School of Social Work celebrates student, alumni and research excellence

By Matthew Biddle

Published April 28, 2023


During the annual Celebration of Excellence on April 13, the University at Buffalo School of Social Work honored outstanding researchers, alumni and students.

Research impact

To kick off the evening, the school’s Buffalo Center for Social Research (BCSR) recognized research contributions with four awards.

Susan Green, clinical professor and co-director of the school’s Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC), received the inaugural Outstanding Career Achievement Award. Over the past 25 years, Green has transformed the delivery of trauma-informed care in our community; among other accomplishments, she co-founded ITTIC in 2012, developed the Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual and an online course, and has received more than $1 million in contracts to help implement trauma-informed care in local agencies. A role model for her students, Green has taught 12 different courses during her tenure and chairs the trauma and human rights course sequence for MSW students.

BCSR also conferred three Excellence in Research Awards. At the faculty level, Assistant Professor Noelle M. St. Vil, PhD, was honored for her study, “Attitudes Toward and Willingness to Engage in Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM) Among African Americans Who Have Never Engaged in CNM,” which was published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

PhD student Chares LaBarre received the student award for his project, “The Influence of COVID-19 on Alcohol Consumption among Individuals in Outpatient Treatment: Emerging Clinical Practices,” which was published in Best Practices in Mental Health.

Finally, Integrity Partners for Behavioral Health collected the community award for partnering with UB to create the Behavioral Health Data Analytics Collaborative — a data warehouse that’ll help researchers answer critical questions and improve practice.

Distinguished alumni

Next, the school honored three outstanding alumni, starting with Elizabeth M. Woike-Ganga, MSW ’04, president and CEO of BestSelf Behavioral Health. After joining BestSelf as an MSW intern in 2002, Woike-Ganga has risen through the organization, driving its rapid growth along the way. Under her leadership, BestSelf now serves more than 40,000 individuals in over 70 locations across the region.

Robin Hartinger-Saunders, PhD ’08, MSW ’97, received the PhD Distinguished Alumni Award. An associate professor in the Georgia State University School of Social Work, she serves as principal investigator and program director for two child welfare workforce development initiatives, garnering over $7.7 million in external funds to build a more stable and skilled workforce.

Bradley S. Loliger, JD ’13, MSW ’12, accepted the Louis H. Swartz Memorial Alumni Award in recognition of his commitment to social justice and impact as a staff attorney with the Center for Elder Law and Justice. Most recently, he created the Family Guardian Support Program to guide caregivers as they manage their loved one’s affairs.

Bright students

To wrap up the program, the School of Social Work inducted nearly 50 high-achieving students into Rho Kappa, the school’s chapter of Phi Alpha, the national social work honor society. Some students received their honor cords in person, while online students will be recognized during a Zoom ceremony on May 4.

Congratulations to the 2023 inductees: Rosemary Acosta, Maryam Ameen, Megan Battista, Jillian D. Beard, Kelly Beeseck, Gabrielle Bruscia, Nicole F. Carrel, Eileen Casey, Andrea Champlin, Christie Connelly, Matthew Cosmai, Renée Crossan, Kaylie DeShane, Elizabeth E. Dial, Dominic S. Filio, Mia Forney, Jennifer A. Frigolette, Steven K. Fugle, Hannah G. Ginn, Eric B. Hardwick, Alexandria Hartman, Tanya A. Kingsley, Kristopher Konyak, Yekaterina Kukhto, Richard Manuel, Candace E. Martinez, Jenna Miller, Victoria L. Miller, Nicia Bottini Morales, Ace Morreale, Kristin M. Nicholas, Gillian Nigro, Wanda L. Octaviano, Eileen Rath, Rosaura Romero, Max Rowland, Elizabeth Schram, Carnee F. Simpson, Megan Stewart, Isaac A. Sweet, Andrea Tobias, Amy M. Trabert, Kaleigh VanElst, Christopher P. Walsh, Lindsey B. Warner, Deanna Warren, Lauren A. Wehner, Sara E. Worden and Kalla Ziegenfus.

Media Contact Information

Matthew Biddle
Director of Communications and Marketing
School of Social Work
Tel: 716-645-1226