The Catholic University of America

Social Change Concentration – Student Profiles

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MICHELLE POWELL, MSW (2006)

What brought you to social work school? Why NCSSS?

I had the opportunity to participate in many community service activities in my youth, and the interactions I had with those living in poverty gave me strong motivations to enter the world of social work and I do what I could to make the existing social service system work more effectively for those in need.  I chose NCSSS because of the variety of field placement opportunities, especially in organizations that provided a lot of macro level work opportunities.

 
Why the Social Justice and Social Change concentration?
 
I chose the macro concentration because I am a big-picture person.  In my undergraduate social work internship, I saw the struggles case managers had because of organizational policy and community barriers, which evidenced the need for effective leadership in community organizations and public policy initiatives.  
 

What is your current job, what do you do in your job, and how did the MSW program -- Social Change Concentration prepare you for your current job?

I work for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Administration for Children and Families as a Community Services Program Specialist.  In this position, I oversee progress of grantee organizations under five distinct capacity building program models, all of which allow faith-based and community organizations to implement projects in low-income communities with an ultimate goal of serving more people, more effectively.  I am the program leader for Strengthening Communities Fund Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, and in this role I make recommendations and decisions regarding program design with the goal of increasing the capacity of nonprofit organizations to connect low-income individuals to economic resources and benefits.

The classes I took at NCSSS for my graduate degree prepared me with background knowledge and strategies for successful program management, and the field practicum experience gave me on-the-ground knowledge.  The classes and field practicum both taught me much about grants management and how the nonprofit sector works and I use this experience and knowledge every single day.

 

 

Undergraduate Institution:
Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN

Undergraduate Major:
Social Work