UCLA Luskin kicked off another academic year in late September during Welcome Week 2017, with events that included Orientation, Research Center lunches, EPA Training and the 7th annual Luskin Block Party. Assisted by a swarm of volunteers from throughout UCLA Luskin, Director of Events Tammy Borrero juggled hundreds of details to ensure the School was able to, in her words, “make a spectacular week come alive!” A sample of images from the week’s activities can be found on the Luskin Flickr feed, including this gallery of images from the Block Party:
By Zev Hurwitz
Taking a cue from speed dating, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs held its first alumni career networking event in which graduates of the school’s three departments met with current students about professional opportunities.
The event, held April 20, 2017, at the UCLA Faculty Center, was the first career development opportunity for students in which each employer was represented by an alumnus or alumna of the Luskin School.
Edon Cohanim, a first-year MPP student, said he appreciated the directness with which alumni provided tips on best practices.
“Alumni are more willing to help us and are more down-to-earth with us,” he said. “I got some advice on my career and how to pursue it, and they helped me understand what good moves are.”
Barbara Andrade-Dubransky MSW `00, director of program support at First 5 LA, said she hoped to help students understand more about career options in social welfare.
“There’s interest for students in knowing what’s going on out in the field, and I’m happy to share not only what I know about my organization, but I have relationships with other organizations, so I’m happy to share information to help students find other opportunities as well,” Andrade-Dubransky said.
UCLA Luskin Career Services launched Alumni Career Connections in lieu of its annual career fair. In past years, Luskin had held career events that more closely resembled traditional job fairs. This year, students met one-on-one with alumni who graduated from the same department or who currently work in the student’s desired field. Each student had the opportunity to meet with up to three alumni over the course of an hour.
VC Powe, director of career services and leadership development at UCLA Luskin, said the change was in response to feedback from employers whose participation in the annual job fair had dwindled in recent years.
“For many employers, these small career fairs are passé,” she said. “I shared that with my student advisory committee, and one of the students said, ‘I want an alumni career fair.’ I lit up at the thought of that and said, ‘That’s a great idea!’”
Although many students attend career fairs in the hopes of finding a job, Powe noted that most UCLA Luskin students end up securing employment through networking.
“Networking, especially with alumni from your program, is extremely important,” she said. “This is more of a ‘We share a career-field, and am I prepared to do what you’re doing?’ kind of event.”
Alumni met with as many as eight students over the course of the evening. In all, 105 students and 42 alumni participated.
Jasneet Bains, a second-year, dual-degree graduate student in urban planning and public health, said she attended because she liked the structure of meeting with alumni from her programs and wanted to broaden her professional network.
“We were matched up with alumni who share our interests, and that’s very valuable,” Bains said. “They’re able to provide specific insight. Having gone through that process, they’re able to teach us about how to take knowledge from our program and apply that in the field.”
Adrian Cotta, a second-year MSW student, said he had no expectations about leaving the event with a job offer, but she hoped to learn from alumni who had the same educational experience as he did.
“I’m hoping to get some advice from people in the field to see how to begin a career — and make a new friend, if nothing else,” he said.
Wendy Yan MA UP `97, vice president of underwriting at affordable housing syndicator WNC and Associates, said that she attended not only to inform students about the field but also to recruit for summer internships and possibly full-time jobs.
“We’re always looking for good people,” Yan said. “Being an alum of the urban planning program, I know there are a lot of students who specialize in affordable housing, and so we’d love to have good people from Luskin work with us.”
Rima Zobayan MPP `01 currently works at Westat, focusing on an implementation project for national assessment on educational progress for the U.S. Department of Education.
“I was in the fourth class of public policy students, so there weren’t a lot of alumni who could participate in something like this for us,” Zobayan said. “It’s great for alums to have a chance to talk to current students, to share what we’re doing and to see what students’ interests might be.”
By Adeney Zo
Marvin J. Southard DSW ’83 has received the UCLA Luskin Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his contributions and tireless dedication to the field of mental health. The former director of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health retired last year, leaving behind a 17-year legacy that has been recognized on the state and national level.
“I’ve been honored with quite a few awards, but this award is special because of my feelings toward Luskin and UCLA and because I actually know the person the award is named after,” Southard said. “So it’s really a triple honor for me. As a person moves through life, they never really know those parts that are going to be really influential. But, for me, my time at UCLA was one of those times. It was truly pivotal in making my life more meaningful than it otherwise would’ve been.”
After receiving his UCLA degree in 1983, Southard spent his first years working as a forensics specialist, before moving to Bakersfield to serve as director of mental services in Kern County. His focus, which continued throughout his career, was on developing community-based partnerships to address mental health and substance abuse. He also initiated children’s mental health programs, a severely underserved area in mental health services at the time.
“It was a remarkable place, and it included some programs at the time that would shadow the full service-based work that’s being done now,” Southard said.
In 1998, Southard was asked by a friend to put in his resumé for the position of director of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.
“I was reluctant to do it because I was happy and well-established. I didn’t worry or plan for the interviews — so I guess when you’re not worried you do well in interviews,” Southard said. “Taking the job was a sacrifice because initially I would work in L.A. and go home to Bakersfield on the weekends. I would also meet with my wife in Santa Clarita on Wednesday nights for dinner. So it was a lot of being apart, especially the first few months.”
Though Southard was initially uncertain about the move, this position allowed him to restructure and improve L.A. County’s mental health services. As director, he dramatically expanded children’s services, particularly for young children and transition-age youth, and built a community partnership system out of the department’s budget crisis. After incorporating community agencies and family members into the decision-making process for budget cuts, Southard explained that it was only natural to continue when the 2004 Mental Health Services Act provided funding with the caveat that departments had to incorporate a community process.
“We used the same process to add that we had been planning to use to subtract. We developed mutual trust,” Southard said. “As a result, we had one of the first plans approved in the state. Our expenditures have been a model for the state.”
Southard worked to improve the city’s emergency response system by creating partnerships with law enforcement that allowed clinicians to ride with officers in mental health-related cases. He also expanded the city’s psychiatric urgent care facilities, allowing for those with mental health emergencies to receive the right kind of medical attention.
The Alumnus of the Year award honors Southard’s remarkable contributions to the field of mental health. However, there is more to the story behind this year’s award recipient and the award’s namesake, Joseph A. Nunn BS ’65, MSW ’70 and Ph.D. ’90. Both Nunn and Southard attended Luskin at the same time and continued to collaborate as friends and fellow social workers through the years.
“I am well aware of the good work Marvin has done,” Nunn said. “His work speaks for itself, and his contributions are well-known in the state and even nationwide.”
Nunn was the recipient of the 1990 Alumnus of the Year Award from the UCLA School of Social Welfare. He was instrumental in the formation of the Social Welfare alumni organization that would revive this award and name it in his honor.
“There hadn’t been an award in many years,” Nunn said. “I and some other alumni were instrumental in starting the alumni organization and fundraising for it. When the alumni award picked up again, it didn’t have a name. I humbly accepted for them to name the award after me following my retirement in 2006.”
Nunn is three times a Bruin, having studied at UCLA for his undergraduate and graduate degrees before returning to serve as the director of field education in Social Welfare and as vice chair of the department. Throughout his career, Nunn has focused on encouraging students to understand the issue of juvenile justice and correction through firsthand field education.
“What was most important to me was the connection between university and community,” Nunn said. “Not only should research inform practice, but practice should also inform academic research. Field education allowed me to have one foot in the community and one foot in the university.”
Nunn also received the Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication from the Black Social Workers of Greater Los Angeles in 1995 and the NASW, Social Worker of the Year, for both Region H and the California Chapter in 2000. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Chapter of the National Association of Social workers and the Stovall Education Uplift Foundation Award in 2006.
Nunn currently provides training for child welfare workers on how to work effectively with gang-identified youth. He is chair of the Community Advisory Board for the CSU Fullerton MSW program and also serves on the Advisory Board for CSU Dominguez Hills. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors of Aspiranet, the second largest non-profit foster family agency in California.
The Joseph A. Nunn Alumnus of the Year award was presented at the annual UCLA Luskin Social Welfare Alumni Gathering on May 14, 2016. More than 100 alumni, faculty and friends attended. Many of those who attended the event are MSWs from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH).
Two-time UCLA Luskin Alumna Melinda Morgan (MSW ’89, PhD ’98) has been named the 2014 Dr. Joseph A. Nunn Alumna of the Year by the Department of Social Welfare for her commitment to helping military families.
For over six years, Morgan has served as site director of the Camp Pendleton FOCUS Program. FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resilience training program for military families, children, and couples implemented in 2008, in collaboration with the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The program, now part of the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, is in operation in over 20 sites around the world and has provided services to over 500,000 service members and their families.
Morgan teaches as a field instructor for the University of Southern California San Diego Academic Center for Military Social Work and supervises interns placed at FOCUS. In addition, she works as a consultant for the National Military Family Association as an embedded team member in Operation Purple Camps for military families throughout the country.
Prior to receiving her MSW and PhD from UCLA, Morgan was a probation officer working primarily with Latino youth gangs and worked as a psychiatric social worker During her program at UCLA, Morgan maintained a private practice in psychotherapy, and was a co-investigator and assistant professor for UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology researching neurophysiologic correlates of women’s mood disorders. For the majority of her academic career, Morgan also raised four children as a single parent.
While one of Morgan’s favorite things to do is go on kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, she gladly will forgo a beach trip for the annual MSW Alumni Reception on Saturday, April 26 where she will accept her 2014 Social Welfare Alumna of the Year award.
The Center for Community Partnerships has announced the winners of the first Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award: Urban Planning doctoral students Ava Bromberg and John Scott-Railton were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community based social entrepreneurship, serving the community in ground-breaking ways.
Ava Bromberg created a Mobile Planning Lab, a converted camper designed to take urban planning issues to low-income residents in South Los Angeles. Working with the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice and the United Neighbors in Defense against Displacement, she created the project “Visions for Vermont,” which helps to engage residents in land use plans by providing a mobile, neutral, and local setting for neighbors and city planners to go over models, maps and data, and to discuss the future development and growth of their communities. Her project has given a voice to residents to show city planners the concerns and comments of the neighborhood in order to create sustainable development.
Halfway across the world, in Dakar, Senegal, John Scott-Railton has been working to solve “collective action” problems in villages as they seek to deal with unseasonable rains and devastating floods that are related to climate change. Using inexpensive handheld technology, John has partnered with Senegalese universities, climate scientists and their students, non-profit organizations, and community members to apply sophisticated mapping techniques, hybridized surveys, and linked satellite mapping to the village level toward developing more effective, long-term parcel-based solutions. As Railton continues his fieldwork, he plans to redouble efforts to steer local officials towards a pilot program in which community members and the government share responsibility for mitigating flooding.
A ceremony was held in Royce Hall to honor the recipients for their social justice entrepreneurial work with opening remarks by Dean Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. of the School of Public Affairs and a keynote address by Professor Jonathan Greenblatt, Anderson School of Management.
For more details see the recent article at the website for the UCLA Newsroom.
By Joe Luk
Recently returning from the international conference in Copenhagen on climate change, two public policy students, Alexa Engleman (JD/MPP) and Dustin Maghamfar (JD/MPP) along with four of their Law School classmates were commended by the Los Angeles City Council for their work in developing recommendations for the City of Los Angeles. These recommendations will be used in the City’s advocacy initiatives for state and national legislation to reduce global warming.
As reported in the Daily Bruin:
Dustin Maghamfar, a fourth-year law and public policy student, was one of the six students who attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and he said the delegation of students was very fortunate to have taken the trip. “It’s an incredible honor and immensely flattering,” Maghamfar said of the recognition given to the group.
Read the complete article here.
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