Social Work in the Global Environment

The 10th Annual Conference on Social Work in the Global Environment 

The theme for the 2021 virtual conference is 

Social Work in the Covid Environment: 
Long-term Impacts and Global-local Challenges for Vulnerable Populations

Date: Friday, November 5, 2021

Format: Virtual

Thank you for attending!  

Requesting CEs

Be sure to request CEs through the link provided in the agenda.  

Up to six Continuing Education Credits available (3 for half day attendance).  CE certificates will be emailed two to three weeks after the event.

2021 AGENDA - Download Below

Student Participation “UnMasked”: The Covid Year

The COVID 19 Pandemic has had a profound impact on many of our students’ mental, physical, and emotional health this past year. Returning to campus and attending in person activities has also been an added stressor for students. Students are feeling overwhelmed with the vulnerability of being in person and navigating life during COVID. Social Workers and Advocates at Kutztown (SWAK), the social work student organization at Kutztown University, showcases the local response to this global issue in developing an interactive digital ecomap that serves as a resource guide to help students connect with organizations on campus to help unpack these feelings of anxiety, become a “regular” student again, and get help!

 Students may download the "UnMasked":The Covid Year — Campus Resources pdf through the Social Work and Advocates of Kutztown Engage Portal listed below.

Conference Overview 

This year’s conference on Social Work in the Global Environment aims to contribute to the local-global perspective in social work, utilizing the strategy: Thinking globally and acting locally.

The theme for the 2021 virtual conference is Social Work in the Covid Environment: Long-term Impacts and Global-local Challenges for Vulnerable Populations

Presenters and panel discussants would address the following four sub-themes:

    • History of pandemics
    • Pandemics and the vulnerable (disadvantaged) populations
    • Long-COVID and diverse populations
    • Long-COVID and multiple vulnerabilities
    • COVID-19 long haulers and the healthcare systems
    • Long-COVID and mental health services
    • Multiple jeopardies: race, class and politics
    • COVID-19 and its impact on women
    • COVID-19 and its impact on reproductive decision making
    • Long-COVID and health care: Policy implications
    • Vaccine’s accessibility: The new global inequalities
    • Vaccine hesitancy: Conspiracy theory, misinformation, religiosity and the social media
    • COVID-19: Ethical challenges
    • Is conspiracy theory being used to target the vulnerable populations?
    • COVID-19: Domestic violence policy implications
    • COVID-19 : Implication on women’s reproductive rights
    • The Social Worker during and after COVID-19: Roles and functions
    • COVID-19: Ethical implications
    • COVID-19 and formal-informal support systems
    • Policy measures to mitigate impacts
    • Human Service Organizations – Local responses

Jose Torradasweb

Jose Torradas, MD, FACEP, Director, Unidos Contra COVID

Long COVID—A View from the Trenches


  • Presentation Description

    Presentation about the complex journey ahead with regards to Long COVID from the perspective of  a physician on the front lines in Philadelphia who has been working  exclusively in underserved  communities.


  • Bio

    Dr Jose Torradas is a board certified ER doctor and the medical director of Medicos Unidos, an organization serving Southeastern Pennsylvania. Their first initiative, Unidos Contra COVID, is a grassroots effort of bilingual health professionals and other volunteers that were inspired by the Black Doctor's COVID19 Consortium. The group has held dozens of small community events and has vaccinated over 2,000 mostly undocumented and uninsured individuals throughout the Delaware Valley. He is a national spokesperson for the National Hispanic Medical Association and American College of Emergency Physicians and is a regular contributor for Telemundo62/NBC10 and Univision65 in Philadelphia. 


Jose Torradas

Subham Kharel, Doctoral Student, Department of Planning and Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Arlington, Texas

Historial Background of Past Pandemics and the Evolution of Health Policies - A New Historiographic Approach

  • Presentation Description

    Snowden (2019) depicted how pandemic outbreaks have changed politics, destroyed uprisings, and entrenched racial and economic inequalities. Similarly, pandemics have influenced the path of religion, science, and health policy over several decades. The goal of this study is to use a unique Historiographic framework to chronicle the history of pandemics. While analyzing historical contexts, historiography has rarely used mixed-method and quantitative techniques. The study aims to establish a new way for performing Historiographic Review utilizing mixed method and quantitative research approaches. The study's findings provide insight into the confluence of religion, politics, socioeconomic dynamics, science, and policymaking throughout previous pandemics. The research outcomes can inform future policy choices about pandemics and epidemics

  • Bio

    Mr. Subham Kharel is a 2nd-year doctoral scholar at the University of Texas at Arlington. Over the years, he has actively been involved in urban and regional planning research using Remote Sensing and GIS applications, qualitative research, and quantitative research techniques. Before joining the Ph.D. program, he worked with several Indian scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization, Bengaluru. During his tenure at the institute, he has contributed to the understanding of traffic flow, transportation systems, sanitation studies, object-oriented image analysis, property-tax management systems, archaeological mapping, and urban/regional planning. Currently, he is involved in research related to social divide, slum dwellers, rich-poor divide theories, learning management systems, policymaking theories, and pandemics, and aims to lessen this gap through his research. In this presentation, he will help outline the history of pandemics using mixed methods techniques of analyzing literature reviews.

Charles Agyemang

Charles Agyemang, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Public & Occupational Health, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam

The long-term impact of COVID-19 on migrant and ethnic minority group

  • Presentation Description

    COVID-19 has exposed an alarming global health inequalities. Data on migrants and ethnic minority groups mainly from the US and UK have shown striking ethnic inequalities in diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and related outcomes with the rates of infections and subsequent hospitalization being higher in migrants and ethnic minority groups than the majority populations. While the exact reasons for this remain unclear, they are likely due to a complex interplay of factors rather than a single cause, most of which have their roots in social determinants of health. Of late, increasing numbers of patients with long-term health consequences of COVID-19 have been observed. As migrants and ethnic minority groups are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 couple with unfavorable social determinants of health and more preexisting chronic conditions it is likely that they will also bear a disproportionate long-term consequences of the COVID-19 disease. This lecture will discuss the current burden and the long-term impact of COVID-19 in migrants and ethnic minority groups. Potential measures to lessen the long-term impact of COVID-19 among migrants and ethnic minority groups will also be discussed. 

  • Bio

    Professor Charles Agyemang is a Professor of Global Migration, Ethnicity and Health and Principal Investigator at Amsterdam University Medical Centres, University of Amsterdam. He received his PhD from Erasmus Medical Centre, University of Rotterdam, and master’s degree at Edinburgh University Medical School. His research is focused on ethnic inequalities in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and NCDs in low- and middle-income countries. Professor Agyemang has about 20 years research experience and has authored/co-authored over 280 published papers and edited several books. He is the PI of the RODAM study – European Commission funded project on gene environmental interaction on obesity & diabetes among African migrants. He is a   fellow of the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) under the Consolidation Award program. Professor Agyemang is currently the Vice President of the Migrant Health section of the European Public health Association. He is an Associate Editor for Internal and Emergency Medicine, and serves as an Editorial Board member for several journals. He was member of the WHO taskforce on NCDs in Migrant and was a member and a rapporteur of the Planning Committee for WHO Global Consultation on Migrant Health.

Juliana Svistova

Juliana Svistova, Ph.D., MSW, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

U.S. Systemic Violence amidst the COVID-19 Disaster: A Critical Disaster Framework for Social Workers

  • Presentation Description

    Using a lens of critical disaster scholarship and practice, we theorize the COVID-19 pandemic as a community and global health disaster marked not only by illness, death, and trauma, but by historically structured economic, social, and cultural causes, conditions, and consequences. In other words, COVID-19, like other disasters, reveals, perpetuates, and produces structural violence. To inform social work knowledge and action, we draw parallels between previous disasters and that of COVID-19 and offer a critical framework depicting the historic and systemic progression of risk and vulnerability in the U.S. context. We conclude our paper with a reflection on the notion of “normal” arguing that pre-COVID existence was, in fact, abnormal and deadly. We call on social workers to a radical re-imagination of the future in solidarity with social movements and transformation efforts taking root turning this disaster into an opportunity to build a safer, healthier, and more equitable world.  

  • Bio

    Dr. Svistova earned her Ph.D. in Social Work and M.S.W from the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Her scholarship is concerned with community development and participatory approaches to social change in local and transnational contexts. She also studies organizational dimensions of policy implementation in practice. Dr. Svistova has a focused interest in disasters, interpretation of natural disasters, and resultant policy, practice, and grassroots responses to these events. She is a community-engaged, interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of social work, policy, public health, and education.

Marit Sijbrandij, Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit

Marit Sijbrandij, Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit

Mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across vulnerable populations

  • Presentation Description

    The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost the entirely world population, but populations are not affected equally in terms of exposure to the pandemic and it adverse (mental) health consequences.

    Since the start of the pandemic, studies have evaluated the short-term impacts of the pandemic, and studies describing the longer-term impacts are starting to be published. In this presentation, an overview will be given of the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic found so far, and of specific population groups vulnerable for negative mental health consequences of the pandemic. Further, the presentation will focus on the evidence for scalable psychological strategies, including remotely delivered interventions to address COVID-19 related mental health issues among vulnerable groups.

  • Bio

    Marit Sijbrandij is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Department of Clinical, Neuro- and Developmental Psychology at VU University [Vrije Universiteit], Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Director of the WHO Collaborating Center at VU University.

    Her areas of research are prevention, (early) interventions and public mental health interventions for mental disorders in populations exposed to trauma and adversities, including refugee populations and populations in low- and middle-income countries.

    Marit Sijbrandij has completed multiple trials evaluating strategies (such as internet intervention strategies, Psychological first Aid, and brief cognitive behavioural therapy) in the acute aftermath of trauma and adversities for prevention of common mental health symptoms including posttraumatic disorder (PTSD).

    Currently, Marit Sijbrandij is coordinator of the EU H2020 STRENGTHS project, that evaluates the effectiveness of the scalable WHO programs for Syrian refugees across countries in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, she is coordinator of the recently funded EU H2020 RESPOND project, that is aimed at evaluating remotely delivered stepped cate programs to improve wellbeing and reduce psychological distress among individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. She is also involved many other studies, such as a trial on the effects of an innovative intervention using eye movements in the treatment of suicidal imagery in depressed suicidal patients. She is the supervisor of 10 PHD students.

Jennifer Berrier, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

Jennifer Berrier, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

COVID and Labor Industry Challenges


  • Bio

    Prior to this appointment, Jennifer gained broad knowledge of L&I through 15 years of impactful and rewarding experience, while serving  various  leadership roles within the agency. Most recently, she served as Deputy Secretary for Safety and Labor-Management Relations.

    As Deputy Secretary, Jennifer was honored to oversee four bureaus that helped vulnerable workers, certified the safety of buildings and other building components, ensured that individuals with disabilities who are   unable to work receive social security benefits, and facilitated resolutions in labor mediations and arbitrations.

    Previously, Jennifer served as the Director for the Bureau of Occupational & Industrial Safety and prosecuted labor and employment law cases as legal counsel to the department.

    Born in Washington state and raised in Central Pennsylvania, Jennifer is a graduate of York College and earned her Juris Doctor from Widener University.


Terry Clark

Terry Clark, MPA, President & CEO, Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services

Impact COVID-19 on Private Service Providers Who Provide Services to Children, Youth, and Their Families

  • Presentation Description
    • These providers include: In-Home Service providers, community based service providers, foster care providers, child residential treatment facility providers and adoption service providers.
    • Challenges related to:
      • Quarantine practices to protect children and staff in group homes and residential facilities.
      • Vacancy rates
      • Inability to recruit and retain staff
      • Competition with businesses that were never competitors in the past, i.e., Chewy, Amazon, FedEx
      • Inability to except referrals causing backlogs in youth being served.
      • Incentives to recruit such as sign on bonuses, increase in pay, health insurance coverage when hired instead of waiting for months for coverage to begin.
      • Closure of programs due to lack of staff resources.
  • Bio

    Terry Clark, MPA is currently the President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services, a statewide association that advocates on behalf of providers serving children, youth and families throughout the Commonwealth of PA.

    Terry has worked in the child welfare field for more than 29 years. He served as the Children and Youth Administrator for York County for almost 5 years, working collaboratively with service providers, county officials, juvenile justice agencies and other human service organizations to provide a broad range of services and supports to children and families in York County.

    Terry started his career with Kidspeace, where he worked as a mental health worker in its partial hospitalization program before being promoted to a Crisis Prevention Specialist and then to a Facility Supervisor in the partial hospitalization program in Reading, PA. He then spent almost ten years working for Berks County Children & Youth Services in various roles that led to his promotion to the Director of In-Home Services and oversight of In-Home Services contracts with service providers. 

    Terry’s passion for working to improve Pennsylvania’s child welfare system led him to accept a position with PA Department of Human Services (DHS) in 2001, as the Chief of Policy in the Office of Children, Youth & Families. In that role, he led the Policy, Planning and Program Division to promulgate regulations and policies related to ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children. While employed by DHS, Terry also had oversight of the Division of Operations, ChildLine, FBI and Child Abuse History Clearances, Child Abuse Appeals, Child Abuse Expunctions, and PA’s three Interstate Compacts (ICJ, ICPC, and ICAMA).

    In his spare time, Terry is an Adjunct Professor at York College of PA, where he teaches undergraduate students in the Behavioral Sciences.

Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith, MSW, LCSW, KU DSW Student

Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on Vulnerable Populations: Ethical Considerations

  • Presentation Description

    This brief presentation will review current literature on social isolation and loneliness among vulnerable populations with a focus on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presenter will discuss the impact social isolation and loneliness has on mental, emotional and physical health with particular attention on elderly in rural areas. Special emphasis will be placed on the ethical implications that social workers who serve vulnerable populations experienced.

  • Bio

    Kelly Smith, MSW, LCSW is a current doctoral candidate at Kutztown University. She is an assistant professor of Human Services at Elmira College. Prior to teaching, she spent close to 30 years in direct practice working as a clinician in mental health and substance use treatment programs and as a child welfare caseworker. Mrs. Smith has special interest in working with vulnerable populations.

Tammy Shay

Tammy Shay, LCSW, CAADC, KU DSW Student

COVID and Intimate Partner Violence


  • Presentation Description

    In the United States, about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men report experiencing IPV. Veterans may be at higher risk, with some studies finding rates up to 70% among women Veterans receiving health care in VA. For individuals experiencing IPV, any disruption to normal life or access to services can mean increased potential for harm. This often occurs during natural disasters or human-based disasters, such as fires, chemical spills, and mass violence.  It is crucial to consider how the spread of COVID19, and subsequent precautions, has the potential to negatively impact those experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Many current restrictions have an outsized impact on safety of individuals experiencing IPV: school and childcare closures, access to public transportation, ability to report to work, and even being quarantined with a violent partner. Seeking assistance in hospitals, court houses and other public service agencies may also be limited. Those experiencing violence may have limited access to technology and private communication with others outside of their home environment. With these restrictions and increased stressors, the use of violence may also increase without outlets to decompress due to lack of financial, occupational, relational, and social resources.  

  • Bio

    Ms. Shay is the Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Program Coordinator for the Lebanon VA Medical Center. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in the following areas: trauma, mental health, military issues, and substance use disorders. Also, she was the first Director of Psychological Health for the PA Army and Air National Guard and served as a crisis responder for events post 9/11. Currently, Ms. Shay is enrolled in a Doctor in Social Work program at Kutztown University, specializing in leadership and education.  Ms. Shay presented at the PA NASW conference on Veterans & Early Recovery in 2020. Ms. Shay’s life ambition is to present at a social work international conference focusing on intimate partner violence and addiction.

Afamochukwu Okafor

Afomochukwu E. Okafor, MA, Ph.D. Candidate

Role of the Social Worker in the Outbreak of Pandemics (A Case of COVID-19)

  • Presentation Description

    In a world of emerging global humanitarian emergencies and pandemics such as COVID-19 which has ravaged the world with millions of infections and deaths, the presentation will explore the roles social workers play in the outbreak of a pandemic.

    The goal is to trigger reflections, meaningful conversations, as well as serve as a wakeup call to the social work profession and policy makers to better prepare for outbreak of pandemics.

  • Bio

    Afomachukwu E. Okafor completed his First Degree in Economics, Master’s Degree in International Corporation and Humanitarian Aid, A Masters Degree in Monitoring and Evaluation, and currently a Doctoral Candidate for a Ph.D in Social Works. He has worked with multiple International Non-Governmental Organizations, the United Nations Agency and The World Bank as a Monitoring and Evaluation Professional having over 6 years of experience in the design and implementation of monitoring and evaluation strategies for humanitarian (multi-sectoral) and development projects cutting across HIV/AIDS, TB, Reproductive Health, WASH, Nutrition, Food Security and Livelihood, Agriculture and Education. He has conducted as well as contributed to various project evaluations and research activities and is currently conducting various researchers in the areas of Social work, social epidemiology and integrated public health care models.