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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
1 Feb, 2017

Ask Nicole: How Can I Get Hired for Workshops & Speaking Engagements?

By | February 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

Michelle, a social worker in Pennsylvania, writes:

I have been researching other options to become involved in within the [social work] field and came across your website. I was wondering if you [could] discuss how to get involved in facilitating workshops/speaking engagements.  This is an area I’m very interested in pursuing and am eager to build resources and network with other professionals.

I’m always excited to hear fellow social workers eager to show their expertise in a variety of ways.

I’ve been facilitating workshops in some capacity since 2003-ish. I started co-facilitating workshops as a student, with other youth activists around the country, then as a Reproductive Justice activist and professional social worker. Because I was so new to it, I leaned a lot on my peers to guide the workshop facilitation. I also sought out people who have a delivery style you like or who speak on topics that interests you. The goal isn’t to imitate them, but observe how they engage their audience. Whenever I co-faciliate a workshop or training with someone, I focus on how they engage the audience, how they interject personal experiences that tie into their content, or how they tie in real-world examples to illustrate their content. I eventually found a facilitation style that worked for me. 

First, determine what your interests are and what you want to share your expertise in. Next, brainstorm how you want to deliver your information.  I’ve written a series on preparing and facilitating workshops (Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four). We tend to think of workshops as being in person, but you can also deliver great content via online formats such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. In my Blog Archives, there’s a section on workshops where I share my own experiences with workshop facilitating as well as exercises I’ve facilitated in workshops.

Secondly (and probably most important), let people know that you’re available for workshops and speaking engagements! Word of mouth has been a driving force for my business and for lots of people interested in professional speaking and workshop facilitation.

Next, find ways to show your expertise before going into a conference or workshop space. My preferred method to show my interests and expertise has been through blogging, and in using my social media platforms to promote my thoughts. Blogging has been a good way for me to show my expertise, gain clients, and have folks invite me to speak. (I view it as an online business card). Blogging has also given me a platform to share my perspective AND has allowed me to revisit my stance to either strengthen my voice or to share a new perspective. Blogging may be that for you as well. Or it may be podcasting or sharing your perspective via YouTube. You can also engage with folks via live feeds on Instagram, Facebook, or Periscope. You can curate the topics you like to talk about and it aids in developing your personal approach and what you’re known for (aka, your brand), which then helps people associate you with certain speaking topics. I recently updated my Speaking page to show what my interests are as well as what I’m most requested to speak on.


4 Jan, 2017

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Leaving New York City?

By | January 4th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me. 

Ebony, a social work graduate student, writes:

I just completed my first semester in [my social work graduate program] and I  have some questions which are not really being answered in my school. I’m not sure if it is because I am one of the few black women in [the program] or if the my advisor really does not have any answers for me.

I graduate in May of 2018 the the plan is for me to have my MSW along with a certification in child welfare. Shortly after graduation I plan to take the exam for me to get the LMSW. I really want to  get the LCSW because I eventually I would like to open up my own practice working with the youth and obtain my DSW. My dilemma is that I would like to relocate south to Georgia or Florida. I would like to move to a place where it does not snow and the cost of living is lower. I have been living in New York all my life. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I do not want to wait until the last minute of my graduate school career to have a concrete plan.


You may recall that I was asked a similar question by another student, only Ebony’s question is the opposite: leaving New York City to work elsewhere as a social worker. Here, I focus on what I felt was Ebony’s primary need: how preparing for the LMSW or LCSW exam (and transferring those scores and licensure) varies by state.

Many students wait until their second year (and sometimes the final semester) to think of the next steps in their social work path, so it’s great that Ebony is thinking about her trajectory while in her first year.

And yes, the cost of living in New York City is significantly higher compared to many southern cities, and that’s always been a major draw for many folks moving down south. While it provides lots of career opportunities, it can feel like a completely different world to a native New Yorker. As a Georgia native, it didn’t take long for me to adjust to life in New York, but many of my native New York City friends had to get used to the slower pace of southern life, even in major cities like Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami. That doesn’t mean the same will apply to Ebony (or to you if you’re planning to make a similar decision), but I just wanted to throw that out there.


20 Jul, 2016

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Moving to New York City?

By | July 20th, 2016|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me.


I recently got an email from Stephanie, a graduating social work student:


I stumbled upon your Instagram today and was pleased to see that you are a social worker who currently resides in New York City; I graduate with my MSW in August and plan on moving to New York City from Florida, thereafter.  Living and working in New York has always been a dream of mine. In preparation for graduation I’ve been doing some online job searching, but  most positions that offer a viable wage require that you are licensed. My passion is working with children, families and women.

What advice would you give to a new social worker looking to move to New York City who isn’t licensed and wishes to work with children and families or women?  Are there any specific agencies you would recommend applying to?


Stephanie’s question is interesting because it encompasses many factors, of which I’ve come up with several questions that I hope can guide Stephanie (and you) in thinking more about the next steps in living as a a social worker in New York City:

What is your ideal social work role?

This question can be answered based on where you are currently (education-wise) as a social worker. Do you plan to work as a micro level social worker, mezzo level social worker, or macro level social worker? Do you plan to work at one level for your entire social work career, or do you have expectations of moving up or blending different levels of social work? If you’re interested in working with women, youth, and families, what does that mean? Reproductive or maternal health? Crisis management and prevention? Substance use? Mental illness?

How are you looking for social work positions?

This question ties into the first question. Stephanie mentions women, children, and families as potential populations she wants to work with. In addition to identifying if you want to work at the micro, mezzo, or macro level, are you looking for counseling positions versus case management, teaching versus facilitating workshops, etc?.  I was able to land a case management position within 3 months of graduating, working directly with adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. As social workers, we’re conditioned to look for positions that explicitly have “social worker” in the title when there are plenty of organizations and agencies that recommend having the skills of a social worker but it may not be mentioned in the position requirements. I had lots of experience in conducting workshops around youth engagement, sexual/reproductive health and justice, and the like prior to grad school, but felt that I needed something that mentioned “social work” or “case management” in the title. If you find a position that interests you but doesn’t mention “social worker”, highlight in your cover letter and interview how being a social worker lends itself well to that position. The MSW degree is one of the most flexible degrees out there, and the skills we learn can translate to a variety of roles.

What setting do you want to work in?


11 May, 2016

What to Do During Your First Days with a New Client

By | May 11th, 2016|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post Title #2


After reviewing the responses to your potential client questionnaire, meeting either in person, virtually, or by phone, and putting the finishing touches on your contract, you’ve landed a new client.

This is part of the on-boarding process, where you’re brought on as a consultant or contract worker for a new project. And since I do most of my consulting around program design and evaluation work, I’m going to speak within the context of working with a new client who has hired you to either develop a program theory model or to design an evaluation specific to an existing program.

To start, most evaluation projects tend to last for an agreed upon length of time. If you’re hired as an external evaluator, and you’ve never worked with this client before, you’re already at an advantage.  An evaluator works with program directors and executive directors to “tell the story”  of their program through identifying potential outcomes for the program activities, creating a data collection process that aligns most with the program and what questions the organization is expecting to answer, and analyzing the results. As an external evaluator, you’re the ideal person because 1) you’re the expert, 2) they may not have the staff capacity to do what you’re about to do, and 3) you don’t come with “baggage” (i.e. you’re not intimately involved with the goings-on of the program, thus being more objective and impartial.)

Despite this, being an external evaluation can also work against you if you don’t make good use of your first days with a new client.

Before you start discussing qualitative versus quantitive data collection or what to highlight in an executive summary, you need to understand what’s going on with the program you’re evaluating and the environment you’re going into. It’s like your first day on the job as a full-time employee. The more you know, the more ahead of the game you’ll be. (more…)

23 Mar, 2016

“But Does It Make A Difference?”

By | March 23rd, 2016|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation, Reproductive Justice|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post Title 3-23-16

I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline a few nights ago, and came across a tweet from the American Evaluation Association’s Twitter account, highlighting a blog post from program evaluator and research designer Dr. Molly Engle of Evaluation is an Everyday Activity. Dr. Engle focused on how she starts and ends her day with gratitude, and how that gratitude extends to her work in program evaluation. What stood out the most was this quote:

Doing evaluation just for the sake of evaluating, because it would be nice to know, is not the answer. Yes, it may be nice to know; [but] does it make a difference? Does the program (policy, performance, product, project, etc.) make a difference in the lives of the participants[?]

As I’ve mentioned before, conducting an evaluation can lead to insights into how well a program is performing and what can be improved. How valuable is this program in the lives of the individuals, families, and communities you work with?

I’ve been thinking of this a lot, and how it connects to the Reproductive Justice movement and its application of the framework. I try to incorporate a gender-focused, intersectional analysis in everything I do. However, I can’t figure out the onset, but I started to burn out from the RJ movement.

I don’t see myself leaving the RJ movement anytime soon, so I began searching for another entry point into the RJ movement of the traditional ways I’ve approached the work in the past. Program design and evaluation has been a way to reinvigorate my approach to RJ.

While it doesn’t sound as “sexy” or “trendy” as RJ has becomes more mainstream, evaluation  incorporates my engagement skills as a social worker, and I’ve found a way in my business to assist organizations in thinking more critically on how they design programs and services, as they relate to social justice work. While it may not be as exciting as a rally, I use my evaluation skills to gauge how an organization thinks of their program, what assistance may be needed  to realize their vision, what their perceived “wins” (expected outcomes) are, and what those actual outcomes are.

Going back to Dr. Engle’s quote, it got me to thinking: When an organization develops a program based on the RJ framework, what are the major similarities of RJ-based programs who receive funding from major donors or foundations? Do organizations evaluate RJ programs with the same criteria as other programs based on a completely different framework?  There are plenty of theories out their related to program design and evaluation, with lots of evaluation tools to choose from. Are there are separate set of evaluation tools that we can use to evaluate RJ-based programs by, and are we evaluating these programs based on what funders deem as important, or rather what makes sense to the organization applying the RJ framework? If the evaluation tools don’t exist, what could they potentially look like?