Social Work Conference
Due to the recent developments in the situation concerning the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Social Work Conference will take place virtually on May 19, 2021.
For 38 years, Western New England University has hosted the Regional Social Work Conference. The conference is a joint effort of Western New England University’s Bachelor of Social Work program, Social Work Advisory Council, and Office of Enrollment Management. Presentations focus on important issues facing working professionals when dealing with children and families, the elderly, mental health, substance abuse, multicultural issues, and personal development.
The conference also features the presentation of the Jim Quinn Human Service Award, which honors a human service professional who has made outstanding contributions to the profession. The award is named in memory of James N. Quinn, a social worker, child and family welfare advocate, lecturer, and advisor who devoted over 30 years of his professional and personal life to helping those in need.
Risa Silverman, MPH
"Bridge the Gap: Looking at Race and Health through an Intergenerational Lens"
Risa Silverman will describe the work of the Western MA Health Equity Network and its latest project, creating a film with community members young and old, on conversations about racism and health in our communities. We’ll discuss what health equity looks like during and post-pandemic for our community members and how to move forward together by learning and identifying action steps together. How do we have productive conversations with each other? How do we work together to address racism as a public health crisis? Members of the Network will be joining Ms. Silverman in the conversation.
Risa Silverman founded and directs the Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, building connections between students, faculty and community partners for the past 25 years. She created the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network in 2014 to address our region’s unique health equity and justice issues. She currently serves as co-chair for the Professional Staff Union, teaches Community Development in Health Education to UMASS undergraduates, and has served on boards and committees of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, the Massachusetts Public Health Association & Gardening the Community; and most recently began to serve as an ally with the Women of Color Health Equity Collective. She has an MPH from the University of Massachusetts along with bachelor's degrees in both Peace & Conflict Studies and History from the University of California Berkeley.
Jim Quinn Human Service Award
Rosa Espinosa is the Director of Family Based Services at the New North Citizens’ Council (NNCC), Inc. which provides advocacy, public and human services to Hampden County residents with an emphasis on the Hispanic/Latino community. At NNCC since 1989, her duties include one on one supervisions, case assignments, and meeting with social workers and coordinators for all area DCF offices.
She coordinates with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts on two sites distributing four times monthly and oversees and assists in the walk-in services mainly at the Gerena site. She also provides free notary services for those who often can’t afford the services but need them for all sorts of important reasons.
She says, “human services saved my life.” She describes her younger self as a young mother with two children–the literal definition of the population NNCC serves. “After 30 years, I can honestly say that not only is this work fulfilling, but no matter how much I’ve done, I know I can do more because I will always remember what the Agency did for me and my family.”