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.

Learn more about the issues

View the day’s agenda

View the calendar event page

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 BryantTimothy 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 SartwellElaine 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 BrownMonica 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 G’97, LCSW-R
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.

Kapes conferring with Dahlia Thorpe, DO, at the St. Elizabeth Campus of Mohawk Valley Health System
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
Professors Ellen deLara and Mary Ann Middlemiss at Falk Convocation.
Professor Sarah Short and Dean Diane Lyden Murphy at retirement celebration.
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.

Social work senior Deynaba Farah featured in the Daily Orange

Deynaba Farah
Photo by Frankie Prijatel, senior staff photographer. Courtesy of the Daily Orange.

Deynaba Farah: Senior uses Muslim faith to influence positive change in Syracuse community

By Jackie Frerestaff writer. Courtesy of the Daily Orange.

When Deynaba Farah was 15 years old, she had trouble falling asleep at night. As she drifted to sleep in her bedroom, filled with Syracuse basketball memorabilia and an overflowing bookshelf filled with novels like “The Mis-Education of the Negro” and “Malcolm X,” she stared out her window and focused on a bright red light blinking in the distance.

That light stands on the roof of Day Hall, and Farah stared at this symbol of her dream of attending Syracuse University every single day throughout high school. She would be the first person in her family to even think about attending an institution of higher education — or go to school at all — because they came as refugees from Somalia. But as a transfer from Onondaga Community College’s 2+2 program her junior year, she finally made it to the Hill.

Although the 22-year-old senior social work major takes pride in her studies at SU, Farah uses her education to help further her work off campus. As president of the youth group of the Islamic Society of Central New York on Comstock Avenue, she volunteers and sits on the board of the Rahma Health Clinic, is on the board of Alliances of Communities Transforming Syracuse and trains their youth activity council, has an internship at Dr. King Elementary School helping in school social work, runs a Saturday tutoring program for Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment and, on the weekends, hosts a school for children in her neighborhood to teach them about the Quran and the Muslim faith.

Farah doesn’t have much time for herself, but that’s the way she likes it.

“I’ll never have this time again. I’m using the time that I have — my youth — to make my community better to leave a legacy for my children and for the youth that are coming after me so they know what to follow,” she said. “The concept that I’ll never have this time again comes from my religion. … I want all children of African descent to feel that they do have a place in this community.

“They do belong — they just have to find where they belong.”

Farah was born in the Shabelle tribe by the Shabelle River in Somalia, but when she was around a year old, her family was forced out of their farmland. Her mother, Maey, and her father, Osman, spent many months walking to Kenya. The couple raised their family there for six years until they were “posted” and registered with the United Nations to move to Savannah, Georgia, in 2004.

“I’d like to go back one day to my roots, but Syracuse is the place for us,” Farah said. “It was meant to be. I was able to go to school here and become a part of the community in advocacy and activism, and grow as an adult. That was the purpose of Syracuse.”

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Falk College celebrates the 60th anniversary of the School of Social Work

The Falk College School of Social Work commemorated its 60th anniversary at a celebration event Friday, April 21 at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse. Guests were welcomed with remarks from Keith Alford, director of the School of Social Work, as well as Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of Falk College. Xenia Becher, internship placement coordinator in the School of Social Work, presented a special selection from Michael Carrera’s Lessons for Lifeguards.

In recognition and appreciation of their commitment and dedication to the profession of social work, “Excellence in Service Awards” were presented to three alumni: Madalyn Smith ’78, clinical social worker, convener, round table of faith leaders, InterFaith Works; Pedro Abreu ’02, school social worker, Seymour Dual Language Academy; and Patricia Moore ’85, discipline chief of social work, outpatient clinic coordinator, Hutchings Psychiatric Center.

“As an alumna of the School of Social Work, it is a special privilege to celebrate the School of Social Work and its sixty years of contributions to social work education and practice at both Syracuse University and in the surrounding community and region,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D., dean of Falk College. “The school’s leadership and dedication to the embedded mission of social responsibility, social justice and advocacy, in many ways, are what make it the heart of Falk College. Through its 60-year history at Syracuse University—from the early days of civil rights activism, community work in the Great Society years, to involvement with veterans at Fort Drum and the Watertown region, to the extensive and complex issues of our present era—the school has developed true partnerships both in the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York State and beyond, where more than 6,000 alumni continue to bring assistance and change in an expansive number of settings such as social service, behavior health and healthcare agencies, refugee sites, political settings, schools and the academy.”

“Collectively in celebrating 60 years of social work education, we brought together campus colleagues, students, alumni, and community partners on one special evening,” says Keith Alford, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., director of the School of Social Work “The charge for the next 60 years is to continue the quest of our anniversary theme: Embracing the dignity and worth of humankind. This theme embodies a strengths-based perspective, identifying the positive attributes of people. Given such national challenges as racial divisiveness, citizenship struggles for undocumented immigrants and political polarization, the need to uplift one another seems more necessary now than ever before. The value of humanity is priceless.”

Keith Alford giving presentation
Keith Alford, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., director of the School of Social Work, presents a proclamation from Joanne M. Mahoney, county executive, which declares April 21, 2017 “Syracuse University School of Social Work Day” at the school’s 60th Anniversary Celebration event April 21 at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse.

A proclamation from Joanne M. Mahoney, county executive, declared April 21, 2017 “Syracuse University School of Social Work Day.” Mayor Stephanie A. Miner proclaimed the date “Syracuse University School of Social Work Community Recognition Day.”

Karen Kirkhart, professor in the School of Social Work, spoke on the school’s history. Social work at Syracuse University dates back to the 1930s, when students were offered undergraduate courses in social work through the department of sociology and College of Home Economics. It wasn’t until 1952 that the American Association of Schools of Social Work decided Upstate New York was in need of a separate school of social work, specifically at Syracuse University.

With a grant from the Rosemond Gifford Charitable Corporation, the Syracuse University School of Social Work was founded, the 61st school in the country to be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education in 1957, and the first such school in New York State outside of Buffalo and New York City. About a decade later, the school began to attract international students from nations such as India, Egypt, Korea, Canada, and the Philippines.

The school exclusively offered a master’s degree program until 1971 when it admitted its first undergraduate class. In 1975, it became one of the first Council of Social Work Education accredited social work bachelor’s degree programs in the country, and the very first to be accredited in Upstate New York.

In 1972, the School of Social Work established one of the nation’s first programs focused on aging research: The All-University Gerontology Center, which allowed students across the University to pursue a concentration in aging. Today, it exists as the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute, established in 2011 and co-directed by the School of Social Work and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Today, the ASI is includes more than 40 faculty affiliates.

Over its history, the school has established a number of signature learning experiences that students enjoy today, such as Legislative Policy Day, an annual event that started in the late 1990s that exposes students to pressing policy issues and the importance of advocacy, now sponsored by alumnus James Stone ’64 MSW, who attended the anniversary celebration. In addition, the annual Alan B. Mirken immersion trip to New York City, which since 2002 has exposed students to historical social work sites and provided one-on-one engagement with human services agencies. The school continues to enrich its well-established study abroad program in Strasbourg, France, as well.

The school was first housed at 400 Comstock Avenue, and moved to South Crouse Avenue, Brockway Hall, and Sims Hall before finding its current home in White Hall, part of the Falk College Complex. In 2001, the School of Social Work became part of the College of Human Services and Health Professions, which in in 2007 was renamed the College of Human Ecology, and in 2011 was renamed the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

Today, the School of Social Work exists as a perfect example of Falk College’s comprehensive educational approach: theory-to-practice learning, the combination of a rigorous classroom curriculum and intensive internship requirements. To date, the school has 180 internships in 53 agencies across 8 counties. Many of the school’s current field placement sites represent long-lasting relationships with community organizations, where social work students have been placed for internships and field placements since the 1950s and 60s.

The school boasts 6,586 total alumni. It expects to add roughly 130 from the Class of 2017.