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Black Brilliance in Social Work: Professor & Interim Dean Charmaine Williams

Photo of Professor Charmaine Williams in 7th floor lounge of FIFSW building, by Harry ChoiTell us about a project you are working on right now that you are excited about. 

I have a family caregiving project that has started sharing research on the experiences of Ontario families living with mental illness. We are using our research results to develop resources for advocacy and training of health and social service professionals, and public education.

I’m also excited about the role I play on the expert panel for the Public Health Agency of Canada Mental Health of Black Canadians Initiative that has funded community-based projects led by Black-led organizations to research and develop culturally-appropriate mental health interventions for Black communities across Canada.

What part of your social work journey/work are you most proud of?

I am proud of work I did early in my career to advance anti-racism and diversity initiatives in the mental health care system. I am also proud of work I did later in my career to bring social work perspectives into leadership roles at the University. In both contexts, I have often been the first or only Black person in the space, so I am proud of representing Black leadership.

What advice do you have for Black social work students?

It is possible to navigate the profession by emulating what you see around you, but be open to the possibility that you are in social work because we need you to put your specific gifts and perspectives toward transforming the field into something better.

What is a professional or personal goal that you are looking forward to achieving?

I want to find a winter activity that will convince me to love winter.  I’ve been working on that one for over 50 years.

Recommending reading for Black History Month:

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem (MSW!).

Throughout the month of February we will be highlighting the work of Black social workers in our Faculty and around the world. If you would like to highlight a Black social worker or are a Black social worker yourself, connect with us.

Read more Q&As highlighting Black Brilliance in social work:

> Black History Month 2022: Check out our list of upcoming events and programs