Month: March 2013

Meeting with the CT Senate and Congressional Latino Legislators

The Puerto Rican & Latin@ Studies Project (PRLSP) faculty recently visited the newly elected Senate and Congressional Latino Legislators at the Legislative Office Building. Their election is a historic event since this is the first time that the State of Connecticut has had such Latino representation. The Project faculty celebrated their coming into office by giving them a “Cafe con Leche” Latino breakfast and discussing future opportunities to collaborate.

From left: State Representative Hilda Santiago, State Representative Victor Cuervas, Lirio Negroni, Cristina Wilson, Antonia Codero, State Senator Andres Ayala, Amy Ramirez (Project field work intern), Catherine Medina, Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, Yanira Wolfgang-Pinto (Project field work intern) and Carlos Cosme (Legislative Aide)

This marked the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with the School and the PRLSP. The Latino legislators have offered to come to the SSW to continue collaborative planning and will be attending the Project’s Exito celebration on May 22nd.

National Social Work Month Alumnae Spotlight

It’s National Social Work Month, and this issue of Husk-e-News spotlights three alumnae from the School of Social Work (SSW) employed at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). They received their master’s in social work from UConn, and credit their education and experiences at the University for their career successes.

To recognize National Social Work Month, their colleague, Jacqueline “Jackie” Ford, wants to highlight their exceptional work. Jackie earned her MSW from another university, but felt it was so important to recognize her co-workers she contacted UConn and pitched the idea. “Many of our Office of Foster Care and Adoption staff graduated from UConn,” says Jackie. “It is my hope that each one will take the reader on a journey — not only talk about their career choice but also share pertinent information about our department, and our needs to find loving and committed foster and adoptive homes for our abused and neglected Connecticut children.”

Jacqueline Ford MSW
Currently, there are more than 4,000 children in Connecticut who are living in out-of-home placements. The DCF is in need of families for these kids. Their goal is to find foster and adoptive homes for sibling groups, medically complex children, and teens.

If you or someone you know is interested in fostering or adopting a CT Child, please call 1-888-KID-HERO or, email me directly at


Julia Davis MSW ‘99
Julia Davis has been married to her husband, Michael, for 25 years. They have two children: Brittany, 17 years old, and Devin, 14. Brittany has been accepted to UConn and plans to pursue a degree in education. Julia is a social worker in the foster care and adoption unit, and has been working at the DCF for 19 years (12 years as a supervisor in foster care).

“My overall experience with the MSW program was excellent. I learned a lot and made some positive connections at UConn. The MSW program helped me be a better person and provided me with tools that I have used as a social worker in my current job. The program also prepared me to further my skills for my employment. I am now a field social work supervisor and have been able to give back by serving as a field instructor for other MSW interns.”

“The most enjoyable part of my job is working with the children and families. I am responsible for securing homes for children when they are removed from their homes. I meet with them and try to find out what they want from a foster parent. I also do my best to match them with a home that will meet their needs: culturally, spiritually, and emotionally.”

Teresa Fazio Winters MSW ‘99
Teresa Fazio Winters is married with two 6-year-old twin boys. She is a program manager and has been employed by the DCF since 1993 in a variety of positions. She began her career there as a trainee social worker and progressed to an investigations worker.

“Pursuing my master’s after working in the field offered me an opportunity to see how new knowledge evolved my skill set. It provided me with rejuvenated ideas, reinforced my dedication to a career in the field of social work, and inspired me to set new and bigger goals and expectations for myself. While at the UConn SSW, I was among other students who were actively working professionals. The educational experience was really enhanced by my interaction with my peers. Finally, the relationships I developed with faculty members and field advisors took a very real role in how I was transforming and evolving professionally.”

“I find it so rewarding to offer children — who, for some reason, cannot be with their parents — the next best option: a family who will care, guide, and stay connected with them long term so that they have as little disruption in their development and growth as possible.”

“Older children and teens are the most exciting and rewarding population to serve. As foster care specialists, we are truly excited about focusing a lot of our attention on finding, licensing, and supporting individuals who will care for teens through this process. We are excited about being part of an improved way to help our youth and teens. Our team is vested in being an agent of change, instead of an agent of maintenance.”

Kimberly Phillips MSW ‘01
<img class="alignleft wp-image-13572" style="margin: 3px;border: gray 4px solid" title="kimberly-phillips-msw" alt="Photo of Kimberly Phillips" src="" width="151" height="151" Kimberly Phillips, a married mother of a 6-year-old daughter, has been a social worker with the DCF since 2003.

“I loved my graduate experience at UConn. It was at the School of Social Work that I found my voice and passion for social work. I really developed an understanding of the roles that social workers play as true change agents in society. Studying community organization gave me the skills needed to accomplish my work. I recruit families to foster and adopt a child in the care of Connecticut. I work in community groups, neighborhoods schools, and organizations to raise awareness about the need for foster families in our region. I work to dispel myths and try to give a voice to an underrepresented population. Engagement, identifying stakeholders, and developing action plans are skills that I learned at UConn.”

New Home for The Connecticut Center for Nonviolence

The School of Social Work is the new location for The Connecticut Center for Nonviolence (CTCN), which is housed in the office adjacent to the Institute for Violence Prevention and Reduction (IVPR). CTCN provides leadership in nonviolence education, bringing people from diverse communities together in dialogue and creative expression to explore the root causes of violence and learn constructive methods of developing and applying alternative solutions. Founder and Executive Director, Victoria Christgau and a six-member board of directors lead the organization. Board Vice President, Dianne Jones was a key collaborator with IVPR in its early focus on gang violence in Hartford, CT.
Victoria Christgau

CTCN promotes a comprehensive framework for conflict reconciliation and coalition building rooted in the philosophy and practices of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. CTCN uses a proactive approach and a comprehensive nonviolence curriculum developed by the legendary civil rights activist and scholar, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., former strategist for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over the past five years, CTCN has introduced 10,000 citizens and civic leaders to the practice of Kingian Nonviolence. The center tailors its programs and projects for each group it works with and continues to develop sustainable long-term partnerships that allow nonviolence to grow.

In the coming months CTCN will begin acquainting themselves with the faculty on campus. The Center is interested in working with students and faculty in learning more about the effects of trauma in vulnerable communities where high levels of violence (in all its forms) is a part of daily life.

In addition, CTCN has been invited to share information about their work in a variety of classes on campus. Social Work students are encouraged to attend the Kingian Nonviolence sessions and CTCN is providing guest passes for a certain percentage of students at every training session. This summer, CTCN is honored to be housing the ThinKING Youth Nonviolence Leadership Academy on campus. Last summer Dean Raheim, presented a daylong workshop for the youth and we are eager to continue with that collaboration this season.

View video here:

Current Projects include:

  • Two-week Nonviolence Education immersion called: ThinKING for all youth at Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School, through the Social Studies program. With monthly follow up throughout the school year.
  • After school Peace is Possible, children’s program at Burns Latino Academy in Hartford in partnership with Hartford Symphony Orchestra
  • Ongoing partnership with Institute of Municipal Policy and Research at CCSU and will conduct a three credit course on Kingian Nonviolence in the fall with State Rep. Billy Dyson.
  • Working with many Hartford organizations to build nonviolence leadership training programs.

Partial list of partners/collaborators include: American Experience—PBS Boston; Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Hartford Performs; Hartford Public Library; Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School; Blue Hills Civic Association; COMPASS; CPTV; Mount Holyoke College—Office of the President; University of Hartford; Central Connecticut State University—Institute of Municipal and Regional Policy; Office of Black Catholic Ministries and Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese Hartford; Northend Church of Christ; PaxEducare; L.E.V.A.S. Community Gospel Choir; Stowe Center; Glastonbury MLK Community Initiative; Rev. Henry Brown and Mothers United Against Violence; Burns Latino Studies Academy; Our Piece of the Pie, University of Connecticut School of Social Work; Wisdom House Conference and Retreat Center; Dwight Hall at Yale—Center for Public Service and Social Justice.

Victoria Christgau, Founder and Executive Director of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence (CTCN) is a Teaching Artist with the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism/Arts Division, and a Peace/Arts Educator for over 27 years. Victoria is a Level III Kingian Nonviolence trainer. Founder of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday Commemoration of Litchfield County, and Peace is Possible Chorus, which completed its 20th year. She presents, produces, and conducts peace/arts and nonviolence programs, lectures, workshops and residencies across the nation. Victoria a recipient of the Hartford Courant’s 2010 Tapestry Award and Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2012 Community Partnership Award. She works closely with civil rights icon, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., former strategist for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Honorary Board Chair of CTCN.

For more information about the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence – call: 860-567-3441 email:,

Dr. Edna Comer Receives UConn Women of Color Award

Associate Professor Edna Comer received the UConn Women of Color Recognition Award at a special luncheon on March 6, 2013. She was selected for this award for her outstanding contributions to the University and for excellence in leadership, achievement and service. Dr. Comer is known for advancing evidenced based practice in the MSW curriculum, leading the School of Social Work’s participation in the Urban Service Track, and teaching group work in the Department of Psychiatry.
Kathleen Holgerson, Director, UConn Women’s Center; Gay Douglas; Edna Comer; Sharon White; Manisha Desai, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology and the keynote speaker at the luncheon.

Joining Dr. Comer as recipients of the 2013 Women of Color Award are Gay Douglas, Associate Director of the UConn Office of Student Services and Advocacy and Sharon White, Stamford Campus Director.