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Training Human Services Professionals  


Susanna teaches future human services professionals at Community College of Philadelphia in the Behavioral Health and Human Services program and at the University of Pennsylvania in the School of Social Policy and Practice about all aspects of social work.  She previously taught at Harcum College in the Human Services Program.   Susanna enjoys challenging and mentoring her future colleagues in the field.  In her capacity as Training and Education Supervisor at Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program, Susanna organized and facilitated the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s required 40-Hour Domestic Violence Advocate Training for many cohorts of future advocates.


Case Study: "Working with Domestic Violence Survivors" Training for Professionals


Susanna created and facilitated Lutheran Settlement House's “Working with Domestic Violence Survivors” training, a seven-hour training for professionals from varying fields on best practices for working with domestic violence survivors. The training was held quarterly and consistently received excellent feedback from participants.  While at LSH, Susanna regularly trained professionals from the behavioral health, health care, legal and housing systems on how to best assist domestic violence victims.  



Youth Program Design and Facilitation  


Susanna has trained young people in school and community settings about many sensitive topics.  While at the Crisis Clinic in Seattle, WA, she facilitated workshops with young people in schools about the warning signs of suicide and how to help a friend.  Susanna has taught young people in Philadelphia public schools and community settings about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, about healthy sexual decision making, and what to do if you or a friend is a victim of dating violence.  Susanna also co-facilitated Baby Watch, a program of Educating Communities for Parenting, with elementary school students.  This program encourages social-emotional learning through the study of an infant and caregiver who come into the classroom monthly.  Susanna also co-facilitated parenting groups for teens in Philadelphia schools as part of her work with Educating Communities for Parenting.  


Case Study:  S.T.A.R. (Students Talking About Relationships)


As a Community Educator at Lutheran Settlement House, Susanna recognized a need for youth programming lasting longer than a class period. Young people are clearly hungry to discuss relationships and sexuality with a trusted adult, and the classroom is not the ideal setting for these conversations.  Susanna co-created a year-long, after-school peer leadership program called Students Talking About Relationships (S.T.A.R.). At the end of the school year, S.T.A.R. participants chose a topic covered during S.T.A.R. that they felt was important to share with their peers and decided the best method to deliver the information. With the support of facilitators, participants completed creative and innovative projects at their school reaching hundreds of their peers with vital information, always delivered in a youth-friendly fashion.   Over the course of six years, Susanna oversaw the expansion of the program to three schools and a community center.  


Case Study:  LGBT Youth, Dating Violence and Homelessness: Making the Connection


As part of a project co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Mid-Atlantic Network for Youth, Susanna applied for and was selected to receive a grant to fund a project researching the needs of LGBT homeless youth in Philadelphia, focusing on the issue of dating violence.  After completing a number of focus groups with LGBT homeless youth, Susanna and a colleague worked with interested young people to create materials on dating violence targeted at LGBT youth.  These materials were consistently the most popular materials given out at tabling events and workshops, thus increasing an underserved population’s access to information and services.  Susanna then presented to professionals at numerous local and national conferences on the results of her research, sharing with professionals the connections between LGBT youth, homelessness and dating violence.  


Policy & Protocol Development and Training

Susanna enjoys taking a difficult and complex document and making it accessible.  She regularly trained the staff of Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program on such complex policies as child abuse reporting statutes and the National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics.  Susanna has used her strong writing and analytical skills to assist nonprofits and businesses in creating workplace safety policies that address employees who may be perpetrators or victims of intimate partner violence.  


Case Study:  Intimate Partner Violence Policies for Philadelphia Healthy Marriage Programs  

Susanna has worked with healthy marriage programs in Philadelphia to develop policies on intimate partner violence, as required by their federal funding.  These policies were crafted to reflect the particular needs of each individual program. Policy development included reading and analyzing program curriculum and existing policies around recruitment and retention.  Susanna also provided training on these new intimate partner violence policies for program staff.  


Recent Clients:

Mariposa Food Co-op

Worked with Blue Door partner Jessica Levy in designing and facilitating the first two stages of the co-op's strategic planning process.  Used an Interactive Planning process to engage a wide range of diverse stakeholders to contribute their voice to building a collective vision of Mariposa’s ideal future. 


Haverford House and Repair the World

Designed and facilitated a workshop with year-of-service fellows on secondary trauma and self-care, working with and around people who have been impacted by violence and trauma. Participants identified the symptoms and signs of secondary trauma and skills and strategies to use in practicing self-care.  These self-care practices allow nonprofit workers to protect themselves so they are able to make change in our communities over the long haul.  



Susanna Gilbertson



Susanna is a trained social worker and has created and facilitated interactive workshops on intimate partner violence, sexual health, parenting, suicide prevention, ethics, and oppression for youth, professional and community groups for over 13 years.  She received her Masters of Social Work from San Francisco State University.  Susanna is currently an adjunct professor at Community College of Philadelphia and a part-time lecturer in the Social Policy and Practice School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her previous work includes direct service counseling and advocacy on crisis hotlines, in domestic violence and homeless shelters, in schools, and in people’s homes and workplaces.  She also loves to write policy, supervise new social workers, and grapple with ethical dilemmas.