NASW VT Annual Conference

June 7, 2019

Champlain College Conference Center - Burlington, VT


8-9 Registration, Networking and Coffee

9- 9:30  Welcome and Lara Sobel Scholarship

9:30-10:30 - Keynote: "Racism and the Role of Social Workers in Racial Justice"

Dr. Avila will discuss the role of social workers in dismantling systemic racism and ensuring racial justice for all our communities. She will also address issues related to self-reflection, disrupting power dynamics, and culturally responsive approaches to working with underserved and unserved communities.

10:30-11:30 - Follow up Discussion Racial Disparities and Inequities in Vermont

11:30 - 1:30 - Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Susan Roche MSW, Phd Associate Professor Emeritus, UVM Dept of Social Work

Ellie Breitmaier, LICSW Director of Domestic Violence Unit, Vt Dept of Children and Families


1:30-3pm - Session 1

Workshop A - This is Us: The Neurobiology of Stress and Developmental Trauma (This runs for both sessions)

Workshop B - Mr. Rogers as my Co-therapist

Workshop C - What kind of Change Maker Are You?

Workshop D - The Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence and Opioid Misuse

3:15-4:45 - Session 2

Workshop E - Pediatric Pharmacology: Fast Facts

Workshop F  Helping People Resolve Interpersonal Conflict

Workshop G The Inner Advantage: Harnessing the Power of Applied Mindfulness

4:45-5 Evaluations, Networking and Certificates

Keynote Biography: 

Dr. Avila is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Director of the Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. She has been involved in numerous federal programs related to substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion, maternal and child health, disability and advocacy, and addressing and eliminating disparities and inequities. Since 2011, Dr. Avila has been invited to lead 47 national and 150+ regional keynotes and presentations on topics related to social determinants of health and equity, behavioral health disparities, social justice in healthcare, and racial justice. Since 2014, and through her local, state, and national work, Dr. Avila has received eight teaching, service, and research awards.

Workshop Descriptions

Workshop A:  This is US: The Neurobiology of Stress and Developmental Trauma

In the past decade, professionals have made substantial gains in supporting children exposed to chronic trauma. By integrating research and innovative practice skills from multiple disciplines, our understanding of the impact of stress has led to improved outcomes. When professionals are specifically taught about the impact of stress on the brain, the result is often a profound shift in how we approach children and adolescents, and how we address our own stress. In this workshop, we will examine a model for understanding the neurobiology of stress, and how it impacts relationship building, discipline, learning, self-care and the healing process. Neurobiological principles will be discussed and used as a guide to reflect on current practices with an eye towards becoming more attuned to the needs of children exposed to chronic trauma.


Dave Melnick, LICSW is the Director of Outpatient Services at NFI, Vermont, a statewide mental health agency primarily serving children, adolescents and families. For the past 30 years, Dave has worked in a variety of settings including: outpatient, residential treatment, and in public and day treatment schools. During his 20 year tenure at NFI, Vermont, Dave has held multiple positions, serving as the Director of Residential Treatment before becoming the Director of Outpatient Services (The Family Center). He started The Family Center in 2004, and with the help of a gifted clinical staff, has built the program into statewide and regional recognition. The work at the Family Center focuses on family therapy and trauma-recovery work, and people of all ages are served. In addition to direct clinical work, the staff also provides in-service training, and evaluative and consultative services around the state. The staff works closely with multiple systems including child welfare, education, mental health, law enforcement, courts and medical. Along with his focus on Developmental

Workshop B: Mr. Rogers as my co-therapist: Using the teachings of Fred Rogers to Help Children Heal

In my work with children who have experienced trauma, I have relied on some of the simple teachings of Fred Rogers. Children with tremendous loss come to counseling with highlevels of anxiety. Together we will explore ways to help decrease stress and allow the young client to engage in the therapeutic process. Aditionally, we will use one of Mr Rogers tenents: "What is mentionable is manageable", to discuss how to talk about the hard stuff with childrenwhile helping the child stay regulated. In this workshop, expect to play, create and maybe sing an old familiar tune

Presenter: Sarah Rosenthal. After receiving her Masters in Social Work from Tulane University, Sarah has been a case manager anda psychotherapist for children, teens and their families. She has also worked as a clinical supervisor and taught undergraduate courses at Champlain College and Norwich University. Currently, Sarah is a psychotherapist both in schools and in private practice. She specializes in working with children andteens that have experienced erly trauma, have learning differences and social challenges.

Workshop C: What Kind of Changemaker Are You?

Wondering how to use your skills, ideas, instincts, and energy to address the climate crisis? What can you do to make an impact? This workshop is a chance to explore these questions and support each other as we each find our own answers. There is a complex social ecology of movement building; this workshop provides a framework to help us each think about how we fit into that larger movement ecology, where our individual strengths and passions can have the biggest impact, and how, even when we disagree, we can continue to work together.

Presenter: Laura Simon graduated from Rutgers University in the early 70’s after completing a concentration in social work and a BA in Urban Studies. Her work included directing Burlington Housing Authority’s Social Services Department for 14 years working with low income families and elderly people doing program development and advocacy. She went on to get a degree n special education and worked in schools throughout Vermont. She became licensed as a social worker and did school-based therapy. She honed her skills in social action through work in these settings as well as work on domestic violence and environmental justice

Workshop D: The Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence and Opioid Misuse

Vermont, like many US states, has experienced a drastic increase in rates of opioid use disorder (OUD) and opioid-involved overdose fatalities. There is a known association between substance use and intimate partner violence (IPV), and evidence suggests that this association creates barriers to health and justice for women experiencing both OUD and IPV. While it has been established that IPV can elevate risk for OUD, and conversely that OUD can elevate risk for IPV victimization, what remains unknown is precisely why and how this is the case. Our research team is engaged in a community-based participatory research project funded by the RWJ Foundation with the aim of developing and testing the impact of a community-level intervention to improve access to helping services for individuals experiencing both IPV and OUD. This presentation will describe the first phase of the research project, which has entailed in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 women living in a rural area affected by concentrated poverty, all of whom have experienced both OUD and IPV. Preliminary analysis suggests that there are multiple pathways via which IPV can influence OUD, and vice versa. In this presentation, we will describe methodological challenges related to conducting this type of research with this population, and suggest future directions for supporting similar communities to create local change.


Diane Kinney MS, co director of Circle, Washington County's domestic violence program. With more than 30 years experience in the fields of domestic violence and addiction, Diane is well suited to ensuring the voice of survivors is heard and that suggested solutions with have a realistic grounding in the everyday work of survivors and advocates.

Emily Rothman SCD, is currently an Associate Professor at Boston University. Emily began her career as a shelter director in 1997 at Circle. A graduate of Harvard, she is an appointed member of the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Domestic and Sexual Violence. 

Rebecca Stone Phd, is an Assistant Professor at Suffolk University. Her research focuses on substance use, victimization and criminalization of girls. 

Workshop E: Pediatric Pharmacology Fast Facts

Child Psychiatry is a relatively new field. The child Brain is a complex organ, Children's lives are multifaceted.

In this context, diagnosing a child is a careful task, medicating a child is a responsibility that can't be taken lightly. It is important to understand that medications are only a small piece of the treatment plan. This workshop invites the audience to explore basic facts and commonly asked questions regarding psychopharmaceutic agents.

Presenter: Feyza Basoglu MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. She got her medical degree in Istanbul University School of Medicine She completed her adult psychiatry training at Berkshire Medical Center, University of Massachusetts and Child and Adolescent psychiatry fellowship at University of Vermon. She currently does her clinical work at Howard Center and Counseling Service of Addision County. She has a passion to teach and has medical students in her clinics for their rotations. She is facinated with human interactions and feels privileged to be a part of their healing process on a daily basis.

Workshop F: Helping People Resolve Interpersonal Conflict

Conflict is everywhere and is often connoted negatively. However, conflict is simply a manifestation of at least two different visions of change. Depending on how a conflict is managed, it can be constructive or destructive. This workshop will look at the dynamics of interpersonal conflict and tools for helping people engage in conflict constructively.

Presenter: Julian Portilla is an associate professor at Champlain College where he also directs the Center for Mediation and Dialogue. In addition to his teaching load at the college, he designs and facilites complex, multistakeholder consensus building processes on such issues as fisheries management, national park management plans, climate change legislation, restorative justice and others. He has worked throughout the continent, focusing primarily in Mexico, Haiti, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Panama as well as the United States. Julian has also consulted for government agencies, non-government agencies and inter-government agencies in the areas of organizational conflict and organizational development, helping them to work more effectively together to fulfill their missions. Expertise: Public engagement for public policy development, consensus building, mediation, conflict resolution, conflict prevention, dialogue, organizational development.

Workshop G: The Inner Advantage: Harnessing the Power of Applied Mindfulness

Since our minds filter all our experience, learning how they work is a good idea. The discipline of mindfulness meditation fosters inner development that brings people insight about their own patterns and allows them to interact more skillfully with others, in any given situation. Training in presence leads to greater competence, compassion, and creativity, enhancing our ability to engage fully within the therapeutic process, the workplace and all other facets of our lives.


Carol S. Hyman, BA in Psychology, post-graduate studies, Naropa University; current position, Executive Director, Applied Mindfulness Training; relevant experience: 40 years of teaching mindfulness/awareness meditation and related contemplative disciplines. See expanded Bio on Carol Hyman following the Diversity Section on this application. .

Andrea Willey, LICSW Master Degree in Social Work, Bachelor Degree in Social Work, Associates Degree in Business Administration. Current position: Mental Health Clinician in the field of Geropsychology, Relevant Experience: Providing individual and family therapy for the past year and a half. 15 years experience in the Hospice Industry in areas of Executive Leadership, Quality Improvement and Customer Service, and Support Service Program Development. Established and provided educational curricular for employees who were esteemed with meeting the regulatory requirements and existential challenges of those served in our industry. Focused on our cultural responsiveness and how we addressed issues including but not limited to anticipatory grief and loss, bereavement, trauma, and substance abuse and addiction. Services were provided and focused on the myriad of care delivery challenges that accompany both rural and urban communities.

H. 57 Vote 2/21

H. 57, an act to preserve the right to accessible reproductive healthcare and the right to an abortion passed the Vermont House on Thursday, February 21. The vote ended 106-36, with no amendments added. From here, the bill will go to the Senate committees for review before the final vote on the Senate floor sometime in March.

H. 57 Debates 2/20-2/21

three young women standing together

Sitting in on the debates around H. 57, an act preserving the right to abortion in the state of Vermont, was an inspiring experience. Seeing the representative from South Burlington and Chair on the Committee for Human Services, Ann Pugh, speak on behalf of accessible reproductive care and a woman’s right to choose felt historic as we enter a time of great uncertainty on the federal stage regarding the future of Roe v. Wade.

As a social worker herself, Representative Pugh spoke on behalf of women’s difficult reproductive choices across the state and stood up for many marginalized people in our society. Several amendments were proposed over the two days, focusing mainly on parental notification, informed consent, regulation of abortion providers, and a limit to abortion later in the pregnancy. Each amendment was rebutted by Representative Pugh, Representative Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), and Representative Till (D-Burlington), a former social worker and  OB/GYN. These amendments would have effectively limited access to abortion for many vulnerable populations and were based in a false narrative about what abortion looks like in the state of Vermont.

The experience of sitting in on these debates was one I will never forget and I hope that social workers and members of the public will join us in the State House once again as the bill moves to the Senate. Thank you to the NASW for providing the opportunity to attend these debates.

H. 57 Public Hearing 2/6


On February, three NASW interns attended the public hearing on H. 57: an act seeking to preserve the right to abortion in Vermont, alongside hundreds of other concerned Vermonters. This bill does nothing new, but instead tries to codify the current laws surrounding abortion in the state of Vermont. Community members gathered to show support for and against the bill, with 58 individuals stepping forward to testify on this difficult issue. On the morning of February 7th, the House Committee on Human Services passed the bill with a vote of 8-3. From here, the bill will go to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

According to the NASW Code of Ethics, “Social workers promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination.” As such, we believe people should be able to make their own decisions about their sexuality and reproduction, without government involvement. For that reason, the NASW-VT chapter supports H. 57.

Recovery Day 2019


Social workers, community members, and individuals in recovery gathered in Montpelier for Recovery Day on February 6th, 2019. This event, run by the Vermont Recovery Network, worked to raise awareness around substance use and available resources in our communities. Speakers ranged from community members in recovery sharing their experiences to Governor Phil Scott proclaiming today as Recovery Day. The last event of the day was a rally at the State House and recognition of the hard work being done for recovery on the House floor from legislators.

Read the recommendations from the Opioid Coordination Council on how Vermont can better address the needs of individuals in recovery.

H. 107: Paid Family Leave


The Vermont Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition met on January 31st to discuss a bill that was introduced into the House of Representatives the day prior. The bill, H. 107, proposes a family leave insurance program that would be funded by employers and employees. This program would give family members 12 weeks of paid leave when bringing a new child into the home, regardless of whether it be by birth, adoption or fostering. This would also provide paid leave for the caregiving of family members if it requires time off from work.

Read the bill as introduced in the House

Read the FaMLI Coalition’s response to Governor Scott’s call for opt-in paid family leave.

Women's March 2019

Social workers supporting the Women's March on January 19, 2019 despite freezing temperatures.


9 Ways Therapists Personally Deal With Grief
By Ali Drucker | Huffington Post

While there’s no right way to grieve, there are a number of strategies that can help you get through loss. When you think of grief, the first thing that comes to mind is likely mourning the death of a loved one. But grief can surface around any major life transition, like ending a relationship, dealing with an illness, or even losing a job. As Melissa Fisher Goldman, a licensed clinical social worker and member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling puts it, “we don’t get over grief; we get through it.” Read More

Mental health support offered to furloughed government workers
By Jennifer Rios | Bloomfield Enterprise


A Broomfield mental health provider is offering free group sessions to support people affected by the government shutdown. Pamela Boaz, a licensed clinical social worker at Forward Family Therapy, said the sessions will be held from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Jan. 22, at 2095 W. 6th Ave. Suite #212. "It's open to whoever needs or wants it," Boaz said. "We know people in the community are experiencing higher levels of stress." Read More

Should You Text Someone After They Ghosted You? Here’s What Experts Say Is The Best Move
By Rachel Shatto | Elite Daily

When someone just up and disappears, it can be really tempting to reach out. Even if it’s just to get an answer as to why they’ve stopped talking to you and to get some closure. But the experts agree: You shouldn’t bother texting a ghost. “They have sent a message by not having the decency to let you know they were not interested. There is no need to text them. What would you be texting them about, to confirm they are not interested in you? I think ghosting you in the first place sent that message,” Patti Sabla, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Elite Daily. “We teach people how to treat us. Accepting this behavior only allows the person to think that we condone this treatment,” she adds. Read More

Foster care managed care bill passes committee
By Erin Beck | Register Herald

Sam Hickman, CEO of the National Association of Social Workers West Virginia chapter, noted that, "When a child is removed from the home, we should acknowledge that we all failed that child. "What if we had the family education, prevention, and family preservation services in place — not to mention a state earned income tax credit — to keep that original failure from occurring?" he asked. Read More

Counterpoint: “Opiophobia” is not a real thing
National Pain Report

It is not illogical or inexplicable for patients, physicians and policy makers to have concerns about a class of drugs that is killing over 100 Americans a day and addicting so many more. While we may disagree about the causes or the policy response, use of opioids can be life disrupting or deadly for some users. So, fear of using opioids is not a phobia because it is not exaggerated, inexplicable or illogical. Read More

What the Family Dog Can Teach You About Parenting
By Cassie Galasetti | Two River Times

For those about to embark on parenthood, there have been many studies that show owning a pet is a good way to prepare for future parental duties. Kyra A. Becker, LCSW, BCD, clinical supervisor/assistant director of NJ Center for the Healing Arts on Broad Street in Red Bank said, “I have found that getting an animal like a pet dog is what a couple may do to support emerging parental instincts between them. A pet provides an intra-familial avenue to observe each other’s parenting abilities. Additionally, getting a dog is a precursor to settling into another stage of life that includes responsibility to another being.” Read More

Seton Hall University
Alumna Prepares Tomorrow's Social Workers Inside and Outside the Classroom


Amy Sheppard, LCSW, with Seton Hall University's B.S.W. Intern, Kayla Raff (left), and M.S.W. Intern, Adrienne Sauer (right)

Amy Sheppard '91 is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked at NewBridge Jobs Plus since 1996; permanently adopting the role of Program Director in 2012. Having accepted student interns from other colleges and universities for many years, Amy reached out to her alma mater, Seton Hall, in 2015 in an effort to connect with their social work program and build a field placement relationship. Since 2015, Amy has instructed six SHU social work students coming from both the Bachelor in Social Work (B.S.W.) and Masters in Social Work (M.S.W.) programs; including two students this year. In the spring semester (2019), Amy became a part-time faculty for the B.S.W. program. Read More

NASW VT PACE Endorses Candidates - October 10, 2018


Dear NASW Vermont members,

We are delighted to inform you that chapter PACE, the political action committee of our chapter, has endorsed the following candidates for office in the November general election. We based our decisions following a careful review of the issues the candidates support or oppose and the viability of their campaign. Information was reviewed from both their responses to the endorsement questionnaire and publicly available records, campaign websites, press releases, and/or media coverage. We also considered the voting record of incumbents, their support for social work issues, and their prior relationship with the chapter.

There were a number of candidates whose platforms and/or stated goals and voting records appear to be consistent with social work values that were not endorsed. Those candidates did not request endorsement or did not submit such requests by the deadline. Out of respect for the structure of the endorsement process as determined by the committee, we did not endorse those candidates.

We encourage you to support these candidates, especially if they are running for office in your city/town. Contribute or volunteer on the campaign if you can. Mention their name and our endorsement when you can.

These candidates have demonstrates or indicated a strong commitment to support the issues that are important to Vermont social workers and the chapter. We believe each would be an excellent lawmaker and a persistent advocate for social work values and goals. We need advocates now more than ever. Let’s help these excellent candidates win election.


Kate Dearth, NASWVT PACE Co-chair

Michael Reeves, NASWVT PACE Co-chair

Carol Ode, Representative - CHI 6-1

Brian Cina, Representative - CHI 6-4

Barbara Rachelson, Representative - CHI 6-6

Diana Gonzalez, Representative - CHI 6-7

Ann Pugh, Representative - CHI 7-2

Marybeth Redmond, Representative - CHI 8-1

Tanya Vyhovsky, Representative - CHI 8-1

Jim McCullough, Representative - CHI 2

Trevor Squirrell, Representative - CHI 3

Kate Larose,Representative - FRA 3-1

Ben Joseph, Representative - GI-CHI

Logan Nicholl, Representative - RUT-WDR 2

David Yacovone, Representative - LAM-WAS

Denise MacMartin, Representative - WAS 1

Jeremy Hansen, Representative - WAS 1

Emilie Kornheiser, Representative - WDH 2-1

Sandy Haas, Representative - WDR-RUT

Ruth Hardy, Senate - ADD

Debbie Ingram, Senate - CHI

Christopher Pearson, Senate - CHI

Tim Ashe, Senate - CHI

Pam McCarthy, Senate - FRA

Jeanette White, Senate - WDH

March for Our Lives 2018


Social Workers supported the March for our Lives on Saturday, March 24, 2018, by turning out in force.





Advocacy Day 2018

NASW VT welcomed more than 70 social workers to the statehouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018, for social work advocacy day. For the first time students from all of Vermont’s social work programs (Castleton, UVM, & Champlain) were in attendance with respective faculty. Participants listened as the legislature declared March social work month and then stood to be honored by the House. Social Workers also attended legislative committee meetings and a workshop on social workers and politics given by Shannon Lane from the Humphreys Center for Political Social Work at UConn.