2021 D&I Series: Making Justice More Healing & Transformative

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST

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Wednesday, 10 March 2021 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST


 Please join us this Social Work Month for the

2021 Diversity & Inclusion Series
THEME: The Impact of Incarceration

Hosted in partnership with the Rutgers University School of Social Work


Making Justice More Healing and Transformative


Date: Wednesday, March 10th from 11am-12:30pm


Description: Join us for a virtual conversation about the underlying philosophy around how we sentence and treat people who are incarcerated – from the legal system to imprisonment. We’ll discuss topics such as restorative justice, the high rates of mental health and substance abuse issues during incarceration, and the importance of incorporating mental health services into jails and prisons.


Our panel will include Manuela Garcia, April Wilson, and Abdul Williams, all of whom have worked together for several years to do mental health crisis training for law enforcement.


April E. Wilson MS, CPC is a mental health professional, mental health advocate and professional life coach whose career has spanned over 15 years.  Ms. Wilson is also a well-regarded Peer Provider in New Jersey. She has been instrumental in starting a number of peer initiatives during her time with Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey and the Mental Health Association of Essex County.  Ms. Wilson has also helped to train law enforcement officials and various first responders via the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program.  She served as president of the Essex/Passaic Chapter of NAMI NJ. April has used her dual role as mental health professional and peer provider to shed light on what it feels like to be on both the giving and receiving side of mental health services in New Jersey. She has also served on the governing board of Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County. 



Manuela Garcia, MSW, LCSW is a behavioral health professional with more than 22 years of direct service and administrative experience working with children, adults, and families in both clinical and social service settings. Ms. Garcia currently serves as the Executive Director of United Family and Children’s Society in Plainfield, New Jersey. For most of her professional career, Ms. Garcia has advocated for an improved service delivery system for individuals in need of mental health, substance abuse and other behavioral services, especially those with a history of incarceration and trauma victims. She is especially committed to breaking the stigma associated with mental health and accessing treatment. In April 2019, she presented at a Kean University Social Work Program event with Lieutenant Governor of NJ Sheila Oliver on the subject matter “Influencing Change Women Social Workers in Leadership.” She is dedicated to improving access to and enhancing behavioral health services for all NJ citizens who may require such services.


Captain Abdul Williams is the Support Services Division Commander for Linden Police Department and Coordinator with the Union County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Abdul has been a statewide leader in the field of Crisis Intervention; as the Departmental CIT Coordinator, he has hosted a series of annual events to improve relationships between police, mental health providers, and those receiving services. As a New Jersey Police Training Commission certified CIT instructor, he has provided de-escalation and crisis intervention training to hundreds of police officers, police recruits, dispatchers, and first responders across the state. He also served on the Executive Board of Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, a local mental health provider. 

These efforts were formally recognized by CIT of NJ, who in 2017 selected the Linden Police Department as the Program of the Year, largely to his initiatives, which include an Annual CIT BBQ and an Easter Egg Hunt for children with developmental disabilities. Abdul graduated from Linden High School in 1987 and went on to attended Montclair State University, where he was named an All-American in track in field.




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Annie Siegel - Director of Special Projects: asiegel.naswnj@socialworkers.org

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About Rutgers School of Social Work

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