August 2021

From the MFP Team
Volunteer With the MFP!
I Volunteer With the MFP Because...
An Evening of Networking and Connection
Support Student Research
Professional Development
Job Opportunities
CSWE Spark

From the MFP Team

Dear Fellows and Alumni, 

Each month we put together a newsletter that highlights the contributions Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) fellows and alumni are making to address the mental health needs of their communities via their practice, research, teaching, and leadership. This month, we’re focusing our attention inwards, on the contributions fellows and alumni make to support a vibrant and interconnected MFP community.  

Notably, the MFP benefits from the help of an incredibly supportive team of volunteers. Some are current doctoral fellows who take time each month to mentor master’s-level students. Others are experienced social work faculty who apply their expertise towards the review of fellowship applications each year. All contribute to making the MFP what it is today, and we appreciate them enormously. Read on to learn what drives our volunteers to invest their time and knowledge in support of our program.  

As we imagine the MFP of tomorrow, MFP staff are listening to fellows and alumni who have expressed interest in establishing and strengthening community ties. This month, we held a virtual event, “An Evening of Networking and Connection,” via Zoom. Through a series of ice breakers and discussion questions, we saw the breadth of experience, knowledge that exists within our MFP sphere. We hope to expand this sphere in upcoming months, so be on the lookout for opportunities to participate! CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting may be one such opportunity—details are included in this newsletter and online

In fellowship,  

The MFP Team at CSWE 

Volunteer With the MFP!

The MFP is currently seeking applications for volunteers to support our doctoral and master’s fellowships as mentors, application readers, and advisory committee members. We welcome applications from current volunteers, MFP alumni, and others committed to supporting master’s and doctoral students as they pursue careers providing mental health and substance abuse services to minority communities. Learn more about open volunteer positions and apply here. The deadline to apply is September 2, 2021. 

I Volunteer with the MFP Because...

The MFP is successful in its aim to support the mental health and substance use needs of underserved communities and address gaps in the social work workforce only because of the tremendous support of our committed team of volunteers. MFP volunteers serve on our advisory committee, as application readers, and mentors to our master’s and doctoral fellows. Hear why our volunteers regularly to generously share their time, knowledge, and expertise, with the MFP:   

Julia Hastings photoJulia Hastings, PhD, MSW, is an associate professor within the Schools of Social Welfare and Public Health at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She shared, “I volunteer with the MFP because I enjoy meaningful connections with a network that is charged with training the next generation of engaged professionals interested in eliminating racial disparities in mental health.”  


Tracey Barnett McElwee photoTracey Barnett McElwee, PhD, LMSW, is presently an assistant professor with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. For her, volunteering with the MFP is about paying it forward. “The MFP gave so much to me when I was a doctoral student,” she said. “I can’t help but want to give back in some way.” 


Quenette L. Walton photoEchoing that sentiment, Quenette L. Walton, PhD, LCSW, an assistant professor at the University of Houston, shared, “I benefited immensely from the MFP when I was a student, and it's important to me to give back to the burgeoning social work scholars and practitioners that are a part of the MFP as long as I am able to do so.”  


Cortney R. VanHook photoCortney R. VanHook is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Cortney explained, “I volunteer with the MFP because I want to help first generation BIPOC scholars and practitioners navigate the system with the guidance I wish I had.” 


Melissa Bessaha photoMelissa Bessaha, PhD, LMSW, MA, is an assistant professor and chair of the Families, Youth, & Transition to Adulthood Specialization at Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare. She shared, “I volunteer with the MFP because I want to pay it forward and support the invaluable efforts of the MFP.” 


Gabbie Aquino-Adriatico photo“I volunteer with the MFP because I believe our community has so much collective wisdom and this opportunity allows us to learn from one another,” shared current MFP fellow and doctoral student Gabbie Aquino-Adriatico, MSW. “I would not be where I am today if it weren't for individuals that poured into me, and I hope to do the same with each person I meet.” 

An Evening of Networking and Connection 

On August 3rd, 25 MFP fellows and alumni met alongside MFP staff via Zoom for a virtual gathering. This event served to establish and strengthen connections amongst all those who’ve benefited from and contributed to the CSWE’s MFP over the years. Participants expressed that they’d “love for there to be more opportunities as alumni, to meet with current fellows and to hear about what other alumni are doing” and that they’ve “been interested in connecting but haven't known how.” After this event, 100% of those who completed our feedback survey responded affirmatively to the statement “This event provided the opportunity to build and strengthen ties within the larger community of MFP fellows and alumni.” Additionally, the vast majority reported having exchanged contact information with at least one other participant. Based on the feedback we’ve received about the importance of networking within the MFP community, we intend to prioritize holding events to serve the same purpose in the months to come.   

Support Student Research

Kevin Harris, a first-year MSW student at Loyola University Chicago, and Dr. Maria Wathen are working on a study to investigate the strategies that therapists of Color use to handle microaggressions in client–therapist interactions. The goal is to gather practitioner perceptions on the strategies that they consider to be both helpful and not as helpful to their own well-being and to the therapeutic alliance. Microaggressions are defined “as intentional or unintentional momentary and often common verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities that “communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group” (Sue et al., 2007). Any therapist of Color who holds an LCSW, LCPC, LMFT, or other license is invited to participate in this online, anonymous survey. The survey should take anywhere from 10–30 minutes, depending on how much you choose to share. Findings will be shared with practitioners and educators so that nuances in strategies and context are considered and so that communities of therapists of Color are strengthened. We would greatly appreciate you sharing your expertise in this area. As a sign of appreciation, we include the option to sign up for a drawing for one of five $50 e-gift cards. Participate in the online, anonymous survey here