Key Quotes from the Social Good Summit 2016 – Day One

As we sat in the digital media lounge we prepared for a day full of insight and inspiration on social good from around the global. The  annual SocialGood Summit is the intersection between technology + social good and as a company interested in innovation it is a chance to hear from global changemakers utilizing innovation to address social change. With speakers like Chelsea Handler, former Prime Ministers and Presidents, Secretary of State Kerry, actors, media personalities, and refugees there were several quotable moments throughout the day. Here are just a few…




Busting Macro Social Work Myths – #alsoSW Tweetchat

In celebration of National Social Work Month, SISGI Intern and MSW student Jenn Hurtig (@jfhurtig) is hosting a Tweetchat. Join us Thursday March 31, 2016 at 12 PM EST on Twitter for a lively conversation surrounding the myths and misconceptions about careers in macro social work. Anyone is welcome!

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Macro social work is the concentration in the profession that looks at systems and institutional level social change. Often social work is associated with clinical and direct practice work but social workers can also be found in roles such as an executive director leading a national organization or a consultant designing a community wide initiative. They also are policy makers, educators, researchers and community organizers. Students interested in the field of social work are often curious about the career opportunities for MSW professionals that have a macro social work concentration. Our Tweetchat will cover some of these topics and even more, so please join this online conversation!

The hashtag for this conversation is #alsoSW, which is an abbreviation of ‘Also Social Work’.

In order to join to the conversation, follow @Sisgigroup and @NotEnoughGood on Twitter. At the time of the chat simply type the hashtag #alsoSW in the Twitter search bar or visit our Twitter page (@Sisgigroup) and click on the hashtag in a post to see all of the recent posts.

Make sure to use the hashtag #alsoSW when you reply to questions or retweet posts of other users in the conversation, otherwise we will not be able to see your Tweets!

Never participated in a Tweetchat before? Check out How to Participate in a TweetChat by The Social Media Coach to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Tweetchats.




Best Practices For Grief: Parental Incarceration

parental incarceration 2.7 million

Building onto our current series, this post looks at grief and loss experiences of children and teens impacted by parental incarceration.  Previously, this series explored the grief and loss experiences of children and teens touched by foster care placement parental deployment and death and divorce.

2.7 million children in the United States have an incarcerated parent.  

Often key players in the lives of youth have difficulty knowing how to best support children and teens impacted parental incarceration.  Due to the stigma and shame incarceration brings, the incarceration of a parent is often kept a secret.  This creates and perpetuates even more feelings of alienation and shame youth touched by incarceration may already be feeling.  From their peers, to their teachers, to the many adults impacting their lives, these youth often struggle to find someone they can trust. They often resort to isolation. 

Below is the fourth video in this video series highlighting best practices for educators, teachers, and other vital players in the lives of grieving youth today.  For this interview I sat down with Zoe Willmott, Project Manager for Community Works Project WHAT!  WHAT! stands for We’re Here and Talking.  In this best practice video, Willmott draws on knowledge she’s gained from her experience working with teens impacted by parental incarceration and from her own experience of being a child with an incarcerated parent.

Willmott tells us that a child or teen impacted by parental incarceration may experience a range of feelings related to their parent, their parent’s incarceration, and the relationship the young person has with his/her parent.  So as adults working with this population of youth, honoring all feelings a young person impacted by parental incarceration may have is vital to their coping and healing.


Willmott reminds us about the importance of authenticity and being honest when working with children and teens impacted by parental incarceration.  Oftentimes these youth are told their parent has left for vacation or the military for example, instead of jail or prison.  With this in mind, it is imperative that youth impacted by parental incarceration learn to see adults as trustworthy.

parental incarceration suddenness of arrest

One of the key takeaways from my interview with Willmott is the importance of remembering the resilience of children and teens impacted by parental incarceration.  They have so much to offer the world around them.  Most of the time these youth aren’t looking for pity or for someone to feel sorry for them.  Children and teens impacted by parental incarceration are looking for someone to listen to them.

Do you know of helpful resources for working with children and teens impacted by parental incarceration?  Do you know of an organization working with this population of youth that you think isn’t getting enough attention? Please leave a comment below or email me at

I also encourage you to join our ongoing conversation by using the hashtag #Grief5.  

You can find images from our fall hashtag campaign on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram here.  Find us on Facebook at The Alliance for Positive Youth Development and The SISGI Group.  On Twitter we are @NotEnoughGood and @Ideas4youth.  We are also @Youth4change on Instagram.

To see all the videos in the series please view the playlist on our ISC Youtube channel.



Best Practices For Grief: Death and Divorce

divorce.jpegPreviously, this series explored the grief experiences of children and teens impacted by parental deployment.  This series continues with the focus shifting to the impacts of death and divorce on youth today.


Below is the third video in our video series highlighting best practices for educators, teachers, and other key players in the lives of grieving youth today.  For this interview, I sat down with Roxanne Storms, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Fellow in Thanatology with the Association of Death Education and Counseling.  Storms offers best practices for working with children and teens impacted by the death of a loved one and/or parental divorce.  Storm’s caring and passion for this population of youth is evident in the way she carries her message.


In this video Storms addresses the importance of understanding that when children and teens grieve and as they age, they will re-experience grief at different developmental stages and as adults, we need to acknowledge that grief every time.


Storms reminds us not to assume that one grief experience is more impactful than another and to not compare them.  Storms also reminds us to “be aware,” as life will never be the same as it was for a child or teen impacted by death and/or divorce.


Although our twitter chat is over, our conversations about #Grief5 and the grief experiences of children and teens are only just beginning.  Look for my upcoming blog post where I will introduce a best practice video for educators, teachers, and adults working with children and teens impacted by parental incarceration.  In the meantime you can see images from our hashtag campaign on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram here.  Find us on Facebook at The Alliance for Positive Youth Development and The SISGI Group.  On Twitter we are @NotEnoughGood and @Ideas4youth.  We are also @Youth4change on Instagram.

Are there grief experiences of children and teens you don’t think are getting enough attention? Please leave a comment below or email me at
I also encourage you to join our ongoing conversation by using the hashtag #Grief5.  Together we can begin to create more awareness of the impacts of grief and loss on youth today and best practices to better serve this population of “invisible grievers”.

To see all the videos in the series please view the playlist on our ISC Youtube channel.



Quiet Health Concern – Iron Deficiency Anemia

I was a junior in high school and 17 years old when I first heard the term anemia. In California, where I live you have to be at least 110 pounds to give blood, I finally got to that weight and was energized to give blood and give back to the community. So the blood drive staff pricked my finger as they do to all the blood donors and told me I had anemia. Their solution, go eat lunch, then come back and try again.

The next time I heard the term was about 3 years later when I was 20 years old during my annual OB/Gyn visit. Because I had missed a few menstrual periods they ran blood work.  My Nurse Practitioner didn’t feel anything was wrong with me but did the blood tests just to see. I received a call the next day and was informed I was iron deficientPicture4 and anemic. After hearing this diagnosis I researched all I could about my disorder.

Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is the most common type of anemia and occurs when an individual does not have enough iron minerals in their blood. There are different reasons why this occurs including blood loss, pregnancy, not eating enough iron rich foods, and internal bleeding. Though, It can occur in men and women, some groups are at greater risk. For example vegetarians, infants, and children who may not get enough iron in their diet. Other groups such  as those who give blood frequently, pregnant women and women  21-41 years old are also high risk populations. Individuals can experience IDA symptoms for years without knowing the cause.

During my follow up visit, my doctor did a bit more than tell me to go eat something, they told me to get some folic acid and some iron pills and to keep taking them. I also saw a hematologist, and was quickly faced with the reality of having IDA. The way the doctor described it, I was running on fumes, like if a car was running on its last legs of gas. IDA doesn’t sound so threatening, but it is the most common nutritional disorder in the world and can be life threatening .

IDA contributes to 841,000 deaths per year. My doctor told me the first day in her office that if I did not get this resolved quickly, I would be dead by the time I was 22 years old. I was already in shock from how anemic I was, how sick I really was and didn’t know it.

Sometimes you have to laugh because otherwise you cry. We had been driving home that night and a car cut us off on the freeway. I remember saying “Excuse me, I still have two more years to live” I think I needed to make it lighter somehow.

There are many different ways to treat iron deficiency anemia depending on how severe and the causes of IDA. YouIron Deficiency Anemia (4) (2) can treat it with oral supplements, changing your dietary habits to include more iron rich foods. For the more severe cases, you may need blood transfusions, surgery or iron infusions. My doctor had me do iron infusions, so they pumped Iron into me. The very first day after my first round of medication I felt different, it helped instantly in the same day. I noticed more color in my cheeks and I wasn’t as tired as I had been before.

I encourage all of you readers to ask questions, do more research, and share this information with your friends and family. This is a disorder that can be fixed, it can be fixed and stable before it does serious harm, it can even be dealt with before you have to worry about having low oxygen counts. You can make a difference by being educated and bring questions up to your doctors. I know this because I am now 26 years old and my health has improved immensely. Let’s all work together to find a way to make this disorder disappear.


Virtual Internship – Real Experience

learn online

When I tell others that my internship is online, I usually know what is coming next.  It most likely will be laughter followed by comments such as “That must be so easy” or “I wish I could go to work in my pajamas”.  Remarks such as these are made by those who may not be aware of the benefits of an online internship and the real world experience one can gain.

Virtual internships have grown in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons such as family commitments, internship training sitelocation and flexibility.  This type of arrangement allows a student to gain real work experience in a remote work setting.  Students complete assignments from home and communicate on a regular basis with employers by telephone, instant messaging, email, Skype, webinar or social media.  

I reside in a rural area without many agencies that offer internships for graduate students.  I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect when this all began in January but as my year comes to an end, I can truthfully say that I would not trade the experience.  The numerous opportunities provided to me as an intern with the SISGI Group have challenged me and pushed me completely outside of my comfort zone.  

The professional and personal growth I have made during this year has increased my confidence and provided me with real world skills in marketing, development and fundraising, event planning, research, grant writing, conflict resolution, leadership, cultural diversity, social media, networking, consulting and time management.   I am thankful for this unique learning experience and I would definitely want to pursue other virtual opportunities in my career.

Perhaps your agency might be willing to offer a distinct experience to students who are open to a virtual internship.  By structuring it in such a way there is regular one-on-one supervision, learning opportunities, individual and team assignments, it can be a win-win situation for both the organization and student.  Learn more about the Social Change Leadership Program at the SISGI Group and contribute today towards allowing more students, like me, to have this experience at  



Best Practices for Grief – Parental Deployment


This series began with an introduction of multiple grief experiences of youth in foster care placement.  This series continues with a look at parental deployment and its impact on youth.

Multiple relocations.  Loss of friendships.  Loss of pets.  Parental deployment.  Death.  These are a few of the many grief experiences military children and teens in the United States may face today.


Out of the 5 million Americans  connected with the military family, 2 million are children.  On average military children will move 6-9 times between kindergarten and high school.

Studies continue to show heightened stress and pressure being put on families with increased deployments.  There is a need now more than ever before for increased understanding of military culture in non-military schools.  We need to help students with military connectedness get the support required for them to be successful both academically and emotionally.  It’s time for us to create more conversations around how to better serve this population of military children and teens.

Below is the second video in our video series highlighting best practices for teachers and other key players impacting the lives of grieving youth today.  I interviewed Benjamin Wilson, California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) for this conversation about grief and loss experiences.  Wilson is a Certified FOCUS Trainer and FOCUS Site Director for Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC). Wilson offers best practices when working with children and teens experiencing parental deployment. He provides insight into the importance of recognizing each military connected child or teen as an individual and the importance of meeting them where they’re at in their grief.  This interview includes practical tools and helpful resources for parents, teachers, educators, and other adults working with military connected youth.

One of my favorite takeaways from this video is that we must not forget that although military connected youth may be impacted by multiple grief and loss experiences, they are highly resilient and have a strong ability to overcome adversity.  

November 19th, I will be hosting a twitter chat to discuss best practices when working with grieving youth.  Leading up to this twitter chat,  I will continue to post more information and highlight our campaign using the hashtag #Grief5.  You can see images from the hashtag campaign on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram here.

In the meantime, use our hashtag #Grief5 to share our information, start your own conversation, and follow our campaign for updates.  You can find us on Facebook at The Alliance for Positive Youth Development and The SISGI Group.  On Twitter we are @NotEnoughGood and @Ideas4youth.  We are also @Youth4change on Instagram.

To see all the videos in the series please view the playlist on our ISC Youtube channel.



Best Practices for Grief: Foster Care

We remove them from their homes with promises of a better life.  We elude them with dreams of safety and a life free from the trauma and pain that often silences the voices of this population of children and teens living in foster care.


Often, key players in the lives of foster care youth struggle to understand the magnitude of loss a child or teen in the foster care system has experienced.  Abuse and neglect.  Loss of innocence.  Trauma.  Separation from parents.  Loss of security.  Multiple placements.  These heavy experiences not only impact children and teens in our foster care population short term, they are far reaching.  The long term impacts of these experiences of foster care youth are evidenced by the staggering statistics of foster care alumni.  Homelessness.  Crime.  Unemployment.  Mental health concerns.  Lack of education.  These are a few of the many issues that continue to impact foster care alumni fostercare2.jpegtoday.

In order to effectively serve this underserved population it’s time for us to acknowledge how much we really don’t know about foster care youth in the United States today.  It’s time to create more conversation about the needs of children and teens in foster care placement and the realities of their experiences.  It’s time we meet them where they’re at in their grief.

Below is the first video in our series highlighting best practices for teachers and other key players impacting the lives of grieving foster care youth today.  In this video I interview Evangelina Reina, LCSW, Assistant Regional Administrator for DCFS – Los Angeles and Adjunct Assistant Professor for The University of Southern California.  Reina offers her insight into best practices when working with children and teens in foster care placement as well as her expertise on what sets foster care youth apart from youth impacted by the other experiences of death, divorce, parental incarceration, and parental deployment.

November 19th, I will be hosting a twitter chat to discuss best practices when working with grieving youth.  Leading up to this twitter chat,  I will continue to post more information and highlight our campaign using the hashtag #Grief5.  You can see images from the hashtag campaign on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram here.

In the meantime, use our hashtag #Grief5 to share our information, start your own conversation, and follow our campaign for updates.  You can find us on Facebook at The Alliance for Positive Youth Development and The SISGI Group.  On Twitter we are @NotEnoughGood and @Ideas4youth.  We are also @Youth4change on Instagram.

To see all the videos in the series please view the playlist on our ISC Youtube channel. 


November: Veterans, Thanksgiving and Military Families

Have you ever been defined as the problem? You know that feeling when someone says it’s because of the place you lived, the color of your skin, your socio-economic class or earning potential, how long you’ve been with the organization, the school, in your community, or even what gender you are or who you love, that determines the access to opportunities you have. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being defined by limits, identified by a characterization, and placed on the outside.

Who am I you might be asking? I am a military spouse, a military family member, or even to some in federal circles, a dependant. Clearly I see myself and other military families differently. I see a career professional, social change agent, advocate, parent, friend, supporter of all things Star Wars and Star Trek, patriot, lover of laughter, ice cream, and animal videos on YouTube and ice hockey.

What really gets me is when someone defines me as a military spouse or family member implying the underlying stereotypes that come with it and then limits my opportunities for potential growth and achievement. After all, I see myself and others as an asset, not a liability. I don’t see family members as problems as much as I believe we are limited by our environment. We have become socially disadvantaged and marginalized.

Infographic on military families

Source –

The total active, Reserve and National Guard force equals around 2 million service members. 53% of the active duty force and 48% of National Guard and Reserve are married; 43% of all service members have children. America’s leadership recognizes with service members come families. As a matter of fact, military research shows that the family (spouse, children, parents, siblings) is the single most influential source impacting enlistment and reenlistment.  So then why are there only temporary fixes to the problems created by a military lifestyle? Where is the buy-in missing?

For me, all military family members have identified strengths, talents, and abilities. They are simply confronted with barriers that they must realistically assess to match their personal situation in hope of achieving opportunities. Too many times to count, I have been stopped in my tracks by local, state or federal rules or citizens who are biased against the diversity of military family structures and our mobility.

Local communities need to see our potential as a proud, serving, and dedicated family. Know that my nomadic children and I desire the same opportunities to succeed and fail as each of you who have had your roots firmly planted.

I have interviewed for a job, only to be questioned on my consistently inconsistent employment history. I fight to be under-employed, to establish a career, to even volunteer. Corporations, businesses, and organizations need to see my potential and invest in me. Know I am just as dedicated to my career as to my military lifestyle and the nation!

To honor military families, Congress designated the first Military Family Appreciation month in November 1999, and since then every US President has signed a November proclamation declaring a month long celebration honoring the commitment and sacrifices made by the families of the nation’s service members. That’s nice.

Is it a coincidence that November was chosen for the month long observance? Our nation already has significant November holidays that celebrate sacrifice and service to our nation (Veterans Day) and a celebration of family, gratitude, and gifts bestowed upon each of us (Thanksgiving).

As a 20+ year military spouse, I appreciate the symbolic gesture. I mean who wouldn’t want to say they support and stand behind family members whose loved ones work 24/7 in service of our nation, sometimes far from home duringSloniker 2015 key family life moments.

Who wouldn’t want to acknowledge their support of a military spouse and military children who move every two to three years. And in doing so, indirectly recognize that military mobility can contribute to a postponement or even forfeiture of the family member’s own careers and goals.

Who wouldn’t want to give a thumbs up and a pat on the back to a military child that just found out they will move to their fourth or fifth school. And while they were talented in sports, music or some club activity at the other school, it comes down to the new coach or the faculty instructor not really knowing them. So they sit and wait, hoping for a big break just so they can belong.

American society should know that my family and I, after a decade and half of constant deployment, are no different than any other American family that has faced piling on challenge after challenge. We are strong and resilient; and that carries over to whatever neighborhood, school, community, or job we find ourselves.

I also understand the ambiguity behind such a hollow proclamation; the applause for simply being there, for giving something up. Like I said, I have lived that “tag-along” lifestyle now for 20+ years, where my service and sacrifice is notable because of what I have given up – not for what I have achieved.

Let’s be honest, the proclamation has value and meaning only to the military and veteran communities. The other 99% of American citizens have no awareness of the service and challenges a military family faces; or if they do, it’s noted in the same way I did – “that’s nice.”

If you ever want to understand what it is like to be a military family member, the internet is a wonderful place to get multiple perspectives. I’d like to point you to two resources: one long and one short. For an in depth understanding of what a military child experiences, watch the documentary “Brats: Our Journey Home.”

 You’ll quickly understand that the paradox is that they never really find home because of the sacrifices those Presidential proclamations extol – that make their lifestyle and childhood tough.

For the short version, look for a YouTube video called “It’s Not About the Nail.” Many times, the strengths that I have, that many other family members have, are negated, marginalized, or self-silenced because the focus is on the circumstances.

Other times, the policies and directives currently in place simply are not reflective of what is required to maintain a 21st century household. They put the military family member at a disadvantage by defining them as the problem that doesn’t fit neatly in the box and implying that they should simply acknowledge it, create a personal workaround or “suck it up.”

Lastly, the lifestyle creates barriers for transition into local communities where both bias and judgment exists. How can a family be expected to successfully integrate into communities, build ties, thrive and breakdown barriers, only to move 2-3 years later.

So how do we as a society stop defining people by their problems? I don’t even want to propose the philosophy of some who claim they “don’t see race, or status, or gender. Everybody is equal.” Honestly, that is baloney. Everyone has unconscious bias, there exists structural barriers in society, and our personal context does matter. What’s needed is an inclusive approach where we define each person on their own merits and strengths, as well as learn to constructively appreciate the differences we all have.

Nov Military FamilyI’m not saying, with regards to military families, that the federal government or the local citizenry is off the hook. Or that each family member must pull themselves up by their own “bootstraps.” No, we all have a vested interest in success. I believe  judgment with bias must end in order for any person, not just a military family member, to be defined by what they bring to table and not how much of a headache it is to simply invite them. America needs to finally create a society where all people have dignity, honor, and humanity. That begins with each one of us.

If the proclamation has not already been released, there will be one to declare November as National Military Family Appreciation Month. When you see or hear the beautifully eloquent words by the President honoring the families of all who have served our nation, I hope each citizen of the United States remembers this important saying, “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.” I am a military family member. See me as an asset to your community, as an asset to the nation, and as one more quality of diversity that adds beauty to the tapestry of America.



It’s Grief To Me – Death, Divorce, Incarceration, Deployment and Foster Care

When I graduated from high school, I never intended on going back. Then 13 years later, I found myself walking the halls of someone else’s high school thinking about that period of my own life that was so fraught with darkness. But this time my role was different. I was different.

thepainisreal.jpegI was a mental health practitioner preparing curriculum for an after school grief group within the high school mental health program where I worked. My role was to plan lessons and co-facilitate the group with my supervisor, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). When one student was referred to the grief group because of her father’s military deployment, I remember initially not understanding what deployment had to do with grief and loss.  That quickly changed as facilitating the after school grief group provided a whole new awareness of how different grief and loss can look for a teen.

After finishing up my role as co-facilitator of the high school grief group and as my years working in the mental health program began to accumulate, I began to realize many of the youth I was surrounded by daily were grieving.   Not only were they grieving, they were hungry for acknowledgement of their loss. They wanted validation of their pain.  

All key players need to be on the same page when it comes to the many emotions youth experience in connection to grief. Who are these pivotal players? Not only are they the parents and caretakers of the grieving children and teens, but also educators and other key adults in the lives of youth.  Every year, our educators in the public education system spend roughly 180 days and approximately around 1,000 hours with our children.  For many children, the time spent with their classroom teacher accumulates to more time then the time they spend with their own parents.  For many children in the foster care system for example, or for those with an incarcerated parent, their schools and their teachers become the one constant in their lives. Continue reading