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Building Healthy, Strong Communities

Building Healthy, Strong Communities is a professional development program presented by the School of Social Work's Office of Development and Alumni Relations and the Professional Development Committee of the Alumni Board of Governors.

To attend individual webinar sessions, click the Zoom links below. You will be asked to enter your name and email (this is so we can properly track attendance). After submitting that information, Zoom will email you the webinar link. You will be asked to do this for every session you attend.

Virtual Conference Schedule

All sessions will take place via Zoom Webinar

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Striving to be an Antiracist Social Worker
10-11:30 AM

Grace Sekulidis

Building Health & Strong Communities is essential work of social workers. Social workers are vital pillars in our communities. To be able to support communities and the people in them, social workers must actively and continuously be antiracist. Being an antiracist is a choice someone must commit to every day and in every element of their life. In this session, we will talk about what it means to strive to be an antiracist, tools to help you work towards antiracism, and how this applies to your personal and social work life. We will talk about tools to work towards antiracism and how to work on making antiracism a core part of your life. Antiracism is a choice social workers must make or else the default is being racist and continuing to oppress marginalized voices and experiences.

Gatekeepers Galore: Addressing Trauma, Stigma, and Access to Mental Healthcare Services for Transgender & Nonbinary Communities
12-1:30 PM

Brodie Lobb

In contrast to previous decades, the 2010s saw greater visibility and access to information and lived experiences of transgender & nonbinary individuals. This time period also created a context within which more trans & nonbinary folks could live authentically in the broader society, and support others with the exploration of their gender identity and expression that had not been possible previously. While there are individuals and groups of people who continue to present significant threats to the safety & wellbeing of trans & nonbinary individuals, there are also more spaces than in previous generations who are intentionally expanding to accommodate gender nonconformity. More recently, the sudden & sharp increase in proposed or passed anti-trans and anti-drag legislation in the majority of states across the country fuels the community’s need for explicitly celebratory and affirming support, care, and protection from heterosexual & cisgender allies. This includes a growing need to access mental healthcare services to build resources & skills to navigate the impacts of these legislative changes and supporting affirming family members in prioritizing their children’s safety and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, gender-affirming mental healthcare resources have not expanded at a rate that appropriately accommodates the exponential growth of individuals and their families who need support exploring their identities or coping with a society who is seeking to erase their existence. Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the waitlists for therapists who are explicitly gender-affirming or who are considered “gender specialists” are growing longer by the day, while lists of affirming referral sources grows shorter by the minute. There are also a number of assumptions and pieces of misinformation that exist within the realm of mental healthcare professionals that reinforce the perception that exclusive or specialized care is inaccessible to learn as a provider, and that there are only a few specific therapists who can provide gender-affirming care. These and other factors impacting access to mental healthcare services for transgender & nonbinary communities will be explored and discussed throughout this training.

Who Cares? Professional Caregivers in Crisis from Resignation to Resilience
2-3:30 PM

Lisbeth Harcourt

Since 2020, survey data indicates 18% of healthcare workers have quite their jobs and up to 50% of doctors and nurses state they are contemplating quitting.  These statics are staggering and place healthcare workers and the system in distress.  This course is designed to provide a foundation of knowledge regarding the impact workplace stressors and risks of compassion fatigue and burnout in the setting of healthcare.  Special consideration will be placed on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the pandemic lifts great focus has been placed on strategies to address caregiver burnout.  Theories rooted in positive psychology as well as initiatives at Michigan Medicines will be presented that are intended to build reliance in staff and improve overall satisfaction.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

From Burnout to Bliss: A Radical Self-Care Workshop for Social Workers
10-11:30 AM

Sadé Richardson

This webinar is designed to provide practical strategies and tools for social workers to prioritize their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being in the context of the challenges of the helping profession. This webinar aims to increase awareness about the importance of radical self-care, provide participants with an opportunity to assess their current self-care practices, and offer practical tools and techniques for developing a personalized self-care plan. Participants will learn how to identify signs of burnout and compassion fatigue and will be guided through a series of interactive activities to help them relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. The objectives of the webinar are to increase participants' knowledge and awareness of radical self-care practices, develop a personalized self-care plan, and create a supportive community of social workers committed to promoting self-care and well-being in their personal and professional lives.

Navigating our Paths: The Journeys of Two Black Women from MSW to Executive Leadership
2-3:30 PM

Aleesia Johnson and Erika Stallworth

In this course, attendees will hear from two UM SSW Black women alumnae who have navigated a number of career transitions, moving from direct service, interpersonal-oriented work to roles that have more significant policy and political implications. The panelists will share how they operate while navigating race and gender dynamics as well as the values-based tensions inherent in the systems within which they each serve.


Grace Sekulidis

Program Manager for Adaptable Conflict Resolution

Grace is a daughter, partner, friend, sister, and social worker and holds many other identities. She is very passionate about social work and being a social worker who strives for an equity mindset, intersectional framework, and a systemic lens. Grace believes in identity-conscious facilitation practices and actively tries to practice indigenous restorative justice values.

Grace graduated from UMich School of Social Work in December 2020. She was a National Community Scholar and 16-month community organizing focus. Grace first worked at A Brighter Way (ABW), a non-profit that served people returning home from the carceral state as a Program Coordinator. Then Grace transitioned to working at U of M's Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) as a Program Manager for Adaptable Conflict Resolution (ACR).

Before UMich Grace earned a bachelor of social work and psychology from Michigan State University (Go Green!). Grace enjoys being outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, and going for walks. In Grace's spare time she enjoys cooking and watching lots of movies and tv-shows.

Brodie Lobb

LMSW, Clinical Social Worker

Brodie J. Lobb, LMSW (he/they) is a white queer transgender man occupying the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Bode’wadmi communities (specifically Southeast Michigan). He earned his BSW from Adrian College (2019) and his MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work (2020). His primary focus as a social worker is providing mental health services using anti-oppressive and gender-affirming lenses to transgender & nonbinary individuals and their families across the state of Michigan. He has extensive experience conducting assessments often resulting in letters of support for individuals seeking gender-affirming surgery and/or hormones.

Beyond their clinical experience, Brodie is also passionate about educating social workers and other mental healthcare professionals about relevant skills & considerations to conduct the same aforementioned assessments for accessing gender-affirming medical care. They recognize the structural ways in which power is maintained by mental healthcare professionals, and seek to deconstruct these methods by increasing the number of providers competent to provide these services within an unjust system. Brodie is also a cofounder for Gender Affirming Care & Mutual Aid (GAC-MA), a small group of therapists seeking to improve access to gender-affirming mental healthcare in Michigan by educating and compensating therapists to provide short-term assessments for those underinsured or uninsured clients accessing gender-affirming medical care.

When he isn't supporting his trans & nonbinary siblings or collaborating on projects with his colleagues, Brodie finds joy in creating and working with their hands, cooking, spending quality time with his partner and friends, and being in nature.

Lisbeth Harcourt

MSW, Medical Social Worker

Lisbeth Harcourt has been a medical social worker for over 23 years. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She has extensive medical social work experience in both acute care and ambulatory settings. Her professional interests focus on issues related to end of life/postmortem care and counsel, including institutional quality improvement efforts, bereavement support to families, and assisting staff recognize the unique aspects of professional grief as well as promoting opportunities to build cultural humility in healthcare. Currently, she is the Program Manager for Adult and Medical Examiner Services in the Office of Decedent Affairs at Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor. She resides in Saline, Michigan and is married with two children.

Sadé Richardson

MPH, LMSW-Macro, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Office of Public Health Practice, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Sadé Richardson is the Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Public Health Practice at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She enjoys using an interdisciplinary, collective impact approach to enter and work alongside communities. In her role, she helps prepare the next generation of the public health workforce by coordinating experiential learning opportunities for students, and managing both the Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) and the Future Public Health Leaders Program (FPHLP). She also works on developing and maintaining relationships with community stakeholders both domestically and internationally to support the Public Health in Action Courses. Her interests include well-being initiatives; health equity; strategic planning; evidence-based implementation; sustainable program development; and organizational change. During her early career experience at Wolverine Wellness, Sadé created Self-Love for Activists, a toolkit that uses evidence-based practices to bolster resilience and belonging. This toolkit is widely used in wellness coaching, the Wellness Course, and throughout U-M Student Life. Sadé holds both an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education (’18), and an MSW in Management of Human Services (’18) from the University of Michigan and is also currently pursuing a Doctorate in Social Work at the University of Louisville.

Aleesia Johnson

Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools

Aleesia Johnson has served as the superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), Indiana’s largest public-school district, since July 2019 and is the first Black woman to lead in this role. Beginning as a middle school teacher, she has been an educator for 20 years, achieving success as a teacher, school leader, and administrator in both public charter and traditional district schools. Under her leadership, the district has navigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while improving student outcomes and maintaining improved staff retention.

A native of Evansville, Indiana, Aleesia and her husband, Andre, have four children, three of whom are students in IPS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Agnes Scott College, a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan, and both a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Oakland City University.

Aleesia is active in her community serving on several boards including the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the IUPUI Board of Advisors, Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees, the Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research Advisory Board, and the 500 Festival Board of Directors, among others. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated. Aleesia is a proud wife to Andre and mother to Deja, Frederick, Naomi, and Grace.

Erika Stallworth


Erika C. Stallworth is currently the Juvenile Magistrate of the LaPorte Circuit Court in LaPorte County, Indiana. She was appointed to this position on April 21, 2023. Magistrate Stallworth is the first African-American Judicial Officer in the 190-year history of LaPorte County, Indiana. Magistrate Stallworth holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology from Spelman College, a Master degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is an alumni Fellow with the National Juvenile Justice Network and served as Co-Chair of its Membership Advisory Committee. She is a founding Board Member of the Children's Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana (CPLI), a non-profit dedicated to protecting the rights of children. As a child advocate, Magistrate Stallworth has a strong interest in system reform. In 2008, Magistrate Stallworth was appointed by the Indiana Speaker of the House of Representatives to serve on the Governor's Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services. As a result of the Commission’s work, recommendations for system improvement were made to the Governor. In 2019, Ms. Stallworth completed the Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice certification program at Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. As a result of this program, Ms. Stallworth chaired a local team of stakeholders who collaborated on a project that brought law enforcement and young people together for a day of education, learning and relationship-building.

Prior to becoming the Juvenile Magistrate, Magistrate Stallworth served as the Executive Director of the LaPorte County Juvenile Services Center (JSC), a 24-bed emergency shelter care and detention facility for at-risk and children in need of services; where she served in various roles since 2000. She also has legal practice experience in criminal record expungement and family law matters.

Magistrate Stallworth is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Indiana Juvenile Detention Association, the National Juvenile Justice Network, the American Correctional Association, the Indiana Criminal Justice Association, and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. This year, Ms. Stallworth celebrated 25 years of membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Magistrate Stallworth is also mother to a very spirited 3-year-old.

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