Today, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Mun Choi announced that Dr. Nina Rovinelli Heller, the Dean and Zachs Endowed Professor of Social Work, will serve as Interim Director of the Hartford Campus in addition to leading the School of Social Work. “She is a talented and committed leader who will oversee the transition of the campus to downtown Hartford, assure the campus and its programs and services are strong and effectively support faculty and students, and continue the development of important partnerships to strengthen our commitment to education, research, and outreach in the Capitol Region and beyond,” said Provost Choi. The University will conduct a national search in 2017 in order to have a permanent director in place by the fall term.
In Heller’s message to the SSW faculty and staff she said, “I have shared with those in the Provost’s Office my strong commitment to the School of Social Work and our need to continue to move forward with the progress we are making in terms of our scholarly work, our visibility within the university and nationally, and with new community engaged, interdepartmental and interprofessional partnerships.” At the same time, Dr. Heller looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other members of the Hartford Campus leadership team and units and with their faculty, staff, and students.
Each year, the Hartford Courant newspaper recognizes outstanding individuals for their service to the community. This year, these “Hometown Heroes” include UConn School of Social Work MSW and PhD alumni.
Tynisha Tyson ’05 MSW, is a School Social Worker in the Hartford Public Schools. Her caseload includes children experiencing abuse, neglect, abandonment and extreme poverty. There are children wondering about their next meal, or being evicted from their home, or witnessing domestic violence, or feeling the disruption of a parent landing in prison. Tynisha is described as an anchor at Thirman L. Milner Elementary School where she has been the school social worker for the past four years.
After the death of a 3-year-old Willimantic girl from child abuse in 2013 — just two years after the child-abuse death of another 3-year-old-girl in town, Catina Caban-Owen ’09 PhD and Nussie Halpine ’92 MSW founded the Windham Task Force to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, a volunteer group dedicated to raising awareness. Loida Reyes ’98 MSW, ’15 PhD and current MSW student Michael Marshall are also members of the task force.
Marissa Giarnella-Porco ’91 MSW and her husband Eric co-founded the Jordan Porco Foundation, a Hartford-based nonprofit that seeks to promote mental health awareness for young adults and to prevent suicide — the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the federal Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. In February 2011 their son died by suicide. To channel their grief, Marissa and Eric created a nationwide suicide prevention program.