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Vol 4(2): Autumn 2013

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Each school year, as first and second year MSW students flood the halls, amidst the hustle and bustle of intense activity, there’s a strong feeling of excitement, generated by a shared sense of pride, commitment and purpose. For incoming MSW students, who better to kickstart that feeling than alumnus Gordon Cressy?  Cressy called the students “bold dreamers” in an inspirational speech at an introductory conference.

Alumnus Gordon Cressy gave the Keynote Address on September 9th at the 2013 Introduction to Social Work Conference for first year MSW students, telling the students that being a social worker matters. He said, “You are embarking on an extraordinary career, a career that makes a difference to people’s lives.” Cressy encouraged them to live a life of commitment,  filled with bold dreams and big actions.

Students received a similar dose of inspiration and advice during orientation activities.

Incoming MSW and PhD students attended separate events which gave them the opportunity to hear from faculty, staff and fellow students. Each year, new students get the chance to learn from those who have already been through the first year of the MSW or PhD programs.

The MSW Graduate Students Association (GSA) organized events which enabled the new students to ask questions and network, culminating in a meet and greet at a nearby pub.  Students received a handy tip sheet as well as information on the various committees they can join. GSA President Sara Abura and GSA Treasurer Valerie Groysman said that because starting out at the Faculty can feel quite overwhelming, orientation events are a way to help students connect with others and become acquainted with the Faculty.

PhD students also had a similar orientation organized by the PhD Student Association (PhDSA) with speeches by Faculty, staff and students, as well as information sessions and a meet and greet.  PhDSA co-chair Sophia Fantus spoke to incoming PhD students about her own experiences in her first year of the Faculty’s doctoral program. “I talked to them,” says Fantus, “about things that don’t always get mentioned – the stress and the amount of work which can be a surprise if people have been out of school for a while.  Mostly it’s a chance for students to get to know me, so they have a familiar face they can come to later with questions.”

Classes began for first year MSW students – as they do every year for each new cohort — with a two-day introductory conference in which students sit at round tables and listen to a diverse array of speakers.  In addition to Cressy’s keynote address, there were speeches on such subjects as child welfare, family systems theory, social justice, psychodynamic psychotherapy and social media. The conference served as a great way to introduce students to the breadth of social work since they heard talks on so many different approaches and perspectives.

There were, of course, many more activities for students over the first few weeks of class – all of them designed to inform, inspire and empower students — including a workshop on writing at a graduate level led by U of T’s Writing Workshop and an information session on interprofessional opportunities for students.


Raising Awareness of Violence Against Women

On December 2 and 3 in our Faculty’s lobby, Professor Ramona Alaggia and members of the student-run Social Justice Committee are handing out buttons to raise awareness for the December 6th National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Alumni Digest Has Information You Need to Know

The Alumni Digest, which arrives in your mailbox every week from our Faculty, is designed to be a resource for FIFSW alumni. It is a place where you can learn the essential information you need in your professional lives today about job postings as well as professional development opportunities. If you would like to post an employment or professional development opportunity in the Digest, please contact us at

Canadian Roots Exchange: Where Youth are Leading the Way

The Canadian Roots Exchange – which is based in an office in room 350 at the Faculty – is a non-profit working nationally with a focus on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through history, culture and issues. They facilitate youth-led exchange programs, workshops and conferences. On Nov. 13th at 5:30 pm, they celebrated their fifth anniversary with an event in the Faculty’s 7th floor lounge.

Over CRE’s five year history, close to 1,500 youth have participated in their youth-led programs ranging from exchanges and workshops to a national conference.  CRE organizes experiential educational exchanges in Indigenous host communities across Canada in which participants have the opportunity to learn in both formal and non-formal settings. This past year, three exchanges were held. “What happens on these exchanges,” says CRE Executive Director vibhor garg, “is that we bring together youth who wouldn’t necessarily meet each other, enabling people to break down walls and get to know each other.”

Other CRE activities include the Youth Reconciliation Initiative which trains youth to put on workshops in high schools, elementary schools and university classes and a national youth conference scheduled for March 2014 in Saskatoon. They recently received their charitable status and can now issue receipts for donations.  People can also donate Aeroplan miles to help youth participate in their programs.

If Faculty students would like to get involved in the CRE, they are encouraged to get in touch at or 416-946-5047. Or just drop by room 350 and start a conversation.

Let’s Hear It for the New FIFSW Alumni Association Board of Directors

We are proud to announce our new slate of FIFSW Alumni Association 2013-2014 Board of Directors, led by our new Alumni President Ed Shaul.

Here is the new list of hardworking and committed alumni and student representatives who have joined the FIFSW Alumni Association 2013-2014 Board of Directors.

Executive Officers

President                                                 Ed Shaul

First Vice-President                              Alexandra Wilson

Second Vice-President                         Tahmena Bokhari

Auxiliary Vice-President                      Eric Maisey

Treasurer                                                 Clara Menard

Secretary                                                  Rebecca Bliss

Past President                                         Doreen Winkler

College of Electors                                 Malcolm Stewart

Communications Officer                      Saleem Haniff

Alumni Outreach and Engagement   Violeta Dubov/Aleeya Raza


Faculty Council Rep.                             Doreen Winkler

Faculty Council Rep.                             Eric Maisey

Mentor Program                                     Janet Scollard

MSW Studies Committee                     Myra Lefkowitz

PhD Studies Committee                       Kate Schumaker

Practicum Advisory Committee          Mariam Aslam

GSA Rep.                                                  Valerie Groysman

GSA Rep.                                                  Karlo Azores

Member at Large                                    Qamar Zaidi


Hip-Hop Hooray

Our Faculty and our partner, United Way Toronto, got a rap vote of appreciation from a recent grad of the Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders program with a unique thank-you video posted on youtube. CITY Leaders is an  innovative leadership development institute which educates and engages promising young people who are working in Toronto’s disenfranchised neighbourhoods.

Arbor Award to Malcolm Stewart

Congratulations to alumnus Malcolm Stewart, a former president of the FIFSW Alumni Association, who was honoured by U of T with a 2013 Arbor Award. These awards recognize alumni whose loyalty, dedication and generosity have added substantially to the university.

Join Us as We Celebrate 100 Extraordinary Years in 2014

Our 100th anniversary celebrations are set to begin in October 2014. It’s going to be an incredible year, filled with exciting events, and we want all alumni to be a part of it.  Help us celebrate this landmark occasion by becoming involved in the preparations for our upcoming centenary. You can make a donation [link to donation page] or if you would like to join a planning committee or sponsor an event, please contact the Alumni Office at or 416-978-8405.

Promoting Social Work Values Across Government

When Alumni Maribeth Christensen and Kristen De Maeyer, who both work in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), decided that they wanted to connect with other social work professionals in the OPS – many of them in non-traditional jobs – they started a lunchtime group called SWOPS (Social Workers in the OPS).

Promoting Social Work Values Across Government

Alumni Maribeth Christensen, a Program Analyst with the Supervised Access Program in the Ministry of the Attorney General, and Kristen De Maeyer, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Child Welfare Secretariat in the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, started SWOPS about a year ago. They wanted to find aa way to foster social work values and create a space for dialogue with other social workers at the OPS, many of whom use their social work skills in non-traditional professional roles. SWOPS is also open to social work students who may be doing their practicum placements in the OPS.

The group, which often brings in speakers, is helping to raise the profile of social workers within the public service, through a display, for example, at the OPS during Social Work Week promoting social work values. Meeting every two months has also led to strong connections being forged across departments.  Christensen and De Maeyer are committed to creating a community of practice in order to promote learning and excellence in social work practice, programs and policies across government.

Donate to the Distinguished Speakers Series

Help the Alumni Association establish a memorable legacy to honour our Faculty’s 100th aniversary by donating to the Distinguished Speakers Series. This lecture series will bring leading edge speakers to the Faculty annually to explore society’s most crucial issues. All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Contribute now.

Fall Convocation

Fall Convocation for MSW, PhD and Advanced Diploma in Social Service Administration took place on Tuesday, November 12th at Convocation Hall, followed by a luncheon for grads and their families and friends at the Faculty Club. Congratulations to our impressive graduates.

New Digs for PhD Students Association

The PhD Students Association (PhDSA) now has its own office in room 421 at the Faculty. Until now, the PhDSA shared an office with the Graduate Students Association (GSA), which is the MSW Students Association.

Talking TED Alumna

Alumna Deborah S. Berlin-Romalis, a Clinical Social Worker at The Hospital for Sick Children, gave a TEDx Talk at a Sept. 26th TEDx Toronto conference at the Royal Conservatory. The conference featured speakers who are having “a real-world, massive impact on individuals and communities within Toronto and beyond.”  Check it out.

Recently Appearing on a Subway Platform Near You

PhD Student Raluca Bejan has co-directed a short film that was selected for the 2013 Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF).  TUFF is a subway film festival, screening silent short films on subway platform screens every September across the Toronto transit system.


Are You Interested in Becoming a Field Instructor?

Remember back to when you were a student and just how much you learned from your field education experience?  Do you want to help our students become more competent social workers? Field instructors play an absolutely vital role in the education of future social workers. If you are interested in giving back to the upcoming generation, please contact the Practicum Office at   and be sure to listen to these alumni describe the benefits of being a field instructor at “Why be a Field Instructor?”


Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy Externship

There’s a rare learning opportunity to spend May 27th – 30th in an Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy Externship with Dr. Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist and leading innovator in the field of couple therapy.

The Continuing Education May 27th – 30th Externship with Dr. Sue Johnson is designed to help participants learn the basic clinical skills required in order to practise and become certified as Emotionally Focused Couple (EFT) Therapists.

EFT is a widely used and highly respected therapeutic technique for couples.  Johnson developed EFT – which she calls “the new science of bonding” — based on what she learned over three decades as a therapist listening to couples, watching how issues flared up.

Johnson describes her work “as a mission to find out exactly what love is.”  Her research focuses on attachment and bonding, the science of love, interventions to repair relationships, trauma couples and forgiveness.  “Hold Me Tight” — Johnson’s bestselling book — is used by the US military as the basis of a therapy program to help post-deployment military couples.

Johnson is leading the FIFSW Continuing Education Externship with Gail Palmer, the co-Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.  Johnson and Palmer periodically run in-depth training sessions in EFT in locations around the world. The Externship involves live therapy sessions, presentations on theory and clinical technique, skills framing exercisees, discussion of specific cases, clinical materials and issues.


Focusing on Impact

On September 25th at the Faculty, Professor Sarah Morton, Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh, discussed the use and impact of research for child and family services.

The Dangers of Storytelling

On September 30th at the Faculty, writer and marketing communications specialist Jay Pitter outlined the dangers of storytelling, in an event presented by the PhD Student Association.

Motivational Interviewing

A capacity crowd of  approximately 75 people attended a lecture by Dr. Allen Zweben entitled “Infusing Motivational Interviewing (MI) into Social Work Practice: Challenges and New Opportunities” on Friday, October 25th at OISE.

Talking LGBT

On November 13th and 14th at the Faculty, PhD student and alum Steven Solomon discussed his work with students from kindergarten to grade 6 at a Toronto alternative school in which he explores issues related to gender.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Dr. Bruce Thyer

“Developing a Successful Program of Professional Publishing”

9:00 – 11:00 am

Room 548, FIFSW


Friday, March 21, 2014

Dr. Shoshana Ringel

“Utilizing the Adult Attachment Interview in Research and Practice with Unresolved Loss and Trauma”

9:00 – 11:00 am

Webinar from FIFSW

Room 422, FIFSW


Friday, April 11, 2014

Theo Koffler and Michele Chaban

“Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation: Contemporary Applications and Integration”

9:30 – 11:30 am

Room 548, FIFSW


Friday, May 9, 2014

Gerald Schamess

“Knowing, Not Knowing and Muddling Through: Reflections on Therapeutic Process”

9:00 – 11:00 am

Room 548, FIFSW



Vol 4(1): Summer 2013

Top Story


Equipped with the latest technology – including built-in mikes, cameras and a virtual whiteboard – our Faculty’s new state-of-the-art webinar room enables us to host web-based seminars and classes that will connect us with people all around the world.

Now the Faculty will reach much wider audiences who can either attend presentations online or watch archived presentations. Some people may, of course, choose to attend a webinar in person — the room seats about 30 people. But the majority will attend online.

And that’s where the possibilities begin. Participants can log on and observe what is happening in the room. They also have the option to participate in a conversation by either typing in questions or speaking.

One particularly exciting aspect is the SMART Board which is an interactive whiteboard. The Board, which is connected to the Internet, greatly enhances presentations and promotes collaborative learning. Presenters can ‘write’ on it with a special pen, use it like a big screen to activate areas, play videos on it, record or put up images.

“We’re really excited about this room which strongly positions us to be a lot more active locally and globally,” says Professor Robert MacFadden. “It can be used for coursework, webinars, virtual meetings, or as we move towards our 100th anniversary, to link alumni from all over the world. Really, the possibilities are as open as your imagination.”


The inaugural FIFSW-hosted public webinar took place on May 22nd featuring Dr. Sue Johnson, a leading innovator in the field of couple therapy and bestselling author of several books including “Hold Me Tight.”  She is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa and the founding Director of the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute and the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.  Dr. Johnson combined cutting edge theory, research and clinical data in “Couple Interventions in the 21st century: A new era” to provide a 21st century vision of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy.


Congratulations Cheryl!

Cheryl Regehr Appointed U of T’s New Vice-President and Provost

Congratulations to Professor Cheryl Regehr who has been appointed Vice-President and Provost  of the University of Toronto, effective September 1st, 2013.  In making the appointment, the Governing Council of the University cited her proven track record as a strong leader in her roles as the former dean of our Faculty and subsequently as U of T’s Vice-Provost Academic Programs.  Cheryl remains on our Faculty and we are extremely proud.  She is an inspiration to us all.

New Faculty Appointments

We are delighted to announce three new faculty appointments.

Effective July 1st, 2013, Barbara Fallon becomes an Associate Professor at the FIFSW.  Also effective July 1st, 2013, Carmen Logie becomes an Assistant Professor at the Faculty.  Thirdly effective Jan. 1st, 2014, Ellen Katz joins the FIFSW as a Lecturer (teaching 60% /Director of Continuing Education 40%).  Katz is a Senior Clinician, Educational Coordinator and Program Supervisor at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre.

Read more about these three faculty members in the upcoming Year in Review.

Strong Turnout for Alumni Association Spring Reunion

It was another great evening – and fabulous turnout — for the FIFSW Alumni Association’s Third Annual Spring Reunion and Book Expo on May 29th when over fifty alumni got together at the Faculty.  The event was an excellent opportunity for alumni to reconnect with the Faculty and each other.

RBC Conference 2013 Explores Global Innovation

The 2013 RBC Conference attracted an overflow crowd on April 25th at the Munk School of Global Affairs for a stimulating one day event exploring global innovation, organized by U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science and our Faculty.

Dr. Janice Stein delivered a thought-provoking keynote address at the 2013 RBC Conference on April 25th.  Dr. Stein, the director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management and Negotiation at U of T, made a forceful case for developing a new model for development assistance in “Two Solitudes: Innovation and Development Assistance,” arguing that the restructuring of Canada’s development assistance programs is an opportunity to improve programs and push scarce dollars to the poor.

Towards 2014! Help Us Celebrate 100 Amazing Years

The official planning for our 100th Anniversary celebrations is underway and we want all alumni to participate.  Help us celebrate this landmark occasion by becoming involved in the preparations for our upcoming centenary.  You can participate by joining a committee (contact the Advancement Office at or 416-978-4437).

Double Your Investment

Donate to the Distinguished Speakers Series

Donate to the Distinguished Speakers Series which will bring leading edge speakers to the Faculty annually to explore avant-garde issues.  Help the Alumni Association establish a memorable legacy to honour our Faculty’s 100th anniversary by donating to this lecture series which will benefit students, alumni, researchers and the community.  All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Stay in Touch by Updating Your Alumni Profile

We’ve made it easy for you to keep in touch so we can let you know about all the exciting events taking place at the Faculty.  Please update your alumni profile on the Faculty website by going to “Alumni + Friends” and clicking on FIFSW Alumni Information Update Form.

Alumni Mentoring Networking Event Builds the Conversation between Alumni and Students

This annual event is a wonderful way for MSW students to learn and practise essential networking skills by meeting alumni already working in the field. On a bitterly cold January 21st evening, over eighty alumni and MSW students spent a lively hour and a half getting to know one another while sharing information at the Alumni Mentoring Networking Event.

The Alumni Mentoring Networking Event held this past January was organized by Terry Gardiner, who coordinates the FIFSW Alumni Mentoring Program.  The popular event was focused on gathering and conveying pertinent information so that each interaction would result in the exchange of business cards. This process was made all the easier since blank business cards were distributed around the room.

In a half hour preparation session on networking before the students met with alumni, Gardiner encouraged students to focus on their goals for the evening. “Ask yourself: What is it that you want to get out of tonight?” he said. “This is an opportunity to have a conversation. Tonight is not just about connecting with alumni. Every single person is a resource to you. You never know how useful or important it will be to have met someone. Even if they are not in your field, you never know where it will lead.” Gardiner also went over a list of networking tips, which the students then practised with each another.

The successful event provided a low pressure and enjoyable opportunity for the students  — job-seekers all too soon — to follow these networking tips. Many alumni said that the evening provided a rare chance to network with fellow alumni, as well as students. Some of the alumni in attendance were recent grads, their student experience still fresh, while others, who had been longer in the field, commented on how invigorating they found the students’ enthusiasm and idealism. All in all, an enjoyable and effective way for alumni and students to deepen their professional networks.

Reserved Seating Sticker Increases Accessibility for Students with Mobility Challenges

For the past semester, students with mobility challenges have been receiving a little help from a new reserved seating sticker on one of the tables near the door in classroom 346.  Seats closest to classroom entrances are often the most accessible for students with mobility challenges, but of course those seats are not always available. That’s why we’ve come up with our new reserved seating sticker. The sticker is part of a pilot project conducted at the Faculty designed to increase accessibility and raise awareness about inclusion challenges faced by some of our students.


Something for Everyone in the 2013-2014 Calendar

Be sure to check out the 2013-2014 Calendar (which is now online) where a compelling variety of courses have been added in response to unprecedented demand. From more courses in Applied Mindfulness Meditation, Settlement Practice and Solution-Focused Brief Coaching to a new Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship led by Dr. Sue Johnson and our first Neuroscience webinar, there is something for everyone in the latest calendar. The print version of the calendar will be available in August.

The Emotional Intelligence Toolbox

One of those new courses – which takes place on Feb. 28th and March 1st, 2014 — is Mindfulness-Based Emotional Intelligence Training: Cultivating Peak Potential with Wisdom and Compassion, taught by Michael Apollo. A business consultant for ten years, Apollo provides mindfulness-based emotional intelligence coaching to corporations worldwide. “In my past,” he says, “I was building companies, now I focus on creating more mindful and emotionally intelligent cultures within companies.”

“Social and emotional intelligence is a toolbox. It gives us a deeper understanding of our own social and emotional abilities and helps us to read others more effectively,” says Michael Apollo, who will lead a workshop in the Applied Mindfulness Meditation certificate program on the application of these tools for personal and professional development. Apollo is a former student of Continuing Education’s Applied Mindfulness Meditation certificate program.

“The goal of the Emotional Intelligence workshop,” says Apollo, “is to bring participants to a deeper understanding of their own social and emotional abilities. Emotional intelligence allows us to search inside ourselves to see what really comprises our human experience and bring that out in ways where we can work with it and maybe balance it.  It’s about creating emotional balance within ourselves and then being in tune with this when we work with others.”

Apollo is the founder and instructor of the mindfulness-based Modern Meditation program at the Integrative Health Institute and the “Healing the Healer” program at the University Health Network.


What Field Instructors Need to Know about Neuroscience

Field instructors were introduced to the fundamentals of the burgeoning field of neuroscience in an April 10th webinar workshop led by Professor Robert MacFadden.  If you missed it, be sure to watch “Neuroscience: What every field instructor should know” at

Workshops for 1st Year MSW Students: It Always Helps to Prepare

1st Year MSW students gathered in U of T’s Claude Bissell Auditorium on May 9th. The morning workshop led by Dr. Ellen Sue Mesbur was designed to prepare them for the challenges of social work group work practice and co-leadership. Mesbur most recently served as Director and Professor of the School of Social Work, Renison University College, University of Waterloo (retiring in August 2013). The afternoon session, which was led by  Dr. Roxanne Power, Professor Emeritus at the FIFSW, was an opportunity for the students to learn how to prepare for practicum interviews.  Dr. Power’s speciality is field education.


Book Launch Focuses on Violence against Women

The updated and expanded 2nd edition of “Cruel But Not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families” was launched at the Faculty on June 11th.  Editors professor Ramona Alaggia and social worker Cathy Vine have brought together contributions from nearly 30 Canadian researchers and practitioners. Alaggia and Vine created the 1st edition – widely used across Canada — in response to the lack of accessible Canadian research on violence in families. Alaggia is the Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health; Vine was the Executive Director of Voices for Children and has worked extensively with families affected by child abuse and violence. The launch featured a conversation with contributor and FIFSW PhD candidate Deborah Sinclair, a pioneer in the movement to end violence against women.

Clicks and Stones: Cyberbullying, Digital Citizenship and the Challenges of Legal Response

A timely conference featuring two panel discussions on digital citizenship, cyberbullying and the challenges of a legal response was held on May 3rd at the Munk School of Global Affairs, co-sponsored by the Faculty of Law and the FIFSW.

FIFSW Commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with Documentary Screening

“Hatsumi: One Grandmother’s Journey through the Japanese Canadian Internment” was shown at the Faculty in a special screening on March 19th to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The evening was co-hosted by the FIFSW equity advisor, the Social Justice and Diversity specialization and the student-led Social Justice Committee.


Helping to Transform Social Policy

On July 15th, Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall is launching a new policy informed by research by the Beyond Canadian Experience Project, a university-community coalition led by Professor Izumi Sakamoto.  The policy addresses one of the biggest barriers immigrants face in today’s labour market: Canadian experience.  Hall gave the keynote address before an audience of over 150 people at a Jan. 16th event highlighting research by the community-based initiative Beyond Canadian Experience Project.

The new Ontario Human Rights Commission policy addresses the human rights implications of employers’ insistence on Canadian experience. “It’s incredibly frustrating for many newcomers to be told that their years of experience don’t count for anything once they arrive here,” says professor Izumi Sakamoto, who leads the Beyond Canadian Experience Project and helped to develop the new policy.  “But if we shift our thinking and learn to think about it from the human rights point of view, it opens up a whole new way to approach the problem.”