After 20 years, still training new leaders in social services

Two decades ago, directors of regional social-services departments formed the Bay Area Social Services Consortium (BASSC) and, in partnership with UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and UC Berkeley Extension, created the Executive Development Program in the Human Services to help public social-services managers excel.

Mike Austin

Michael Austin, who co-created the program two decades ago, shows off his plaque as Andrea Dubrow, lead instructor, looks on. (Photo by Jonathan Gill)

Speaking at the EDP’s 20th graduation dinner recently, Will Lightbourne, director of the California Department of Social Services, challenged this year’s 36 graduates to take on new leadership roles to address the mental-health challenges facing some of California’s most vulnerable populations.

Michael Austin, the Milton and Florence Krenz Mack Professor in Social Welfare and academic adviser for the program, received a commendation award for his longstanding support of public social services. Austin created the program with its current director, Extension’s Stan Weisner.

Also speaking at the Faculty Club event, Jeffrey Edleson, dean of the School of Social Welfare, noted how the program met the campus’s mission of serving the broader community of practitioners. Andrea Dubrow, lecturer and field instructor at the school and current lead instructor for the EDP, was joined by county directors in presenting certificates to program graduates

Since the fall of 1994, the Executive Development Program has turned out more than 600 graduates who have become leaders in the 12 Bay Area counties. Participant spend three weeks in the classroom at Berkeley Extension, and then prepare a case study on an innovative practice in a neighboring county to be shared with their own.

This “transfer-of-learning component,” says Weisner, “is one of the key features of first-rate adult-education training.”