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Class Notes

Promotion? New Grandchild? Published a book? Honored with an award? You can share your news and updates with fellow alumni in the Class Notes section of the SSW website.

  • Marcia Naomi (Fisch) Berger, MSW '68

    Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW ’68, recently published her second book, Marriage Minded: An A to Z Dating Guide for Lasting Love (She Writes Press, 2021). It’s a clear, witty, and positive guide to help women (and men too) find a true life partner. The format is a literal A-Z primer – A is for Ambivalence (and for Anxiety and Awesome; B is for Balance, Boundaries, and Be Yourself; C is for Character, Clarity, and Curiosity, etc. Underlying issues affecting our behaviors and actions and how to change them are noted.
    The writing is direct, wise, and thoroughly readable, a practical self-help primer in easily digestible, bite-sized sections. Helpful charts and exercises turn advice into action plans.

    “Marriage Minded thus is recommended reading for a wide audience of women (and men, too): daters of any age, and also those who are already married and who want to make better choices and decisions that support the relationship.”  
    —   Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review  

    January 31, 2022
  • Barbara Rachelson, MSW '79

    I am serving in my 5th term in the Vermont legislature representing part of Burlington in the Vermont House and serving on the Judicial Nominating and House Judiciary committees.
    This semester, I am leading a Communities of Practice course for undergraduates at the University of Vermont, College of Arts and Sciences in public health. I recently wrapped up my job as Interim Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont, ultimately working with the board to become part of the Epilepsy Foundation of New England. I also serve on the national board of Human Rights for Kids, an awesome advocacy organization:

    January 26, 2022
  • Meredith Mason Remler, MSW '11

    I am Assistant Professor of Human Services/Social Work and Human Services Program Coordinator at Gateway Community and Technical College, which is part of the Kentucky higher education system. I received my Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D) in May 2021 from Northern Kentucky University. My dissertation, "She Can Do It All, But Not Alone: A Phenomenological Study of the Meaning of Roles and Role Interactions for Community College Faculty Mothers," explores how 10 full-time community college mothers experience and attribute meaning to both of their roles. The recommendations provided by these higher education faculty mothers should be used to improve policy and practice in higher education. In 2015, I earned a Masters Degree in Public and Community Health Education from the University of Cincinnati. I live in Cincinnati with my husband and daughter.

    January 18, 2022
  • Karen R. Fein, MSW '85

    I feel incredibly honored to have been nominated and unanimously elected for membership to the National Academy of Social Insurance. I am especially pleased because among the many contributions I will make to the Academy, I will support efforts to develop and conduct research that reflects the importance of those who LIVE the experiences/realities that our nation's policies impact. The importance of looking at both the numbers AND the stories cannot be undervalued. As a member who is a social worker (from the best program ever), among other things, I will help bring faces and personal narratives to the way we think about and consider social policy. GO BLUE!!!!

    January 14, 2022
  • Sarah Rakes, MSW '09

    I am an Assistant Professor at Radford University School of Social Work. I completed my PhD at Florida State University College of Social Work in Spring 2021. My dissertation focused on the well-being of grandmothers raising their grandchildren.

    January 12, 2022
  • Gail Hutchison, MSW '82

    I retired after 35 years providing outpatient substance use disorder treatment to individuals and families. My final position was with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, which meant a lot to me as my dad was a World War II veteran. Thanks to U of M School of Social Work for a great career!

    December 22, 2021
  • Edward Humenay, MSW '87

    I was working in the field of addition/mental health before graduating with my MSW in 1987. I then worked at Chelsea Hospital (Kresge House), Older Adult Recovery Center and University of Michigan (UMATS program). I retired from UM and now do full-time, private practice. I've been in the field for more than 50 years.

    December 22, 2021
  • Robin Gordon, MSW '84

    I provide psychotherapy in-person and via tele-therapy with a specialty in trauma recovery using EMDR strategies. I presented a session at the 2020 NASW Nevada Virtual Conference on "Burnout and Self-Care."

    December 22, 2021
  • Barbara Smith, MSW '77

    I published a book in February 2020 called "Addiction: One Cause, One Solution." The book describes an evolution in the field of addiction treatment. It provides hopeful insight into the principles of human psychology and spirituality.

    December 22, 2021
  • Jenna Weintraub, LICSW, MSW '18

    I work at Kolmac Outpatient Recovery Centers providing group and individual therapy for substance use disorders. I also work with Golden Life Counseling providing individual therapy for a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety, substance use and eating disorders.

    December 22, 2021
  • D. Scott Tharp, MSW '07

    Congratulations to Dr. D. Scott Tharp for the upcoming publication of this second book! His book, “Decoding Privilege: Exploring White College Students' Views on Social Inequality,” explores how White students understand the concept of privilege so that educators can more effectively teach students about social power and inequality. Specially, the text examines three elements that influence how White college students understand privilege: Ideas, beliefs, and feelings. More information about this book, including how to purchase your own copy, can be found on the publisher’s website here:

    December 2, 2021
  • Jamie Simmons, MSW '20

    In fall 2020, Jamie earned her MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work with a focus in Community Engagement. Since her graduation Jamie has worked as the Engagement Director for Michigan Climate Action Network, where she has helped bridge the gaps between justice, equity and climate change. She has also worked with organizations across the state to build attention to and advocate for state and federal policies that center the most underrepresented communities in Michigan. Jamie has recently become the first Community Engagement Reporter for Michigan Radio. Her reporting will supplement Michigan Radio’s coverage in Detroit, and specifically various neighborhoods across the city. She will work with the station's Community Reporting Engagement Council to better understand and address residents’ goals.

    November 30, 2021
  • Nancy Kusmaul, MSW '00

    I recently published my first book, Aging and Social Policy in the United States. Intended for undergraduate and graduate students in social work and the social sciences, this book explores the issues facing older adults and their families through local, state, federal, and international policy lenses.

    November 15, 2021
  • Randall Ross, MSW '94

    Randy Ross was promoted in January 2021 to Vice President, Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, where he has been employed since 2005. In his new role, he will be responsible for the leading the Community Foundation's fundraising and donor services activities. In 2020, the Community Foundation raised more than $121 million in new gifts. The Community Foundation seeks to build permanent endowment in order to improve the quality of life in the seven-county region of southeast Michigan, including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston, and St. Clair counties. The Community Foundation's assets total more than $1.2 billion.

    November 8, 2021
  • Claudette Grinnell-Davis, PhD '14

    Claudette Grinnell-Davis, PhD, MS, MSW has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action program to study the implementation and impact of the 2015 Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) statute. Dr. Grinnell-Davis, an assistant professor in the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at OU-Tulsa, will serve as the principal investigator for the grant, in conjunction with community partners Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition, LLC. & Nebraska Appleseed. This research grant is the first step in understanding how best to support Indigenous communities in Nebraska in restoring balance within their communities and generating collaborative strategies to heal the historical trauma that has disrupted tribal communities there for over 150 years.

    October 21, 2021
  • Andrea Brand, MSW '94

    Andrea Brand has recently published her first book, Stop Sweating & Start Talking - How to Make Sex Chats with Your Kids Easier Than You Think. With the goal of empowering tweens and teens to make intentional decisions based on facts, Andrea helps parents overcome their fears and barriers to having informative sex conversations with their kids. Given the inconsistencies in sex education that is offered in the U.S. school system, kids need a trusted resource for accurate information.This book encourages and helps parents have ongoing, developmentally appropriate, scientifically accurate, sex positive conversations and offers practical tools and tips to help get the ball rolling.

    October 14, 2021
  • Melissa Mendez, MSW '01

    Melissa Mendez has worked the past 20 years in the field of infant and early childhood mental health. Melissa spent the first five years of her career with Head Start programs in Jackson County, Michigan and then moved to Connecticut in 2006 to work as an Early Childhood Consultant at Wheeler Clinic. Melissa is currently Director of Early Childhood Programs at Wheeler and is also a part-time Professor of Child and Family Clinical Practice in the MSW program at Southern Connecticut State University. Melissa served as President of the CT-Association for Infant Mental Health Health from 2015-2018 and is still active with the work of CT-AIMH. Melissa authored, illustrated, and published several children's books in 2020 that are focused on children's social emotional health and development.

    September 30, 2021
  • Violeta Donawa, MSW '19

    In fall 2019, Violeta earned her MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work with a focus on Interpersonal Practice and African-Centered Social Work. Since bridging her Master’s in Sociology (‘14), community-care based experience with healing justice, and her most recent accomplishments in Social Work, Violeta prioritizes working on health and healing strategies and interventions in clinical and macro-level settings. Violeta currently holds two transformative social work positions. First, she is a clinical therapist at Integrative Empowerment Group, PLLC in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, MI where she works with many clients of multiple-marginalized identities and supports clients across a number of presenting needs including but not limited to racialized stress and trauma, gender identity expression, LGBQQ+ issues, anxiety and depression, sexualized violence and complex trauma. As a kink-aware therapist, she is also trained to work with clients through a sex therapy informed lens. Violeta is also a macro-level Mental Health Therapist at The Firecracker Foundation which is based in Lansing, MI. As part of The Firecracker Foundation, she co-leads digital project and initiatives that work to uphold the holistic mental health needs of survivors of sexual violence and the communities that support them.

    In addition to this work, she has served as a board member of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network and as a partner to Healing by Choice! Detroit.

    In 2020, Violeta was featured on Lindsay Bryan-Povin’s podcast, Mind Money Balance, addressing the importance of spirituality and rest in the quest for financial wellness. More recently, she is one of a select group of poets with work featured in the Untold Stories of Liberation and Love Anthology, "Ypsi on My Mind," which is a publication that centers women of Color stories in Ypsilanti, MI.

    Violeta passed her ABSW exam in Spring 2021. More information on her work can be found here:

    June 25, 2021
  • Matt Bouse, MSW '19

    Matt Bouse, MSW '19 recently completed an hour-long documentary about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that occurred in northeastern Japan. The film focuses on how a natural disaster impacts survivors’ mental health and how community bonds and strong social support can create resilience after a tragedy. It also discusses the important role that socioeconomic factors play in disaster recovery and mental wellness. This project began life as part of a Global Independent Study that Matt completed through the School of Social Work's Office of Global Activities. The full film can be found online. Matt also presented on this topic at the 2021 NASW-Michigan Meeting of the Profession Conference.

    May 17, 2021
  • Harlena Reed, MSW '06

    Harlena Reed, JD, LCSW LMSW is excited about her new role as LCA Deputy Director for the State of New Mexico. Ms. Reed will oversee the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) Licensing and Certification Authority Bureau monitoring health, safety, supervision and quality of care for licensed facilities throughout the State of New Mexico, She will support and monitor compliance with the Kevin S. Settlement Agreement and CYFD's Family First Prevention Services Act Strategic Plan.

    May 17, 2021


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