Social Work Warriors celebrate National Social Work Month - March 2023

For over a century, social workers have been working to empower social change in their communities and advocating for social programs that impact us all. Led by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), every March we recognize the over 715,000 social workers in the U.S. and three million worldwide who positively impact our daily lives. The March 2023 theme, Social Work Breaks Barriers, underscores the many ways in which social workers are breaking down barriers to benefit our communities and its members, such as working with law enforcement in crisis response teams to provide needed services and prevent criminal legal involvement; ensuring voices are hear through voting advocacy efforts; collaborating with community experts and organizations to advance environmental justice to ensure all community members have a healthy place to live; and much more.

Ways to Celebrate

We encourage our Warrior Strong alumni, students and friends to celebrate social workers this March in the following ways:

  • Attend an event held this March, including the final portion of the Environmental Justice Series on March 23, 2023 focused on the ways we can create a healthy community for all Detroiters to live, work and play
  • Expand your expertise and earn some CE’s with an event or online course from the Office of Continuing Education
  • Show your Social Work Warrior Pride with a purchase from our new online apparel shop open for the last week of March. Orders will be sent directly to customers and all proceeds will support social work student organizations. Order now
  • Get involved via social media:
    • Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter) and like and repost our Social Work Warrior Trailblazer posts, which will be featured throughout March.
    • Share the essential work you do in your everyday lives through posts, pictures, and videos. Use the phrase: "I became a social worker because..." or "I became a social worker to help shape the world we live in" and be sure to tag us! Hashtags for this March: #SWMonth2023 #SocialWorkBreaksBarriers #SocialWorkMonth

Trailblazing Social Work Alumni 

Throughout March, we will highlighting Wayne State Social Work alumni who have seen an area of need and became trailblazers working to break down barriers in their respective areas of study. Learn more about these social workers below and on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter.

Brian ChaneyBrian Chaney, LMSW, C.Ht., MSW ‘00

As Founder and CEO of Chane Reaction Counseling Services, Brian Chaney truly feels that every action is a reaction of a certain chain of events. A native Detroiter, Chaney understood the need to provide culturally sensitive mental health services to underrepresented populations. Thus, Chane Reaction Counseling Services was born. As he saw the need grow, Chaney opened his doors for other Black male therapists to join him on this journey and has continued to expand agency offerings to meet new unmet needs, including sports social work. Chaney attended Eastern Michigan University as a student-athlete earning his BSW in 1997 and shortly after. In 2020, Chaney earned his MSW from Wayne State and attended the Clinical Hypnosis Institute to become certified in Basic, Advanced, and Analytical Hypnosis focusing on weight/shape management, smoking cessation, stress/pain management, and past life regression.

Franchott CooperFranchott Cooper, MSW '95

Alum and Detroit Public School Community District Special Education Supervisor Franchott Cooper has forged new paths to ensure all Detroit youth have access to education and academic success opportunities. Cooper has been a special education School Social Worker for over twenty-four years in public education and now supervises 145 school social workers in Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD). As a native Detroiter and proud DPSCD graduate, he is respected throughout his professional career for his ability to create innovative programming in crisis response, early childhood education, special education, and behavioral intervention planning. Cooper has also blazed the trail by creating district-wide skill-building opportunities for school social workers to expand their understanding of IDEA, the IEP process, Section 504, Title IX, and ways to support through crisis/ trauma interventions. Most recently, Cooper developed crisis response teams for DPSCD, where school social workers provide mental health engagement, intervention, and follow-up support to students and employees during a crisis event.

Paul HubbardPaul Hubbard, MSW ‘71

Alum and macro community organizer Paul Hubbard has been stepping on a few toes to advance community justice for over 50 years. Having earned his MSW from Wayne State in 1971, Hubbard went on to become a founding member of Black Family Development, CEO of New Detroit, Managing Partner of Trivium Community Economic Development and currently is a member of the Toledo Social Unrest Task Force. Helping others expand their horizons and take pride in being a Black Detroiter was weaved throughout Hubbard’s student and professional career. Hubbard blazed a trail for new Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) membership policies in 1978, when he became one of the first Black members of the elite club. With the support of Detroit City Councilwoman - who also became a WSU Social Work part-time faculty member - Maryann Mahaffey, the DAC adjusted its membership policies to allow Black and female members. In 2022, the DAC elected its first ever Black male board president, Darren Sanders.

Norm ThomasFr. Norman Thomas, MSW ‘65

Known as “the people’s paster” Fr. Norman Thomas worked throughout his pastoral career advocating for social justice and equality for Detroit’s Black community. Thomas worked to develop the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, which gathered pastors from across the city to advocate for better social, economic, and housing conditions in Detroit. He embraced the importance of a holistic Black Catholic spirituality that brought together a community torn apart by civil unrest and systemic racism. Thomas’ social work and advocacy background drew him to California to fight for the rights of Hispanic workers and speak out against police brutality and systemic racism occurring in and out of the church. He graduated from Sacred Heart Seminary High School and College before heading to St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth. Thomas was ordained a priest in 1955 and went on to earn his MSW from Wayne State in 1965.

Tiera RobinsonTiera Robinson, MSW ‘15

Wayne State University Warrior Alumna Tiera Robinson works to ensure every resident knows how to access urgent care as the City of Detroit Code Blue Program Manager. Housed within the Office of Detroit Housing Services-Emergency Housing Services Division in the Housing Revitalization Department, Robinson has forged a new path to ensuring all displaced Detroit residents locate permanent housing. Robinson’s Code Blue Team supports tenants who have been displaced or will be displaced by way of evictions, legal or illegal, house/apartment fires, and poor living conditions. In 2015, Robinson obtained her MSW focused on macro social work from Wayne State and immediately began work in her Detroit Community as the Health Coach for the Chandler Park Healthy Neighborhood Strategy, a program she and former WSU graduates helped build and realize. In 2020, Robinson and her team led the charge for the city’s first direct wraparound service program, Community Health Corps, assisting residents with support services ranging from home repairs, to transportation, and more.

AeYanna YettAeYanna Yett, MSW ‘22

A recent MSW graduate of Wayne State, Yett began her journey of empowering communities to ignite change while still a student. Yett served as the president of the Association of Black Social Workers and as a Student Senate representative to engage WSU Social Work students. She continued sharing her passion for community organizing as the chair of the first-ever Sterling Heights African American Coalition. Yett organized and hosted Sterling Heights' first-ever city-wide celebration of Juneteenth, Sickle Cell awareness and blood drive events, a voter education event, and passed a resolution that recognizes Sterling Heights' acknowledgment and celebration of Black History Month for years to come. Yett has also served as an Albert Schweitzer fellow to implement a community healing project for Black women survivors of sexual assault in Detroit with the SASHA Center. This work has encouraged a broader conversation about Black women's sexual assault in Metro-Detroit and continues to highlight the good work that SASHA Center does to address this issue. In addition to her MSW, Yett earned her bachelors in psychology from WSU in 2019 and currently works as a senior research assistant at the WSU Center for Social Work Research and lead facilitator at the SASHA Center.

Shayla ZimmermanShayla Zimmerman, BSW ‘19

Shayla Zimmerman began her journey of community organizing at 15 years old and turned that passion into a career focused on community engagement, resource coordination, and capacity building within nonprofit and grassroot organizations. Among other intersecting identities, Zimmerman identifies as a disabled and neurodivergent woman and uses she/her pronouns. She is a first-generation student and a proud graduate from WSU with a bachelor’s of social work, focused on peace and conflict studies and she is currently a masters of public health student at the University of Michigan. Zimmerman works as the special projects manager for community impact at United Way for Southeastern Michigan and established the Community Impact Internship Program for BSW students, helping social work students light the way around crises response, community engagement, and systemic change. Her passion for evidence and experience-based social work has led her through various opportunities such as working with a healthcare foundation in Kabale, Uganda, empowering women to run and win seats in government, and serving in leadership positions to prevent gun and gang violence and generational incarceration. She was born and raised in and currently calls the east side of Detroit, home.

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