Dean Wozniak

Danielle Wozniak, Dean
Wurzweiler School of Social Work

I am not sure how I first heard about the Dilley Project, but when I did, I knew we had to be there and I was sure that my faculty and students would feel the same way.

Through the Dilley Project Cardozo law students volunteer to go to a Texas detention center to work with mothers and children who are afraid to return to their country of origin. These women are victims of gang or sexual violence. Law students, as Peter Markowitz Professor of Law at Cardozo, told us, “prepare and present women’s stories to officials from the from the Department of Homeland Security toward the goal of ensuring that they receive a proper hearing before a federal immigration judge.”

Social workers, trained in trauma and crisis intervention, could help. The Wurzweiler School of Social Work could bring to the team expertise in crisis intervention, psychological first aid and trauma practice. I reached out to Cardozo Dean, Melanie Leslie and asked if we could go too. I reached out to my faculty and asked if there was a volunteer.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell, faculty member at Wurzweiler and second year student Dominica Galati volunteered. Prior to their departure, they met with a doctoral student and trauma practice expert Zahava Farbman whose work as the Associate Director of the Crisis Intervention, Trauma and Bereavement Department at Chai Lifeline puts her on the front line of tragedy every day. She briefed them on what they could expect relative to trauma and how they could respond. She talked with them about secondary trauma and how to take care of themselves.

And then the team left for Texas. My understanding with Dr. Mitchell was that she would contact me daily and keep me appraised of their work. If they began to feel the effects of secondary trauma, Zahava Farbman was available 24 hours a day to support them and talk them through it.

Read the blog posts from Dr. Mitchell. They are about her experiences in Dilley. And they will change your life.


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