhD at Portland State University. While there, I taught numerous courses on public policy, family law, and sexuality.

From 2003-2010, I served as an adjunct faculty member in social work programs at Fordham University, and Hunter College School of Social Work, where I taught various courses in political economy, social justice, social welfare policy, community organizing, and sexuality.   

Are you working on any research right now? 

I am working with another researcher and a filmmaker on a six-part documentary podcast about the organization I founded (Queers for Economic Justice).  I am also working with SU’s Dr. Hye-Kyung Kang on a book about how we build a social-justice focused clinical social work program. 

I have published numerous articles, on a range of issues, including LGBT communities, poverty, marriage politics, and feminist research. I am one of the primary authors of the infamous 2006 “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage” (which publicly critiqued the direction of the marriage equality movement), and one of the editors of “A New Queer Agenda” published in 2012 by the Barnard Center for Research on Women.   And in 2018, Routledge published a series of three books that I co-edited: 

 “Queer Activism After Marriage Equaliy”,  

“The Unfinished Queer Agenda After Marriage Equality”,  

“Queer Families and Relationships After Marriage Equality”.                                

Dr. DeFilippis speaking near a podium

How long have you been teaching at Seattle University?

Since 2015.  

What inspired you to begin teaching?   

In my activism and community work, I often organized public education events. “teach-ins”, and community forums, and I always enjoyed teaching, so it was a natural evolution for me. 
But specifically, it happened this way:  

In 2002, I did a two-hour training for activists, teaching them how to conduct lobby visits in Albany (New York’s state capital).  Two weeks later, I got a phone call from one of the people who had taken the training.  She was an instructor at Fordham University, and said she loved the lobby training I did, and asked me if I would be interested in applying for a job teaching a policy class there. I said yes, got the job, fell in love with teaching, and never looked back. 

I taught as an adjunct (in addition to my full-time non-profit work) for eight years, and loved it each time. So in 2010, I left NYC to begin a PhD program, specifically so I could teach full-time. In 2015, I got my PhD and started teaching at Seattle University. I just got promoted and tenured, so I hope to be teaching for the rest of my life. 

Faculty Work/Achievements 2021

  • Dr. Cristofalo was awarded a research fellowship: Health Care Social Workers’ Experiences of Telehealth and Its Effects on Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Dr. Cristofalo was awarded a research fellowship: Health Care Social Workers’ Experiences of Telehealth and Its Effects on Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Dr. Cristofalo was a member of the interdisciplinary teaching team for this course: CMME 2910, Understanding COVID: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
  • Dr. DeFilippis was promoted to Associate Professor in Seattle University's Social Work Department
  • Dr. Derr published a book chapter: “Unleashing the Power of Prevention to Ensure the Healthy Development for Youth: Expansions and Elaborations for Equity” in publication for the book M. Teasley, M. Spencer and M. Bartholomew (Eds.), Racism and the Grand Challenges for the Social Work Profession, Oxford University Press. 
  • Dr. Derr co-wrote a piece in the January 2021 Seattle University Advance Newsletter 
  • Dr. Derr presented the paper Innovative approaches for prevention practice with immigrant and refugee families: Balancing fidelity and fit at the Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference, San Fransisco, CA (moved to online due to COVID-19).
  • Dr. Derr published the article: “Global Forced Migration Trends: Policy, Practice, and Research Imperatives for the Field of Social Work” accepted for publication in the journal International Social Work.
  • Dr. Derr Received the Academic Year 2020-2021 Seattle University Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture Course Development Grant for the course “How to Set the World on Fire without Burning Out”   
  • Dr. Derr was invited to lecture through the SU Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture: "Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs: Using Participatory and Collaborative Processes to Respond to Emerging Migration Trends” 
  • Dr. Farina presented at Seattle University's winter quarter 2021 Faculty Research Lightening Talks, presented by the Office of Sponsored Projects. 
  • Dr. Farina received a Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association Research Award for her project "Effectiveness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy as a Mental Health Treatment: An Evidence and Gap Map."      
  • Dr. Farina published the article, ‘You’re So Exotic Looking': An Intersectional Analysis of Asian American and Pacific Islander Stereotypes in the journal Affilia, which was cited in the Washington Post article: There’s a long, global history to today’s anti-Asian bias and violence 
  • Dr. Farina published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health: Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma Among Immigrant Mexican Women up to Two-Years Post-partum
  • Dr. Kang was awarded a promotion fellowship: Re-envisioning Social Work Education: Building and Living a Social Justice-Focused Clinical Social Work Curriculum
  • Dr. Kang was awarded a promotion fellowship: Re-envisioning Social Work Education: Building and Living a Social Justice-Focused Clinical Social Work Curriculum
  • Dr. Kang presented The COVID-19 Pandemic and Mental Health Crisis from a Social Justice-focused Perspective at the International Webinar on Mental Health for All: Strategies and Roadmap. (Organized by the Dept. of Social Work, St. Joseph’s College Autonomous, Bangalore, India.)
  • Dr. Kang delivered an invited lecture, Erasure and Exclusion: White Supremacy, Coloniality and Anti-Asian Racism, at Texas A&M University. (2021)
  • Dr. Kang presented as part of a panel, Anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander Racism: Past, Present, and a Brighter Future, at the University of Washington. (2021)
  • Dr. Kang delivered a colloquium, Toward Building a Social Justice Focused Social Work Department: Experiences from Seattle University, at the Boston University School of Social Work (2020)
  • Dr. Kang delivered a speech at the Anti-Racism and Stop Asian Hate rally. (2021)
  • Dr. Kang delivered a keynote speech for the AAPI Heritage Month for the Department of Justice (Washington State). (2021)
  • Dr. Kang presented at International webinar on Mental Health for All: Strategies and Roadmap
  • Dr. Kang wrote an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times titled: Racist, colonist and misogynist narrative abets violence against Asian women. This op-ed was referenced by Naomi Ishisaka in the Seattle Times (2021). 
  • Dr. Kang was interviewed about anti-Asian racism by the KING 5 news, the KIRO 7 news special report, and the China Global TV. (2021)
  • Dr. Kang was featured in the article spotlighting 12 Asian and Pacific Islander (API) social workers in the New Social Worker journal (2021)
  • Dr. Sinha published in Discern: International Journal of Design for Social Change
  • Dr. Sinha was awarded a summer research fellowship: Examining inequities to access to Food During COVID-19
  • Dr. Sinha and Uttam Mukherjee open second location of their restaurant, Spice Waala.

Faculty Reading List

Interested in doing some social work reading? Check out our Faculty Reading List! Each selection has impacted or helped to shape one of our faculty members' careers. 

Seattle U Social Work Faculty Reading List

  • Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential-And Endangered
    • by Bruce Perry
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent
    • by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Deacon King Kong
    • by James McBride
  • Development as Freedom
    • by Amartya Sen
  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race
    • by Jesmyn Ward
  • How to Walk
    • by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Immigrant Acts
    • by Lisa Lowe
  • Lords of Poverty
    • by Graham Hancock
  • Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work
    • by Kathy Edin
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
    • by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • The Nickel Boys
    • by Colson Whitehead
  • The Night Watchman
    • by Louise Edrich
  • On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System?
    • by Trudy Festinger
  • Oppression and the Body: Roots, Resistance, and Resolutions Edited
    • by Christine Caldwell and Lucia Bennet Leighton
  • Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, & Liberation
    • by Rev. Angel Kyona Williams, Lama Rod Owens, & Jasmine Syedullah
  • Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy
    • by Lynne Segal
  • Resilience & Personal Effectiveness for Social Workers
    • by Jim Greer
  • Regulating The Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare
    • by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward
  • Research as Resistance: Chapter 1: Becoming an anti-oppressive researcher
    • by Strega & Brown
  • The Road Not Taken: A History of Radical Social Work in the United States
    • by Michael Reish & Janice Andrews
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
    • by Anne Fadiman
  • There There
    • by Tommy Orange
  • Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy
    • by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, and Clare Pain
  • The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy
    • by Lisa Duggan
  • This Bridge Called My Back (4th ed.): Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua (Eds).
  • An Uncertain Glory by Jean Dreze & Amartya Sen
  • Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work has Abandoned its Mission by Harry Specht and Mark Courtney
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
  • When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
  • White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo

Our faculty encourage supporting your local independent bookstores

Introducing the New MSW Student Blog

Starting January 2021, the Seattle University MSW Department started a brand new student blog! Blog posts are released monthly and are written by current MSW student and Graduate Assistant, Tabitha Brown. 

Topics range from the unexpected highs and lows of graduate school to a recap of an MSW Licensure Information Session. Check out the blog here!

How-To: MSW Licensure

Interested in earning your LASW or LICSW? Check out the information below: 

How do I become licensed in Washington state?

There are two full licensure options in Washington state: Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) & Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW). Here are some important steps in the process: 

  • Graduate from a CSWE accredited MSW or doctoral program-you will need to provide your official transcripts to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
  • Review the requirements for both licenses. 
  • Before you start earning supervised hours toward your LASW or LICSW, it is suggested to apply for your Social Worker Associate Independent Clinical (LSWAIC) or your Social Worker Associate Advanced (LSWAA) license. This is a provisional license for those who have completed the required education but have not yet completed the supervised hours they need for their LASW.  
    • To apply for your LSWAIC or LSWAA, you can either fill out the application packet (LSWAIC/LSWAA) and send it to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) or apply online
  • Gain the required supervised experience: You will need 3,200 postgraduate, supervised hours to be eligible for a LASW and 4,000 postgraduate, supervised hours to be eligible for a LICSW. There are specific supervision requirements for some of the hours so be sure to read the requirements carefully and ensure your supervisor has the approved credentials to supervise you. 
  • Sit for the American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. The DOH will send you information about which exam to sit for and clear you to take it once they verify your education and experience. 
  • Submit your LASW or LICSW application: Once you complete your required hours you can submit your LASW or LICSW application for full licensure. 

FAQs with a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

Social Work Department Assistant Professor, Margaret Cristofalo, PhD, LICSW, answers some frequently asked questions about social work licensure:

What is the benefit of earning a social work license? 

Social work licensure in WA State is relatively new, but the number of jobs requiring licensure has been steadily increasing. Many WA State MSW level positions in health care and mental health care require licensure. Social work practice positions requiring associate licensure (LSWAA or LSWAIC) often have higher starting salaries than those that do not, and full licensure (LASW or LICSW) usually comes with a pay increase, and in certain settings, regular hourly pay differentials. Licensure opens the door to utilizing advanced social work practice skills and filling additional roles. For example, with a license you can provide certain types of therapy and supervise others.  

What is the difference between a WA State LSWAA, LSWAIC, LASW, and LICSW? 

The LICSW is an independent clinical license and the LASW is an advanced generalist social work license. The LICSW allows one to engage in clinical practice, such as therapy, independently, while the LASW allows one to do things like advanced administration in organizations or working on a team in a health care setting providing social work interventions. The LICSW requires 4000 hours post-MSW of supervised, direct social work practice with clients and the LASW requires 3200 hours. Upon completion of the hours, one must pass an exam, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Clinical Level Exam for the LICSW and the Advanced Generalist Level Exam for the LASW. The LSWAIC and LSWAA are associate licenses you can apply for on receiving your MSW, under which you will work for your supervised hours to fulfill the requirements for the LASW and LICSW respectively.

What advice you would give for MSW students and new grads regarding licensure? 

  • Plan ahead at every step. State bureaucracy is complicated, often unforgiving, and moves slowly.  Give yourself extra time to avoid missing deadlines.  If in doubt about something, call and speak to a person at WA DOH Credentialing.
  • Read the WA State DOH social work licensure website carefully. Take responsibility for knowing the guidelines and rules.  Do not count on your supervisor to know them, because they will not necessarily be aware of the current ins and outs.  Licensure policy and procedures are always changing, so revisit the website from time to time.  For example, a recent change requires those holding associate level licenses to complete continuing education hours on a yearly basis.    
  • Negotiate supervision for your first position. Any supervision you do not receive at your workplace, you will need to private pay for outside of your organization. It could be worth it to take a less lucrative position that provides supervision.  Also, note that any social worker who provides supervision must have a license (LICSW or LSWAA) and two years practice experience post-licensure.
  • Document meticulously and establish a paper trail. Get your supervisor to sign off on your hours regularly – do not wait until hour 3200 or 4000.  You never know when someone will leave an organization and be difficult to track down.
  • When your hours are nearing completion, consider taking an exam prep course and give yourself at least two months to study for the exam.
  • Note that licensure and its requirements are not national. If you are going to practice in another state, or plan to practice in another state eventually, make sure you investigate their license offerings and requirements early.

Tips from the 2021 MSW Licensure Workshop

Each year, the MSW program hosts a licensure workshop for current students. Representatives from the Washington State Department of Health attend to present information and answer questions about the licensure process. Check out our April 2021 MSW Student Blog to read some takeaways one of our students gleaned from the workshop.