Warrior faculty and alumni discuss the success of recent Wayne State Social Entrepreneurship initiatives in Detroit

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Merriam Issa, Tamarie Willis, Marijo Upshaw, Dominique Golden and Anita Partyka

A group of Wayne State University School of Social Work faculty and staff accompanied recent program graduates on a trip to Chicago to attend and present at the 30th Annual Conference of the Network of Social Work Managers (NSWM). The national conference annually attracts over 350 social work leaders and managers of social, health and human services programs, departments and agencies nationwide and has previously centered on aspects of social enterprise and social innovation. The 2019 event was held at the Lakeshore campus of Loyola University of Chicago. This year’s conference organizing theme was “Accelerating Impact: Harnessing the Power of Human, Social and Financial Innovation,” which garnered nearly 150 workshop proposals. Among the workshops, panel and poster sessions selected for the conference included two dynamic presentations from SSW alumni.

Social Work Adjunct Faculty Marijo Upshaw, MSW, MBA presented a 60-minute workshop on “An Overview of Social Work Entrepreneurship” on the first day of the conference. Upshaw co-chairs the SSW’s Social Entrepreneurship Committee and teaches a course on social entrepreneurship that she developed for the SSW.

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Merriam Issa presenting

Another prominent theme of this year’s conference centered on challenges and successes in measuring and reporting program outcomes and impact in social administration. Anita Partyka, MSW, Dominique Golden, MSW, and Merriam Issa, MSW all recent MSW graduates from the SSW’s Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership (ICPL) concentration, drew a classroom full of conference participants to attend their 60-minute workshop on “Building Interactive Data Dashboards in Excel and Data Visualization Tips.” The workshop highlighted work performed during Partyka’s field placement and a benchmark classroom assignment that the then students undertook during a community platform course taught by Social Work Associate Professor Richard Smith, who chairs the ICPL program. The workshop featured Partyka, Issa and Golden’s work on helping a Detroit-based entrepreneurial service organization, The Build Institute, better identify, measure and track the social impact of a crowdfunding program designed to seed and grown community-based business and social venture startups called Detroit SOUP.

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Merriam Issa, Maria Wathen (NSWM Program Committee Co-chair), Marijo Upshaw, John Tropman (NSWM Interim Vice President), Anita Partyka, Tamarie Willis, and Dominique Golden.

Prior to the conference, the Wayne State group joined the leadership of the Association of Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) for a guided tour of the historic Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago founded by Jane Addams, who is widely recognized as the mother of social work. The Hull House tour (pictured right) featured highlights of Adam’s long career as a community organizer, advocate and social reformer, as well as other bold and talented Progressive-era women who launched numerous innovative public health and welfare campaigns and movements from the Hull House platform. The house is now located on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). The group then joined the SSW’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Program Coordinator and Data Technician, and ACOSA board member, Tamarie Willis, and other ACOSA leaders at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC for their annual working retreat.

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