Racial Justice and Diversity at JACSW
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September 2020
A Message from the Dean
 Dean Creasie Finney Hairston

Dear Alumni & Friends,

As we start the Fall 2020 semester amidst national crises of a continuing pandemic and civic and social unrest, we are again challenged to conduct the usual business of a university while also understanding that this is not business as usual. As in the Spring semester, a major priority for the college will be providing an excellent social work education while assuring everyone’s health, safety and well-being.

Another priority will be a renewed commitment to racial justice and equity, here at UIC, in Chicago, and nationally. JACSW administration and faculty will be working with UIC administration and with Jane Addams Student Government to make a difference locally. Nationally, the November election will provide a major opportunity for all of us to advocate for social, racial and economic justice. As you well know, this Presidential election is a critical one.

In this newsletter you will see some of the things we are doing to advance racial justice and diversity. As alumni and friends of the college, I know you are allies in this important endeavor and I hope we can work together to create a more just and equitable society.

Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Dean and Professor

News from JACSW
Racial Diversity Initiatives at JACSW
photo of I Am a Man mural
I Am a Man mural in Memphis, TN 

The college has launched two new diversity initiatives with a current focus on addressing the underrepresentation of African American men at JACSW, in the health sciences, and in higher education generally:

We Are Men (WAM): Echoing the 1968 rallying cry of African American sanitation workers in Memphis, the WAM program recruits Black men with a demonstrated dedication to addressing the needs of impoverished communities, and provides financial assistance and other forms of support to aid them in completing their graduate degree in social work. Upon graduation, they are prepared for leadership positions in health and human services agencies and organizations.

Partnership with Becoming a Man: The college is partnering with the community organization Youth Guidance and their Becoming a Man program to support men of color in obtaining an MSW degree. Program participants are able to continue their employment, providing crucial social services, while obtaining the knowledge, skills and credentials needed for advancement to other agency roles and leadership positions.

As of Fall 2020, the two initiatives have successfully recruited and retained a total of 18 African American men in the college's graduate degree programs.


More on Racial Justice at JACSW >

Addressing School Communities' Collective Trauma from Racial Injustice
depressed girl in school
Annette Johnson 

On August 4, 2020, the college hosted its 11th annual Training Institute for School Social Work Professionals, spearheaded by Clinical Associate Professor Annette Johnson. Against the backdrop of the "double pandemic" of COVID-19, with its disproportionate impact in communities of color, and the horrifying incidents of racially motivated police violence and ensuing social unrest, the training institute focused on addressing collective trauma in the school community as classroom instruction resumes.

The Opening Session speaker was Dr. Sharon Hoover, Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health, and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

This marked the first year that the institute was hosted online, and it attracted nearly 180 participants from across the country. Visit the JACSW website for video of Dr. Hoover's presentation, a comprehensive resource guide compiled by the training institute team, and the PowerPoint presentations used in two breakout sessions.

Video and Other Resources >

Faculty Updates
Henrika McCoy 

Associate Professor Henrika McCoy has been appointed as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services following the retirement of Faith Bonecutter. Amidst her new responsibilities, Dr. McCoy still authored a powerful article entitled Black Lives Matter, and yes, you are racist: The parallelism of the Twentieth and Twenty-First centuries.

James Swartz 

Professor James Swartz has received $1.4 million to study the unmet need for substance use disorder treatment, especially medication assisted treatment (MAT), among adults on Medicaid Managed Care that have an opioid use disorder, or are at high risk of developing one, with the goal of increasing availability of MAT for Illinois Medicaid Managed Care clients.

Aaron Gottlieb 

Assistant Professor Aaron Gottlieb was appointed by the Chancellor to UIC's Public Safety Board which will, among other things, review UIC Police Department policies and procedures, complaints filed against UIC Police personnel and relationships with outside security firms, all viewed from a perspective of racial equity and social justice.

Branden McLeod 

Assistant Professor Branden McLeod, along with Drs. Henrika McCoy and Aaron Gottlieb, were selected by the CSWE Center for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice as the August 2020 Educator|Resource of the Month. They shared how they engage social work students in a critical approach to practice in the U.S. criminal justice system.

New Faculty Joining JACSW This Fall:

Kathryn Bocanegra 

Assistant Professor Kathryn Bocanegra, whose professional interests include community violence prevention, complex trauma and bereavement, working with survivors of violent crime, and examining the intersection of the criminal justice system with urban neighborhoods.

Walter Gomez 

Assistant Professor Walter Gomez, whose professional interests include substance use interventions for sexual minority men, structural, social and cultural barriers to HIV prevention interventions, aging with HIV, social and sexual networks, social capital and social movements, and syndemics, intersectionality, and stress and coping theories and frameworks.

Michele-Ann Rhoden Neita 

Assistant Professor Michelle-Ann Rhoden Neita, whose professional interests include educational and health outcomes of youth involved in the child welfare and justice systems, trauma-informed care for youth and young adults with adverse childhood experiences, biomarkers for psychological trauma, and community reintegration programs in faith-based settings.

Chastity Owens 

Lecturer Chastity Owens, whose professional interests include evidence-based interventions in schools, clinical practice in education, and social and emotional learning.


Other JACSW faculty have continued their research and dissemination of information on important issues in social justice; follow the link to see their work:

Faculty Work in Social Justice >

Alumni News & Updates
IGNITE Campaign Update
 IGNITE logo + Thank You!

Thank you! Every gift to the college, no matter its amount, is making a positive difference. You are helping to provide much needed scholarships for our students, supporting special lectures, student professional development opportunities, and so much more.

Since the IGNITE Campaign launched in October 2017, your gifts to Jane Addams College of Social Work have totaled over $1 million including seven new endowed scholarship funds, three new bequests, and a special multi-year gift for faculty professional development. Your support is counted in the University’s impressive record of reaching 75% of its goal of $750 million (as of July 21, 2020).

The campaign continues through December 2022. With your continued donations, we can reach the college’s ambitious goal of $4 million.

New This Year!

  • The launch of the University’s enhanced Annual Giving Program. Your donation solicitations will look different than in past years. In addition to the college’s news and updates, you will also receive separate annual giving communications from the University asking for your support. The giving options will list the funds you have supported previously, or if you are a first-time donor, information on how to make a donation to the college at a time when we need your support more than ever.
  • The creation of a new Diversity Initiatives Fund at the college. This fund will provide unrestricted support for a variety of diversity initiatives at the college.

For more information on how you can make an impact with your giving, contact Director of Advancement, Jacquelyn Bonavia, at 312-413-2305, jbonavia@uic.edu.

Alumni Updates
Faith Bonecutter 

Faith Johnson Bonecutter, MSW ’82, who until her recent retirement had served as the college’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services, has been honored by NASW-IL with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many contributions to social work practice, social work education, and the well-being of children and families.

Jude Hines 

Jude Hines, PhD ’14, has been honored by NASW-IL with a Social Worker of the Year Award. Jude is a school social worker for The School Association for Special Education, a special education cooperative in DuPage/West Cook Counties. She works with students with a variety of disabilities, including deaf and hard-of-hearing and students in transition.

Donald Dew 

Donald Dew, MSW '80 and President/CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc., was recognized as one of the Chicago Defender's Men of Excellence. The award recognizes "African American men in our community who inspire others through excellence, vision, leadership, exceptional achievements, and a vast commitment to empowerment in multiple ways."


The following alumni also shared updates; follow the link below to see where they are and what they've been doing:

Lisa Avery, MSW ’94, PhD ’97
Christopher Burkett, MSW ’19
Margaret Moore-Taylor, MSW ’87
    Mary Parke, MSW ’96
Mary Piotrowski, MSW ’20
Claudia Wooley, MSW ’01


See All the Updates >


JACSW Alumni Events

Alumni & Friends Celebration

Danny K. Davis 

Save the Date! The next Alumni & Friends Celebration will be on Friday, April 30, 2021. Due to the unforeseen cancellation of this year's celebration, our esteemed Awardees will be honored at the 2021 Celebration, including the Honorable Danny K. Davis, Member of Congress, 7th District.

Learn About Our Awardees >


Peer-to-Peer Consultation Group

The next meeting of the Peer-to-Peer Consultation Group will be in October or November of 2020. The group provides a welcoming, open format for social workers to reconnect with fellow grads and network with other Chicago social work professionals for discussion of common clinical issues, case presentations and sharing of resource information with the group. The group is facilitated by JACSW Lecturer Lisa Salvadore LCSW, LCPC, CADC, who would love to see you at the next virtual meeting. Use the link below to let us know you’re interested!

I'd Like to Join the Group >

 Alumni Exchange logo

UIC Alumni Association

Alumni Exchange

A virtual event series that brings news, knowledge and entertainment to help you learn, grow, explore, connect and even escape from the everyday with a community of UIC alumni and faculty.

See the Upcoming Events >


Virtual Book Club

An exclusive group for UIC alumni, faculty & staff to engage books and each other! Members are welcome to browse bookshelves, join discussions, access bonus materials and submit book recommendations. There's even a shelf with books written by JACSW alumni!

Join the Book Club >


Alumni Benefits & Services

As an alumnus of UIC, you have access to a variety of exclusive benefits, which you can begin taking advantage of immediately upon graduation. These benefits can include access to health care, libraries, fitness facilities and more!

More About Alumni Benefits >

 IGNITE logo


Make Your Impact


Ways to Support the College

There are many ways you can support the college and its mission of social justice.

Learn More >


Connect and Engage

We are proud of our alumni and the important work they are doing!
Let us know what you've been up to, update your information and explore volunteering opportunities to engage with current JACSW students!


Stay Connected >


Contact Us

If you have general questions, concerns or feedback, please contact our director of advancement:

Jacquelyn M. Bonavia, MA, CFRE
Director of Advancement
Jane Addams College of Social Work, MC 309
1040 West Harrison Street, Room 4018
Chicago, IL 60607-7134
Telephone: (312) 413-2305
Fax: (312) 996-1802
Email: jbonavia@uic.edu