New and Familiar Faces on the Move in the School of Social Work

There are new faces and new leadership at the School of Social Work

Aliya Durham is the school’s first-ever director of community engagement as well as an assistant professor of social work. She comes to the position with a strong background in community development and philanthropy, having recently spent 10 years as vice president of foundation and government relations at the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA. She says she wants to give social work students a mix of theory and practice and to “create opportunities to connect them to our region’s nonprofit leaders whenever possible.” 

“I think what’s most important and often misunderstood about how our region benefits from social workers is that our career paths are not confined,” said Durham. “Social workers show up in all kinds of spaces and places, driven by our passion to improve humanity, the environment and the world.”

Durham, who has an MSW — as well as three other degrees — from Pitt, will also teach graduate courses within the Community Organization and Social Action (COSA) concentration.

Joining Durham at the school is Molly Allwein, the new director of professional education. Her last position was senior marketing and community affairs manager for VisitPITTSBURGH. She wants to develop a strategic and targeted marketing plan and update the user experience of the school’s professional training materials. She also wants them to have a further reach.

“We have a goal to develop a digital platform to offer our programming to professionals everywhere, not just in Western Pennsylvania,” Allwein said. “With the wealth of research, knowledge and passion that our faculty and instructors possess, we are uniquely positioned for our professional education program to become the gold standard for social workers and other helping professionals throughout the country.” Allwein also holds an MSW from the school.

And for the first time since it was launched in 2002, there will be a new face at the helm of Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP). Interim Director James Huguley, also an assistant professor of social work, says he will build on the excellent foundation laid by Larry E. Davis, dean emeritus of the school and CRSP founding director.

“I want to expand our capacity to short circuit the distance between cutting-edge race research and applied work on the ground,” Huguley said. He plans to continue the signature CRSP activities such as its speaker series, summer institutes and student and faculty research awards. And he wants to expand the center’s research footprint. “We want to do empirical work that is influential not only in our region, but also abroad. We’re excited to think about possibilities on that front,” he said.