Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Lecture and Distinguished Alumni Award Celebration

The Challenge and Promise of Equity, Justice, and Inclusion: Prophetic Voices

Friday, February 1, 2019
4:00–6:00 p.m. with reception to follow
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons
Boston College

1.25 CEUs offered.   

The Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Lecture is one in a series of events offered each year by the School of Social Work. This year's lecture will be a panel discussion featuring four social workers at different stages in their careers speaking about the complexities of serving others as a male of color in the field of social work.

Panelists include:

  • Michael Grinnell, MSW ’16, LCSW, Post-Graduate Fellow at Williams College Integrative Wellbeing Services
  • Gregory G. Groover, Sr., DMin, MDiv, MSW, Pastor, Historic Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Josh McNeil, MSW ’15, LCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Desmond Upton Patton, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia School of Social Work
  • Moderated by Professor for Macro Practice Tiziana Dearing

Our hope is for those who attend the event to reflect on their role as advocates for both clients and providers and to learn what they can do as allies in dismantling oppressive systems.

Following the panel discussion, we will honor the recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which recognize BCSSW MSW or PhD alumni who have made significant contributions to the social work profession. This year's winners are Tanya Sharpe, PhD ’07, and Lamar Polk, MSW ’09.

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners


Tanya Sharpe, PhD ’07

Distinguished Alumni Winner: Tanya L. Sharpe, PhD ’07

Dr. Tanya Sharpe has been a community based social worker in the field of interpersonal violence since 1993. She is associate professor and Chair in Social Work in the Global Community at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Previously, she served on the faculty at the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Social Work for 11 years. She is also the founder of the Homicide Research Consortium (HRC), an international collective group of scholars focused on raising the standard of research and best practice for African American/Black survivors of homicide victims and violence through collaborative research and scholarship. Dr. Sharpe’s research focuses on examining sociocultural factors that influence the coping strategies of Black family members of homicide victims for the purpose of developing culturally appropriate interventions that can best assist them in their management of grief and bereavement.

Lamar Polk, MSW ’09

Recent Distinguished Alumni Winner: Lamar A. Polk, MSW ’09

Lamar Polk, LICSW, CCM, C-ASWCM, is a 2009 graduate of the Boston College School of Social Work. Since graduating, he has worked as an outpatient mental health clinician, inpatient psychiatric social worker, inpatient medical social worker, community-based crisis clinician, clinical care manager, and adjunct professor. He currently works full-time as a clinical social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and part-time as a clinical care manager for Beacon Health Options. He is also finishing his master’s degree in public health from Dartmouth College, with a focus in health policy and care delivery. Mr. Polk is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers and the American Public Health Association, and a chapter executive board member for the Service Employees International Union Local 509. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, going to concerts, and volunteering.

About the Panelists


Michael Grinnell

Michael Grinnell, MSW ’16, LCSW
Post-Graduate Fellow at Williams College Integrative Wellbeing Services

Michael Grinnell is a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) and post-graduate fellow at Williams College Integrative Wellbeing Services. He has extensive experience providing clinical services to children, youth, and families and his background spans several therapeutic settings. Prior to Mr. Grinnell beginning the psychotherapy fellowship, he provided case management services as a social services specialist for the Department of Family Services in Fairfax County, VA, in the Foster Care and Adoption unit. His previous clinical experience includes working as an in-home family therapist through the Justice Resource Institute and as a middle school counselor in Boston, MA, as well as holding several roles with Wediko Children’s Services in Boston, MA, and Windsor, NH. Mr. Grinnell holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston College and Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Carleton College. He is a Minnesota native, and advocate for social justice and anti-oppressive movements.

Rev. Gregory G. Groover, Sr.

Gregory G. Groover, Sr., DMin, MDiv, MSW
Pastor, Historic Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, Sr., was appointed pastor of the historic Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1994. He is a native of Freeport, Long Island, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively. Rev. Groover completed his doctoral work at the New York Theological Seminary. The focus of his demonstration project and dissertation was on the strategic development of faith-based educational initiatives by urban African American congregations.

Rev. Groover is married to the Rev. Barbara Ann Groover who serves as the church’s Minister to Women. The Groovers are proud parents of their daughter Gerami Greer Groover-Flores and son Gregory Groover, Jr.

Josh McNeil

Josh McNeil, MSW ’15, LCSW
Behavioral Health Clinician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Josh McNeil is a behavioral health clinician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and holds an LCSW in Massachusetts, working toward his LICSW. Prior to BWH, he was a clinician at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services in New York City. He is a graduate of Boston College School of Social Work and Florida A&M University. Mr. McNeil hopes to continue on the path of clinical social work to better as many lives as possible, especially the lives of disenfranchised African Americans. He also aspires to write grants for African American mental health agencies, in order to be a catalyst for change on the macro level. Mr. McNeil is an NYC sports fan, hip hop head, enjoys books, and loves fitness.

Desmond U. Patton

Desmond U. Patton, PhD, MSW
Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia School of Social Work

Desmond Upton Patton is a public interest technologist who uses qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine the relationship between youth and gang violence and social media; how and why violence, grief, and identity are expressed on social media; and the real world impact these expressions have on wellbeing for low-income youth of color. Dr. Patton is the founding director of the SAFE lab, a member of the Data Science Institute, a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group, and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology at Columbia School of Social Work. He is the recipient of the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research, and was named a 2017–18 Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Dr. Patton studies the ways in which gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media, and the extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence. In partnership with the Data Science Institute, he is developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts.