Skip to main content
IUSSWAA Annual Alumni Conference

Session Schedule

8:30 - 8:45 a.m. - Registration Online Check-In #

8:45 - 9:00 a.m. - Welcome #

Speakers: IUSSWAA President Melissa Vance-Blackwell and Dean Tamara Davis

9:00 - 10:30 a.m. - Keynote: Advancing the Discussion of Race: Having those Difficult Conversations with Members of our Community #

Speakers: The Honorable Justice Steven H. David, JD, and Angka E. Hinshaw, Esq.

In a rare opportunity, we are pleased to announce that our keynote address will feature Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David and Indianapolis attorney and social justice advocate Angka Hinshaw.

While the nation witnessed the painful reality of racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd, Justice David (a white man in his 60’s) and Ms. Hinshaw (a young woman of color) began hosting a groundbreaking, year-long series of candid dialogue and introspection about race and culture in the legal landscape. “Open Conversations: Racism and Racial Injustice” was made possible through a partnership between the Indiana State Bar Association and the Indiana Supreme Court.

In establishing a safe space to discuss racism, these frank, public conversations became a way to acknowledge and substantiate the struggles of people of color within our justice system. The hope is that these conversations lead to improving diversity in the legal profession, diversity on the bench, and ultimately create more equitable outcomes for Hoosier citizens in our court system

Recognizing the many similarities of our mutual professions, these esteemed speakers hope to share valuable lessons learned through their series this past year and support social workers who wish to replicate this work within our profession. With a commitment to be present with curiosity and vulnerability, our speakers will welcome dialogue with our participants who share their quest to enlighten minds to the experiences of people of color. By seeking to listen, increase understanding and broaden our perspectives, we can all benefit from having these ‘difficult conversations.’

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. - Breakout Session One #

Speakers: Susan Glassburn, LCSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, and Lisa Ernst, LCSW

Many health care settings are beginning to use a model of integrated health care in which social workers in health care settings are addressing the mental health needs of patients. Integrated care models provide an opportunity for healthcare social workers to expand the range of skills that they will offer to patients in that setting. While this is happening in many places in Indiana, this workshop will look at best practices for integrated care, skills that are crucial, and how systems can be structured for this to best happen. Attendees with experience in integrated care will be encouraged to share their experiences as well. The two presenters are health care faculty at the IU School of Social Work and will discuss upcoming curriculum changes to facilitate these new models.


  1. Learn about what integrated care is, and the types of models in practice.
  2. Understand the skill set needed for working in health care with mental health skills, and the types of clients that are best served in this setting.
  3. Provide a forum for those currently working in integrated care, or those interested in doing so in the future, to discuss the strengths and challenges.

Speaker: Julie Otis, MSW, LSW

The comorbidity between ADHD & Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is evident when breaking down the individual’s patterns of behavior. Functioning in multiple life domains is disrupted & significantly impacted when the symptoms become misguided. Unhealthy thought patterns, impulsivity, difficulties focusing, & ineffective problem-solving skills combined with a chemical imbalance often form a path to self-destructiveness. We will take an in-depth look at the diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-V. Understanding the neurobiology of the brain and its reaction to anxiety and its effects on a client’s decision-making skills is essential when implementing a person-centered holistic treatment program. This session will provide an insightful awareness into the mind of an individual diagnosed with ADHD and a SUD.


  1. Compare the 18 symptoms of ADHD to 18 real-life challenges faced by an individual using substances.
  2. Explain how the underlying anxiety manifests into an unhealthy cognitive infrastructure self-destructive pattern of behavior.
  3. Identify at least 5 specific components of a person-centered, family-based treatment approach.

Speakers: Melissa Sichtin, LCSW, LCAC, and Cindy McAtee, LCSW, LCAC

The path to private practice will cover the logistics, mindset, and marking that’s needed to own and operate a private practice. The speakers will discuss the basic building blocks to getting started in private practice.

Speakers: Samantha Wolfe-Taylor, MSW, LCSW, CTH, Ph.D. Candidate, and Christian Deck, MSW, LSW, CTMH

Telebehavioral health practice policies, tech, and best practices have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to change as we remain enthralled in battling the pandemic. This breakout session will provide participants with a crash course on equitable and ethical practices, policies, and tech being used by social workers in the field of telebehavioral health practices. Limitations and considerations on e-social work practices will be presented as well. Lastly, a futurist perspective will be offered on what may become of telebehavioral health practices post-pandemic.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. - Working Lunch: Filling Up Your Compassion Tank: Strategies and Tools for Managing Stress and Burnout #

Speakers: Kristian Gibson-Ford, LCSW and PhD Candidate, and Janice Horner, MPH, CHES, NBC-HWC

As helping professionals, we are trusted with some of our clients’ deepest, darkest secrets. Each day, we are subjected to the heart-wrenching stories and the immensely difficult life situations of the individuals who come to us seeking change and relief. Given how we are exposed to such types of stories and information on a day-to-day basis, it goes without saying that if we do not properly care for ourselves, we can become prone to many types of health (mental and physical) issues and unethical behaviors. Furthermore, if we do not care for ourselves and are not in top form, we cannot expect ourselves to possess the capacity to care for our clients. Fatigue, left unattended, can lead to an unintentional disservice to those who seek our help. This lunch and learn will focus on helping the helper become more mindful about their own stress and learn some valuable ways to reduce it using various tools and strategies.


  1. Discuss the different types of stress and the impact on health and well-being.
  2. Learn more about compassion fatigue and burn out and how it affects social workers.
  3. Provide some stress relief activities and guided meditations in today’s session.
  4. Share resources, strategies, and tools to use going forward in your daily life.

1:45 – 3:15 p.m. - Breakout Session Two #

Speaker: Christine Turo-Shield, ACSW, LCSW, LCAC

In life, bad things happen — this is a truth of life. When adversity and trauma occur, some feel victimized, some survive, and others thrive. Ongoing events in our world have eroded the ability to thrive for so many. That complexity impacts Post-Traumatic Growth, which occurs in those that thrive . . . it’s vital to realize that PTG resilience skills can be fostered to support ongoing healing. Join us for a lively discussion and examination of how growth does occur amidst struggle and tragedy.


  1. Participants will gain a greater understanding of Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG).
  2. Participants will be able to identify primary PTG manifestations and learn practical tools to increase resilience skills that support PTG.
  3. Participants will learn effective creative interventions which support PTG in clients.

Speaker: Julie Walsh MSW, LSW, and PhD Candidate

Leelah Alcorn stepped in front of a truck in December 2014 after experiencing negative faith-based reactions from her parents and being forced to attend conversion therapy to “cure” her gender identity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for LGBTQ+ people who are raised in an unyielding, patriarchal religious system to experience religious abuse that relies on coercion, threats, rejection, condemnation, and manipulation to influence their moral and spiritual ethics. This often results in guilt, shame, low self-esteem, spiritual loss, substance use disorder, or thoughts of suicide. Religion and spirituality are deeply personal, so this session will not debate interpretations of scripture or advocate for or against institutional religions. Rather, we will learn about ways faith communities intentionally and unintentionally incite violence against LGBTQ+ communities, examine the three frameworks’ believers use to understand sexuality and gender, and discuss the steps we can take to guide clients through spiritual and emotional healing.

Speakers: Meredith Edwards and Shannon Effle, MSW

Indiana Medicaid covers one in five Hoosiers in the State of Indiana. Whether you know it or not, it is likely that you are engaging with Indiana Medicaid members every day. In this session you will learn the basics of Medicaid eligibility, the different Medicaid programs, how Indiana uses Managed Care in its Medicaid programs, and how you can interface with Medicaid and its Managed Care Entities to the benefit of you and your patients.


  1. Determine why a member is placed into a certain Medicaid program, be that managed care or fee for service.Determine why a member is placed into a certain Medicaid program, be that managed care or fee for service.
  2. List the types of Indiana Medicaid programs.
  3. List the differences between managed care and fee for service Medicaid.
  4. Describe the role of the managed care entity in Indiana Medicaid, including what is delegated to a managed care entity and what value-added services are available to members.
  5. Understand how Indiana oversees Managed Care Entities.
  6. Describe the basics of how the state procures and finances Managed Care Entities.
  7. Engage with the correct individuals within Medicaid or Managed Care for a variety of situations.

Speaker: Tommy Parry, LMHC

In 2020, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to 2016 data. Clinicians are more likely than ever to encounter families that are impacted by autism in their work, whether that’s serving an autistic client directly or serving their family. A strong therapeutic alliance is a fundamental component of effectiveness that has been found to be a significant predictor of treatment success when examining outcomes in high-functioning children with autism (Kerns et al., 2018). Delivering compassionate care is also an essential repertoire among service providers for individuals and families impacted by autism (Taylor et al., 2018). This presentation will outline evidence-based practices for working with families impacted by autism, as well as detail contraindicated procedures for working with autistic people with other mental health concerns.


  1. Participants will learn common challenges faced by parents of individuals with autism in obtaining and receiving services.
  2. Participants will identify evidence-based practices and fad-therapies in working families affected by autism.
  3. Participants will describe contraindicated interventions for working with autistic individuals impacted by trauma and other mental health concerns.

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. - Breakout Session Three #

Speaker: Eric Wood, MA LCAC

The Void Theory proposes everyone faces life from a deficit posture. The deficit can be understood as either a spiritual injury (in a Judeo-Christian framework) or an intrapsychic injury (a scientific or psychological view). When the void is recognized, the individual seeks to fill it with available coping strategies. The void is unique to each individual and can be shaped by early life experiences, particularly Adverse Childhood Experiences. The void can be filled to some degree by healthy coping skills or can be exacerbated by a poverty of such coping skills, or even worse by the presence of abuse and neglect. This presentation addresses addiction in broad terms –substance misuse, gambling, shopping, Internet, self-injury and eating disorders, all used to fill the void.


  1. To gain a fundamental understanding of the connection between Adverse Childhood Experiences and addiction.
  2. To give clinicians a starting point to treat substance use disorder by replacing maladaptive coping strategies with healthy coping strategies.

Speakers: Hadya Sow, MPH, Maria Holmes, Maria Holmes, MSW, LCSW, Denise Saxman, LCSW

Communication is more than just talking and listening — it’s also about sending and receiving messages through attitude, tone of voice, and body language. As the disease progresses, individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias lose the ability to use words, but we can find new ways to connect. Join us to explore how communication changes when someone is living with Alzheimer’s, learn how to interpret the verbal and behavioral communication, and identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease.

Speaker: Alecia Brantingham MA, MSW, LCSW

When a child experiences traumatic events/experiences, it changes their family. As a professional, it is important to know how to help families understand what has happened, how the brain changes after trauma and what to do in the following days. The workshop will provide not only education but in addition, some practical ways to address trauma, in ways that children can process their trauma. Emphasis will also be placed on the importance of a strong rapport with the family that establishes felt safety for all family members while recognizing the role of healthy attachment.


  1. Understanding of how trauma affects the entire family system.
  2. Understanding of different trauma treatment interventions for children and families.
  3. Ways to help families understand trauma from a brain perspective.
  4. Learn activities that can be effective at addressing trauma for children and for families.

Speaker: Lisa Porat, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW

It is sometimes in the road most traveled that we learn the need to stop and reflect on where we are on our journey, both personally and professionally. As a whole, the social work profession has evolved and change just as we have done as individuals. Expectations, roles, demands, working environments and perceptions of the profession are not what they were when Jane Addams, Octavia Hill and Ida Cannon began in social work focusing primarily on poverty and inequality. Social work roots run deep in social work administration, social action, and service. Long before our specialized tracks of today’s advanced degrees, social work laid the groundwork for servant leadership, even if the term hadn’t been coined yet. Throughout the history of social work, there have been misconceptions about our skill sets and our capacities as social workers. It is important we look at ourselves and our profession in today’s evolving context to help not only find our place but make our stand.

Resiliency is about finding the tools we need to adapt to challenges, trauma, and the evolving landscape we work in. In this session, we will explore not only the personal tools needed to reflect and reframe where we are as professionals in our individual careers, but also look to how we adapt and grow as a profession and find new ways to be resilient, to be relevant and to be heard.

Annual Request for Donations to the IU School of Social Work Alumni Scholarship Fund for Students #