Exploring ways to better support people who are underserved and voiceless, with an emphasis on people with Intellectual and Development Disability (IDD).
I am very happy to join the Widener University Center for Social Work faculty in September of 2004. I have been a long time friend and admirer of the program, guest lecturing and teaching on a part-time basis for many years. I am now fully involved in this very progressive school of social work, with its faculty of authentic social workers.
I find the students at the center to be highly dedicated, intelligent, and willing to go through the stresses and strains of graduate education to better serve their chosen clients. I have learned a great deal from my students each semester as each of us strives to be better social workers.
My passion for social work started in the footsteps of my father, who spent most of his career working within the Settlement House Movement in Philadelphia. I saw him do his part fighting oppression, and set out in high school with a mission to do the same.
My own engagement in this mission over the past 37+ years has been in the service of people with intellectual and developmental disability, especially those with "challenging behaviors." These men, women, and children, of all backgrounds, are among the most oppressed and voiceless members of our society. If we can find a way to help them be heard, we will be facilitating a climate where every voice in society is heard. We need this now more than ever.
My work has taken me from being a live-in house parent, to being a facility director, to being the clinical director for the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation Statewide Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, as well as a consultant at home and internationally. I endeavor to use these experiences in my teaching to help bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Group dynamics, conflict resolution, developing compassion and empathy through the use of biographical timelines and other interventions, management, and leadership, as well as therapeutic approaches around trauma, mental illness, and neurological differences—including autism—have been the focus of my work and make up the greatest part of my research agenda.
I am currently teaching Interpersonal Processes(SW 503), and several electives; a course on Supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disability, and one on The Biographical Timeline which also has a child welfare focus.
I am pleased to add that the Center for Social Work Education has given me the freedom to launch a certificate in Supporting Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, as well as the Social Work in the Community Services in Dauphin County, a free clinic that provides experiences to student interns relating to the certificate.