NASW-MN's 2022 Virtual Symposium

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Registration closed

Access for each session will be emailed one week before the live session date. 

If you register after January 27, access to session recordings will be emailed to you the Friday morning after you register.

If you register after 11 a.m. CST the day of a live session, we cannot guarantee that you will receive that day's session access. Please register early!

(Re)visioning: Our Profession, Our Practice, Ourselves

January 28 // 12-4 PM (4 CEUs)

(Re)centering: Social Work & Abolition

An abolitionist take on social work, which will set the foundation for the symposium by focusing on what's possible and what we can build together.

Come witness a discussion between a group of social workers, across a range of work settings, who will share definitions of abolition and discuss their own pathways towards abolition. The panelists will explore the opportunities and barriers that arise in the demand for abolitionist social work practice, including questions of working within/outside of carceral systems, policing within our own communities, and if social work itself must be abolished. Participants will leave the session with workable understandings of prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition, applications for and challenges in applying PIC abolition in social work, and resources to advance the conversation in their own learning, personal, and professional communities.

Panelists from the Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work (NAASW):

  • Michelle Grier, LMSW 
    Michelle Grier (she/her) is a Black feminist committed to liberatory healing practices. She is social work trained, with over 15 years of experience facilitating conversations about race and oppression, building youth programming, and learning from and providing healing-informed support to young people and their families in schools and nonprofits. Grier's current commitments are focused on building equitable spaces and policies that promote the healing of youth survivors of racial and gender-based violence. She is a member of the NAASW and is grateful for the group's commitment to asking critical questions of the social work profession.

  • Vivianne Guevara, LMSW
    Vivianne is the Director of Social Work and Mitigation at the Federal Defenders of New York in the Eastern District and has been a social worker in public defense for over fourteen years. Vivianne was previously an Investigator and Social Worker at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, where she supported litigation that challenged conditions in juvenile and adult prisons, the provision of indigent defense, and the proliferation of debtor’s prisons. Vivianne began working in public defense as a Social Worker at the Bronx Defenders in 2007, where she worked with people who were charged in domestic violence and mental health courts. While working towards her MSW, Vivianne conducted street outreach at The Bowery Residents’ Committee where she worked with individuals experiencing homelessness on the streets and in the subways of New York City. Vivianne is a restorative and transformative justice practitioner and facilitates circles within public defense, schools, universities, coalitions, community members, and private and non-profit organizations. She continues to learn through teaching others and by providing opportunities that promote community and healing.

  • Sarah Knight, LMSW
    Sarah Knight is a social worker and practicing psychotherapist whose professional experience includes clinical and advocacy work with members of immigrant communities, with people who have been directly impacted by legal systems and other forms of state-sanctioned violence, and with survivors of complex trauma. Sarah has worked as a Defense Social Worker in New York City for over eight years, as part of immigration and criminal defense teams, has also consulted with organizations nation-wide to broaden their representation of immigrants with the ultimate goal of abolishing our current legal systems, and has practiced as a psychotherapist for four years with a focus on trauma-response and liberation-focused therapy modalities. Sarah was born and raised in rural Minnesota.

  • Nikita Rahman, MSW Student 
    Nikita Rahman, a Queens native, is a current MSW candidate at Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW). This year, she is working as a parent advocate intern at The Bronx Defenders in their Family Defense practice, where she helps caregivers navigate and mitigate the harms of the family policing system. At CSSW, Nikita has also, along with a group of passionate staff and students, helped co-create a new mandated supporting training that has been piloted this fall, and aims to replace the current mandated reporter training which takes a violent carceral approach to reporting families of color. Nikita is also a dancer, plant mama, and sci-fi reader.

The Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work strives to amplify a practice of social work aimed at dismantling the prison industrial complex (PIC) and building the life-affirming horizon to which abolition aspires. NAASW's efforts include: ongoing political education, research around carceral and abolition social work, developing an online hub of abolitionist social work resources, and broader organizing to insert abolitionist ideas and practices into social work.

February 25 // 12-4 PM (4 CEUs)

(Re)imagining the Structures of Our Profession

A critical examination of some of our profession's most basic and grounding structures, with a focus on licensure

You won’t want to miss this session! We’ll open with one activist's journey as an abolitionist, then we’ll dive into a critical discussion of some of the structures that ground our profession, focusing deeply on licensure. We’ll have the Executive Director and two Board members from the Minnesota Board of Social Work joining us, as well as several people who are actively working on (re)thinking licensure. This will include the role of licensure exams, macro licensure, the Interstate Compact that’s currently in development, and recent research on the MN County Exemption from NASW-MN's Executive Director, Dr. Karen Goodenough.


  • Roxanne Anderson 
    Roxanne Anderson is an award-winning community activist who has been working in social justice/service for 30+ years. Currently Roxanne is the Director of Programs for the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, the co-founder and director of RARE Productions, a multimedia arts and entertainment company focusing on producing and promoting queer artists of color and is the Co-Founder of OUR Space an LGBTQ community center start up for Minnesota’s queer community. Anderson is on the Board of Directors for SouthSide Harm Reduction, MN POC Pride, Twin Cities Spectrum, and is on the core teams for City of Minneapolis Trans Equity Working Group, REP (Relationships Evolving Possibilities) a network of dedicated abolitionists showing up to support others in moments of crisis or urgency, with care and respect for the full dignity and autonomy of the people in crisis, and is a Reiki practitioner.
  • Dawn Apgar, Ph.D., LSW, ACSW
    Dawn Apgar has helped thousands of social workers across the country pass the ASWB examination in all categories of licensure, and has written the exam guides printed by Springer Publishing. Dr. Apgar has done extensive research on licensure and is currently chairperson of her state's licensing board. She is a past president of the New Jersey Chapter of NASW and has been on its National Board of Directors. In 2014, the Chapter presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Apgar has taught in both undergraduate and graduate social work programs and has extensive direct practice, policy, and management experience in the social work field.
  • Thomas Brooks
    Thomas Brooks is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Social Work Boards and recently former Chair of the Minnesota Board of Social Work. As a public member, he works in local government as an Equity and Inclusion Manager for the City of Roseville, MN and has a professional background primarily in the private sector in financial services and technology. Thomas's passions include working to improve our communities through addressing systemic inequities and barriers and has done this work in local city and county governments, public education, and social work regulation. He holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University.
  • Dr. Karen Goodenough, PhD, MSW, LGSW
    Dr. Karen E. Goodenough, PhD, MSW, LGSW, has been Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers - Minnesota Chapter since 2018. She received her BSW from St. Olaf College, MSW from Augsburg University, and PhD in social work from the University of Minnesota. Previously, Dr. KG worked in direct practice, non-profit program management, and has been a consultant in evaluation, data utilization, and strategic planning. She has also served as adjunct faculty in numerous BSW and MSW programs throughout Minnesota. Dr. KG is a skilled supervisor, trainer, and macro practitioner. She has supervised, coached, and trained interns, volunteers, contractors, board members, and staff from various professional backgrounds, and has provided hundreds of hours of training in such areas as supervision, ethics, policy advocacy, leadership, budgeting, evaluation, and research. Dr. KG is passionate about using data and best practices to build a purposeful future, and is currently focusing her research efforts on social work licensure.
  • Mary Nienow, Ph.D., LGSW
    Dr. Mary Nienow is the undergraduate program director in social work at St. Catherine University. She received her PhD at the University of Minnesota and has twenty years of experience in macro practice social work within higher education, state government, and nonprofits. Dr. Nienow is the chair of the Macro Practice Licensing Workgroup of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice and has led this group in exploration of licensing practices across the country.
  • Steven W. Pharris, MSW, JD, LCSW
    Steven W. Pharris, MSW, JD, LCSW is the current Executive of NASW-Oklahoma. Mr. Pharris has practiced social work in a variety of settings in the public and private sector, including managing programs at the local, state, and federal government. He currently serves on multiple local and state boards and commissions and non-profit agencies. In the area of social work regulation, Mr. Pharris is a member of the NASW Licensure Task Force and previously a member of the Tennessee Social Work Licensure Board, where he assisted in the writing and passage multilevel licensure statutes. He served as Director At Large to the ASWB Board of Directors, Chair of the ASWB Regulations and Standards Committee, and a member of the Social Work Model Regulatory Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice Task Force.
  • Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, LSW, CAE
    Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, LSW, CAE has served as the Executive Director of the 5,000 member Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) since October of 1999. He has over 25 years of non-for-profit management and fundraising experience, including extensive work with boards of directors, committees and volunteers, and advocacy around a wide variety of social work, human service and international political issues, as advocating on behalf of social work workforce issues. He received his MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois of Chicago in 1983. He currently serves on the board of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, and is a member of the City of Chicago’s Council on Mental Health Equity.
  • Pa Der Vang, Ph.D., LICSW, MN Board of Social Work Board Chair
    Pa Der Vang, Ph.D., serves as chair of the Minnesota Board of Social Work. She is an associate professor of Social Work at St. Catherine University where she teaches direct practice courses. She has been licensed as a clinical social worker since 2006 and specializes in adult mental health, and organizational development.
  • Kate Zacher-Pate, LSW, MN Board of Social Work Executive Director
    Kate’s career as a social work regulator includes 30 years serving in leadership roles, including as the Executive Director with the Minnesota Board of Social (BOSW) since 2008, and five years of direct practice experience before joining the BOSW. She is a Minnesota Licensed Social Worker (LSW) since 1990, and holds a BA degree in Psychology from St. Catherine University in Minnesota.

March 25 // 12-4 PM (4 CEUs)

(Re)imagining Ourselves

A deep dive into the factors impacting our day-to-day realities in organizations and the field, including pay, diversity, and professional autonomy

We will begin this session by grounding ourselves in the context of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex. Dr. Ceema Samimi from the University of Minnesota will challenge us to ask ourselves how we can truly work towards social justice, when much of our work is funded by foundations in a capitalist society. Then we will dive into the work of Dr. Jessica Toft, also from the University of Minnesota, who will share the findings of her team's recent study of the working conditions of Minnesota social workers after 25 years of neoliberalism in social services.


  • Ceema Samimi, PhD, MSSW, MPA 
    Dr. Samimi's research is broadly grounded in the idea of youth power - young people's ability to shape the communities and world they live in. As such, their work examines the intersections of service organizations, societal systems, criminalization, and race, and how these intersections impact young people. They believe that institutions such as the U.S. education system are responsible for uplifting the power of young people and that the school-to-prison pipeline is one of the most egregious displays of youth disempowerment. Dr. Samimi's goal as an academic is to do research that is not only useful to the community, but that transforms systems (such as the educational system) into loving environments that contribute to what hooks calls "homeplace" (hooks, 1990). They use critical race theory as their primary framework in order to center race and power in their analysis. Dr. Samimi wants their work to be useful not only to those most impacted but to those who make decisions about how that impact happens.
  • Dr. Jessica Toft, PhD, MSW, LISW
    Jessica Toft is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, School of Social Work. Her research centers on examining the political, economic, and institutional forces that influence the social work profession. She chairs the Impacts of Neoliberalism on Minnesota Social Workers Project. Her research, informed by democratic political philosophy and critical theory, analyzes social welfare policy and history, the social work profession, and social work practice. She is the former board president of NASW-MN.

April 29 // 12-4 PM (4 CEUs)

(Re)imagining our Practice

A fresh take on the interventions, models and theories that we use to serve clients and communities

What does it mean to promote human well-being in a world that is making us sick? In this month's session, Thando Kunene, MSW Candidate and "The Mad World Dispatch" blogger will open the session by encouraging us to explore the ways in which our contemporary mental health discourse overly pathologizes individuals who respond with distress to untenable societal conditions. Then we will be joined by Charles D. Safford, LCSW for a critical discussion of current theories and models commonly used in social work practice. Using this context, our panel of presenters will encourage us to (re)imagine our practice, including discussion of mandated reporting and child welfare systems change, clinical practice, and community strategies. 


  • Katy Armendariz, MSW, LICSW 
    In 2013, Katy (LICSW) started Minnesota CarePartner (MNCP), a mental health, substance use and parenting support organization that provides culturally affirming wellness supports to children, families and adults. She understood the value of in-home services by BIPOC providers who not only belong to the community but use a justice-informed lens and advocacy within the services. Mental health services, such as in-home therapy, ARMHS, CTSS services were added, and in 2017, Roots Recovery Intensive Outpatient Treatment was developed to support parents with substance use conditions from a harm-reduction, social justice-oriented model. MNCP's Parent Community Support Program offers free parent mentoring, nutrition, trauma informed yoga and BIPOC doulas and lactation consultants as part of their effort to provide holistic and de-colonized supports. Minnesota CarePartner also provides continuing education opportunities related to historical trauma, activism and counteracting White cultural dominance. She also focuses provides trainings about microaggressions, cultural humility and practicing from an anti-oppressive lens. Her personal story led to a fierce pursuit to acquire the credentials needed to become a social worker, in spite of all of the field's flaws, and to transform the way social work is done.
  • Malaika Eban, MPP, MSW
    Malaika Eban works as the Director of Community Strategy at the Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit community defense law firm in Minneapolis. A graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and University of Minnesota School of Social Work, Malaika's work and interests lie in building more equitable and just community care networks, particularly focusing on transforming the youth justice system's interactions with youth and families. Malaika's experience includes direct programming with youth and families, issue-based advocacy with community-based coalitions, racial equity facilitation, political campaign management, and nonprofit development. She's a Licensed Graduate Social Worker and an active member of her community in South Minneapolis.
  • Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer, Ed.D, LISW
    Amelia has spent her more than 30-year career dedicated to serving children and families in the areas of out-of-home care, family-based services, and disability services. Amelia was named as one of People Magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” in 2018, and in 2020, Amelia was named by AARP MN and Pollen Midwest as a 50over50 Honoree—System Reformer in the Disruptor Category. Before Alia, Amelia was the CEO of a treatment foster care agency serving 90 counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota. During her 16-year tenure, Amelia and her team produced nationally recognized child permanence and placement stability outcomes for children in out-of-home care and was on the leading edge of promoting and measuring wellbeing for youth and the child welfare workforce and were the winners of many local, regional, and national innovation awards.
  • Zachary Hylton
    Zachary Hylton is the Interim Integrated Health and Justice Administrator at Ramsey County, working on numerous strategic projects which bring together leadership across systems and communities to collaboratively transform institutions to partner with community leadership and advance racial equity. He also serves on multiple nonprofit boards across the Twin Cities, all working towards centering the needs and voices of marginalized populations. Zachary has a Bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College, a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and has significant academic and professional experience in Africa and Asia.
  • Miriam Itzkowitz, MSW, LICSW
    Miriam Itzkowitz, MSW, LICSW, is Director of Trauma-Informed Care at the Institute to Transform Child Protection at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. In this role, Miriam develops and implements best practices for the intersection of legal services and trauma-informed care. Miriam's clinical experience is in counseling adults and adolescents in clinical, home, and school settings. Prior to her work at ITCP, Miriam was a faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of St. Thomas, where she remains an adjunct professor.
  • Thando Lydia Kunene, MSW Candidate
    Thando Kunene has nearly 10 years of experience advancing radical imagination and liberatory practices within diverse institutions. As a Black woman and first-generation immigrant, her identities allow her to deconstruct cultural norms and practices which are taken for granted and often contribute to harm. She is currently completing her MSW at Washington University in St. Louis where she specializes in mental health. Thando is passionate about how systems impact individual and community well-being and is committed to helping institutions reimagine the status quo so they can better serve historically marginalized groups. Upon completion of her MSW, she will work as the Program Manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Nutanix, a technology company in San Jose, CA.
  • Charles D. Safford, LCSW
    Charles D. Safford is the President of, with over 25 years of developing and delivering clinical training programs.

May 20 // 12-3 PM (3 CEUs)

(Re)creating: Social Work Summit

Bringing together ideas and inspirations from the entire symposium, a culminating discussion and action plan for moving our new (re)vision forward

19 CEUs from live training - and more through independent learning!

About our theme

(Re)visioning - verb: a process by which we challenge what is, erase what does not work, and boldly and collectively create a new image of what could be.

Now is the time for (re)centering.

Social systems were designed to serve the interests of a few, at the expense of many - some needed systems were never designed at all. Historically and particularly over the past year, social work has been looked to for guidance, and presented as a remedy to marginalization, inequity and injustice. But social work is itself a system, created by design and responsible for immense harm - as well as a great deal of good. The challenges of today are complex, layered, and intersectional; they require nuance and intention. How prepared are we to address these challenges? 

There is no going “back to normal”. 
Our profession is at a turning point.
Now is the time for (re)imagining.

(Re) is about starting anew, having the opportunity to look at something from another perspective – and trying again. If we could start over, what would we do differently? How might we approach building our profession? What might you bring into your practice? In what ways would you look at yourself? What would happen if we built a world of “what could be” instead of building on “what is”?

We are a resilient profession – but we are not an innocent one. The world is rapidly changing and we must ask ourselves: What will we do differently? What practices and structures must we let go of to create a just and equitable world? How can we build something new and beautiful so that social work can live truly up to its potential?

Now is the time for (re)creating.

We invite you to question, to unlearn, to challenge, and to (re)build a new, inclusive, representative, and hopeful future – together. Join us as we (re)vision a bold ideal of what social work can and should be.

(Re)visioning our format

In lieu of our annual fall conference, we have put together a symposium that will feature one session every month between January and April 2022, concluding with our Social Work Summit in May 2022. Symposium content will focus on (re)defining the status quo of our profession. In each session, we will unpack a pressing issue and discuss bold approaches to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We will create space for multiple truths as we challenge ourselves to unlearn, evolve, lead, and follow into the future of social work.

With the ongoing pandemic and our desire to make this event accessible, we have (re)worked our format in a way that we hope will enable everyone who wishes to be a part of these conversations to attend. We invite you to join us and your colleagues from across Minnesota for an aspirational and inspirational event.

Symposium All-Access Channel

View everything you missed - for months after the session! Catch up on symposium recordings through our All-Access Channel - on your own time, and at your own pace! All symposium sessions (except small group discussions and the 5/20 Summit) will be recorded and available for viewing through May 31, 2022.

Can't attend live symposium dates? No problem!
You can still register to get admission to the Symposium All-Access Channel! Catch up on content through recorded sessions** and earn independent learning CEUs*!


NASW Student Member - $30
NASW Retired Member - $50
NASW Regular Members - $75
Not-Yet-Members - $150

Looking for Group rates?

Check out our Sponsorship packages for incredible perks and group registration! Download our Sponsor brochure.

NASW Members save up to $120 on registration! Join NASW today, and save!

Pricing includes access to: 

  • All 5 live symposium dates 
  • Symposium All-Access Channel to catch up on session recordings through end of May** 
  • Sponsor Resources Folder, filled with useful materials from sponsoring organizations 
  • Up to 19 CEUs available through live training and more through independent learning!*

Student and Retired Pricing only applies to NASW Student Members and NASW Retired Members, respectively.


Thank you to our Sponsors!

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All times shown are in Central Standard Time. Details about presenters and content will be added to this page as available. Check back soon - and reserve your spot now!

Registration closed

View our Symposium Brochure

Sponsorship sign-up closed

Download the Sponsorship Flyer.

Registration: Registration open through 11:59 p.m. CST on Thursday, May 12. To ensure timely processing of your registration, please register online. We recommend using a personal e-mail address (not a work or school e-mail address) to prevent filtering/blocking of symposium-related communications by your organization's servers. Mail-in and phone registrations will be accepted.

Payment: Credit card payment required at time of online registration. We do not accept American Express. Checks payable to NASW-MN can be mailed to PO Box 44323, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. Call 651-293-1935 ext. 1 to register and pay by phone. Registration and payment must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, January 13 in order to guarantee receipt of access/materials prior to symposium start.

Refunds & Cancellations: No refunds or cancellations after 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, January 13. Read our Refund and Cancellation Policy. E-mail with questions.

*Check with the regulatory board in the state(s) where you are licensed to learn how this event can be counted towards your licensure requirements.
**Social Work Summit: (Re)creating will not be recorded. Small group discussions will not be recorded. Recordings only available to symposium registrants.