Breakout Panels and Recordings

Friday, January 26, 2024

Opening 1 Plenary: 

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Building an Abolitionist Presence as Social Workers

Kristen Brock-Petroshius
Kirk “Jae” James
Sophia Sarantakos

This session includes a discussion on the abolitionist perspective and how social workers can apply this approach in direct practice. Presenters provide an overview of abolitionism and the importance of envisioning a different future for social workers. Examples of applying abolitionist approaches are described, including community organizing.

"F-ck it. We'll do it." - Black Women

Jeremy “JP” Vincent
Sakara Wages

In the Legacy of Black Women in the Helping Tradition, both Black-Serving Social Work and Subversive Social Work are forms of Institutional Social Work that works to eradicate pervasive colonial norms and institutions while protecting group survival. In order to protect Black communities’ from state violence while providing social services, one must enact humanizing departures to harmful policies and practices. This presentation discusses how embedding principles of love, care, dignity, joy, and protection in social service delivery can shift prevailing norms and foster a more equitable environment.

Psychedelic Liberation

Charlotte Duerr James

In this breakout session we explore the impact of colonization on the psychedelic resurgence. We begin with an introduction to psychedelic therapies and healing modalities, and the role of social workers in this growing field. We will then explore patterns of colonization, how these patterns continue to live within us and our work, and practical ways to center collective liberation in your healing justice practice.

The recording of this breakout session is available upon request to people who registered for the conference and members of the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work. Please send an email to: to request the recording.

Social Work Without Mandated Reporting: Transforming Our Practices, Organizing Our Schools & Communities

Tamia Govan
Jasmine Wali
Eleni Zimiles

Following the lead of impacted families, social workers across generations have renewed a call to re-examine and end the practice of mandated reporting to Child Protective Services. Mandated reporting, a blanket policy defined by vague definitions of neglect or abuse, is heavily impacted by racial inequities and implicit bias. Reporting often leads to family separation for symptoms of poverty. Additionally, mandated reporting policies deter families from asking for help before or during crises, for fear of family separation. Many impacted parents have called for the end of mandated reporting to ensure that essential services are safe for them to seek support, and to reduce racial disparities in reporting.

This workshop explores social work without mandated reporting, with a specific focus on school social work. Presenters discuss the ways they’ve organized on mezzo and macro levels to end or reduce mandated reporting and how you can replicate this work at your own agency or state.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Closing 2 Plenary:

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Healing and Justice Center: A Community Based Approach to Public Safety

Shimon Cohen
Rachel Gilmer
Tarrah Hield-Swann
Chettarra Thompson

In Miami, 52% of murder victims are Black. In response, our neighborhoods are flooded with police. Meanwhile, we are starved of the resources actually needed to keep people safe — housing, jobs, after-school programming, mental health, and healthcare.

Our communities are caught in a trap — poverty, violence, and incarceration. We are working to break this trap.

Learn about our innovative public safety model based in the Liberty City and Overtown neighborhoods of Miami, FL that brings together a coalition of community members, survivors of violence, medical and mental health professionals, artists, healers, and legal professionals to end gun violence and respond to mental health crises without the collateral damages of incarceration. We work to keep our community safe by:

1. Reducing violence without incarceration2. Expanding access to mental health services3. Diverting people from the criminal legal systemWe respond to crises and violence in our neighborhoods and connect people to long-term services through our centralized dispatch system, including:

  • Providing mentorship and case management to those at greatest risk of becoming a victim or a perpetrator of violence
  • Mediating disputes that may result in violence and preventing retaliation
  • De-escalating mental health crises and supporting people in accessing long term services
  • Providing therapy and case management to survivors who are excluded by traditional victim services agencies

The Healing & Justice Center is a partnership of:Dream DefendersCircle of BrotherhoodTouching Miami with LoveDade County Street Response

Immigrant Dairy Workers in Wisconsin: Moving from Awareness to Action

Ruth Conniff
Brenda Gonzalez

Fabiola Hamdan
Melissa Sanchez

Heidi Wegleitner

Across the nation, immigrants are working in dangerous and sometimes illegal conditions, struggling to connect to services, and facing hostility and policy failure. Federal and state leaders have failed to make life safer or more secure for immigrants, but there is a chance for progress at the local level. In November 2023, Dane County invested $8 million in housing for immigrant dairy workers. This investment responds to appalling policy failures documented in the dairy industry but is rooted in a longer history of local work to support immigrants and connect them with social services and other supports. This panel covers why and how this historic investment happened and help the audience think about translating and applying this story’s lessons to other communities. The panel includes writers who have documented tragic conditions that immigrant dairy workers face, the Dane County Board member who, moved by the documented crisis in the county, led the charge for investment, and the leader of Dane County’s Immigration Affairs department, a social worker who has long been at the forefront of serving the immigrant community through direct services as well as advocacy. Panelists consider lessons from this story and the broader applicability of it as communities across the state see large numbers of new immigrant arrivals. All panelists engage in consideration of further work needed, principles for action for working in solidarity with immigrant workers, and social workers’ role in efforts to demand safety and security for immigrant workers and their families.

Imagining Border, Prison, and Police Abolition for Health Justice

Ronica Mukerjee

There is an urgent need for an abolitionist framework to resist border, police and prison violence. While prison, border, and police abolition have emerged as central planks among social movements in recent years, the ways that these carceral systems interact with bodies and health have often remained undiscussed. Healthcare workers have unwittingly normalized carceral violence as part of the landscape of health. This workshop discusses the meaning of, strategies and examples of abolition that we can use as seeds to grow the medicine and wellbeing we deserve.

Practicing Connected in Community

Charla Yearwood
Myranda Warden

Join us for an insightful breakout session led by Charla Yearwood, founder of Connected in Community—a pioneering group therapy practice established in 2020 with a resolute focus on equity and the development of anti-oppressive clinical practices. In this engaging presentation, Charla, and her colleague Rand, candidly share the journey of navigating what has worked and what hasn’t in the pursuit of fostering an inclusive therapeutic space. Discover the innovative strategies implemented to dismantle barriers and foster a culture of inclusivity. Through this session, gain valuable insights into the practical aspects of establishing a social work practice rooted in equity.

RCC GameChangers - Youth Perspectives on Sexual Violence, Intersectionality, and Activism

Courtney Schwalbach 

Young Activists:
Taylor DuVarney
Jennie Lee
Cameron Young
Akanksha Denduluri

Hear from members of the RCC Sexual Violence Resource Center’s GameChangers, a collective of young activists who are passionate about social justice and creating change in their communities. GameChangers focus on educating themselves and their communities about sexual violence and intersecting oppressions through projects. Recently, they have hosted rallies, coordinated art shows, and informed school administrations of what students need. In this panel, they will share their perspectives on social justice and experiences as activists. Join us to learn more about youth activism and what matters most to youth right now!