NASW-NYC Honors Five CUSSW Alumni as Social Work Leaders

NASW-NYC 2012 alumni awardees

With great pride, the faculty, staff, students and graduates of CUSSW congratulate the five alumni who were selected by National Association of Social Workers, New York City chapter, as leaders in the profession.

At the sixth annual NASW-NYC Leadership Awards Dinner, held December 6 at the Jing Fong restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, Paul Levine ('68) was recognized as a top leader in the profession; Michael Lewis (1990) and Benjamin Sher (1994), as mid-career leaders; and Elizabeth Blackler (2004) and Amy Gottheimer (2008) as emerging social work leaders.

Images (clockwise from top left): Paul Levine; Amy Gottheimer; Dean Jeanette Takamura with Liz Blackler, Michael Lewis and Benjamin Sher; Benjamin Sher; Michael Lewis; and Liz Blackler.

PAUL LEVINE, who received his M.S. in Social Work in 1968 from CUSSW, is the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, one of New York City's largest multi-service, not-for-profit human service providers. He is the immediate past president of the New York State Coalition for Children's Mental Health Services. Levine is considered a leading expert on the interface of mental health and child welfare. He has worked to be the voice for those who can't speak for themselves.

After receiving his M.S. in Social Work in 1990 from CUSSW, MICHAEL A. LEWIS went on to do a Ph.D. in sociology at the CUNY Graduate and University Center. Chiefly interested in public policy and the economics of public polical, applied statistics and machine learning, Dr. Lewis teaches courses at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and has written many journal articles, on these topics. He is also the co-author of a book, Economics for Social Workers, published by Columbia University Press. Dr. Lewis acknowledges the late CUSSW professor Richard Cloward "for inspiring me to go in this direction when I met him years ago."

BENJAMIN R. SHER completed his M.S. at CUSSW in 1994, which he says it what gave him a "macro view" of social work. Having worked for over 18 years at the Institute for Community Living (ICL)—an integrated behavioral health care network serving over ten thousand people with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities—he currently serves as ICL's Associate Vice President of Training and Staff Development. Possessing a strong belief in the power of education and mentoring, he sees social work as a tool to engage and activate people into creating new pathways and career ladders for themselves.

ELIZABETH "LIZ" BLACKLER received her M.S. from CUSSW in 2004. She works as a clinical social worker at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, providing supportive counseling and services to patients suffering from thoracic cancer, melanoma or sarcona, and their families. In addition to her clinical roles at the hospital, Ms. Blackler is a co-investigator on two research studies looking at 1) the psychological perspectives and coping styles of patients with a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, usually caused by exposure to asbestos; and 2) the quality of care leading up to and surrounding death in head and neck cancer patients. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in bioethics.

After graduating from CUSSW in 2008, AMY GOTTHEIMER immediately began working with the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), which was founded at Columbia University in 1979 (it became a separate nonprofit in 1993). After working at CUCS's Housing Placement Center providing drop-in services for street homeless individuals and overseeing the Central Harlem Single Stop, Gottheimer became the clinical coordinator for and then director of the Scattered Site Apartment Program, which provides ongoing supported housing services for single adults with mental illness. Among other achievements, she is responsible for introducing Critical Time Intervention (CTI) to the team—an evidence-based method originally developed by Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute to help prevent recurrent homelessness among persons with severe mental illness.

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