Social Work
Section Newsletter
Spring 2008

Social Work Section Mission

Establishes standards for social work in health care settings; contributes to the development of public health social work practice and research; promotes social work programs in the public health field.

Message from the Chair

Greetings, Social Work Section members!

As we move into the summer season the Annual Meeting next fall seems a long time off.   But preparations continue to ensure that we have a successful meeting in San Diego.  I encourage all of you to make plans, if at all possible, to attend the meeting and to bring a colleague with you.  We will have scientific sessions and business meetings (which are open to all Section members and provide an excellent opportunity to network with other members).  More details about the Annual Meeting will be provided in the fall newsletter.  

This edition of the newsletter introduces some of our Section Councilors and our secretary.  Please take a few minutes to get to know these folks, and look for them in San Diego.  Also take note of the reminder about the new APHA policy that allows a member to join a second session for minimal fee.  Many of our social work colleagues belong to a different section based upon their area of practice.  Please encourage them to also join the Social Work Section so that all of us may benefit from our mutual interest in public health social work.

Our Section Web site will be developed over the next few months.  We plan to have it more complete so that members will be able to access information about the Annual Meeting next fall.  If you have ideas or suggestions for content areas that would be helpful for you, please do not hesitate to let me know.  

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or ideas for the Social Work Section!  Best wises for a relaxing and enjoyable summer!


Greetings from the Section Secretary

SW Section Secretary

Greetings, fellow public health social workers!  I am excited to be serving in the role of secretary to our APHA section.  I became involved in the Social Work Section years ago as a student and rejoined several years ago.  Participating in this section has been a wonderful opportunity to meet and collaborate with other public health social workers across the country.  It has been a real pleasure being in this section.  The relationships that I have developed over the years have been a major benefit, and I look forward to meeting more of you during the upcoming years.  If you will be attending the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego, please come by and introduce yourself at one of the Section’s activities.  Our time at the meeting will be a fantastic opportunity for learning, collaboration and good conversation. 

My home base during the year is at the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health.  I work in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, where I serve as the coordinator of community programs and as a project coordinator on several MCH-related research projects.  My research and practice interests include MCH, health communication, urban gardening and community development, and public health and social work training.  Additionally, I am a doctoral student at the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh.  I hope that through my work I will encourage others to join our distinguished profession.  As public health social workers, we have a unique perspective to serve those in our communities. 

Again, I look forward to meeting you in San Diego!


Tammy Thomas

Introducing the Social Work Section Councilors

The Social Work Section Council is composed of the chair, chair-elect, immediate past chair, secretary and six elected representatives of the Section – the Section councilors. Section councilors serve a three-year term and can be elected for two consecutive terms. Section councilors assist the chair in governing the section by advising on APHA issues related to the Section, making recommendations regarding the Annual Meeting program, identifying important issues to be discussed by the membership and promoting the interests of the Section and APHA.

The Social Work Section councilors are: Betty J. Ruth, Sarah Sisco, Tinka Markham Piper, Julia Hastings, Roger Boyd and Diane Mitschke. Four of our section councilors are featured below; the remaining councilors will be featured in the next newsletter.

Betty J. Ruth is a faculty member at Boston University School of Social Work, where she currently teaches social work ethics and directs several programs, including the MSW/MPH program, a certificate program in clinical social work and behavioral medicine and professional education programs. Her current funded research is focused on two primary areas: the role of social work in suicide prevention and intervention; and public health social work training and its evaluation. She is also the founder — together with Sarah Sisco, Tinka Markham Piper and Jamie Wyatt — of the Group for Public Health Social Work Initiatives, a working group dedicated to public health social work advocacy, training and research. Trained in both public health and social work, Ruth has a long and varied practice background in a variety of settings, including substance abuse treatment and prevention, protective services, elder services, infant mortality reduction, cardiovascular risk reduction, injury prevention and infant mental health promotion.

Ruth has been a member of the APHA Social Work Section for more than 20 years.

Julia HastingsJulia Hastings is an assistant professor at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. Her research interests include: mental health and health disparities among racial and ethnic populations; epidemiology of depression among African Americans; poverty and welfare reform; culture-specific research methods; and longitudinal statistical techniques.

Sarah Sisco, MPH, MSSW, currently works at the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Sarah works in obesity prevention, evaluation, and health education in East and Central Harlem elementary schools. She also is a part-time grant writer for SAE and Associates, where she specializes in research and grants serving vulnerable populations. Prior to joining the health department, Sarah worked for nearly five years at the New York Academy of Medicine, first as project director for the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, then as program officer at the Social Work Leadership Institute. She has been co-founder and member of the Group for Public Health Social Work Initiatives, a national work group that researches aspects of public health social work. Sarah has served as a Social Work Section councilor since 2005 and been a member of APHA since 2001.

DianeHello, Social Work Section members.  My name is Diane Mitschke, and I am one of your Section councilors. I am an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, where I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on human diversity and social justice, the profession of social work, and social work with families, groups, communities and organizations.  My research focuses on the intersection of health and social work, with current projects in the areas of psychosocial oncology, adolescent parenting, environmental tobacco exposure, and the health and well-being of immigrants and refugees.

It is my pleasure to serve as one of your Section councilors, and I hope that you will feel free to contact me with your thoughts and ideas about how we can continue to grow and improve our Social Work Section.  I can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (817) 272-0539.  I look forward to meeting many of you this November in San Diego at the Annual Meeting!


Program Planning Update for Annual Meeting

Dear Social Work Section colleagues:

Soon notices will be sent to all social work colleagues who submitted abstracts for papers to be presented at the APHA Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego from Oct. 25-29.  I am pleased to say that there were many fine abstracts submitted, and I had the enviable task of deciding which abstracts would be accepted based upon the reviewers’ comments of each abstract.  I am particularly pleased to say that there were several abstracts submitted by students and others who stated that this is the first time they submitted an abstract to APHA. 

The theme for this year’s meeting is “public heath without borders.”  Many of our colleagues are doing very exciting work with individual immigrants, immigrant groups, immigrant families, and immigrant communities in the United States.  There were also social workers who submitted abstracts based on their work in other countries. 

I have no doubt that the work we are doing in so many different contexts will help social work to continue to leave its mark on the field of public health, and I look forward to seeing you in San Diego. 



Robert H. Keefe, PhD
Program Planner, Social Work Section

Student Liaison Update

Greetings Students!

I hope you had a good wrap up to the end of the spring semester. Congratulations to all of you who graduated! Hopefully, you are enjoying the summer and have some time to relax.

It is not too early to start making plans to attend the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting. The meeting is an excellent way to network with other professionals, learn more about public health social work in the field, and become more involved in the Social Work Section. Join us for the Social Work Section business meetings and become involved in Section activities. I look forward to meeting you in San Diego!

Start Making Plans Now for the Annual Meeting

American Public Health Association

136th Annual Meeting and Expo

Public Health Without Borders

Oct. 25-29, 2008

San Diego

The APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition is the premier public health educational forum! Learn from experts in the field, hear about cutting-edge research and exceptional best practices, discover the latest public health products and services, and share your public health experience with your peers. The world of public health is in continual motion, and there is no better time to stay abreast of research and learn about emerging issues.

The APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition is the oldest and largest gathering of public health professionals in the world, attracting more than 13,000 national and international physicians, administrators, nurses, educators, researchers, epidemiologists and related health specialists. APHA's meeting program addresses current and emerging health science, policy, and practice issues in an effort to prevent disease and promote health. APHA has a world of public health in store for you.

Registration and housing in now open online!! Early bird registration ends August 15, 2008

Visit for more information or to register.

Did You Know... You Can Belong to Two Sections!

Recently APHA has made changes that allow a member to join two sections for a minimal ($30) fee. The advantages include staying in touch with a section that represents your professional group, i.e. Social Work, and your practice area (Mental Health, for example). You would receive the newsletter of each section and could attend the business meetings of both sections to network with colleagues from across the country.

Each section benefits from your membership – both in terms of your expertise and interests and in the number of members counted by APHA. Sections are supported by APHA based upon the number of members. We are aware that many social workers in APHA have joined other sections based upon their area of practice. If you know of any of your colleagues that belong to other sections, please encourage them to also join the Social Work Section when they renew their membership.

Public Health Social Work Job Opportunities

Click here to view a list of current public health social work job opportunities.

Update on Association of State and Territorial Public Health Social Workers

In the last newsletter we told you the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Social Workers was planning its spring conference. By all accounts it was a very successful conference. Public health social workers met to exchange ideas with their colleagues from around the country. Presentations were given on topics including primary care, hepatitis, infant mortality, learning collaborations, maternal and child health, health disparities and family planning care coordinators.

Check Out This Video

Click on the link below to see a video developed by the "This Is Public Health" campaign.

Looking Ahead

The next issue of the newsletter will be published at the end of September.

Send your

  • Articles
  • Announcements
  • Photos
  • Book Reviews
  • Project Updates
  • News
  • Notes

to the Newsletter Editor!

Jennifer Saunders