Meg Paceley Received National Institute of Mental Health Grant

Associate Professor Meg Paceley has been awarded a National Institute of Mental Health/National Institute of Health Loan Repayment grant of $29,111 to study the relation between gender minority youth’s social environments and mental health disparities.

This study utilizes data from the 2022 LGBTQ National Teen Survey to conduct regression analyses and identify risk probability profiles to explicate the complex relationships between transgender youth's family, school, and community and their disordered eating behaviors. Using this data, Paceley will develop a longitudinal mixed-method study to explore the relationships between transgender youth's disordered eating behaviors and their social environments.

“This study is particularly timely and important given the national backlash against transgender people, particularly youth,” says Paceley. “Understanding how factors in transgender youth’s communities, schools, and families impacts their wellbeing will help us identify strategies to intervene within these systems to promote positive change.”

Read more about Paceley’s research.

Gio Iacono Studies Mindfulness Intervention for LGBTQIA+ Youth

Gio Iacono was awarded a UConn Office of the Vice President for Research grant of $50,000 to study Tuned In!, a virtual mindfulness-based intervention collaboratively developed with LGBTQIA+ youth and community stakeholders. LGBTQIA+ youth experience significant mental health disparities compared to peers and are subject to political attacks and violence across the United States. They are simultaneously overlooked in social work research and practice.

“There are significant mental and sexual health disparities among LGBTQIA+ youth that require urgent attention,” he says. With Tuned In! “we saw improvements in depression, anxiety, and internalized oppression. We also saw improvements in sexual self-efficacy, or the ability to refuse certain unsafe sexual practices.” Iacono also observed significant improvements in mindfulness and self-compassion among youth, which is a critical component of the program’s mechanism of change.

Read more about this study at UConn Today.

Read more about Iacono’s research.

The Impact of Hip-Hop on Behavior and Culture

Qur-an Webb, MSW and colleagues from Welcome 2 Reality
November 14, 2023
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2 CECsRegister Now for CE programs

Registration Fee: $50
10% discount for UConn SSW Alumni and current SSW Field Instructors

The webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

In this webinar we’ll delve into the fascinating realm of hip-hop and explore its profound influence on behavior and culture. From its humble origins in the Bronx to its global domination, hip-hop has captivated hearts and minds, shaping the way we think, act, and express ourselves. Through an engaging presentation and expert insights, this webinar will dissect the multifaceted impact of hip-hop, from empowering marginalized communities to redefining societal norms. Whether you’re a hip-hop enthusiast, a cultural observer, or simply curious about the genre’s transformative power, this webinar will leave you with a deeper understanding of the dynamic relationship between hip-hop and behavior.

In this webinar, we will:

  • discuss the insights into the sociopolitical climate that gave rise to hip-hop and explore how it acted as a form of self-expression and resistance against systemic oppression
  • explore the role of hip-hop in shaping identity, attitudes, and values, and assess both the positive and negative implications of its influence on behavior, such as the promotion of resilience, activism, materialism, or misogyny
  • explore the culture, fashion, language, and art and the global reach of hip-hop and its ability to transcend boundaries, creating a shared culture and language among diverse communities
  • develop an understanding of the complex and far-reaching impact of hip-hop on behavior and culture, allowing for informed discussions and a deeper appreciation of this influential genre

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2023

Message from the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of Hispanic and Latina/o/x communities. At the School of Social Work, we are looking forward to highlighting this special occasion and the contributions of these communities to our School, nation, and world.

Recognizing the history and achievements of Latina/o/x communities aligns with our social work values and the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. This commitment, affirmed in our strategic plan, calls on us to engage in meaningful dialogue and hold ourselves accountable to action toward social justice.

To meet the needs of Latina/o/x individuals, families, and communities, we have developed programs that prepare social workers for that important work. Last year, with the support of a state grant, we launched Connecticut ¡Adelante!, a scholarship program for Master of Social Work students who want to serve the mental health needs of Spanish-speaking youth and families. This innovative program will prepare bilingual students for careers addressing both children’s mental health and the growing Spanish-speaking population in Connecticut. For our bachelor's students, we also offer the Child Welfare and Protection Track, which trains Spanish-speaking students to work with Latina/o/x families served by the state Department of Children and Families.

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, our School’s Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project is hosting an opening event: Past, Present, Possible in Puerto Rico through Prosperity, Power, and Progress on September 20 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in the School of Social Work Community Room. Participants in the Puerto Rico Travel Study program will share their insights from their recent trip and highlight cultural identities, the concept of acompañamiento, and implications for social work practice. I encourage you to register and join us:

In solidarity,

Laura Curran






Margaret Lloyd Sieger Awarded NIDA Research Grant

Associate Professor Margaret Lloyd Sieger has been awarded a National Institute on Drug Abuse K01 research grant of $881,147. Her four-year study will examine the effect of family care plans, or safety and wellness plans for infants affected by prenatal substance use and for their mothers’ treatment and recovery.

“Connecticut is a model in implementing public health policy to support families affected by prenatal substance exposure,” says Lloyd Sieger. “The purpose of this research is to test whether the policy is having its intended effects—including improving maternal access to treatment and infant access to developmental supports—and to monitor any unintended consequences, such as adverse child experiences and race disparities. Long-term, our hope is to inform the national policy conversation with rigorous evidence on public health approaches to reducing harms associated with substance use in pregnancy.”

Read more about Lloyd Sieger's research.

Sukhmani Singh Receives Bureau of Justice Grant

Assistant Professor Sukhmani Singh has been awarded a Bureau of Justice Category 2 Award to examine best practices and challenges associated with developing and implementing restorative justice diversion (RJD) programs from RJD trainers, a national cohort of providers, and their juvenile legal system counterparts.

“Restorative Justice Diversion programming — deep engagement in practices that offer healing and repair to the very human experience of committing and receiving harm — has resurged in the United States particularly as states contend with what it means to develop, implement, and maintain community-based solutions to advancing care and justice,” says Singh. “The purpose of this project is to engage in dialogue with community-based organizations and their juvenile legal system counterparts — across 10 different jurisdictions in the country — in understanding lessons learned from having received training and technical assistance in working through the praxis of restorative justice diversion programming over the last decade.

"Lessons learned will inform the development and process evaluation of an innovative, cohort-based training and technical assistance model to new sites interested in exploring pre-prosecution restorative justice diversion for youth.”

Read more about Singh's research.


The Intersection of Vicarious Trauma and Social Justice

This webinar provides at least 1 hour of content on cultural competency.

Patricia D. Wilcox, LCSW & Aminah Ali, LMSWRegister Now for CE programs now
Wed, Nov 15, 2023
2:00 pm – 4 pm
2 CECs

Registration Fee: $50
10% discount for UConn SSW Alumni and current SSW Field Instructors

Webinar link will be included in your confirmation email.

Recently agencies are paying more attention to the ways that doing the difficult work of helping trauma survivors to heal affects their staff, known as vicarious trauma (VT). Typically, recommendations focus on self-care and work-life balance. This attention is especially important during these times in which agencies are experiencing so much difficulty in hiring and retaining staff, increasing the burden on the existing staff. The responsibility of helping our staff combat VT is not just the responsibility of the individual. The agency must create a work environment in which all staff feel safe and connected. This includes positive staff support, cultivating connected teams, providing effective supervision, and creating a culture in which staff can acknowledge the effects of the work on them personally.

Yet when we consider vicarious trauma we have paid little attention to the differing experiences of our staff of color. This webinar will examine how healers of color approach the work with different multi-generational histories which affect the way they experience the work and may make it more difficult to take advantage of some potential sources of support. Myths relating to the expectations of Black men and women also influence choices. Their experiences within our agencies may also differ, making it harder to use some of the remedies we traditionally recommend. Power dynamics may have unique meaning to staff of color based on their life experiences. When we list ways of self-care, we may be excluding traditional areas of support used by people of color, and we may be emphasizing methods that are elitist. Also, the current staff/life experiences with racism, and micro and macro aggressions in both their own lives and in the news impacts their well-being in the job. Are we able to include discussion of these topics within our teams?

All of these factors may result in our employees of color not feeling safe enough to even share how the work is affecting them for fear of being seen as weak and not-professional, or of having their reactions attributed to being overly sensitive.

If we want to provide workplaces in which it is possible for all our employees to grow and thrive, we must acknowledge the unique experiences of our employees of color and adjust our strategies to support them more effectively. This webinar will explore these possibilities and include practical suggestions for moving forward.

Participants will be able to:

  • define vicarious trauma and list at least three examples of how it manifests in treaters
  • list three ways in which the multi-generational history of racism could influence the work experience of treaters
  • identify three possible ways to make our recommendations for combatting VT more inclusive
  • create a plan to implement at least one change in their agencies.

Trel Morrison, MSW ’22

Trel MorrisonTrel completed his undergraduate studies at Southern Connecticut State University in Political Science (2018); he founded the SCSU-Juvenile justice/Youth Expo as the SCSU-NAACP Juvenile Justice Chair (2015) and continue to lead those efforts later in the chapter as the 1st Vice President. Trel is also a Founder of the Brotherhood, Scholarship and Excellence, a collegiate mentoring program aimed at holding minorities young men accountable to graduate on time at SCSU.  Trel then went to the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, earning a Master’s in Social Work, Class of 2022.

Trel is CEO/Founder of Daniel’s Company Youth Leadership Mentoring Program. Trel is an award-winning Mentor recognized by Former Governor Malloy’s Administration and the current Governor Administration, the Honorable Ned Lamont. Trel serves as the Former Chair of the New Haven Mentoring Collaboration-Subcommittee on Youth and Gun Violence and is passionate about bringing resources to underserved communities impacted by community violence. Trel served as a Commissioner in the Town of Hamden (Human Service Commission) from 2017 to 2020 as the youngest Commissioner at the time in that commission and in the town. Trel also served as a Board of Director of the Southern Connecticut State University-Alumni Association from 2018- 2023.  Trel is a consultant serving as a valuable resource to non-profits that are starter-up in Violence Prevention work.

Trel has over 15 years of community service and had earned numerous accolades for his leadership, mentoring youth and selfless service towards others. Trel is an expert in the area of Forensic Social Work (areas include Juvenile Justice, and victim services) and pride himself on advocating for individuals who are the least, lonely and left out in society.  During, Trel spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, traveling and eating good food. In addition, Trel also write poems, short stories and novels that are aimed at giving Black and Brown individuals voices in society and are often based on contemporary and social issues that minorities have to deal with in their communities.



Emily Henderson, LMSW, MSW ’13

Emily Henderson, LMSW

Emily Henderson is Master level social worker who currently works for The Department of Corrections as a License Drug and Alcohol Therapist. She was born and raised in Pike County, Alabama and is the youngest of 4 siblings. Emily has been working in the field of Social work for a total of 13 years. She is now on track to become clinically licensed in the social work field by 2023. Since her career path started, she has specialized in working with a wide variety of at risk populations; however, her main career focus has been to specifically work with those who are reentering society from the criminal justice system. Emily Henderson found her passion with this population after an internship experience in Alabama at the Julia Tutwiler Women’s Correctional Facility.

Emily Henderson spent 5 years in Montgomery, Alabama where she graduated from the illustrious Historical Black College, Alabama State University in 2011. At that time, she obtained her Bachelors in Social Work with a focus area in Criminal Justice. She later graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Social Work from the University Of Connecticut School Of Social work; located in West Hartford, CT. During her time at UCONN, she held a concentration in Community Organizing with a focus area in Black Studies. After graduating with her Masters from UCONN, Emily began her career working with prominent social service agencies in the Greater Hartford area, such as: Families in Crisis where she conducted group therapy for male abusers. She then worked at The Bridge family Center assisting adolescent males; who were connected to The Department of Children and Families, obtain independent living skills. While working for The Bridge Family, Emily simultaneously worked with The Chrysalis Center. It was there she found her second passion in working with the homeless population and operated on the frontlines of ending chronic homelessness. She furthered her advocacy at Mercy Housing and Shelter as a Program Manager, working with the homeless population who had a severe history of addiction. Emily decided to further skill with The Department of Corrections in the Addiction Treatment unit, aiding those with severe opioid dependencies. She has credited all of her time at these agencies as having a significant role in working to reducing recidivism, homelessness and now the Opioid epidemic in the state of Connecticut.

Emily Henderson has used her skill sets in the community to advocate against social injustices where she has organized rallies in support of Trayvone Martin. She has hosted and collaborated with community stakeholder as well as local universities to provide adolescent sexual health to vulnerable communities. She takes pride in being a former Mighty Marching Hornet with The Alabama State University Marching band and being a first-generation college graduate. She also takes pride in being from the same hometown as “The Boy from Troy,” the late former House of Representatives, Mr. John Lewis. Emily’s future plans are to continue her work in the field of social work and to extend her clinical knowledge and therapeutic services to those returning to the community after incarceration.

Natasha A. Stapleton, MSW ’16

Natasha A. StapletonNatasha A. Stapleton is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, class of 2016. Since graduating, Natasha began her employment with CREC – Capitol Region Education Council, where she started her career as a School Social Worker. In this role, Natasha works with a variety of students and families helping to support a variety of social and emotional needs. Natasha is also an active member of the school leadership team; she is a Culture and Climate Coach and is member of the safety committee. Through these various roles, Natasha has a voice in advocating for the equitable practices for diverse students across the school, within curriculum and activities that are provided at the school. As a social worker, Natasha is responsible for educating staff about various diagnosis and how to engage students from a trauma informed lens. Part of this work is supporting staff in recognizing their biases and its impact on educating student from diverse backgrounds. Natasha has over 15 years of experience providing community-based support and therapy to both children, families and adults.

This passion for advocacy is also seen through her volunteer work. Natasha was a member of the juvenile review board for approximately two years. In this role, she served on a panel with juvenile probation officers, police officers and a variety of community advocate across Hartford. The team provided restorative interventions for at risk youth and first-time offenders. Through this work, the panel successful in diverting many youths from juvenile court for minor violations. She also volunteered for several years with Dress for Success, a program built around inspiring women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and tools to assist women both in work and life.  Currently she volunteers with the Hartford CERT team, Community Response Team. In this capacity, she has developed skills in disaster response and hazard awareness. She also works with the Hartford Fire Fighters to educate individuals within the community about fire safety and supporting the community through a variety of volunteer events around Hartford.

Natasha grew up in Windsor, where she graduated from Windsor Public schools where she ran track and played basketball. Her experience graduating from high school five months pregnant fueled her desire to serve her community and ignited her passion for advocating for families and children. Natasha has also developed a passion for traveling. She has traveled to more than 40 countries around the world where she has had many immersive experiences like hiking a volcano, scuba diving, seeing the pyramids of Giza and visiting several indigenous villages from Colombia, Panama, Egypt and Peru. She also enjoys tasting different foods, visiting museums, theater, photography, meeting new people and alone time. Natasha believes that her experiences while traveling continue to change and shape her as a person and it’s an experience that she has begun sharing with her students. Her goal is that student from challenging situations can see world beyond their experiences and be inspired to want more.