Kendra Van de Water, LSW, MSW ’16 - Outstanding Recent Graduate
Kendra Van de Water is a Policy Analyst for the City of Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission. She works to improve the relationship between the community and police through developing and implementing policy and practice changes at the Police Department. In a city with over 1.5 million residents, Kendra provides oversight through investigations of police response to over 6,000 officers and 21 police districts. Her work has included extensive changes with how police interact with minority youth, the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with mental illness. Kendra’s expertise also includes providing trauma informed training and technical assistance to correctional facilities to transform conditions of confinement and improve the lives of those who are cast out by society. Kendra utilizes her personal experience with the criminal justice system and her on the ground clinical skills to effectively organize and change public policy, as she believes challenging and actively working to dismantle systems creates sustainable change.
Kristina Evans, LCSW-C, MSW ‘06 - Innovation in Social Work Award
Ms. Evans graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2004 with a degree in Sociology. She attended University of Maryland School of Social Work and graduated with a Master of Social Work in 2006. She began her Social Work career at St. Elizabeth’s School in Baltimore, working with children with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. In 2015, Kristina became a social worker in the newly opened Comprehensive CARE Center at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. Her work focused on assisting patients navigate the public health system while providing resources to help patients acquire appropriate healthcare. In 2017, Kristina was promoted to Clinical Coordinator of the Comprehensive CARE Center where she lead a team of case managers, nurses and social workers tasked with assisting high risk patients learn how to manage their diagnoses while accessing community supports and resources. Recently, she was promoted to Clinical Manager of Population Health. Kristina lives with her husband and three children in Bel Air, Maryland.
Olivia McCall - Outstanding Student of the Year
Ms. McCall is a Clinical Children & Families student with an undergraduate degree in Sociology & Anthropology, from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont. Prior to coming to the School of Social Work, she has experience working in emergency shelters for children and families experiencing homelessness in California, Massachusetts, and Baltimore City. While attending the School of Social Work, Olivia completed an internship as a social worker in Baltimore City Public Schools through the School of Social Work’s SWCOS program, and she is currently completing advanced clinical internship at House of Ruth, working in the emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence. As a foundation student, Olivia was awarded the Paul Ephross Scholarship in Social Work with Groups. Olivia enjoys using strengths-based approaches and working within programs to incorporate trauma informed care and best practices. She is grateful for all of the experience she has gained at the SSW, and upon graduation, Olivia hopes to continue working with children and families who have experienced trauma.
Denise Smith, LCSW-C, MSW ‘02 - Field Instructor of the Year
Ms. Smith is a 2002 graduate of the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work (UMSSW). Denise has refined her clinical practice in the areas of forensic social work, mental health treatment, and social work education. Denise partners with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender as a social work Field Instructor. As a teacher and mentor, Denise values the training that field education offers. Providing hands-on experience, she devotes her work to shaping and influencing student professional growth. Her students concur, “Ms. Denise gives tough love”. Denise launched Smith Consulting Group, LLC in 2011 providing forensic social work focused on defensed-based advocacy- giving a voice to truth and restoring dignity to the accused.
She is a mental health therapist to those struggling with substance use disorders, and a Field Liaison for UMSSW. Social justice, advocacy, social work education, and launching new social workers into the field, inspire and highlight her practice. Denise enjoys traveling, cooking, and graphic design.
Yvonne Perret, M.A., MSW ‘85, LCSW-C - Alumni of the Year
Ms. Perret is the Executive Director of the Advocacy and Training Center in Cumberland. She has worked in social work virtually since 1968 and has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1985. Ms. Perret is the primary founder of the national Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) program, begun in 2005. This program follows the model of the SSI Outreach Project that Ms. Perret directed in Baltimore from 1993 until 2002. The project was named a “Best Practice Program” by the National Alliance to End Homelessness in 2001 and an Exemplary Program by SAMHSA in 2005. Since 2002, Ms. Perret has been a nationally recognized expert and leader in accessing disability benefits for adults who are homeless and who have behavioral health disorders. She is the lead author for the Stepping Stones to Recovery and Stepping Stones to SSI and SSDI curricula, written for staff assisting those with behavioral health disorders and HIV/AIDS, respectively. The approach used in both curricula is on accessing benefits as a tool in recovery. She is active in advocacy regarding mental health, homelessness, and public benefits and is the recipient of several awards for advocacy and social work. She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance based on policy recommendations regarding Social Security disability and homelessness.
In 1976, she earned a Master’s degree in public communications from Syracuse University, with a focus on print journalism. She then wrote for multiple departments at Cornell University and co-authored a book, Children with Handicaps: a Medical Primer, currently in its 3rd edition. More recently, she co-authored/authored two chapters on re-entry in public benefits (in 2010 and 2014), co-authored a curriculum, in 2017, on integrating behavioral health services for peer support programs, and authored a curriculum, in contract with New York State, on in homelessness, mental illness and recovery.
Ms. Perret serves on the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association of Maryland, chairs the Allegany County Commission on Women and the Health and Education Group of the Allegany County Women’s Action Coalition. She is a trainer of Mental Health First Aid, an evidence-based program, and is a consultant/trainer to New York State and Maryland SOAR. She has served as a SAMHSA reviewer for several years and a facilitator SAMHSA’s BRSS TACS Policy Academies.
Susan Loysen, MSW ’98 – Alumni of Year
Ms. Loysen is a foster care administrator with the Baltimore County Department of Social Services, where she has served for 16 years. Susan began at DSS as an independent living social worker, transitioned to a supervisor and then was a driving force in developing the Agency’s Family Team Decision Making program, which she supervised for five years. Susan then returned to University of Maryland as an implementation manager with the Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center. There she worked with systems across the Atlantic Coast utilizing implementation science to support best practices, primarily around strengthening supervision through coaching. Susan returned to her first love, Baltimore County DSS in 2015, but still provides training and consultation nation-wide to state systems implementing coaching and evidenced based interventions. Susan’s proudest accomplishment, alongside her colleague, Judith Schagrin, is the development of Camp Connect, Maryland’s overnight foster sibling camp, now in its 19th year.
Terri A. Alexander, MSW ’12 - Emeritus Award (awarded posthumously)
After overcoming 17 years of heroin and cocaine abuse, Terrie turned her life around to become a much loved and recognized Baltimore community leader in the fight against the opioid abuse epidemic. Once her son was born in 1996, Terrie was determined to make a significant change in her life. Focused on helping others who were suffering as she had. Terrie earned degrees in addiction counseling and mental health technology from Baltimore City Community College, obtained her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Coppin State University and went on to the Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Alexander was the founding manager of the non-profit Institutes for Behaviors Resources and REACH Health Services Intensive Outpatient Program. On September 10, 2018, Terrie’s legacy and life were honored by local and state leaders. The IOP programed were renamed the Terrie Alexander Intensive Outpatient Program, to honor her hard work and dedication that has made a difference in so many people’s lives.
Veronica E. Cruz, LCSW-C, MSW ’06 – USG Alumni Recognition Award
Veronica E. Cruz, LCSW-C, is a clinical and forensic social worker with over 17 years of experience working with children, adolescents and families. She is a qualified expert witness in clinical and forensic social work in numerous jurisdictions and courts throughout the State of Maryland. She concentrates on cases revolving illegal or harsh sentences, post-conviction relief, modifications of sentences, death penalty, and juveniles charged as adults. Ms. Cruz is the founder and CEO of Cruz & Associates, LLC a consulting firm that specializes in preparing comprehensive forensic psycho-social reports for criminal and civil matters, continuing education and psychotherapy. She has been an adjunct professor with the University of Maryland, School of Social Work since 2016, teaching Adult Trauma and Clinical Social Work Practice to graduate students. She is an avid continuing education presenter and specializes in trauma and ethics workshops.
Ms. Cruz is a graduate of the Catholic University of America earning a B.A. in psychology and received her Master of Social Work, specializing in mental health and addiction from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. In 2014 she completed an advanced two-year post graduate Forensic Social Work Certification through the University of Maryland Continuing Education Department.