2018–2019 Alumni Milestones

August 30 @ 9:35 pm
By Communications Office

During the past academic year, School of Social Work alumni were being saluted all over the country, and the world, for their creativity, compassion, and leadership in social work and related fields. Several of these milestones are highlighted in the list that follows. NOTE: If you are an alum with a milestone, award, or achievement that isn’t on the list, please let us know in the comments or by emailing swcommunications@columbia.edu.


Spring 2019

  • Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work Nabila El-Bassel (PhD’89) became the first faculty member of the School of Social Work to receive the title of University Professor, Columbia University’s highest academic honor.
  • Stephanie Gangemi (MSW’08), LCSW, who works as a behavioral health programs manager at the Sheriff’s Office in El Paso County, Colorado, was awarded first place for this year’s Seidenberg Prize. The competition is administered by the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis to encourage psychoanalytic perspectives on problems of incarceration. Gangemi’s paper outlined a training tool for corrections officers who deal with inmates with serious mental health issues.
  • Leyla Ismayilova (MSW’02, PhD’09), who specializes in family-based interventions to improve child well-being in international contexts, has been promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.
  • New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver (MSW’76), the first woman of color to be elected to state-wide office in New Jersey, delivered the keynote address at the School of Social Work’s graduation ceremony on May 22, 2019, held at Lincoln Center.
  • Martinique Teperman (MSW’06), director of social services for the East Harlem Tutorial Program, received a Leadership Award from the Latino Social Work Coalition and Scholarship Fund.
  • Holly Bonner (MSW’10) was appointed by Mayor de Blasio in April of this year to serve on the inaugural New York City Civic Engagement Commission, the creation of which New Yorkers voted for overwhelmingly last November. “I look forward to working with the other members, non-profits and various agencies to help enhance civic participation amongst New Yorkers of all cultures and abilities,” Bonner says. In addition to being a professor in Metropolitan College of New York’s School for Human Services and Education, Bonner is a leading advocate for blind parenting. Thanks to her superior advocacy skills, her guide dog, Frances, was named Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year in the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards® competition.

Winter 2019

Contributions to the field of social work by Sarah Crawford-Banda (MSW’95), Amanda Babine (MSW’12), Lydia Franco (MSW’04), Mathylde Frontus (PhD’15), Patricia Gray (MSW’90), Dorothy Henderson (MSW’79), Shanequa Moore (MSW’10), and Shamika Vargas (MSW’07) were recognized with Leadership Awards from the National Association of Social Workers – New York City chapter (NASW-NYC) at its annual awards dinner, held at the end of March. (Two of our adjunct lecturers, Clarencetine Brooks and Alexandra Seals, were also recognized.)


Fall 2018

  • At the end of 2018, Dr. Kenneth Byalin (MSW’66), president of Integration Charter Schools (ICS), was honored with a Louis R. Miller Leadership Award in the category of Not-For-Profit Businessperson. When he tried to open Staten Island’s first charter school in 2009, he faced considerable skepticism. Yet he persisted and, under ICS, will have a total of four charter schools in Staten Island by 2020, all of them dedicated to providing innovative pathways to college for students living with emotional challenges and others with special needs.
  • Mathylde Frontus (PhD’15) was elected to the New York State Assembly as the representative of the 46th District in Brooklyn.
  • Geoffrey Greif (PhD’83), a professor at University of Maryland Baltimore’s School of Social Work and its longest-serving faculty member, was honored at the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Founders Week as 2018 Teacher of the Year, a university-wide award.
  • Caitlyn McGuire (MSW‘18), a policy and access coordinator at the AccessAbility Center at City College of New York, was selected for a 2019 Presidential Management Fellowship. Her placement has yet to be decided, but she hopes it will give her a chance to return to her field placement site, the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, or else to experience another government agency that works on setting policy on behalf of women and girls.
  • Jillian Rose (MSW’05), who currently serves as the director of community engagement, diversity and research at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, received the Distinguished Educator Award for “sustained excellence in the teaching of [ rheumatology-related] patients and students/trainees,” with a focus on inequalities in rheumatology care.

Summer 2018

  • On September 20, 2018, a Google Doodle was created to commemorate the 120th birthday of one of the School’s most famous alumni, Josefa Llanes Escoda of the Philippines. She holds a special place in Filipino history as the founder of he Girl Scouts of the Philippines (they celebrate her birthday every year) and for other contributions to youth development.
  • Lakeya Cherry (MSW’07), Executive Director of the Network for Social Work Management, an international membership organization dedicated to strengthening leadership in health and human services, received the Social Work Image Award from the National Association of Social Workers – New York City Chapter (NASW-NYC).
  • Daniel Reingold (MSW’77), president and CEO of RiverSpring Health (formerly Hebrew Home at Riverdale, in the Bronx), received the LeadingAge Award of Honor for “doing selfless and innovative work to improve the lives of older adults.” This award, considered to be the highest mark of distinction for those working in the field of senior care, came on top of Reingold receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Notably, Reingold made a few waves this past year when he co-authored an article for JAMDA about the medical cannabis program at Hebrew Home. It received coverage in Forbes and other media outlets.
  • Celine Yip (MSW’18) arrived in Wuhan, in central China, to begin her Fulbright-sponsored year of researching the way sex education is taught in China.

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