Dr. Samuel Odom currently serves as interim President of the CRISP Board of Directors. He is an Adjunct Professor at Tulane University School of Social Work and a former professor in the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work on the campus of Southern University at New Orleans where he served as Faculty Senator and Faculty Senate Secretary. A native of Brewton, Alabama, he joined the United States Army in 1986 as a Forward Observer, Field Artilleryman, later becoming a Logistician and ultimately earning an Army ROTC Commission as a Medical Service Officer where he worked in Behavioral Health for more than ten years. Dr. Odom served as a Company Commander for the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. Dr. Odom is a US Army Combat Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom /Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dr. Odom served 24 in the United States Army with deployments in Southwest Asia and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Expert Field Medical Badge, Global War on Terrorism, Army Achievement Medal with Two Oak-leaf Clusters and several other awards. He earned a BA degree in Philosophy at Dillard University, a Master of Social Work degree at Southern University at New Orleans and he earned a PhD in Counseling at the Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Capella University. Dr. Odom is currently or has held memberships in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, Academy of Certified Social Workers, American Psychoanalytic Association, Association of Military Surgeons United States (Life Member), American Philosophical Association and Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons. He is a member of the American Red Cross Regional Board of Directors (New Orleans). He served on the ABO Board for the City of New Orleans. Dr. Odom is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. where served as a board member of the Southwestern Province (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas). He is currently the C. Rodger Wilson Leadership Conference National Chairman for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Lakeya Cherry, MSSW currently serves as interim Secretary for the CRISP Board of Directors. She is the Chief Executive Officer of The Network for Social Work Management, an international membership organization dedicated to strengthening social work leadership in health and human services. Under her leadership, the Network has grown globally and introduced new, innovative programming that meets the needs of social work and human services leaders everywhere. At her previous position with 2U, Inc., a technology company partnering with prestigious universities to place degree programs online, Lakeya was a Senior Regional Field Manager for the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s online Master of Social Work program. She earned her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Legal Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Lakeya also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from the National Human Services Assembly in collaboration with The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, the Executive Education Program at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, and ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. Lakeya is currently a Doctoral candidate at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
James E. Craigen, Sr. serves as interim Treasurer for the CRISP Board of Directors and is an Associate Professor Emeritus at Howard University School of Social Work who served on the faculty for nearly four decades. He most recently served as Chair of the Macro Practice Sequence where he was responsible for teaching community organization, social policy, and human services management courses. His area of specialization is family and child welfare. He has been Chair of the Baltimore City Commission on Social Service since 1997 and is the former Co-Chair of the Health Families/Thriving Communities Coalition of Washington, DC. He also was a founding member of the District of Columbia Health and Human Services Coalition. Craigen holds memberships in several professional organizations including: the Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Black Social Workers, and the Association of Community Organizations and Social Administration (ACOSA). He has been the recipient of the Winning in Excellence Award in Teaching, the Alpha Phi Alpha Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Teaching, and has served as the Public Member of the Foreign Service Selection Board, Department of State. James Craigen received his B.A. degree in Sociology from Morris Brown College, and his M.S.W. degree from Atlanta University School of Social Work. He also did post-graduate study and served on the faculty at the University of Chicago.
Cheryl Aguilar, LICSW, LCSW-C is the founding director of the Hope Center for Wellness where she serves as lead therapist, trainer and clinical supervisor, focusing working with youth, young adults, adults and families. A licensed clinical social worker, Cheryl has been working with DC area residents since 2006. She has held roles as communicator, facilitator, advocate, case manager and currently as mental health therapist. Prior to launching Hope Center for Wellness, LLC in 2017, she served as bilingual mental health therapist at La Clinica del Pueblo, where she became the organization’s first TeleMental Health Therapist to expand mental health access to Latinos through video. She has also worked for other direct services organizations and agencies including the Latin American Youth Center and Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers, where she served as program coordinator and Prince George’s County Health Department, where she served as bilingual counselor. Cheryl volunteers with the Latino Social Workers Organization (LSWO) and serves as appointed committee member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Mental Health Specialty Practice Section. Cheryl founded and co-leads Social Workers United for Immigration, a DC based group of social workers committed to the well-being and the advancement of immigrants and immigrant rights. She was recentlyselected by Social Work Today magazine as one of 10 dedicated and deserving social workers making extraordinary impact across the country. Before embarking in the social work profession, Cheryl worked in the journalism and public relations fields for over a decade. She earned a B.A. degree in journalism and political science from Rutgers University in 2003 and obtained her M.S.W. from The Catholic University of America in 2014.
Dr. Tina Atherall is a NYS licensed MSW (LMSW). She completed her DSW at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work focusing on the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work to eradicate social isolation. She is the CEO of PsychArmor Institute and has more than 25 years of experience in the military and non-profit community. As a founding member of Hope For The Warriors, she has worked extensively with communities educating and advocating for critical support for those who have served and their families. As a social innovation strategist, her expertise is in non-profit leadership, community development, trauma-informed programming, and social impact innovations. Tina has advanced certificates in nonprofit leadership, human-centered design facilitation, military family readiness, military social work, and is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate. She is an adjunct professor for a graduate school of social work in NYC. In 2016, she attended The White House Summit, “United State of Women” as a nominated change-maker. Tina was a Division Director for National Association of Social Workers (NASW) New York State (NYS) Westchester County and serves on the NASW Social Economic Justice and Peace Committee. She participated in the Student Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. in 2017 and 2018 as a member of CRISP student leadership teams. She is the recipient of the University of Southern California Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work Student Alumni Award (2018), NASW NYS Merit Service Award (2014) and the NASW NYC Chapter Emerging Leader Social Work Leadership Award (2016). She is a member of the NationSwell Council leveraging cross-sector networks.
Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman has served as Executive Director of the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) since 1991. NCCF is a private nonprofit agency committed to serving vulnerable children, youth, and families. Under Dr. Chapman’s leadership, the organization has grown from a facility housing 60 children to a comprehensive regional center annually serving more than 4,000 children, families, survivors of domestic violence, and abused and neglected children and adolescents. A leading expert in child and family welfare, Dr. Chapman joined NCCF after serving as Associate Director, Clinical Services, Research, and Administration, Division of Child Protection, Children’s National Medical Center and as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. Dr. Chapman publishes and presents nationally on a wide range of topics including juvenile justice, systems reform in child and family welfare, poverty and homelessness, childhood trauma, domestic violence, cultural competency, and ethics. Dr. Chapman received her B.A. degree at Brown University, where she now serves as Trustee Emerita. She obtained her M.S.W. degree from the University of Connecticut. She later completed a second Master’s degree and Doctorate in Education, Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at Harvard University.
Sarah Christa Butts, LMSW, is director of public policy at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), headquarters office in Washington, D.C. NASW is the largest social work organization in the nation, representing the interests of over 700,000 social workers nationwide, with 55 local chapters in states and U.S. territories. Butts is responsible for leading the association’s public policy, political and legislative affairs agenda, overseeing field organizing, working at both the national level and with NASW chapters, political candidates’ fundraising and endorsement efforts, as well as developing and advancing the association’s strategic goals and objectives related to influencing the legislative and executive branches of government. Prior to joining NASW, Sarah served as the executive director of the Grand Challenges for Social Work, a national initiative modeled after a similar undertaking spearheaded by the National Academy of Engineering, whereby 12 science supported challenges were advanced to tackle societies toughest social problems. Sarah is also the founding administrator of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW)—an honorific society for the social work profession and served as an assistant to the dean at University of Maryland, School of Social Work. Butts has also held roles in state and local government, as well as nonprofits, having held positions in Maryland’s Department of Human Services, Social Services Administration and the Family League of Baltimore. In 2018 she was the recipient of The Daily Record’s 40 under 40 VIP list award. She is a contributing author on the 2018 Oxford University Press book, Grand Challenges for Social Work and Society and a 2015 AASWSW paper titled, the Grand Challenge of Ending Homelessness.
Justin Hodge, LMSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan where he promotes socially just policies through his engagement in governmental and political organizations. A licensed MSW, he earned his MSW degree at the University of Michigan. Justin was elected to serve the Washtenaw County community as both the Chair of the Eastern Washtenaw Democratic Club and the Vice-Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. He was also appointed to serve on the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board for Law Enforcement where he brings a social justice perspective to the board. Justin is dedicated to mental health services on both a policy and individual level. He has provided therapy to children and families, case management to individuals with developmental disabilities, and has coordinated clinics for children in crisis. By leveraging his experiences as both a clinical and macro social work practitioner, Hodge aims to bridge the gap between the two for students. Justin teaches in the online Certificate Program in Political Social Work which is designed for all social workers, regardless of area of primary practice, to fulfill their ethical obligation to engage in social and political action, or for anyone interested in applying social justice to politics and policy. Participants in the program learn how politics impacts the lives of those that they serve on both a micro and macro level, practice skills for advocating to policymakers, gain tools to empower clients to become politically engaged, and explore opportunities for running for office.
Janie L. Jeffers, MSW, is founder and president of Jeffers and Associates, LLC, a strategic management consulting firm providing services to Harvard University, the U.S. Justice Department, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and various criminal justice organizations. President Bill Clinton appointed her a Commissioner on the United States Parole Commission in 1999. She has had a distinguished career in public policy, education, management, health care, and criminal justice at the federal and local levels. Ms. Jeffers served as Executive Deputy Director for the Federal DC Interagency Task Force at the White House Office of Management and Budget, where she coordinated technical assistance to the District of Columbia government on economic development, education, childcare, and public/private partnerships. She also served as Policy Advisor for the President’s Crime Prevention Council, chaired by Vice President Gore. From 1992-1996, she was Chief of the National Office of Citizen Participation for the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Department of Justice and, from 1985-1991, she was Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Correction, rising through the ranks to become the first civilian to achieve that position. She managed city-wide delivery of health care, education, and legal services for over 20,000 inmates with a $50 million budget. Ms. Jeffers was a consultant to the World Health Organization in Geneva on AIDS management in penal institutions in Europe and Africa. She was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at her alma mater – Howard University School of Social Work where she received her M.S.W. degree. She has been a field instructor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, an adjunct professor at Baruch College in New York City and instructor at the National Academy of Corrections in Colorado.
Dr. Jason Ostrander is an assistant professor and the director of the MSW program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He is a product of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work where he earned his MSW and Ph.D. degrees. His research and practice foci are on the political participation of social workers, social and economic justice, program evaluation, and policy implications relating to vulnerable populations. He is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Policy Practice and Research and consulting editor for the journal Advances in Social Work. He is an adjunct professor and senior instructor for Simmons College of Social Work’s online graduate. Jason has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on social workers’ political participation, child protections services, trauma-informed work with refugees, and race and incarceration. Jason is a frequent presenter at major professional conferences. At UConn, Jason is co-investigator of The Voter Engagement Initiative which educates students, field agencies, supervisors, field liaisons, and faculty members about the importance of voter engagement and teaches them effective methods to engage individuals and communities in voting. Wile a doctoral student, he was also a research assistant for the Performance Improvement Center (PIC) project which worked with and was funded by the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families (DCF). The PIC helps the Community Partner Agencies enhance the quality of and evaluate their work, and to make recommendations to the CPAs and DCF.
Dr. Suzanne Pritzker began her professional career as a policy advisor for the Virginia Secretary of Education and as an analyst for the Virginia General Assembly. With a front-line view of the policy-making process, she developed a passion for educating and empowering vulnerable populations to participate in – and influence – public policy development and implementation. Her scholarship investigates how young people become civically involved and practice interventions to increase their empowerment and their engagement. Her research has focused on the impacts of interventions such as community-based participatory research, in the form of Photovoice, and service-learning on youth’s civic engagement. Dr. Pritzker is committed to preparing social workers for their ethical responsibility to advocate with and on behalf of vulnerable populations. In one line of research, she extensively examines how social work programs prepare students to influence policy. She is actively involved in national efforts to strengthen the policy influence of the social work profession, including service on multiple national committees and on the board of Influencing Social Policy. She facilitates trainings on teaching policy for social work faculty across the U.S. Additionally, Dr. Pritzker is co-author of the textbook, Political Social Work: Using Power to Create Social Change. At the GCSW, Dr. Pritzker seeks through her teaching to guide students to understand how policy is developed and implemented and, ways they can participate in political processes, and to develop the skills necessary to engage in policy advocacy on behalf of and alongside their clients. She leads the GCSW’s Political Social Work Specialization and directs the College’s Austin Legislative Internship Program, a competitive internship program that places social work students in the Texas legislature for the entirety of each biennial legislative session. She created the College’s Policy Insider Series, a monthly policy seminar series, and is faculty advisor for the M.A.C.R.O. Student Network and the Policy Insider Advisory Committee.
Anna Forbes Towns, Esq. is in private practice at the firm established as Anna Forbes Towns and Associates. The firm specializes in the practice of administrative law primarily representing clients in cases involving social security appeals and the appeal of veterans’ benefits claims. Towns is committed to advocacy, training, outreach and representation of undeserved constituencies. Throughout her career, Towns has skillfully combined training and experience in the fields of social work, education and law to serve as an effective advocate for at risk children, families, veterans and other under-served constituencies. She has been recognized for her expertise and work in the development of model programs and work products geared toward enhancing the quality of life for those residing in low and moderate income communities. A highlight of her career was serving as an appointee in the Administration of President Bill Clinton. During this appointment at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Towns played a key role in the successful launching of HUD’s Faith-Based and Community Outreach Initiative. Anna enjoys membership and affiliation with numerous organizations including: the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Towns earned her B.A. degree in Sociology from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD; the M.S.W. degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY; and the J.D. degree from Howard University School of Law. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from the Virginia University of Lynchburg located in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Dr. Alexia Wood is the executive director of the St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter (SJEHS) in Green Bay, Wisconsin that provides shelter and a myriad of services for the homeless. Included in its services are the Micah Center and Wellspring, important components providing computer labs, music and media centers, counseling, drug and alcohol classes, daily workshops, an educational lab, career help through The Joseph Project, a faith-based program that connects people to jobs. Participants go through a 4-day life skills training program and then are offered a chance to interview with a company willing to hire at a living wage. Alexia recently graduated with the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree from the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. She earned her MSW at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2008). Prior to her work at St. John’s, she worked in various capacities serving the homeless, those with addictions, individuals receiving government assistance, and women engaged with the criminal justice system as victims of human sex trafficking. She considers herself to be the “big picture” gal – working to set the vision for the organization and ensure that staff and volunteers have the resources and support needed to carry out their roles with passion. From leadership to fundraising and awareness, she strives to work to guarantee the organization have the means to serve homeless women and men while addressing the systemic issues creating poverty and homelessness. When not at work or in class, Alexia enjoys hanging out with her 8-year-old son and 3-year-old foster daughter, and enjoying the outdoors.