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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.

See the Virtual Conference Directory »

Webinar Recordings

COVID-19, Ethics and Social Work Implications for Practice

Monica Rich-McLaurin

Passion turned into Podcasting: How to Leverage Podcasting in the Social Work Profession

Cherish Fields

Aligning Social Work Practice with Integrative Health

Sarah Richards

Teletherapy: Start it up! Guidance for Social Workers

Liz Gonzalez


Monica Rich-McLaurin

Monica Rich-McLaurin is a seasoned social worker with more than 25 years of experience.  She has worked with the entire life span in a myriad of settings from foster care, outpatient mental health, and inpatient mental health to community outreach and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services.  Monica is the CEO & Founder of Paramount Consulting Group, PLLC, which provides accreditation preparation services to organizations that provide behavioral health services, children and youth services, and opioid treatment programs.  In addition, Paramount Consulting Group provides plan, policy, and procedure development, as well as training and education in key areas for accreditation.  Monica has worked in administrative capacities as a performance improvement specialist, where she led overall compliance with multiple funder and accrediting requirements for a $26M non-profit organization, and has occupied clinical leadership positions, such as director of operations for a traumatic brain injury facility.  She has also held the positions of adjunct faculty for the University of Detroit-Mercy and a multitude of clinical positions.  Monica has also led the development and coordination of integrated behavioral health in a primary medical clinic in Detroit, Michigan. She also provides administrative and program surveying expertise with CARF International, an accrediting body for the majority of behavioral health, medical rehabilitation and opioid treatment organizations around the world. Monica earned two master’s degrees; one in health service administration from Central Michigan University and one in social work from The University of Michigan.  These educational achievements have positioned Monica to provide training and education on the state level to other human service professionals in a myriad of focus areas, such as ethics, mental health awareness, disparities, and anti-stigma campaigns.

In November 2020, Monica was appointed chairwoman of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) National Ethics Committee, where she is charged with assuring the ethical integrity of the social work profession by participating in professional reviews where ethical violations have been alleged, as well as assisting in the revision of the NASW Code of Ethics and Professional Review Manual to reflect current practice.  Monica has also served as chairwoman and secretary of the NASW-Michigan Chapter Ethics Committee and has participated in mediation and adjudication hearings on the state and national levels.  Additionally, Monica serves as an advisory board member for Sisters Making It Happen (SMIH), a non-profit 501(c)(3) that provides mentoring and empowerment workshops to vulnerable and at-risk populations, including teens and single parents.  She has served as an elected official as a precinct delegate in Oakland County, Michigan. Monica is a proud and active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated’s Detroit Alumnae Chapter.


Cherish Fields

Cherish Fields is a social work professional and Child Welfare leader. Cherish offers her expertise from ten years of professional experience by serving in various capacities in the child welfare field. Cherish’s passion sparked from personal triumphs of her own childhood/adolescent experiences in foster care to make a change and raise the standard of care for those in the system. This passion led her to achieve a master's degree in social work focused in Management of Human Services with a specialization in child welfare from the nationally ranked #1 graduate program in the country, the University of Michigan School of Social Work. At the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Cherish earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration on Law, Criminology, and Deviance and minored in African American Studies. She became published by the Michigan Social Work and Social Justice Journal in 2011 for her written work on the importance of relationship development with those in foster care. In 2017, she earned her certificate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Studies as an Education Specialist from Wayne State University College of Education.

She has pioneered many community events, conferences, seminars and trainings. Her story has been featured in many media outlets. She is sought-after public speaker for events dealing with issues in Child Welfare, leadership, mental health, and resiliency. In 2015, the House of Providence honored her with the Survivor Award and Foster Focus Magazine featured her as the Social Worker of the Year Award. Recently, Social Worker Today Magazine selected Cherish as the 2019 Dedicated & Deserving Social Work Award.

Outside of work, Cherish values her faith as a Christian and is a member of Vertical Encounter Church in Detroit, MI. Though she has many accomplishments, nothing makes her prouder than being a happily married wife and the mother of two children, Reign and Legend. Cherish is esteemed as a mentor. She has had the privilege to mentor youth, young adult women, and professionals in the social work field. As a hobby, she has entered the world of podcasting and launched her own show called Child Welfare Leaders Podcast to further advocate for leading change in the system.


Sarah Richards

Sarah is a clinical social worker with 15 years experience working as an individual therapist and care management coordinator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Sarah is nationally trained in evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD (CPT and PE) and is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200 and Level One iRest Meditation Teacher. Sarah's research interests are in post-deployment health, women's health, and utilization of CIH modalities as adjunctive to care for people living with complex healthcare needs.


Liz Gonzalez

Elizabeth González (she/her), MSW, LMSW, CYT is a bilingual (Spanish-English) licensed Clinical Social Worker.

For the last 17 years, she has been dedicated to working in the fields of social work and education. She has worked at the intersection of these two fields in community mental health, nonprofits and university settings. In 2017, she founded a group private practice called Amplify Colectivo, which is a collective of therapists of color that provides culturally sensitive mental health services, supervision of early career social workers, and consults with state and local organizations to amplify mental health knowledge. González also serves as the Education & Training Program Manager at U-M’s Spectrum Center where she facilitates LGBTQ+ allyhood development trainings and consults with campus partners about inclusive practices.

González has specialized training in eating concerns, gender identity and trauma. She works with clients through a holistic health lens that emphasizes the inseparable connection between our health, mental health and the environment. Her approach to therapy is client-centered and rooted in cultural humility and multicultural counseling.


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