Alumni Newsletter

Tianna Hill, MSW ’14

Tianna L. Hill is a Communications Associate and a Project Coordinator for the Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) at the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, Inc. She has extensive knowledge in mental health and juvenile justice, as well as trauma-informed care, adolescent development, and research methods. Tianna’s other experiences have included therapeutic support for children in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, care coordination for adults with co-occurring disorders and supervision of juveniles involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

She received her Master’s in Social Work from UConn and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Goucher College. She has varied board experience and her current board membership includes the AHEC Urban Service Track Alumni Advisory Committee and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI CT).

Kia N. Levey-Burden, MSW ’12

Kia Levey-Burden, MSW, is the president and founder of Launch Consulting, LLC. She is a passionate leader and dedicated advocate who is deeply committed to igniting the passion in others  and magnifying the voice of communities who are often silenced and ignored. Mothering a 14 year-old Black son, further fuels Kia’s work to address and expose biases and racism hiding in plain sight. Some of Kia’s work includes managing a Juvenile Justice initiative  that  coordinates statewide community stakeholders focused on building restorative justice practices in the deep end of the juvenile justice system,  supporting local charter schools efforts to develop strategies for more inclusive and diverse practices in their school communities and supporting the capacity of community and philanthropic organizations focused on greater equity practices.  Kia is also an adjunct professor of  Social Work at Southern CT State University where she enjoys inspiring, equipping and empowering future Social Workers to be full of compassion and ready to lead.

Gabrielle Mitchell

Student Spotlight

 

  1. SSW Concentration:  Individuals, Groups and Families
  2. Expected Grad Year: Spring 2022
  3. Tell me about your leadership involvement at the SSW: I am a co-chair for the Organization of Black Social Work Students (OBSWS). Myself and the other co-chair planned a Yoga for BLM event last semester, we are hosting a Black History Month Sip and Paint, and have a virtual hip hop game show planned for April 2021. We also have collaborated with BH365 on their efforts and I hosted the BLM Facts vs. Myths event last semester, as well as assisting in planning other events such as the upcoming panel discussion on black maternal health in April 2021. OBSWS also collaborated with Just Community on 2/5/21 and hosted a solidarity hour on the topic of “Black Joy”.
  4. Any leadership involvement outside of SSW? Outside of the UCONN SSW, I am a trainer on Implicit Bias within DCF, I also am a part of the racial justice and diversity action team. I recently began to organize marches and protests with my other colleagues and classmates over the summer of 2020 and I plan to continue advocacy efforts.
  5. What’s your motivation for becoming a social worker? My motivation for becoming a social worker came to me in high school when I had an innate desire to help underrepresented populations. I put myself in positions of employment to gain experience and also spent a lot of time attending different trainings to keep current with trends and new developments within the social work field. I believe everyone deserves a fair shot at life and my empathetic nature allows me to develop rapport with the families I serve and give them the tools they need to succeed so they can get to the next stage of their lives in a  safe and healthy way. Currently I am a DCF social worker and after I earn my MSW I plan to get licensed and go into holistic social work incorporating reiki and energy healing and/or working with juvenile offenders. I also will continue to engage the community and be hands on with children and families in some capacity.

 

Loan Nguyen, CLAS ’06 MSW ’08

Loan T. Nguyen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Connecticut; a Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work; and maintains licensure in the State of Connecticut.  She has over 10+ years clinical experience working within an outpatient mental health treatment setting.  She has extensive training and experience in individual, group, and family psychotherapy.  In addition, she is competent in utilizing best practice methods to include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

Ms. Nguyen is also a Captain within the CT Army National Guard and has over 18+ years of military experience.  She currently serves as a Behavioral Health Officer and promotes all aspects of mental health.  She regularly counsels service members to help control combat/non-combat stress through implementation of resiliency policies and programs.

Further, Ms. Nguyen’s commitment to the community is longstanding and evident through participation in various volunteer programs, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Asian Mental Health Collective.  Both mentorship programs were developed to match mentees with role models who can leave a positive, lasting impact through friendship and continued guidance.  Ms. Nguyen has also served on the American Savings Foundation Scholarship Committee for the past five years and was recently elected to join their Board of Directors.

As a proud two-time UConn alumna, Ms. Nguyen is equally excited to have been newly elected to join the UConn School of Social Work Alumni Board of Champions.  She is enthusiastic about her new role and is looking forward to advancing UConn SSW’s mission through advocacy, philanthropic investment, and community involvement.

Ms. Nguyen currently lives with her husband Thien in Avon, CT.  She is an avid baker and CrossFit enthusiast.

S. Kim Somaroo-Rodriguez, MSW ’01

S. Kimberly Somaroo-Rodriguez has been with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) for over 21 years. This includes direct Child Protective Services, Mental health and Voluntary services specialist. Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez was also a supervisor in the bureau of Quality Improvement Division and instrumental in the implementation of the agency’s compliance with the court mandated 22 Outcome measures set forth in the Juan F. Consent Decree.  Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez has been a Program Supervisor since 2006.  She provides managerial oversight of the statewide Supportive Housing for Families Program (SHF).  This nationally recognized program provides child welfare reunification/preservation services with permanent housing solutions.  Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez has developed new partnerships with several non-profit housing advocacy groups such as is the Reaching Home Campaign, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and the Corporation for Supportive Housing. Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez is a longtime member of the Reaching Home Campaign’s Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Workgroup, Prevention, and Coordinating Committees. She is the DCF representative along with six other state agencies on the State’s Inter-Agency Committee on Supportive Housing Next Steps Initiative which provides funding to Permanent Supportive Housing Developments across the state for homeless adults, youth and families. In October 2009, she established the CT Family Unification Program (FUP) Voucher Taskforce to apply and receive federal housing vouchers for DCF families and youth aging out of foster care, which resulted in over 200 new FUP vouchers equaling $5 million dollars in federal housing assistance. In 2012, Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez was the Principal Investigator five-year federal grant initiative for DCF involved homeless families. Mrs. Somaroo-Rodriguez work has also included program oversight of Child First an in-home program that heals families from the effects of trauma and adversity. She is also the Chairperson of the Parents with Differing Cognitive Abilities Workgroup, a state-wide partnership among private and public agencies to advocate, educate, and provide resources to professionals working with parents of all types of cognitive abilities.

 

 

Z. Riki Brodey, MSW ’85

 

Born in Hartford and a third generation Hartfordite.  My father’s parents lived in North Hartford, owned a grocery store and some apartments.  My mother’s parents owned a fur store in the city, where grandma, a poet/entertainer entertained her patrons.  My father put himself through Yale and Columbia Business school.  My mother graduated from Dean  Junior College.  Education, cultural arts and civic duty were values I learned from family.

I graduated from Conard High School, class of 1958, attended Wheaton College, Norton, MA. for two years. During the summer I attended Harvard Summer School, where I met a young man who convinced me to transfer to Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, where I graduated in 1962.  He was the man who later became my husband.  We lived in Philadelphia where I taught junior high school.  Teaching wasn’t for me. I then wrote a grant and received money to unite two neighborhoods, a Black community and an Italian community through an after-school tutorial program.  The success of this program excited me.  When we moved to New Haven, CT. I attended Southern Connecticut State University and received a Masters degree in Urban Studies.  Next I worked at CHIF, Connecticut Housing Invest Fund, a nonprofit whose mission was to counsel first time home owners in the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

 

By this time, I had two children. My husband, a psychiatrist, saw that I enjoyed counseling people and convinced me to get my MSW.  This was one of the best choices I have made.  I graduated from UCONN School of Social Work in 1985, followed by 6 years at Wheeler Clinic counseling individuals and families as well as helping corporations with their EAP programs.

Presently I supervise third year psychiatric residents at the IOL, Hartford Hospital.  My experiences have provided me with in-depth knowledge of people from many backgrounds as well as a solid knowledge of greater Hartford.

I am enthusiastic about serving on the board of the School of Social  Work.  It is my way to give back.

Amos Smith, MSW ’79

Amos Smith is the President and CEO at the Community Action Agency of New Haven, Inc., since May 2006. He manages a budget that serves approximately 25,000 individuals covering 5 towns across the New Haven regions. Mr. Smith currently serves as the 1st Vice President of the Connecticut Association for Community Action, a member of the Community Research Engagement Steering Committee at Yale, the Community Advisory Committee at Southern Connecticut State University School of Social Work, the Board of Advocates to the Dean of Social Work at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, former member of Governor Malloy’ Health and Human Services Committee, and lead connector to a new initiative between Smillow Cancer Center at Yale & Community Action Agency of New Haven’s commitment to explore ways to collaborate, serve, support, treat, educate and  improve community engagement.

Amos has served on the boards of Friends Center for Children in New Haven. Institutes for Community Research in Hartford, and the first man, to Chair the Board of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. Amos was appointed to serve on by the Connecticut Department of Public Health – Human Investigations Committee as a non-medical Advocate and Community Representative.

Before joining Community Action, Mr. Smith served as Director of Health Grantmaking at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (TCF). In addition to his Grantmaking duties, he served as the Principal Investigator for the New Haven Healthy Start project, whose focus is to eliminate infant morality among African American women, improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in New Haven. He has frequently demonstrated the intellectual acuity and temperament for addressing uncommon, chaotic, and complicated programs and organizations. He has often worked on issues and challenges that are cross- disciplinary and highly levels of rigor and complexities. Mr. Smith has been a panelist at the first National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summit: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities with a focus on Health Disparities among Men of Color (National Harbor, Maryland). It is in this area where he has published in The American Journal of Public Health, entitled “Health Policy and the Coloring of an American Male Crisis: A Perspective on Community-Based Health Services.” Amos is a former adjunct instructor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work where he taught required courses entitled: Human Oppression from the African American and Puerto Rican Perspectives. Analysis of Social Welfare Policy and Social Services System.

Alumni Call to Action

Things will be unconventional this year for our SSW graduates, but we still want to shower them with love and welcome them as UConn SSW Alumni. We’re soliciting well wishes from the SSW community for our graduating class of 2020. If you’d like to submit content, please keep videos to under 1 minute and 30 seconds and text to under 250 characters. Content will be posted on the School of Social Work website, although we may not be able to use all the content submitted. You can use you phones to create the video and send pictures along with the text. Please send your well wishes to Abigail Jackson at ajackson@foundation.uconn.edu by Friday, May 8th. If you have any questions, please reach out to Abigail directly.