Alison Weston, AM '08, MHA, President, is a Performance Improvement Consultant at Rush University Medical Center where she leads projects to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. Prior to her work at Rush, Alison was an Analyst in the Community Health Department at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, where she helped realigned departmental strategy to better meet the needs of low-income and disparate populations. Prior to FirstHealth, Alison was the Health Policy Coordinator at the American Lung Association where she advocated for the successful Smoke Free Chicago and Smoke Free Illinois campaigns.
Alison graduated from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration. While at SSA, she studied administration and participated in the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) as a Brown Fellow. Alison holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, a certificate in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and a Master of Healthcare Administration from UIC.
Alison joined the SSA alumni board in 2012. Alison is committed to promoting networking among social workers to strengthening our partnerships with each other and improve our collective ability to serve our communities and clients.
Ashley Jackson, AM '11, Vice President, was funded by the United States Fulbright Student Program to conduct research over the next year in Colombia. Her research is an exploration of the role of community based organizations and NGOs in their support of communities impacted by the armed conflict and violence with a specific focus on Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. Prior to her Fulbright research Ashley worked at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) where she provided support to the MetLife Community-Police Partnership awards program and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program, one of the Obama administration's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives (NRI) that aimed to turn high crime, high poverty communities into safe communities of opportunity. Ashley also conducted mixed-methods criminal justice research at the Vera Institute of Justice. At Vera, her research involved youth and adults involved in and impacted by the criminal justice system, their families, individuals reentering communities after incarceration, and staff of state and county level corrections facilities. Ashley holds a Bachelor's Degree in Administration of Justice from George Mason University and an MA from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. In the fall of 2018, Ashley will begin her PhD in social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School of Social Work.
After raising two sons to young adulthood and building a 15-year career in in social service management, Loretta decided to apply to the Extended Evening Program (EEP) at SSA. Upon receiving her acceptance letter, Loretta felt as if she had won the lottery! While an SSA student, Loretta led the SSA Student Government Association (SGA) and worked collaboratively with SSA Administration to achieve several precedents: the reinstatement of health insurance to EEP cohorts; the institution of the CTA U-Pass for all SSA students; SSA student representation at Springfield’s Annual Advocacy Day; and executing the first ever “Social Innovation Conference,” engaging nonprofit leaders from all over the Metro Chicago area to present at SSA. In addition, Loretta was the SSA Representative for two years on the University of Chicago Student Health Advisory Board and was part of the selection of a new health insurance plan for all University of Chicago students.
Prior to attaining her degree at SSA, Loretta developed, managed, and implemented a Medicaid Waiver funded program that grew to the largest of its kind in the state of Illinois, while achieving consistent exemplary accreditation ratings from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Council on Leadership and Quality. While directing this program, Loretta started a nonprofit to serve adults with disabilities and successfully led the first fundraising effort with a ROI of 203%. Today, Loretta is part of the Interdisciplinary Leadership Team (IDT) at Presence Resurrection Life Center, a five-star rated post-acute care center accredited by The Joint Commission and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Loretta is a contributor of the Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement Committee and also acts as the Manager on Duty for the entire facility when needed.
As a Board Officer of the SSA Alumni Association Board of Directors, Loretta has worked closely with fellow Board colleagues to: (1) develop a strategic plan that identifies main goals to assist the School in meeting its mission; (2) help create effective content in a “Voice of the Customer” survey to identify the needs and preferences of SSA Alumni; and (3) advocate to obtain a seat on the newly formed SSA Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity Committee. As Chair of the Board Development Committee, Loretta has led the recruitment of SSA Alumni to attain full Board Membership capacity, with future goals of ongoing rolling recruitment of talented SSA Alumni, particularly in the geographic areas of high SSA Alumni concentration.
In the coming year, Loretta will continue to work alongside SSA Alumni Association Board colleagues to strive for more meaningful connectivity among SSA Alumni and fellow SSA stakeholders; and hopes to continue to contribute to meeting the SSA mission and serving SSA Alumni worldwide.
Alison Baulos, AB '03, AM '11, MBA '11, is the Executive Director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago where she operationalizes and oversees large-scale research initiatives on human capital development. She began working with Nobel Laureate Professor James Heckman in 2005 and led the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Education, which brought together experts to identify when and how early childhood intervention programs can be most influential. This research has had a substantial impact in prioritizing public and private funding for quality early childhood investments. She also oversees the Heckman Equation project which disseminates comprehensive and accurate research on early childhood to policymakers, non-profits, and the business community, and creates tools for advocates to more effectively make the case for economic investment in early childhood education.
Alison has held Research Assistant roles at the University of Chicago Hospitals, including investigating interventions for failure-to-thrive infants (La Rabida Children’s Hospital), as well as investigating the correlation of the MMR vaccine to the onset of Autism Spectrum Disorders (Department of Psychiatry). She also lead efforts to roll out (then) new ACGME accreditation requirements for the University of Chicago Hospitals’ medical residency programs.
Alison graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA (with honors) in psychology, and holds an MA from the University of Chicago’s Social Service Administration and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Esther Franco Payne, AM’99, is currently Deputy Director for the Illinois Justice Project (formerly Metropolis Strategies), where she focuses on justice and violence issues, primarily as an advocate for criminal justice and juvenile justice reform efforts. She serves as a voice for connecting the community and the policy world, engaging in policy development and providing public education around issues of exposure to trauma, violence prevention, and criminal justice.
Franco-Payne staffs the Collaborative on Reentry, was appointed to the Juvenile Justice Commission, and has chaired the Communications Committee and the committee on Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). Recently, she was an appointee of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Research Advisory Council, and in 2011, served on Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel’s Public Safety Transition Team. In addition, she also participates on the Get in Chicago Review Committee, Thrive Chicago, the Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board, and is former board secretary for the North Lawndale Employment Network.
Her previous employers included the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention and the Circuit Court of Cook County Family Violence Coordinating Council. Esther has a Master’s Degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, with a Type 73 certification and has worked with youth in various capacities for more than 15 years. Esther is a current fellow with Leadership Greater Chicago.
Peter Gaumond, AM '93, has more than 25 years’ experience in the substance use disorder treatment and recovery field. For the past seven years, Peter has played a key role in the development of federal drug policy and in coordinating its implementation across federal agencies. He has focused especially on policy development in relation to addiction treatment and recovery support, including in relation to the national opioid crisis.
Prior to his work with the federal government, Peter served as a Senior Associate at Altarum Institute, where he provided technical assistance to states and tribes implementing programs under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) Access to Recovery Program, and at Abt Associates, where he served as Project Manager for the SAMHSA/CSATPartners for Recovery Initiative. Before moving to the Washington, DC area, Peter served as the Administrator of Program Development for the Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA). In that role, he was charged with improving systems and services, and overseeing a wide range of initiatives, programs and projects budgeted at approximately $30 million annually. He led a team of 10 who applied for and managed federal grants and who implemented and managed innovative projects funded by the state, such as the development of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder treatment networks, compulsive gambling treatment, and cross-system, cross-agency teams to serve homeless people with substance use, mental health, or co-occurring disorders. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Continuum of Care. Peter’s service with the State of Illinois began in 1993, when he served as an analyst in the Illinois Bureau of the Budget (now the Illinois Office of Management and Budget), where he was responsible for the budgets of the Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, the Department of Aging, and the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. Before joining the State of Illinois, Peter served as a program director, family educator, and counselor in the addictions treatment field; as an English and French instructor; and, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina-Faso, West Africa, where he taught at the University of Ouagadougou.
Inspired to enter the addictions field by his personal experience of addiction to alcohol and recovery from it and his experience growing up in a family affected by alcohol addiction, Peter has worked personally to reduce the stigma and misunderstanding that surround addiction and recovery by educating the public and policy makers about the science and the experience of addiction and recovery. To this end, he speaks publicly and writes as a person in recovery from addiction.
Peter holds an MA from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and a BA in English from Marquette University. He also studied at the Université de Paris V (Académie Rene Descartes) and at the Université de Paris IV (La Sorbonne).
Patricia Giffin Hanberry, AM '75, has been a mental health administrator for 22 years. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County, a community-based non-profit organization which delivers a wide variety of prevention, advocacy and treatment programs in Frederick, MD. Prior to the mental health field, she worked as a management consultant for Touche Ross & Co. and for Booz, Allen Hamilton in Washington,D.C.; as a social worker in a Chicago Model Cities Day Care program; and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Brazil. Pat received a Bachelor of Arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Albion College, MI and went on to receive a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She also attended Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan for one year.
Pat is active in her community, having served on numerous committees related to health and non-profits. She has also served on the Board of the Rotary Club of Frederick. Pat is an avid traveler, having lived in Brazil and Japan, and most recently taking trips to Central America in relation to her work and that of her church; Nigeria's part of Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign; and to Biloxi, Mississippi to engage in rehabilitation following Hurricane Katrina.
Christopher Jaffe, AM ’12, is a Chicago-based non-profit leader and currently serves on the Leadership Team of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) Program as the Manager of Partnerships and Operations. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) and the Alumni Board of Directors for the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. With more than a decade of experience in the field, he has professionally supported more than 20 social service organizations to improve development and operations systems, design and implement programs, strategically plan large-scale growth, and to build capacity with fidelity. Christopher has served as an Executive Director, a non-profit founder, and worked with organizations of varying sizes and focus areas. He holds a Master's Degree from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, and a BA from DePaul University in Sociology.
Christopher has a passion for collaborating with agencies to create and expand quality programs that serve youth in a myriad of contexts. He has invested in the study of public administration and policy issues connected in inequality, the justice system, and urban youth. Christopher lives on the northwest side of Chicago with his family.
Joy Levin, LICSW, AM’11, graduated from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in 2011 with specializations in school social work, trauma and mental health. After working with young adults as an intern in a high school setting and obtaining her Type 73, she changed course and took a job at Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers, specifically, at The Dincin Center for Recovery, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, working with adults with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and mania. Joy subsequently took a job as a therapist with the Juvenile Protective Association (JPA). There she provided non-directional play therapy using a psychoanalytic lens for children in the Chicago public schools in North Lawndale. At JPA she also had the opportunity to serve as a mentor and supervisor to masters level students and interns. After moving to Boston for personal reasons, Joy joined the Children’s Charter Trauma Clinic where she is continuing her work with trauma victims of all ages both in the clinic and in the home setting.
Joy’s interest in mental health and advocacy extend beyond the workday. Over the past several years Joy has engaged in multiple extended educational programs, including the Womencare Counseling Center’s Trauma Consultation Training Program and a fellowship at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. Joy has remained an active member of the University of Chicago SSA alumni community through her work on the Networking and Professional Development Committee since 2015.
Marshall Jacobson, AM '65. After graduating from SSA in 1965, Marshall served in the Jewish Community for over 40 years. He began as the Assistant Director of the Kansas City Jewish Federation. After learning the intricacies of working in the Jewish community and further developing his leadership skills, Marshall was selected as the Executive Director of the Louisville Jewish Federation. In 1974, he became the Associate Director and Director of Fundraising for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland where, with the help of great volunteers, he raised nearly $180 million dollars over a 10-year span.
He moved with his family to New York in 1984 to become a Vice President of the national United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and was instrumental in the effort to rescue both the Soviet and Ethiopian Jews and led the effort to raise several hundreds of millions of dollars for their resettlement. Marshall finished his career in Chicago serving as the regional Director for the Midwest for the UJA, which had just merged with the Council of Jewish Federations. His final work before retirement was serving as an American representative of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
In 2005, Marshall retired. He is currently a volunteer for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago consulting with non-for-profits; a student at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern; and owner and president of Tours R Us Chicago LLC, a touring company he began in 2007. He is very pleased to be serving on the SSA Alumni Board of Directors for the school which gave him the opportunity (in some small ways) to help repair the world!
Joanne Medak, AM’74, is a clinical social worker with more than 40 years of experience in the field. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College and a Masters of Arts degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Most recently, she worked for 18 years in a public high school where she led a team of teachers charged with early identification of students at risk and active intervention for students and their families. Her team also established training programs for teachers to address social-emotional learning and adolescent mental health concerns, and established a partnership with agencies in the surrounding community to provide services to students, regardless of their ability to pay for treatment. Joanne has also maintained a private practice for 35 years; she continues to work with individuals and couples. She has supervised and mentored counseling and social work interns and served as a field work supervisor for SSA.
As a board member Joanne would like to increase communication between SSA students and alumni to support active mentorship and to introduce more opportunities for life-long learning to SSA alumni. Joanne loves Chicago Theater and reading, and she is a long distance runner and hiker.
Ingrid Roxana Mejia, AM’08, is currently a therapist at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, where she facilitates family reunification assessments and therapy, runs child and adolescent groups, conducts psychosocial assessments, and individual therapy. She is also an adjunct instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Grand Canyon University (GCU), where she facilitates social research and statistics, as well as advanced and introductory courses in sociology theory.
Additionally, Mejia volunteers as a leader and organizer of jewelry making classes in her hometown as well as being the youngest AARP volunteer in the Community Education Program. She also serves in the Speakers Bureau of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. She is committed to strengthening clinical, community, and policy dialogue by sharing facilitation strategies and decision-making tools, such as research and evaluation frameworks.
Mejia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Loyola University prior to attending the School of Social Service Administration. Upon graduating, she began her Family Support Fellowship which ended in 2008.
Elizabeth Mullen, AM '13, is currently the Milieu Treatment Manager at Lawrence Hall's Child and Family Treatment Center, a residential treatment program for youth in care throughout the state of Illinois. After graduating from SSA in 2013, Liz worked as a Social Worker at a therapeutic day school for students who had been removed from their home schools due to emotional and behavioral challenges. Prior to SSA, Liz's previous positions included those with the Senate Office of Barack Obama, AmeriCorps, and Woodlawn Childrens Promise Community. Liz is currently a certified trainer of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention through Cornell University.
Liz graduated from SSA with a Social Administration concentration in the Community Schools program of study. As a first-year student, Liz was chosen for the Social Innovation Fellowship, which she used to further her study on trauma during childhood and adolescence within a children's home in Johannesburg, South Africa. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English from Augustana College.
Liz is interested in examining the role that trauma plays in youths' development and their ability to successfully navigate multiple settings. She is passionate about developing capacity for school, home, and community-based settings to better respond to and support youth who have experienced significant and chronic trauma.
Thomas O’Connor, AM ’73, is currently retired after a forty-year career as a social worker. During the last 28 years of his career, he practiced at Madison Psychiatric Associates in Madison, Wisconsin. There he lead individual, couple, family, and group psychotherapy. Additionally, he was involved in the management of this 25+ multi-disciplinary clinic, eventually serving as the group’s managing partner.
During his career, O’Connor developed a three-part questionnaire that he used with couples anticipating a shift in their relationship to a deeper, more committed level. In his retirement, O’Connor is continuing this line of work as well as volunteering at an agency for young children and families involved in domestic violence and abuse.
Reflecting upon his education and his career, O’Connor feels that the education he received at SSA related to the importance of connecting with people and the ability to see systems at work had an invaluable impact on him professionally and personally. Furthermore, it is from this appreciation that his commitment to the SSA alumni association stems.
Caitlin Worm, AM ’12, counsels nonprofits, small businesses, and political campaigns in fundraising, communication strategy, administration, and marketing in South Bend, Indiana. Since 2006, she has participated in nearly 25 political campaigns at all levels of government and is an active member of her community as a volunteer for several organizations focused on economic empowerment.
In 2016, Worm was named to the School of Social Service Administration Alumni Board and is proud of SSA’s commitment to excellence in producing the best, most forward-thinking research in social work and social welfare policy. She looks forward to continued work in board development, fundraising, and strengthening SSA’s mission internationally. Worm holds degrees from Indiana University and University of Chicago.