Skip to main content
online degree program - how online learning works
educating armed forces and veterans
Contact Admissions for how to enroll at Saint Leo University.
Contact Admissions to discuss financial aid options.
Click here to schedule a campus visit!
Learn more about how to start an online degree today!
Talk to us today: (877) 622-2009
Privacy_Hero.jpg

7th Annual Social Work Conference 

    The Graduate & Undergraduate Departments of Social Work Present the 7th Annual Social Work Conference:

    "Social Workers are Essential"

    The Conference Will be Held Virtually
    Friday, October 8, 2021
    9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET

    Register Now

    Conference Overview

    Our nation’s 650,000 social workers deal with some of the most difficult issues impacting individuals, families and communities: schools and interpersonal family violence, natural and human made disasters, telehealth care, health care and mental health care, public health, impact of social media and technology, aging, youth, reentry and reintegration for prisoners, and trauma. It is important that we not only address these issues but more importantly identify solutions and actions to address these problems that lead to hope.

    Attendees can earn up to 6 hours of CEU credit. The cost of registration and CEU is $40.


    Keynote Panel

    SWC-charles-andersonCharles Anderson

    President and CEO of United Way of Pasco County
    CharlesA@unitedwaypasco.org

    Mr. Charles Anderson assumed the role of President/CEO of United Way Pasco County in January of 2019. He has 38 years of United Way leadership experience. Mr. Anderson has served as the President/CEO at both United Way of the National Capital Region in Washington D.C. and United Way of Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has also served as United Way President/CEO in Wilmington, Delaware; Flint, Michigan; York, Pennsylvania and Meriden, Connecticut.

    Immediately prior to joining the Pasco community Mr. Anderson served for four years as the District Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice for Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties where he directed programs and services related to mental health, senior support, child education, human trafficking and more. 

    Since joining United Way of Pasco County Mr. Anderson has been very engaged in a variety of issues affecting the people and families in Pasco County. Mr. Anderson is passionate about establishing programs and solutions to combat human trafficking, substance abuse, and mental health to name a few. As a longtime advocate for human trafficking he is determined to see more housing options, intensive case work programs, legal services, and health services offered to survivors. Currently Mr. Anderson is working with various community leaders to overcome barriers and begin to implement solutions to these complex issues. 

    Mr. Anderson is a member of Leadership Pasco’s Class of 2020 and the Rotary Club of New Port Richey. He also serves on several Boards and committees including Vincent Academy Adventure Coast Board of Directors, Pasco County Complete Count Committee, Pasco County Community Development Block Grant Review Committee and the Continuum of Care Leadership Council.

    Mr. Anderson is a Connecticut native and father of four daughters. He holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Delaware.


    SWC-james-cowserJames Cowser

    MSSW, LCSW, MCAP, CAI, Supervisor, Clinical Trainers for the Consulting and Training Team at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
    JCowser@hazeldenbettyford.org

    Jim Cowser has interest in both direct clinical practice and the effective development and improvement of clinical systems. Cowser embraces a clinical framework, which allows for the flexible use of standardized and evidence-based curricula to address the complex challenges of implementation across settings and various levels of care. These implementation strategies can quickly lead to implementation practices within sustainable treatment delivery systems. Cowser has experience with implementation in diverse service settings, including corrections, community supervision, integrated primary care and inpatient and outpatient specialty care. His focus on person-centered approaches and the integration of all effective treatment methods and modalities results in flexible, realistic, effective plans. Jim is passionate about integrated care rooted in dignity and respect, multiple pathways of recovery, family systems engagement and the integration of Medication into addiction treatment settings.


    SWC-amanda-montgomeryAmanda Montgomery

    Amanda.Montgomery@nemours.org

    Amanda Montgomery is a licensed clinical social worker who has been with our Nemours Children’s Health System family in Orlando for over 20 years.  She is a therapist within our Psychology division, providing outpatient counseling services to children in our community for a variety of issues including Anxiety, Depression, ADHD and Adjustment issues related to living with chronic health conditions.  She is also the Cystic Fibrosis team social worker and mental health coordinator, working with Dr  Livingston here in Orlando as well as our whole multidisciplinary CF team to help improve the quality of life for children and their families affected by CF.


    SWC-tanya-rogersTanya Rogers

    LMSW, MHS, DSW Candidate
    Tanya.Rogers@saintleo.edu

    Tanya is a native from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico who has dedicated her career over the last 25 years to human services and social work. She is a subject matter expert on military sexual assault victim care and advocacy . She holds a Master of Social Work Degree from Saint Leo University, Florida and is a Doctor of Social Work Candidate from Capella University, Minnesota. Ms. Rogers is also a Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of Maryland and a credentialed Level IV D SAACP Sexual Assault Advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance. She previously served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard from 1997 2005, where she notably contributed to multiple operations in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and pre-employment support for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Tanya is an expert in sexual assault response, victim care in the military, trauma informed interventions, and military culture. She currently serves as the Senior Victim Assistance Advisor for the Department of Defense, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. She is also an adjunct professor for Saint Leo University’s Master of Social Work graduate program, where the majority of her coursework focuses on military social work, trauma, and research. She also dedicates a small portion of her time as a Trauma Therapist for My Covenant Place. Her technical expertise and analysis of victim advocacy and response policy has facilitated multiple improvements and standardizations of victim advocacy, prevention, and response initiatives across the Department of Defense Tanya enjoys time with her two children and their four dogs, maximizing on every opportunity they have available given their busy schedules. “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” ― Elizabeth Edwards


    SWC-diane-sicilianDonna Sicilian

    Donna.Sicilian@saintleo.edu

    Donna Sicilian has been Licensed Clinical Social Worker for almost 30 years. She has her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of South Florida and her Educational Specialist Degree from National Louis University. She is the Executive Director of Student Services for Pinellas County Schools and as such she supports 650 psychologists, social workers, school counselors, nurses, and prevention staff. She is responsible for the social/emotional and physical well-being of over 100,000 students. Ms. Sicilian is also an adjunct instructor for the Social Work Program at Saint Leo University.


    Spend the day virtually networking with other individuals in the social work community while learning about innovation in practice, policy, and research.

    For more information on the conference or continuing education credits, please contact msw@saintleo.edu

    Conference Schedule

    Keynote Panel9:00 am - 10:30 am

    Session 110:30 am - 11:30 am

    Keynote FU with Amanda Montgomery and James Cowser

    James Cowser & Amanda Montgomery

    Keynote FU with Donna Sicilian

    Donna Sicilian

    Keynote FU with Tonya Rogers

    Tonya Rogers

    Keynote FU with Charles Anderson

    Charles Anderson

    Lunch and Community Showcase11:30 pm - 12:30 pm

    Session 212:30 pm - 1:20 pm

    How Can We Prevent School Shootings? A Decade of School Shooters Reveal Some Patterns

    Lisa Rapp-McCall, Ph.D.

    Over the past ten years, school shootings have continued resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. However, after each school shooting, information about the shooter, his/her family, and the school are ...

    How Can We Prevent School Shootings? A Decade of School Shooters Reveal Some Patterns


    Over the past ten years, school shootings have continued resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. However, after each school shooting, information about the shooter, his/her family, and the school are revealed which contribute to developing patterns. These patterns can be used to create prevention policies and processes. A mixed method study was conducted to identify patterns found in 29 school shooters from the past decade. What can trauma, suicidality, Depression, isolation, gun backgrounds and more reveal about these individuals and how can we utilize this information to prevent school shootings?


    Presenter(s):

    Rethinking Food Insecurity

    Danielle Seemann & Maggie Landry

    Food Insecurity is an ongoing problem, not only in the United States but around the world. Prior to Covid-19, 35 million people in the U.S. along struggled with food insecurity. The U.S. fills this food gap ...

    Rethinking Food Insecurity


    Food Insecurity is an ongoing problem, not only in the United States but around the world. Prior to Covid-19, 35 million people in the U.S. along struggled with food insecurity. The U.S. fills this food gap through food banks/pantries and limited food stamp funds. Without education, this gap will continue. The U.S. needs to identify better means to meet food insecurity to be more sustainable. Heifer International identifies an eco-model, permaculture, that better fills this gap and how to be self-sustainable. By teaching middle school/high school students and community members their model, the U.S. could be in a better place to meet the food gap and decrease violence and health issues in the community causes be environmental stress.


    Presenter(s):
    image of Danielle Seemann
    Danielle Seemann
    image of Maggie Landry
    Maggie Landry

    Mindfulness in the Wake of Covid-19: Coping with Our New Normal

    Victoria A. Anyikwa, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW & Elaine Hollingsworth

    Back to normal! This is a phrase most people have used since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) pandemic turned the world upside down, and turned us as individuals on our ...

    Mindfulness in the Wake of Covid-19: Coping with Our New Normal


    Back to normal! This is a phrase most people have used since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) pandemic turned the world upside down, and turned us as individuals on our heads. Whether or not you have used the phrase, you have heard it from someone, “I can’t wait for life to get back to normal‚” The question is, “what is normal?” Mental health problems reached insurmountable highs as individuals, families and communities were forced to huddle together in both physical and abstract ways. However, mental health problems have always existed. Stress, whether resulting from COVID-19 or the busy lives of individuals and families, have always existed and continues in some form as “normal” in our everyday lives. Coping with the many mental health impacts and additional stressors of COVID-19, i.e., loneliness, isolation, loss of life, and loss of way of life took on many faces. Individuals have found many ways to cope, some positive, many negative. One positive form of coping shown to improve mental health is mindfulness, including yoga. In this presentation we learn about the use of these positive coping strategies, including an experiential exercise, led by a trauma-sensitive yoga instructor, aimed at fostering healing, whether our lives are “back to normal” or we reimagine normal as every moment in our lives.


    Presenter(s):

    Session 31:30 pm - 2:20 pm

    Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing: A Reflection of Epistemological Assumptions in Social Work

    Jeongah Kim, Lindsay Rennick, & Ashley Martin

    The Covid-19 pandemic has brought more challenges to mental health and behavioral services. In the face of increased unpredictability, complexity, volatility, and ambiguity, social workers need to provide ...

    Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing: A Reflection of Epistemological Assumptions in Social Work


    The Covid-19 pandemic has brought more challenges to mental health and behavioral services. In the face of increased unpredictability, complexity, volatility, and ambiguity, social workers need to provide in-depth, thoroughly researched responses to the toughest social issues that arise at the edges of science. The main purpose of this workshop is to (1) present four primary epistemological perspectives related to social work (A systematic review has been done to identify the ways in which the social work profession has formed the interplay of defining knowledge, acquiring knowledge, and knowing, and assessing knowledge in social work); (2) engage workshop participants to think about their own epistemological perspectives by getting them involved in the process of prioritizing various ‚ ways of knowing; (3) share lessons learned by faculty and students from teaching and learning epistemology in undergraduate and graduate social work research courses; and (4) identify epistemological perspectives that can help better frame social work education and practice.


    Presenter(s):
    image of Jeongah Kim
    Jeongah Kim
    image of Lindsay Rennick
    Lindsay Rennick
    image of Ashley Martin
    Ashley Martin

    School Social Work Practice During the Pandemic and Beyond: Back to Our Social Work Roots

    Robert Lucio, Ph.D., Kate Phillipo, Emily Shayman, & Michael Kelly

    The education system has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to school shutdowns, conversion to remote learning environments and significant practice dilemmas related to where and how to ...

    School Social Work Practice During the Pandemic and Beyond: Back to Our Social Work Roots


    The education system has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to school shutdowns, conversion to remote learning environments and significant practice dilemmas related to where and how to intervene in support of students, families and colleagues. This study asked School Social Workers (SSWs) about the pandemic’s impact on practice. Participants’ experiences reflect that their work was disrupted in multiple ways by the pandemic. Conditions changed such that SSWs could not perform many of the tasks considered central to their work. At the same time pandemic-driven student and family distress pushed SSWs to intervene in new ways. Moving forward SSWs should keep in mind the positive changes that occurred and not fall back into old patterns. SSWs must lead initiatives that maintain a commitment to justice-oriented tasks and responsibilities as part work.


    Presenter(s):
    image of Robert Lucio, Ph.D.
    Robert Lucio, Ph.D.
    image of Kate Phillipo
    Kate Phillipo
    image of Emily Shayman
    Emily Shayman
    image of Michael Kelly
    Michael Kelly

    Social Workers: Using Essential Skills to Earn Extra Income

    Janel Holland

    Social workers have long been on the scene providing necessary services and resources during critical times. With the recent pandemic due to COVID-19, social workers emerged as essential workers ...

    Social Workers: Using Essential Skills to Earn Extra Income


    Social workers have long been on the scene providing necessary services and resources during critical times. With the recent pandemic due to COVID-19, social workers emerged as essential workers providing much needed services. Social worker can continue to use essential skills to provide programs and services to clients using inventive treatment options, all while earning extra income for themselves. This workshop will teach clinicians 12 income streams to earn extra income or to establish a profitable social entrepreneurship. Workshop attendees will identify skills they already use in everyday social work practice to create new and innovative programs and services for various populations.


    Presenter(s):
    image of Janel Holland
    Janel Holland

    2020: A Shift in the How, Why, and Where of Social Work

    Victoria Anyikwa, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW & Khalilah Caines, MSW

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our nation. Additionally, it has devastated the lives of many individuals, families, and communities, necessitating the need for the services that ...

    2020: A Shift in the How, Why, and Where of Social Work


    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our nation. Additionally, it has devastated the lives of many individuals, families, and communities, necessitating the need for the services that Social Workers provide-be it casework, clinical services, advocacy, and teaching among other roles. During this time, the myriad roles that social workers employ has catapulted the profession, deeming social workers as essential professionals in caring for various populations. Social Workers have responded to the call, while attending to their own needs. As such, it is important to consider the impact of COVID-19 on the whole person, including the social work professional. For Social Workers of Color, the pandemic became two-fold as social justice, or the lack thereof, became another major focus resulting from the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, killed by a White police officer kneeling on his neck. The needs of our nation have highlighted the essential work that social workers provide to individuals, families, and communities. Moreover, for the social worker of color, the needs became personal, forcing us to address the blurring of roles of the helper and the client in providing essential work. This presentation addresses changes and considerations in the HOW, WHY and WHERE of social work practice, as a result of the pandemic of COVID-19 and social injustice. Particular attention is given to the social worker of color.


    Presenter(s):

    Session 42:30 pm - 3:20 pm

    You're Speaking My Language: Keys for Social Work Collegiality with Peer Support Specialists

    Michael Campbell, Ph.D. & Jeremy Byard

    In the behavioral health field, Peer Support Specialists (PSS) have become a vital part of the care continuum when treating concerns with mental health, substance use disorders or a combination of these ...

    You're Speaking My Language: Keys for Social Work Collegiality with Peer Support Specialists


    In the behavioral health field, Peer Support Specialists (PSS) have become a vital part of the care continuum when treating concerns with mental health, substance use disorders or a combination of these concerns.  The PSS role leverages a combination of the individuals lived experience and specialized training on how they can use that experience to help guide clients on their path to recovery.  Social Workers, acting in a team focused approach, often engage a PSS as a part of the treatment team.  This talk will help social workers better understand the PSS role, opportunities for collaborative care and key strategies to manage up the collegial relationship to optimize a client centered approach to care.


    Presenter(s):

    Community-Based Participatory Research: Photovoice as a Tool for Social Activism

    Holly Atkins, Ph.D. & Rhondda Waddell, Ph.D.

    Photovoice is a form of community-based participatory research method developed by Wang and Burris for the purpose of encouraging issues people see central to their lives and then enables them to ...

    Community-Based Participatory Research: Photovoice as a Tool for Social Activism


    Photovoice is a form of community-based participatory research method developed by Wang and Burris for the purpose of encouraging issues people see central to their lives and then enables them to identify common themes (Want & Burris, 1997). Photovoice incorporates documentary photography and allows participants to be the self-identifies of their community’s strengths and issues. In this way, participants are not passive, but active agents of social change. The photovoice process allows voices often silenced or marginalized, to be heard and known. Public presentations of the images and narratives created by the participants are also key to the full photovoice research process. A central goal is for action to be taken as a result of these public presentations.   In this highly interactive presentation, two faculty members who are involved in photovoice research in the classroom environment and in the field, will share foundational principles of this unique form of qualitative research and the implications for practitioners in the social work field. Joining them will be a student who will share their own project, and what they experienced as a photovoice researcher. A video slide show with examples of photovoice projects in a variety of social settings will help participants in envisioning the what and how of photovoice. By the end of the session, participants will have a solid understanding of a popular approach to photovoice research methodology, its connection to social justice, community assessment and engagement, ethical considerations, and strategies for problem-solving with strengths building outreach. Participants will leave this presentation with insights on adapting photovoice methodology to interdisciplinary practices, community organizations, and research implementation intended to engage and benefit research participants and communities with social issues of importance.


    Presenter(s):

    Shifting the Paradigm from Cultural Competence to Cultural Humility

    Sha'leda Mirra, MSW

    Shifting the Paradigm from Cultural Competence to Cultural Humility



    Presenter(s):

    School Social Workers Response to Community and Students Needs in the 21st Century

    Courtney Wiest, Ed.D., Robert Lucio, Ph.D., & Amanda Medina

    In the last ten years, multiple stressors have impacted our students, families, and communities.  These stressors have directly impacted the health and mental health needs in the school system. ...

    School Social Workers Response to Community and Students Needs in the 21st Century


    In the last ten years, multiple stressors have impacted our students, families, and communities.  These stressors have directly impacted the health and mental health needs in the school system. Additionally, The National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence found that 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to some form of trauma, either in or out of school (TSA, n.d). Traumatology research has shown most people respond to a wide range of traumatic events and stressors in similar ways. The typical responses include traumatic responses, post-traumatic stress responses, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Briere &Scott, 2015). Furthermore, the current pandemic has significantly increased the psychosocial stressors for teachers, students, and families. School Districts across the United States have seen a surge in basic needs, educational gaps, and mental health services (Fay et al. 2020). This presentation will examine the School Social Worker's role in the 21 century to address these stressors for students, families, and the communities.  Additionally, the presentation will review the importance of the School Social Workers role on the interdisciplinary team to alleviate student and community stressors through prevention, intervention, and response in the school system.


    Presenter(s):

    Social Workers: A Priority for All Schools

    Fern Aefsky, Ed.D. & Renee Sedlack, Ed.D.

    This workshop will assist participants how they can work collaboratively with community partners to successfully advocated for school social workers. The role of school and district leaders, community ...

    Social Workers: A Priority for All Schools


    This workshop will assist participants how they can work collaboratively with community partners to successfully advocated for school social workers. The role of school and district leaders, community agencies, organizations and politicians must work together to bring about change required for school social workers to be considered vital and mandated employees. Educational systems have faced numerous crises in recent years. School shootings and trauma were a focused priority, and then the COVID19 pandemic arrived. The issues facing school system personnel as a result of the COVID19 pandemic resulted in many unexpected challenges for educators, parents and students. All stakeholders had to quickly adapt to multiple needs, including all aspects of moving to a virtual teaching and learning environment, dealing with mental health issues, and isolation of work and school. Schools reopening and pandemic issues lessening require many additional changes that impact school personnel, children and families. There has never been a more important time to advocate for the need of school social workers, as they are trained to deal with multiple issues of trauma to individuals and systems. Principals rely increasingly on school social workers to help students, families, and teachers address problems resulting from the effects of special physical, emotional, or economic problems. School social workers often also address areas such as substance abuse and sexuality issues in middle and high schools and the growing number of truancy cases among all grade levels. The mental health needs of children, family and school employees must be addressed in schools by qualified staff. Mental health significantly impacts student success. The pandemic issues lasted 18 months thus far, but impact of those needs will need to be addressed in the next few years, as well. While the pandemic impacted many physically, the loss of family and friends, getting back to a new normal in school and life, and recognition of issues of school safety, other physical and medical needs, social justice and racial inequalities will all be priorities in the next few years. Advocacy must center around setting up systems in school organizations that support leaders, teachers, staff, students and families (Flammini, 2020). Sustainability of these systems is dependent on addressing immediate, short-term and long-term issues (Kaplan, 2020). School social workers are needed to build and sustain these systems in schools.


    Presenter(s):

    Session 53:30 pm - 4:30 pm

    Clinical Residency Focus

    ALL MSW FACULTY

    NO CEU AVAILABLE for attendance to Session 5. In this final session, all Saint Leo MSW students are invited to participate in an interactive discussion about the next day's clinical residency experience.


    Request More Information