Latino Social Work Task Force Honors Adjunct Faculty Member and Alumni

The Latino Social Work Task Force recognized three members of the NYU Silver School of Social Work community at its annual awards dinner on April 10. The group honored Gisselle Pardo, an adjunct lecturer; Linda Lausell Bryant, PhD ’13; and Juan Peña, MSW ’97, with the Leadership Award.

Gisselle Pardo, an adjunct lecturer, is the clinical supervisor for Project Step Up, a school, family, and community-based mental health intervention for adolescents run by the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, Step Up is designed by African-American and Latino teens experiencing significant academic, social, and emotional issues for teens in similar circumstances. The program connects teens with mental health supports, positive young role models, supported internships, employment opportunities, and family-level interventions. Hugely successful, Step Up has a high school graduation rate of 86 percent for students enrolled in the program. Pardo is also the senior research coordinator for Champ+ Argentina, a community-based mental health intervention for HIV infected youth and caregivers also based out of the McSilver Institute. Pardo has 17 years of experience providing mental health services in undeserved communities.

Linda Lausell Bryant has dedicated her career to developing the potential of disadvantaged youth. As executive director of Inwood House—the only organization in New York City focused on comprehensively serving the needs of pregnant and parenting teens—Bryant has led successful prevention and family support programming throughout the city and engaged key stakeholders on the issue of teen pregnancy. A published author, Bryant’s career has blended practice and policy experience. She has built effective programs to deter teen violence in New York City schools and played a key role in the movement to transform afterschool programming to focus on educational enrichment and personal development.

Juan Peña is an associate professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. His clinical experience includes serving families and children in various settings such as prevention programs, substance abuse clinics, schools, and mental health clinics. After September 11, he helped run support groups for Dominican families who lost family members in the World Trade Center or the crash of Flight 587 in the Rockaways. Peña’s writings can be read in a number of publications, and he has presented domestically and abroad on topics such as suicidal behavior among Latino adolescents. He has been principal investigator on grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A collaboration between the Puerto Rican Family Institute and NASW-NYC, the Latino Social Work Task Force's key goal is to raise the awareness of the shortage of Latino social workers needed to serve the Latino community and create a collaborative effort to address this need. The Task Force also provides scholarships to social work students.

Congratulations to Gisselle, Linda, and Juan for their incredible work, dedication to the Latino community, and improving the lives of young people!