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Leaders in Professional Development

 

Message from the Deans

The philosopher George Santayana’s counsel—“the wisest mind has something yet to learn”—arguably embodies the underlying spirit of all the School’s initiatives that celebrate career-long professional learning and the ethos that informs the alumnae/i profiles below. 

The Continuing Education Program marks 20 years of excellence, including this year’s record-setting attendance of more than 500 participants representing 1,000 course enrollments, providing stimulating and challenging seminars to meet the ongoing educational needs of clinicians, researchers, and policy makers. Launched in 1987 under the leadership of Sherri Alper, M.S.S. ’81, the program has grown from 16 seminars over four Fridays to the expansion under Barbara Matz’s direction between 1989 and 2004 that more than doubled seminar offerings and included a week-long summer institute and new certificate programs.  Since 2004, under the guidance of Genny Dunne, M.S.S. ’85, the program has grown to 62 seminars, including two additional certificate programs.  Throughout this two-decade growth, the presence and unwavering commitment of Elaine Robertson, the CE administrative and program coordinator since its inception, has remained constant. 

Responding to the need for executive education, the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI) was established in 2004, under the direction of Catherine Ormerod, M.S.S. ’99.  Today’s vibrant nonprofit sector requires ever-more effective leaders, and NELI’s ten-day curriculum provides high-level, specialized leadership training to public and nonprofit human service executives from all disciplines. NELI now counts 44 alumnae/i and just welcomed its third and largest class of 29 students.

Rounding out the complement of programs that urge the imperative of career-long learning, there is the Center for Child and Family Wellbeing’s annual conference, now celebrating its fifth anniversary, and the Scott Lecture series, which emphasizes the integration of theory, practice and research in the examination of current and emerging topics that have an impact on children and families.

—Marcia Martin, Ph.D. ’82, and Raymond Albert, Co-Deans

 

Leaders in professional development

Anola Vance, M.S.S. ’71: A Continuing Ed “Regular”

The intellectual challenge, the collegial atmosphere, and the relaxing surroundings all are factors that have drawn Anola Vance, M.S.S. ’71, to Bryn Mawr on so many Fridays since the Continuing Education Program’s inception in 1987. Vance is the director of management services for the Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation for the City of Philadelphia. During her tenure as a city employee, she has managed a juvenile court diversionary unit, directed the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office, supervised students, negotiated with unions, managed personnel hiring, created an internal information technology unit, contracted with attorneys, and is currently a member of the department’s executive management team.

“The seminars enhance my personal and professional development,” Vance says, “and I relish exposure to new ideas and enjoy the opportunity to interact with professionals beyond my workplace.”

Three CE courses were especially significant to Vance. As a professional woman navigating a complicated city system, she found Jennifer Beer’s course, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, critically important to her work. A woman among male decision-makers, she noted that the coursework provided her with not only a new perspective but the practical skills required to be effective and have a positive impact professionally. Seminars in Spirituality helped Vance relate more effectively to coworkers who held a variety of belief systems and made her more comfortable in general dealing with others. Moreover, “the work in spirituality also contributed to my sense of balance and acceptance of differences,” she says.

Finally, continuing education courses provided a road map for Vance as she addressed personal life issues. An only daughter and baby boomer dealing with her own aging mother, she says, “I found the courses in gerontology deepened my under­standing of the aging process itself and of my role as an adult daughter and caregiver.”

 

Casey Cook: Providing Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector

Casey Cook, M.S.S./M.L.S.P. ’98, was recently appointed executive director of Bread & Roses Community Fund, now celebrating 30 years of leadership development and technical assistance in support of local activism. It is a significant accomplishment, she says, “because I have always been involved in social justice work, and this job is a long-harbored professional dream.” The appointment also embodies Cook’s career-development plan to embellish professional knowledge and skills. Her Bryn Mawr education was a great foundation for professional practice, and she knew that NELI would provide the same high-quality educational experience and allow her to explore concepts and best practices that did not surface during her graduate-school preparation. “Given my commitment to social justice,” she says, “my heart led me to Bread & Roses and I know that the NELI training gave me the confidence to take on the position, enabling me to combine heart and head, so to speak, in a very fulfilling way.”

Cook has learned that executive isolation and burnout is a major problem for non­profit agency leaders, given their worry about managing scant resources. Successful leaders overcome these obstacles, and she credits NELI with supplying the means to do so.

“NELI offered an executive peer network” she says, “a vital source of advice and support that helped take my skill development to the next level, especially regarding nonprofit management and leadership knowledge.”

The NELI program has emerged as a well-respected, quality program in the Philadelphia region, and the certificate is an impressive marker for executive skill development. Consequently, it can help nonprofit leaders embrace capacity building through career-long education.

“You can never stop learning,” Casey argues. “You must stay ahead of the curve to effectively meet your organizational challenges. NELI did that for me; indeed, in the most fundamental way imagi­nable, as a profes­sional, it changed my life.”

 

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and Tom Hurster: The Passion Behind the Work

Tom Hurster’s passion is working with children and adolescents. He has been doing it for more than 30 years, first as an activities therapist in the Adolescent Treatment Center at the former Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, and more recently as the supervisor of Child and Adolescent Services at Benchmark, a school for bright underachieving and learning disabled children. Hurster, M.S.S. ’80, has taught Clinical Social Work with Children and Adolescents to Bryn Mawr M.S.S. students since 2002. When we began looking for a clinician to provide leadership to our CE certificate program in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, Hurster’s name was at the top of our list—in bold letters!

While a developmental-biopsychosocial perspective and systemic orientation that pays special attention to the social ecology of children within the home, school, and larger community guide Hurster’s approach to practice, he is mindful of emergent innovations in diagnosis and treatment, especially of children and adolescents. Hurster has observed that while the primary issues and tasks that face children and adolescents may not have changed in the last decade, the social world they must navigate changes significantly every decade or so. Twenty years ago, he didn’t have to address kids text messaging during a session or using their cell phones to take pictures during a treatment group. He points out that the electronic age raises questions about negotiating intimate relationships and kids’ ability to be alone.

Hurster points out that “continuing education responds to evolution in practice,” and in that regard, the certificate program in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy is especially attentive to dimensions of practice evolution. The classes reinforce good practice, and promote understanding the nature of normal child behaviors as well as developmental psychopathology, and developing fluidity in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning. Thirty plus years and Hurster’s enthusiasm for his work and astute clinical observations still burn through every conversation with him!

 

Peer networking is one of the hallmarks of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute’s (NELI) Certificate in Executive Leadership. The 2007 NELI Fellows are from the left: Karla Silvestre, Congreso de Latinos Unidos; Lori Breen, Sunrise House; Beatrice Fulton, Episcopal Community Services; Stephanie Gambone, Philadelphia Youth Network; Paul Bedi, Board Member, Agnes Irwin School; Juliane Ramic, Nationalities Services Center; Stephanie Scott, Partnership CDC and seated far right Dawn Moody, Tradeworkers with a Purpose/Workers Invested in Nontraditional Work.

 


       

 

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