Alumni News: Fall 2016 / Winter 2017

We recognize the many achievements and contributions Mandel School alumni make in all corners of the world. Please send your news to: Nada Di Franco ( and include your name, class year, email address and phone number. (This Alumni News was originally featured in the Fall 2016 / Winter 2017 issue of action magazine.)

Myrlene Jones, MSSA 1972, was recognized by Worldwide Branding for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in religious education and work with The Bethel Bible Institute, which she co-founded in 1984.

Doug Breunlin, MSSA 1975, is the coauthor of two chapters in the recently published new edition of the Handbook of Family Therapy. The book illuminates the common threads in couple and family therapies and a range of perspectives. It explores the integration of theory, clinical wisdom, and practical and meaningful research that produces the best understanding of family relationships as well as the best treatment options. Breunlin is the Director of the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

Ena M. Watson, PhD 1976, will be featured in the International Association of HealthCare Professionals’ publication, Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare. Dr. Watson is a psychotherapist with a range of expertise, including child, adolescent and adult therapy and mental health. Dr. Watson has been practicing for more than 43 years. She is a Clinical Social Worker Specialist at Metropolitan Psychotherapy Services in Camp Springs, Maryland.

Robert Keefe, MSSA 1985, is the lead author of a study that offers new insights on postpartum depression among women of color. The study, published in the journal Social Work in Mental Health, is among the first to provide first-person perspectives from African-American and Latina mothers about their experiences with postpartum depression and the types of formal and informal services that help manage their depression. Keefe is an Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

Gautam N. Yadama, MSSA 1985, PhD 1990, became the Dean of the Boston College School of Social Work in July, having previously been Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs and Professor in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. Dr. Yadama is an internationally respected researcher whose interdisciplinary work has focused on understanding the social and environmental challenges of the rural poor in South Asia and China. He currently serves as an advisory group member with the Implementation Science Network for the National Institutes of Health, addressing the issue of household air pollution around the world.

In Young Han, PhD 1988, Professor at Ewha Women’s University, Department of Social Work, South Korea, chaired the June 2016 Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Seoul, South Korea.

Nadine Bean, MSSA 1990, PhD 1994, Associate Professor at West Chester University, won the 2015 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. When she was honored with the award, she promptly gave part of the stipend it came with to four social work master’s students in the form of $500 scholarships. She is the first Lindback recipient known to have done so. Bean was also recognized in 2012 with a SAGE/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education.

Eugenia Cash, MSSA 1992, was reelected as board chair of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAHMS) Board of Cuyahoga County. Cash is the Humanware/ Social Emotional Learning Manager, Administrator External Supports for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Also serving on the board are Richard Romaniuk, MSSA 1999, a Lecturer at the Mandel School, and David Biegel, PhD, Henry L. Zucker Professor of Social Work Practice at the Mandel School.

Carlton Craig, MSSA 1993, joined the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as Professor and Director of the School of Social Work and Program Supervisor for the UNLV Marriage and Family Therapy Program. Dr. Craig had been on the faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.

Kim Strom-Gottfried, PhD 1993 (pictured), who is the Smith P. Theimann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Professional Practice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Social Work, was appointed Director of Ethics Education and Policy Management at the university. In this newly created cabinet-level position, Strom-Gottfried will focus on coordinating ethics programs and reporting mechanisms, along with overseeing management of UNC’s policy infrastructure. In addition, she will serve as an advocate for ethics resources and programs, helping identify, coordinate and promote ethics related opportunities across campus.

Holly Hirsel, MSSA 1995, a social worker with the Veterans Administration national Homeless Program, wrote a VA blog article about Army Veteran Tony Grant, who created a veteran-focused ministry within his church, True Vision Church, where he serves as a deacon.

Megan O’Bryan MNO, 1995, was featured in Crain’s Cleveland Business for her work at Cuyahoga Community College as the Vice President of Development and the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation.

Leslie Opper, MSSA 1998, was promoted to Assistant Vice President, human resources at Fischer-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, Ohio. In her new role, Opper will provide leadership for all FisherTitus Health employee relations and organizational development, including recruiting, engagement and training.

Craig Boitel, PhD 2002, co-authored an article about youth and community outcomes. The article, “From juvenile offender institutions to residential treatment centers: Evidence of the shifting paradigm to improved youth and community outcomes,” appears in the Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work.

Theresa Ott-Gaser, MSSA 2003, wrote a children’s book entitled Ice Cream Cone Feelings, which officially launched in June. Her second children’s book, There’s A Squirrel In My Tummy, is expected to be available in December and she has a third book in the works. Her books can be found at In addition, Ott-Gaser presents training seminars on trauma-informed therapy and professional ethics in high risk clinical circumstances and clinical supervision in high risk clinical circumstances for Heisel and Associates. She is also the founder of the Restore Foundation, which provides education about the impact of trauma on children and provides financial support for children seeking professional assistance.

Lee Fisher, MNO 2005, Ohio’s former Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, is serving as Interim Dean of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and as a Visiting Professor of law. Fisher is the President and CEO of the CEOs for Cities network and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Economic Development in Cleveland State’s Levin College of Urban Affairs.

Sylvia Olaszek Brochue, MSSA 2006, received the “25 under 35” award from her high school, Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland. She was featured in the school’s publication Update, which had this to say about her: “Sylvia began a career in social work with a service oriented mind set and a desire to assist those from disadvantaged populations. Within the foster system, she works to create loving and strong relationships with the children, focusing her energy on therapeutic foster care, which treats some of the more significantly traumatized, abused and neglected children in the Cleveland area and surrounding communities. Throughout her 10 years at her current job, Sylvia has facilitated many successful re-unifications, adoptions and other permanent lifelong connections for disadvantaged youths. Her desire to serve and help others through her career helps heal children and create a sense of permanency in their lives.”

Rachel Felber, MSSA 2007, has been named Director of Camp Wise, the Mandel Jewish Community Center’s residential camp near Chardon, Ohio. Felber, who served as the camp’s Assistant Director the past four summers, had been appointed its interim Director in February.

Agnes Akite, MNO 2009, MSSA 2014, was recognized by Global Cleveland as part of its National Immigrant Heritage Month celebration in June. Akite came to the United States from Uganda. When asked in the interview, “Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?” she responded, “This is the salad bowl of the world. America cannot be what it is without immigrants and refugees. This is where people go to be free and liberated.” Akite is currently a student at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.

Jessica Kayse, MSSA 2011, recently accepted a position as Manager of Resident Engagement at Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC). In this position, she will lead the creation of CAC’s resident engagement strategy and manage day-to-day activities that better connect CAC with residents of Cuyahoga County (Ohio).

Annette Iwamoto, MSSA 2012, was named to the Cleveland Bridge Builders class of 2017. The Cleveland Leadership Center selects the Cleveland Bridge Builders classes yearly, drawing from leaders in the nonprofit, for-profit and public sectors. She was also nominated to be person of the month in May 2016 for

Shavar Johnson, MSSA 2012, is now the HIV Prevention Coordinator at Recovery Resources in Cleveland, which is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping people with mental illness, alcoholism, drug and other addictions.

Diwakar Vadapalli, PhD 2012, and Assistant Professor Debby Jacobson, got together in Anchorage, Alaska, where he is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research. Dr. Vadapalli and his wife have a 4-year-old and a new baby.

Adair Hill, MSSA 2015, is writing for the Social Work Helper (socialworkhelper. com) news website.

Shelli Snyder, MNO 2016, was hit by a car in Montana while riding her bicycle to relocate from Cleveland to Seattle. The trip was also a fundraising effort for Bike Cleveland via Climate Ride. She was in a medically induced coma in Montana before hundreds of donations to a Go Fund Me effort made it possible for her to be returned to Cleveland for medical care and rehab.

Alumni gathered during the international Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Seoul, Korea, June 29, 2016. Hyunsoo Kim, MSSA 2008, PhD 2012; Jungyai Ko, MSSA 2010; June-Yung Kim, PhD student; Ok Mi Baik, PhD 2011; En-Jung Shon, PhD student; Heehyul Moon, PhD 2013; Sung-Jae Choi, PhD 1984; In Young Han, PhD 1988, who chaired the conference; Jaehwan Kim, MSSA 2014; Meeyoung O. Min, PhD 2000; Seok-Joo Kim, MSSA 2007, PhD 2013.

Alumni News includes updates received between April 1, 2016, and September 30, 2016.