From the Director

Happy Fall and Hispanic Heritage Month!

The weather around Alexandria, Virginia, is letting us know fall is here! We are in a season of transition, as are many of you. We realize that all transitions are not easy, and our thoughts are with those who are experiencing transition due to Hurricane Ian and other recent occurrences. Please let us know if and how we can be of support to you. We also recognize that change, in some cases, provides an opportunity for newness to emerge. That is the case here with our CSWE Minority Fellowship Program. We are in a season of movement and are excited to tell you about it.

This month marks the beginning of a new MFP grant year. As such, we have welcomed 34 new MSW fellows and four new doctoral fellows! I can assure you that these new MFP scholar–practitioners are amazing. You should take the time to meet them and engage in conversations via the MFP community on Spark. You will love every moment!

In addition, some of our current MFP fellows are also shifting from “student” to “employee.” Most of our recent MSW graduates have made the shift, and several doctoral fellows are quickly moving in that direction as well. With that said, I invite you to review our forthcoming CV booklet to learn more about the doctoral fellows who are entering the job market. It will be on our webpage in a few short weeks.

Our staff composition has also shifted. Recently, we have onboarded Adriana Ramirez Altamirano. Adriana is serving as the program coordinator for MFP, and she is off to an excellent start. We are happy that she has joined us and hope that you will reach out to her with words of welcome.

One final transition coming soon is the return to our MFP reception at this year’s APM. At our reception, you will get to meet all our current doctoral MFPs and several MSW MFPs, network with MFP alumni and friends, and talk with us about what we envision for the future of MFP’s 50th anniversary in 2024.

Yes, we are excited about these transitions and look forward to experiencing this season with you. If you want to learn more or have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. See you in November at APM.

 In Fellowship, 
 Kesslyn Brade Stennis, PhD 
 Director, Minority Fellowship Program




Welcoming New Fellows

Since 1974, well over a thousand social work students have participated in the Council on Social Work Education’s Minority Fellowship Program, a fellowship funded by the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration that has served as a springboard for diverse careers in the mental health and substance use sector.

After a rigorous, multiround review process, I’m pleased to announce that the fellowship welcomes 34 master’s and 25 doctoral students to the ever-expanding MFP community this month. During the next 12 months, they will have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field, gather meaningful skills and insights, and network with like-minded students. Visit the MFP’s master’s and doctoral Meet the Fellows pages to find the full roster of fellows for the 2022–23 fellowship year. 
October Newsletter Picture1October Newsletter Picture 2After their respective orientation sessions, master’s and doctoral students will launch into the fellowship year in full force. Thirty-five will be departing for CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting in Anaheim, California, in November. Training on topics including understanding the mental health policy landscape, making the most of MFP-sponsored membership to the National Association of Social Workers, and exploring pathways postgraduation will follow in the coming months, as will the invaluable connection to mentorship, the provision of professional development support, stipends, and more.

Be sure to check out our monthly Featured Fellow section to learn about their journeys thus far and the path they envision taking going forward.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Continues

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 each year. The MFP uses this as a time to celebrate the contributions our fellows and alumni are making to support the well-being of their communities. Read on to learn how new master’s fellows Jilly dos Santos and Viviana Najera are maximizing their MSW experiences and using MFP.

Featured Fellows

Jillian dos Santos is a current MSW student at Washington University in St. Louis. She comes to the MFP with significant experience providing social services and improving health care outcomes with Latine communities in St. Louis and rural Vermont. Her roles have included working at an adult day program during her undergraduate years, serving in AmeriCorps for a year with Middlebury College, and conducting bilingual administrative work at two free health clinics. Jilly is currently employed as a professional medical interpreter and engaged in her concentration practicum as a bilingual therapist at a nonprofit organization serving immigrant communities. There, she co-facilitates a psychoeducational group in Spanish, “Aprendizaje Emocional,” and enjoys having the opportunity to work with individuals to better connect to their emotions, process their personal traumas, and improve their relationships.

When asked about her postgraduate plans, she shared, “First, I want to continue working as a bilingual therapist and a therapist via interpreters for immigrant communities in rural and majority-White spaces. Second, I want to draw upon my experiences with interpretation and facilitate workshops between interpreters and social workers, specifically LCSWs, in order to strengthen best practices for both professions in their work serving individuals with limited English proficiency.”

Viviana Najera is in her final year of study in the MSW program at Columbia University. Her experience has centered on supporting youth and families from underserved communities as well as individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Her work in educational, community mental health, and medical settings informs her postgraduate career goal. “I aim to increase the representation of Latinx individuals in the mental health field by becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW),” she shared. “As an LCSW, I will provide services that are culturally and linguistically tailored to Latinx individuals. I am interested in working with families and individuals of all ages.” 

Annual Program Meeting

Honoring an MFP Ally 

On September 29, CSWE President & CEO Darla Spence Coffey and MFP Director Dr. Kesslyn Brade Stennis gathered with others at Rayburn House for an event honoring one of CSWE’s strongest MFP champions, Representative G. K. Butterfield from North Carolina. Butterfield has been a member of Congress and a supporter of MFP since 2004. Though he has chosen not to run for another term, the MFP appreciates all the work he’s done during his years in office on behalf of the MFP.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the persistent health disparities that exist between racial and ethnic populations and showed how critical a diverse health care workforce is to care in these communities. A diverse behavioral health workforce will help improve behavioral health outcomes for communities of color,” said Congressman Butterfield. “Our nation must make strong investments in recruiting and retaining diverse behavioral health professionals, which is why reauthorizing the Minority Fellowship Program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is critical for our country’s health. I am proud to work with my colleagues to reauthorize this vital program.”

Update Your Contact Information

Have you changed jobs in the last few years? Changed your primary email address? The MFP relies on current contact information for our internal database, which we use to contact alumni and help us prepare our reports for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Please use this link to share your updated contact information. Additionally, you are encouraged to reach out to MFP alumni you are connected with and request that they share their updated information too. Thank you in advance for supporting MFP staff efforts to enhance connectedness within the MFP community.


Professional Development
Applications for the Substance Use Disorders Education and Leadership Scholars Program are now open! Apply to be part of a cohort of social work leaders specializing in substance use disorders. Ten social work programs will be selected to create a cohort that will support BSW and MSW students and field instructors in the field of substance use disorders. The cohort will engage in the following activities: provide opportunities for social work field instructors and their agencies to enhance their training and mentorship of social work students, strengthen agency and university partnerships to evaluate innovative practice interventions through social work research, and provide scholarships to students and field instructors to incentivize their opportunities to practice in this specialty area. Apply by Sunday, October 23, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to participate in this exceptional program.