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Boston College School of Social Work

Racial Justice Symposium

The Racial Justice Symposium (RJS), Racial Trauma & Healing in Social Work: Research, Policy & Practice, is a student-run event that aims to bridge the gap between scholars and practitioners within the field of Social Work. The inaugural symposium is designed to provide participants with resources and tools to analyze the multiple manifestations of racism and racial oppression and frame their work through a combined micro and macro lens. The Racial Justice Symposium is presented by Social Work Umoja and sponsored by the Research in Social, Economic, and Environmental Equity (RISE3) and the Office of the Dean of the Boston College School of Social Work.

March 16, 2018
Gasson Hall 100, Boston College
10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Breakfast & lunch included
Free admission (Open to the public)

Detailed Agenda Below

Space is limited, please RSVP by Friday, March 9, only if you can attend.


For further inquiries, please contact Dale Maglalang at


                              Frequently Asked Questions        

                                  Featured Speakers & Panelists

                              Directions & Parking

                                  Student Planning Committee



9:30 a.m.      Registration


Doors Open


Opening Remarks & Rituals


Ruth McRoy, MSW, PhD

  Donahue and DiFelice Professor of Social Work, Children, Youth & Families
Co-Founding Director, RISE3 at Boston College


Panel 1
  Racial Trauma: Hxstory and Effects of Racism
  • C. Shawn McGuffey, PhD
    Associate Professor, Boston College Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences
  • Philippe Copeland, MSW, PhD
    Clinical Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Social Work
  • Polly Hanson-Grodsky, LICSW
    Associate Director, Project Place, and Part-Time Faculty, Boston College School of Social Work
  • Moderator: Gautam N. Yadama, PhD
    Dean and Professor, Boston College School of Social Work

12:00 p.m.



Panel 2

  Racial Healing: Dismantling Racial Trauma in Research, Policy, & Practice in Social Work
  • Janet E. Helms, PhD
    Augustus Long Professor, Boston College Lynch School of Education
  • Dennie Butler-MacKay, LICSW
    Senior Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Consultant to Community Programs, Southern Jamaica
    Plain Health Center
  • Abigail Ortiz, MSW, MPH
    Director of Community Health Programs, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center
  • Ilyitch Nahiely Tábora, MSW
    President, Talented And Gifted Association, Inc.
  • Moderator: Tiziana Dearing, MPP
    Professor of Macro Practice, Global Practice, Co-Director, Center for Social Innovation, Co-Founding 
    Director, RISE3 at Boston College


Racial Affinity Spaces


Closing Remarks


Featured Speakers & Panelists

Dennie Butler-McKay, LICSW
Dennie Butler-MacKay is a Senior Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Consultant to Community Programs at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. She has over 20 years of clinical experience. Dennie specializes in trauma, is a certified Sensorimotor Psychotherapist, and engages numerous other trauma treatment approaches and healing modalities.  In addition to providing psychotherapy to children, families and adults, Dennie serves as the co-creator and a faculty member for the Racial Reconciliation and Healing Project. She has taught graduate classes on the implications of racism, offered racial affinity groups and trainings, and serves as a member of the New England Racial Justice Collaborative. Dennie’s clinical expertise has strengthened her resolve to embrace the heart as a pathway for healing the trauma of racism.

Philippe Copeland, MSW, PhD
Dr. Phillipe Copeland is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Social Work. His teaching, scholarship, and practice focus on the intersections of social justice, democracy, and social welfare. This includes the abolition of mass incarceration and the Black Lives Matter Movement as primary concerns. Dr. Copeland is also a licensed, practicing social worker specializing in Adult Behavioral Health.

Polly Hanson-Grodsky, LICSW
Polly Hanson is Associate Director at Project Place, an agency dedicated to providing hope and opportunity to homeless and low-income populations in Boston, MA. Polly’s active participation in anti-racism and size-bias work ignited during her social work education and has continued to grow and flourish over the past decade. Polly’s experience as an agitator for change within the system as well as an activist & as a white-identifying ally guides her work and informs her practice in a daily way. Polly teaches courses on Race and Racism in the United States as well as Human Behavior in the Social Environment and Social Policy for Children and Families. She has held social work faculty positions at Boston College, Simmons College and Smith College. She has special interest in race & racism in the clinical and social service encounter, she actively participates in a book group dedicated to discussions of race & has presented her research on size bias in the therapeutic encounter within the community. She lives in Malden, MA with her family and enjoys gardening and crafting with glitter.

Janet E. Helms, PhD
Dr. Janet E. Helms is the Augustus Long Professor in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology and Director of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College. She is past president of the Society of Counseling Psychology (Division 17 of the American Psychological Association [APA]). Dr. Helms is a Fellow in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology), Division 45 (Ethnic Diversity), and Division 35 (Psychology of Women) of the APA. In addition, she is a member of the Association of Black Psychologists, the American Psychological Society, and the American Educational Research Association.

Dr. Helms has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Psychological Assessment and the Journal of Counseling Psychology and is on the Counsel of Research Elders of the Journal of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.  She has written over sixty empirical and theoretical articles and four books on the topics of racial identity and cultural influences on assessment and counseling practice.

Her books include A Race Is a Nice Thing to Have (Microtraining Associates) and (with Donelda Cook) Using Race and Culture in Counseling Psychotherapy: Theory and Process (MA: Allyn & Bacon).

Dr. Helms’s work has been acknowledged with awards that include the national Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for mentoring students, an engraved brick in Iowa State University’s Plaza of Heroines, and the “Distinguished Career Contributions to Research” Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45), the American Psychological Association’s Awards for “Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology” (2006) and the Award for “Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy” (2008).  She was a recipient of the Association of Black Psychologists’ 2007 Award for Distinguished Psychologist.  In 1991, she was the first annual recipient of the “Janet E. Helms Award for Mentoring and Scholarship in Professional Psychology.”  This award was inaugurated in her honor by Columbia University Teachers College.  Dr. Helms was the recipient of the 2002 Leona Tyler Award awarded by Division 17 in recognition of an outstanding research career.

C. Shawn McGuffey, PhD
Dr. C. Shawn McGuffey is an Associate Professor of Sociology and African & African Diaspora Studies at Boston College. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, his scholarly work primarily highlights how race, gender, sexuality and social class both constrain and create the choices survivors pursue in the aftermath of trauma. Two of his current projects focus on sexual trauma. One examines how gender, sexuality, and race shape parental responses to child sexual abuse; and the other investigates the social psychology of Black rape survivors in the U.S., Ghana and South Africa.  A third project investigates the ways in which Darfurian genocide survivors navigate the International Criminal Court; and a fourth examines Black LGBT views on same-sex marriage and civic engagement. McGuffey is the recipient of three American Sociological Association section awards:  the 2006 Sally Hacker Award for research excellence, a 2009 “Best Research Article Award,” and a 2016 “Distinguished Article Award.” In 2016 he also received the Kimberlé Crenshaw Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. The Ford Foundation, a Research Incentive Grant, and the Institute for Liberal Arts have supported his research. He has given invited lectures at the Center for Children and Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, The Center for the Study of Violence and Prevention at the University of Colorado, Harvard University, and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

He has also written op-ed and guest blog essays on the George Zimmerman verdict, Bashir and the International Criminal Court, and the Orlando Massacre among others.

In his free time Shawn enjoys volunteering with his therapy dog, practicing the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and competitive eating competitions. Pies and cupcakes are his gastronomic specialties.

Ruth G. McRoy, MSW, PhD
In September 2009, Dr. Ruth G. McRoy became the first holder of the Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professorship at Boston College School of Social Work.  Prior to joining the Boston College faculty, Dr. McRoy held the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professorship at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. Her teaching focuses on the History and Philosophy of American Social Welfare and Contemporary Issues in Adoption and Foster Care. Her research and scholarship have focused on many topics including  racial disproportionality in child welfare, family preservation, kinship care,  openness in  adoptions, adoptive family recruitment and retention, minority recruitment, racial identity development, transracial adoptions, older child adoptions,  and post-adoption services. She has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters and twelve books, including:  Building Research Culture and Infrastructure (with J. Flanzer & J. Zlotnik),  and Transracial and Intercountry Adoptions: Culturally Sensitive Guidance for Professionals (with Rowena Fong).

She has recently served on the Society for Social Work and Research Board, and as Chair of the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Diversity and Social and Economic Justice. Currently, she is a Member and Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW), Program Chair and on the Board of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston, on the Advisory Board of the CSWE Diversity Center, and on the Board of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP). She is a Network Co-Lead on the AASWSW Grand Challenge to “Achieve Equal Opportunity and Justice”.   Her recent awards include the 2013 Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Children’s Bureau, and the 2014 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

Abigail Ortiz, MSW, MPH
Abigail Ortiz, Director of Community Health Programs, has worked at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center (SJPHC) since 2003. She has over 19 years of experience working with youth, youth organizing and teaching. She is committed to eliminating racial inequities in health through public health equity strategies, community engagement, and youth-driven organizing.  Abigail currently oversees numerous health promotion programs and under her leadership, has extended SJPHC’s youth programming and engagement by expanding their peer leadership model and further developing relationships with community partners. Abigail oversees the Health Promotion Center, next door to the health center, where several in- and out-of-house public health initiatives are offered; such as family planning, nutrition and movement classes, youth employment organizing and The Jamaica Plain Racial Justice and Equity Collaborative and the Racial Reconciliation and Healing Team.  Abigail provides leadership training and organizational development consultation on racial justice and equity to partner organizations locally and nationally. Abigail holds a Masters degree in Social Work and Public Health from Boston University with a focus on program management, community organizing and racial justice and equity.

She is the recipient of multiple awards and honors including Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award for social entrepreneurship in 2013, the Change maker award in 2010 from The City School and the Hubie Jones Award for Urban Service from Boston University School of Social Work in 2008.

Ilyitch Nahiely Tábora, MSW
Ilyitch Nahiely Tábora has led a social justice career spanning 15 years, promoting education and racial equity. Currently the Deputy Director of the Office of Fair Housing & Equity for the City of Boston under the Martin J. Walsh Administration, she helps lead the Office charged with enforcing fair housing rights in the City of Boston. Prior to this assuming this role in January 2018, Ilyitch served as the Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) Cabinet. In this capacity she oversaw the Cabinet-level team and works directly with the seven Department Heads within HHS, focusing on developing efficient and effective processes for data collection and reporting, hiring and staff management, as well as integrating racial equity lens into work of the departments. Ilyitch previously directed the Talented And Gifted Latino Program (TAG) at the University of Massachusetts Boston, developing and overseeing the implementation of the TAG’s out-of-school time programs for Latino and immigrant youth. She led the expansion of the program over the course of 12 years, raising over 1,000,000 in external funding, increasing the number of students served by 150%, and integrating a strong teacher development program into TAG's summer programming. Prior to her work at UMass Boston, Tábora was a community organizer at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

Currently, Tábora serves as the President of the Talented And Gifted Association, Inc, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that promotes Latino culture, art and education by supporting the TAG Latino Program and other community initiatives. Additionally, she serves on the Advisory Board of the Gaston Institute for Latino Public Policy and Community Development at UMass Boston, and the Boston College AHANA Alumni Advisory Council, and on two parent leadership bodies in Boston Latin School. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at UMass Boston in Educational Leadership. Ilyitch is a proud Bostonian first generation American, daughter of Mexican and Honduran immigrants, a product of born, the Boston Public Schools and the TAG Latino Program. She lives in Boston with her daughter Nahiely Isel, a student at Boston Latin School.

Student Planning Committee

Melissa W. Bartholomew, MSW, MDiv, JD (Co-Chair)
Melissa is a PhD student in social work and a racial justice and healing practitioner. She practiced public interest law for nearly 10 years. Her research interests include the impact of racism and incarceration on the mental health of African Africans and the role of spirituality in their resilience. Melissa earned her MSW from Boston College, her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School, and her JD from Howard University.

Dale Dagar Maglalang, MA (Co-Chair)
Dale Dagar Maglalang is a second year in the combined MSW/PhD program. His research interests are on social determination of health, Critical Social Work, Critical Race Theory, (im)migration, and care work. Dale earned his BS in Human Development & BA in Asian American Studies at University of California, Davis and MA in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.

Tracy Bony, BA
Tracy is a second year MSW candidate at the Boston College School of Social Work on the clinical mental health track. Tracy earned her BA in Psychology from Florida International University in Miami. Tracy’s research interests are health and mental health racial/ethnic disparities, trauma,racial trauma, and stress and resiliency.

Manuel Cano, LCSW
Manuel is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Work at Boston College. He studies acculturation and substance abuse in Latino populations, as well as diversity and inclusion in social work education. Manuel received an MSW from Arizona State University and subsequently worked as a substance abuse clinician with adult caregivers involved in the child welfare system.

Kerri Evans, MSW, LCSW
Kerri is a PhD student. She earned her MSW from the University of Maryland in 2009 and worked in both clinical and macro roles with immigrants and refugees. Her research interests include ways to eliminate social isolation for young forced migrants including mentoring, bullying prevention, school integration, and integration.

Natalia Evens De Menezes, BA
Natalia is a first year in the MSW (Macro) program. Natalia is passionate about serving immigrant and refugee populations with dignity and compassion. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Natalia earned her BA in Political Science, African Studies, and American Studies from Macalester College in St.Paul, MN.

Victor Figuereo, LCSW
Victor is a PhD candidate at the Boston College School of Social Work. Victor earned his BA in Psychology from Clark University, MA in Clinical Psychology from Ball State University, and MSW at Boston College in 2016. His research focus is the intersection of race, Latinx immigration, and Latinx health and mental health disparities.

Callia Hansen, BA
Second year MSW (Clinical). Research interests include facilitating White people’s awareness of and responsibility for racism; race, ethnicity and culture in research; research and practice; intergroup relations- compromise/increasing empathy. Work experience: University Counseling Center; Residential Mental Health/Crisis Stabilization (adults); Unaccompanied Refugee Minors; Community Mental Health. California native.

Abril Harris, MSW
Abril Harris is a PhD student. Her research focuses on racial identity formation, oppressive messaging, the effects of racism on self-efficacy in young people of color. Abril earns her BA from the University of California, Riverside and her MSW from California State University, Long Beach.

Javier Reyes Martínez, MA
Javier Reyes M. is a doctoral student in the Social Welfare program. He graduated in Communications and holds two master's degrees- Administration and Marketing. His research interests lie in the intersection between cultural rights, social exclusion, and social welfare.

Bongki Woo, MSW
Bongki Woo is a PhD candidate. His research focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities, racial stratification, ethnic identity construction, and social and environmental determinants of health. Bongki earned his MSW at the University of Pittsburgh.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the event only open to BC Social Work students?
No, this event is open to the public for all students (both undergraduate and graduate students), practitioners, policy makers, organizers, community members etc. who are committed to racial justice work.

How much is the registration fee?
The event is free which includes free breakfast and lunch.

Are there gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options?
Yes, please indicate it in the RSVP form.

Are there accomodations for participants with disabilities?
We will do our best to accommodate participants who may need assistance. Please indicate it in your RSVP form.

Directions & Parking at Boston College

Campus Map
Public Transportation to Boston College


Dean Gautam Yadama
Dr. David Takeuchi
Dr. Ruth McRoy
Professor Tiziana Dearing
Associate Dean Teresa Schirmer
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