Social Work

Social work professor Keith A. Alford receives 2018 InterFaith Leadership Award

Keith Alford PortraitIn acknowledgement of a professional and personal life devoted to social justice and social transformation in building a civil community, Keith A. Alford will receive the 2018 InterFaith Leadership Award at the “Creating a Civil Community” celebration on May 1 at the SRC Arena & Events Center.

Dr. Alford is chair and associate professor in the School of Social Work, Falk College. A former child protective services worker, outpatient family therapist and therapeutic foster care supervisor, he has devoted his professional life to serving and researching the needs of children and families. He became affiliated with InterFaith Works in 1996 when the agency was launching the Community-wide Dialogue Circles to End Racism.

“Dialogue is so important versus debate,” he says. “When you debate, you have winners and losers. But when you engage in dialogue, it is a process of really trying to understand where the other person is coming from and where he or she would like to go. Through dialogue, we are always looking for ways to clear up misperceptions and understand the lived experiences of others. It also provides the opportunity for relationship building. Sometimes lifelong relationships develop across multicultural lines as a result of dialogue circles.”

In addition to his involvement with InterFaith Works, Dr. Alford has regularly served other organizations across Onondaga County. For eight years, he served as a trustee of the Onondaga County Public Library. He is a current board member of Access CNY, an organization that serves people with disabilities. In 2014, he was named by Social Work Degree Guide as one of the 30 most influential social workers in the nation. In 2015, he was given the Harriet Tubman Spirit Award from Bethany Baptist Church and the Excellence in Service Award from Falk College, Syracuse University. His academic writings have appeared in numerous social work journals and he has authored book chapters in Mental Health Care in the African American Community (Haworth Press, 2007) and Educating Our Black Children (Routledge, 2001). He is co-editor of Rural Families and Reshaping Human Services (Routledge, 2015).

Says Alford, “I am humbled by this award. I am aware of others who have received it over the years and they are people I have always admired. It is also a reminder that my work is not complete. There is still much to do. So this award will be an energizer in many ways—inspiring me to persevere in the work I have always done and will continue to do with a renewed sense of purpose.”

2018 InterFaith Leadership Awards will also be presented to Dennis Baldwin, Esq., Counsel, Mackenzie Hughes; The Rev. Frederick Daley, Pastor, All Saints Church; Rabbi Daniel Fellman, Rabbi, Temple Concord; Melanie Littlejohn, Regional Executive Director, National Grid; Peggy Ogden, Former President/CEO, Central New York Community Foundation; The Rev. Peter Shidemantle, Pastor, Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church; and Yusuf Soule, Coordinator, OnCampus Program, Syracuse City School District, and; the Syracuse University School of Education.

Read more about this at SU News

Social Work presents Social Justice Awards, research resources

Rubenstein Portrait
Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein

In commemoration of National Professional Social Work Month during March, the School of Social Work in Falk College presented its annual Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Award program on Monday, March 19 at 6:45 p.m. in Grant Auditorium in the Falk Complex with a keynote address by Al-amin Muhammad entitled, “Many faces, many stories: The lived experiences of people who are homeless.” In partnership with the SU Libraries, the School of Social Work also introduced a new online resource to support social work research.

Al-amin Muhammad is the founder of We Rise Above the Streets Recovery Outreach, Inc. who, along with The Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse, N.Y., were honored that evening with 2018 Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Awards for their respective demonstrated commitments to service and social justice in the Syracuse community.

We Rise Above the Streets Recovery Outreach, Inc. an organization that helps meet the immediate needs of the homeless by providing items such as food and clothing, in addition to providing education, encouragement and enrichment programs that aim to help break the cycle of poverty. The Rescue Mission has a long and positive history of uplifting humanity and building upon the strengths of individuals.

Presented for more than 30 years, the Rubenstein Social Justice Award is given in honor of the late professor Dan Rubenstein, a former faculty member in the School of Social Work and his late wife, Mary Lou, a former school social worker. Recipients of this award are role models whose courage and strength inspire others to stand up—and step up—to advocate and be a voice in the Syracuse community. The values of social justice are integral to their daily lives. The work of honorees each year, by their individual and collective examples, exemplify the true spirit of the Rubenstein Social Justice Award.

To view photos of the event, please visit Falk College on Facebook.



Alejandro Garcia selected for the National Hispanic Council on Aging’s Hall of Fame

Dr. Garcia Portrait
Alejandro Garcia, M.S.W., Ph.D.
Alejandro Garcia, M.S.W., Ph.D., Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work, was recently selected to be part of the National Hispanic Council on Aging’s Hall of Fame. The NHCOA is dedicated to improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, as well as their families and caregivers, and its Hall of Fame recognizes those whose efforts promote this mission. Dr. Garcia has taught in the areas of gerontology, social policy, and human diversity for over 30 years.

More information about Dr. Garcia

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MSW alumnus Dan Sieburg named Rescue Mission CEO

Dan Sieburg Portrait
Dan Sieburg
Dan Sieburg G’16, LMSW, was named Chief Executive Officer of the Rescue Mission by its Board of Directors in November. In this role, he will oversee a $20 million annual budget, as well as staff and programming in the Syracuse, Binghamton, Auburn and Ithaca areas. Sieburg joined the Rescue Mission 10 years ago and most recently served as Chief Program Officer responsible for the oversight and effective delivery of programs to support men, women and children experiencing hunger and homelessness.

Says Sieburg, “the School of Social Work in Falk College at Syracuse University has helped to solidify my foundation of knowledge and best practices, best preparing me to lead this 130-year-old organization.”

The Rescue Mission is a long-time collaborative partner of the School of Social Work, offering field placement and service learning opportunities for students. Currently, six MSW students are placed there. Earlier this year, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the School of Social Work, the Syracuse University community participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at multiple community sites, including the Rescue Mission. Volunteers sorted and packed boxes of clothing, prepared sandwiches for delivery by the Rescue Mission Street Outreach, and assisted with special kitchen and office projects.

“I’m very pleased that Dan received the unanimous support of the Board of Directors for this important position. I believe that he will succeed well in addressing the increasingly diverse number of homeless persons who receive a variety of services . He has been outstanding in recognizing the increasing number of homeless opioid users as well as the number of LGBT youth thrown out of their homes. His philosophical approach to the homeless has been to accept all without judgement,” says Alejandro Garcia, the Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work and a member of the Rescue Mission’s Board of Directors.

Prior to his work at the Rescue Mission, Sieburg worked as a pastor at a local church as well as at several local human service organizations. He holds an undergraduate degree from SUNY Cortland and a master’s in social work from Syracuse University, where he serves as an adjunct faculty member in social work. He has spoken nationally regarding the issues people experiencing homelessness face, as well as the most effective solutions needed to assist them. He also collaborates with local homelessness task forces and boards.

“Dan Sieburg is an individual who wholeheartedly embraces the cardinal value of social justice. Since I have known him as a student in our graduate program and now in his current role, Dan has always worked on behalf of vulnerable populations. He is a community change agent without a doubt. In his unassuming way, he actively pursues opportunities to build-up and advocate for those who are oppressed. I am pleased that he is now the new Director of the Rescue Mission. He is most qualified for this job and will do well in it. We, here at his alma mater, Syracuse University School of Social Work, are proud and wish him all the best,” adds director of the School of Social Work, Professor Keith A. Alford.

Professor Keith A. Alford to deliver keynote address for InterFaith Works of CNY October 26 Spiritual Care Day

Round table with chairsSince 1987, the last week of October annually marks Pastoral Care Week, a celebration that is truly international in its scope. As it is celebrated October 22-28, 2017 around the world, locally in Syracuse, InterFaith Works of CNY will hold its Annual Spiritual Care Day on Thursday, October 26, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Crouse Hospital’s Marley Education Center. Falk College’s director of the School of Social Work, Keith A. Alford, associate professor, will present the keynote address, “There is Room at the Table,” which ties into the 2017 international program theme, “Hospitality: Cultivating Inclusion.”

“Locally and beyond, we have many areas of growth to be addressed. Is there room at the table to have these dialogues? Absolutely, and we must be sure everyone has a seat at the table and a voice in the discussions,” notes Alford. All those who provide pastoral care to others, regardless of faith tradition, whether clergy or not, those who give pastoral care, from those working in hospitals, prisons, businesses, industries, long-term care facilities, pastoral counseling centers, hospices, military settings, nursing homes, among many others, are welcome to attend.
InterFaith Works’ Spiritual Care Day event will include the keynote address by Dr. Alford as well as two workshops:

  • Cultivating Inclusion: Stories from the Edges, in which members of marginalized communities help us identify ways to make health care more inclusive of and responsive to their needs, and;
  • Radical Hospitality: The Sanctuary Church, in which leaders of All Saints Church explain the process they have used that has led to designating All Saints a Sanctuary Church.

Online registration is available and costs $30 per person. For more information, please contact the Rev. Gracious Moyo, InterFaith Works Initiatives Director, at 315.449.3552 or

View the event page

19th Annual Stone Legislative Policy Day November 3 explores opioid epidemic

James Stone with students
James L. Stone talks with students at Legislative Policy Day
On November 3, students in Syracuse University’s School of Social Work will explore the opioid epidemic, including the widespread nature of the crisis, state, local, non-profit and advocacy responses, and next steps for addressing it at the 19th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Forum. The day-long event will explore:

  • Dimensions of the opioid epidemic – including its prevalence and the impacts across persons with opioid use disorders, families, service providers and the larger community;
  • Causes – including availability of prescription pain-relief drugs, marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies, declines in the price of heroin, use of fentanyl;
  • Implications of public health/harm reduction approaches;
  • Why, in contrast to criminal justice/sanctioning approaches of prior decades, substantial agreement exists that today’s drug crisis primarily requires public health responses;
  • How state and local policies shape social work practice and professional responses, across many domains: behavioral health, public health, criminal justice, education and hospitals;
  • Next steps for addressing the crisis in Central New York.

Non-traditional paths part of special Syracuse tradition

Nearly 100 years ago, Syracuse University became one of the first universities in the nation to open its doors wide to “non-traditional” students. That night, 18 evening courses met in downtown Syracuse, which marked the beginning of University College. These classes attracted hundreds of students who wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree but who—unlike traditional undergraduates—had to work all day or could not afford to pay full-time tuition.

According to Chancellor Kent Syverud when referencing the many successes of University College notes, “the college is further widening the pathways for those some call ‘non-traditional’ students, but who I think of as a great Syracuse tradition.” In the 99 years since, University College has stayed true to that original mission while growing to encompass many areas of study in courses offered with all of the University’s schools and colleges, including Falk College.

Timothy Bryant portraitTimothy Bryant is a 2016 graduate of the Falk College Public Health program. Timothy enjoyed school as a child growing up in a tough New Jersey neighborhood, but, at age 9, he was the victim of a violent crime and was crippled with raging Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that hindered his ability to finish school. After eventually completing his GED, Timothy became a licensed massage therapist, and assumed that this path would be his life’s journey. Until Falk College Professor of Public Health, Sandy Lane walked into the Syracuse spa where Bryant was working, helping him realize his potential and encouraging him to go back to College. Timothy received the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) from University College. He made the Dean’s list every semester, and received one of SU’s highest student honors—the Chancellor’s Award for Public and Community Service. National recognition came from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) in 2016, which named Bryant the Outstanding Continuing Education Student of the Year. Last year, Bryant learned that his bachelor’s degree would not be the end of his educational journey. He was admitted to SU’s Ph.D. program in Sociology, with four years of funding.

Elaine Sartwell portraitElaine Sartwell is a 2017 graduate of the Falk College Social Work program. As a young widow with six children, Elaine Sartwell found it necessary to “recreate” the future she had envisioned before her husband died. “I had always wanted to go to school, but let that dream fall by the wayside as I raised my children,” Sartwell says. Years later, after working in the human services field, Sartwell says she felt “trapped at the front line without a qualifying degree to apply for higher positions.” So, she enrolled at community college, earned an impressive GPA, and was invited to transfer to Syracuse University. “I wasn’t sure if SU was out of my league, but was delighted to find out I was accepted into the Social Work program with an Achiever Scholarship from University College.” Sartwell quickly discovered that she was right where she belonged. Not only has she made the Dean’s List every semester, she received one of Syracuse University’s highest honors recently when she was named a 2016-17 Remembrance Scholar.

Monica Brown portraitMonica Brown, spent 20 years working in the field of social work, but it was only when she earned her degree (B.S. in Social Work) from Falk College that she felt she became a marketable professional. “Most employers want more than just experience, and having a college degree is essential in today’s workplace,” she asserts. “It was shortly after I graduated from SU through University College that my CEO approached me with a proposal for a promotion.” Monica discovered that almost every day, she applies something she learned as a part-time student to her work as a marketing representative at Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center. “I could be meeting with potential patients, therapists, doctors, nurses, human resources personnel . . . I’m always applying skills without even meaning to. It’s a natural part of what I do,” she says.

Social work alumna follows family legacy into the helping professions

Jodi Kapes portrait
Jodi Kapes G’97, LCSW-R

Jodi Kapes G’97, LCSW-R, decided to pursue a career in the helping professions when she was in high school. “As an adolescent, I felt there were not enough adults to understand or support what teens are going through and felt it was my calling to try to change that,” she says.

Her mother was a registered nurse and her father a social worker who earned his MSW from Syracuse University. “I guess you could say it is in my genes,” she says.

Kapes finished her undergraduate degree in human services and early childhood development at Elmira College before coming to Syracuse University. “When looking at graduate programs, I wanted to expand on my studies in these areas, and SU had the best reputation,” she says. She began her MSW program with a family mental health concentration. At SU, she says, “I worked hard for my degree and was working in the field full-time while going to school.”

“[The faculty members] have so much knowledge in the field and were supportive of the students who were having real life situations at their jobs,” she adds. “They provided guidance along with theory.”

In addition to building relationships with the faculty, Kapes values the enriching projects she worked on with her fellow students. “I remember a group project examining a community in Syracuse and writing a request for proposal in response to our community needs assessment. I still use my grant writing guide to this day,” she says.

Jodi Kapes posed with Dahlia Thorpe
Kapes conferring with Dahlia Thorpe, DO, at the St. Elizabeth Campus of Mohawk Valley Health System

As the director of behavioral health at Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS), Kapes manages a wide range of responsibilities, including clinical duties, counseling families and patients, overseeing the licensed clinical social workers at MVHS, providing staff education and support, as well as community training.

“The most rewarding part of my work is I get to occasionally see people I have evaluated weeks or months later. I am lucky enough that they have shared with me I was helpful and my interaction helped them to stay safe,” she explains.

The School of Social Work in Syracuse University’s Falk College celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. It boasts 6,586 alumni, not including roughly 130 new alumni from the Class of 2017.

Congratulations Falk faculty!

Ellen deLara and Mary Ann Middlemiss posed
Professors Ellen deLara and Mary Ann Middlemiss at Falk Convocation.
Portrait of Sarah Short and Diane Murphy
Professor Sarah Short and Dean Diane Lyden Murphy at retirement celebration. Photos courtesy of Prof. Alejandro Garcia.

Dean Murphy, along with Falk College faculty and staff, congratulate faculty who retired at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, including:

  • Ellen deLara, associate professor emerita, social work;
  • Mary Ann Middlemiss, associate professor emerita, public health, and;
  • Sarah Short, professor emerita, nutrition.

In May, the following faculty promotions were announced:

  • Lynn Brann, associate professor, Nutrition
  • Ambika Krishnakumar, professor, Human Development and Family Science
  • Katherine McDonald, professor, Public Health
  • Patrick Walsh, tenured and associate professor, Sport Management

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Dean Diane Lyden Murphy, along with the faculty and staff of Falk College, congratulates the Class of 2017! We are excited to see where your careers take you. Remember that you are “forever orange” and will always be a part of Falk College and Syracuse University.

We invite you to stay in touch and connect through social media, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As alumni, you will now receive FalkTalk, Falk College’s email newsletter for alumni, parents and friends. FalkTalk keeps you up-to-date with news headlines, student highlights, and upcoming events delivered to your inbox at the end of each semester.

Learn how to stay connected to the ‘Cuse Community in regions all around the world

Answer these quick questions on how to reach you after graduation

We have many photos to share that recap some of the celebration events of this past week:

Check out more photos of commencement weekend on Collage or at #SUGrad17.