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Social Work Conference

Due to the recent developments in the situation concerning the novel coronavirus COVID-19, we have to postpone the Social Work Conference scheduled for May 20, 2020 at Western New England University. We are planning to host the event as soon as we are able to safely invite guests back to campus. 

For 37 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 Professional Development. The event has grown to encompass more than 55 workshops designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of social workers and human services professionals of all experience levels. 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. 

Keynote Speaker

  • Dr. Ruth Potee

    "The Physiology of Addiction: Effects of Drug-Taking Behavior on the Brain."

    Dr. Ruth Potee will provide an overview of how substances and addictive behaviors impact the brain and how the brain is injured by prolonged exposure to these substances and behaviors. The talk also focuses on the three predisposing factors that put individuals at risk for addiction (genetics, early exposure during brain development and history of childhood trauma).

    Dr. Ruth Potee is a board-certified Family Physician and Addiction Medicine physician who works in western Massachusetts.  She attended Wellesley College, Yale University School of Medicine and did her residency at Boston University where she remained an assistant professor of Family Medicine for eight years.   She is currently the Medical Director for the Franklin County House of Corrections, the Director of Addiction Services for Behavioral Health Network, and the medical director for the Pioneer Valley Regional School District as well as the Co-Chair of the Healthcare Solutions Committee of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region.  She was named Franklin County Doctor of the Year by the Massachusetts Medical Society in 2015.   Dr. Potee engages communities in discussions surrounding substance abuse through her wide-ranging series of talks.

Jim Quinn Human Service Award

  • Rosa Espinosa

    2020 RECIPIENT

    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.”