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2019 Spring Conference Making Connections: Women, Global Violence, and the Refugee Experience


ICSW Annual Conference

Saturday April 27, 2019 

Sponsored by the Institute for Clinical Social Work, the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and the Kedzie Center

8:00-5:30 at ICSW, the Robert Morris Center, 401 S. State Street Chicago

Live Streaming Available*

8.5 LSW/LCSW/LPC/LCPC CEU’s provided, which satisfy requirements for the Diversity requirement.**

Lunch will be provided. 

A Preconference Performance by Her Story Theater will take place on Friday evening, April 26. (Conference Registration is required).


Human understanding, upon which clinical practice is based, is rooted in compassion derived from contact with experiences outside our own. One irony about this comes with the realization that we are more alike than the differences which have been made of us. ICSW’s full day conference will focus on experiences of women who are living —often— off our symbolic professional register, whose lives are beyond the reach of our formal theories and practices. We will hear from (and about) women —both globally and locally— who have suffered violence and injustice. In coming together we can expand the domain of our understanding and learn something about ourselves, as clinicians and as citizens.

Educational Objectives

1) Attendees will learn about the physical and psychological impact of the global and local scope of human rights violations against women.

2)  Attendees will learn the unique clinical needs and medical outcomes of women who have suffered gender-based violence, oppression, and discrimination.

Program Outline

8:00am - Coffee, Light Breakfast

8:45am Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Jennifer Tolleson, PhD, ICSW Faculty, Chair of Continuing Education 


Female Genital Mutilation:  Human Rights Versus Cultural Rites. The practice of female genital cutting has been followed by many different cultures and societies across the ages and continents. It is an ancient, culturally sanctioned trauma involving the removal of parts or all of the external female genitalia. Approximately 200

million women have undergone FGM/C worldwide, while in Africa a further 3 million girls are at risk of the practice this year. As a result of migration, cases of this practice have been documented in

the United States where 500,000 women, between the ages of 15 and 49, are estimated to have been cut or are at risk of being cut.  Trauma imprints from this injurious tradition may include lifelong health

complications. In addition to medical consequences, many girls and young

women suffer serious psychological distress, sexual difficulties and social

stigmatisms from the effects of FGM/C. This presentation will discuss the significant psycho-neurological and psycho-sexual impacts, as well as explore the historical transmission and subsequent intergenerational trauma of FGM/C. Clinical examples will be included in the presentation. 

9:00am - Joanna Vergoth, LCSW, Founder/Executive Director, forma. (Keynote)

10:30am - Break

10:45am - Julia Geynisman-Tan, MD, Fellow, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital. (Keynote)

11:15am - F.A. Cole, Humanitarian, author, and anti-FGM activist (Keynote)

11:45am - Lunch (and Moderated Table Talk)


12:45pm - Discussion

1:15pm - Setting the Frame

Carleen Miller, PhD, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service, Aimee Hilado, PhD, LCSW, RefugeeOne, and Wahidah Abu Taib, RefugeeOne

These three speakers will focus on the experience of displaced women and girls, particularly refugees forced to flee their own countries. Clinical considerations for understanding the experience of forcibly displaced females will be explored.

2:00pm - Jennifer Bing, Director the Palestine-Israel program for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). 

Ms. Bing will discuss the unique intersections of being Muslim, Arab, and female in these times.

2:30pm - Cindy Eigler, MSW, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Chicago Torture Justice Center  

Out from the Shadows: The True Magnitude and Impact of State Violence Against Women.

3:00pm - Break

3:15pm - Milka Ramirez, PhD, Associate Dean, ICSW 

Dr. Ramirez will discuss how the matrix of oppression, unseen violence, compulsory heterosexuality and heteropatriarchy serve as interlocking systems of oppression that give rise to gender-based violence against women who love women.

3:45pm - Marianne Joyce, LCSW, Kovler Center of the Heartland Alliance.  

Ms. Joyce will address the global scope of human rights violations against women, and the unique clinical needs of women who have been tortured.

4:15pm - Panel Roundtable

5:15pm - Closing Remarks:  Ida Roldan, PhD, Academic Dean, ICSW

Presenter Bios

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Joanna Vergoth, LCSW, NCPsyA, is the Founder and Executive Director of forma, with 20 years of experience as a business executive followed by 20 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Psychoanalyst. As a mental health professional, she has dedicated herself to the healing of trauma. In addition to her public service, private practice, clinic and advocacy work, Ms. Vergoth has also studied and volunteered with organizations in London, Cairo, New York and Chicago which provide services to refugees, children of divorce, recovering prostitutes, and immigrant African women and girls. Over the past decade she has become a committed activist in the cause of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C), first as Coordinator of the Midwest Network on Female Genital Cutting, and most recently with the creation of forma, which is dedicated to providing comprehensive, culturally- sensitive clinical services to women and families affected by FGM/C as well as offering psychoeducational outreach, advocacy and awareness training.

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Julia Geynisman-Tan, M.D., is a Fellow, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Northwestern Prentice Women's Hospital. Dr. Geynisman-Tan joined Northwestern’s FPMRS Fellowship after completing her residency at New York Presbyterian - Weill Cornell in New York City and her medical degree from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Illinois. Dr. Geynisman-Tan is a surgeon who focuses her practice on pelvic floor reconstruction, management of urinary and fecal incontinence and repair of trauma to the genitourinary system. In addition, Dr.Geynisman-Tan is an asylum evaluator for Physicians for Human Rights and has conducted research on the medical outcomes of FGM/C. She also runs a clinic for female survivors of human trafficking ( and is involved in a number of local and national organizations on human trafficking.

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F. A. Cole is an award-winning humanitarian, author, and anti-FGM activist who has used her childhood and young adult experiences to design a blueprint to defeat Female Genital Mutilation in her home country, Sierra Leone. A survivor of FGM, child sexual assault, and rape, Cole focuses on empowering survivors and provides needed tools (financial, emotional, and educational) to help them overcome their ordeal via her various platforms. An inspirational speaker who strongly believes in transparency, Cole is winning the trust of many as she openly shares her experiences on national and international platforms. Cole has worked with legislators in Pennsylvania and Maine as these States push to criminalize the practice of FGM. Founder of Take Back The Power, an annual conference held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Cole uses this platform to educate communities on the dangers of FGM.


Carleen Miller, PhD, is Deputy Vice President for the Immigration and Refugee Program of Church World Service, a faith-based organization focused on finding sustainable responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster. Carleen received her PhD in Clinical Social Work from the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, and is currently a first-year analytic candidate at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York City.


Aimee Hilado, PhD, LCSW  teaches, conducts research, and maintains a clinical practice with trauma-exposed refugee populations in the Chicagoland area. She is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Northeastern Illinois University.  In 2011 she established the RefugeeOne Wellness Program, a mental health program at the largest refugee resettlement agency in Illinois.  Dr. Hilado presents nationally; her most recent edited book is Models for Practice With Immigrants and Refugees: Collaboration, Cultural Awareness, and Integrative Theory. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and Erikson Institute. 


Wahidah Abu Taib, Rohingya Refugee, Burma, and Home Visitor, RefugeeOne Wellness Program


Jennifer Bing directs the Palestine-Israel program for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Chicago. Jennifer began her advocacy for Palestinian children after working as a teacher in a Quaker school in Ramallah during the first Palestinian uprising (1986-1989). During those years she also worked as a field worker and researcher for Save the Children, documenting the impact of the first popular uprising on Palestinian children under the age of 16. Jennifer has worked with AFSC since 1989, organizing dozens of speaking tours, conferences, educational workshops, protests, delegations, and public events. She has produced two documentary films about the Palestinian American community in Chicago (“Benaat Chicago: Growing Up Female and Arab in Chicago” and “Collecting Stories from Exile: Chicago Palestinians Remember 1948”) and serves as a resource to people interested in activism and advocacy for human rights. Jennifer currently works with Defense for Children International Palestine on their joint campaign, “Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child.” She also co-leads the educational project “Gaza Unlocked” with her AFSC colleagues in the US and Gaza.


Milka Ramirez, PhD, LCSW is the Associate Dean and Director of the Master’s program at ICSW.  She has published, conducted research, and has presented locally and nationally on topics related to violence against LGBTQ+ populations. She is a co-founder of En Las Tablas Performing Arts, a community-based, grass roots, not-for-profit organization, in Chicago’s Hermosa community that utilizes Performing Arts programming to build community engagement, encourage self-expression, and deter community violence. Dr. Ramírez earned her PhD in Social Work from the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Cindy Eigler, MSW is Co-Executive Director at the Chicago Torture Justice Center. She is nationally recognized for her role in building local movements to end mass Through her work with Generative Somatics, Cindy recognizes the many impacts of individual and systemic trauma and believes that centering peoples’ healing and transformation are integral for our movements to succeed. She holds a graduate degree in Social Work and Community Organizing from the University of Chicago. Her family is from Venezuela, and Cindy is fluent in Spanish.


Marianne Joyce, LCSW has eighteen years’ experience implementing a trauma-informed, integrated treatment model for global refugee mental health programs. As manager of Support Services at the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago, she has extensive experience training and managing multidisciplinary teams to assist survivors of human rights violations, and developing a large network of pro bono community-based providers responding to survivors’ needs. Ms. Joyce is involved in direct services as a therapist and supervisor, educates in community settings about torture treatment and advocates for survivor issues locally and globally.

**Accreditation Statement

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of American Psychoanalytic Association and Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 6.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.

*To Live Stream this event, complete registration at the link below and then contact Shawna Jennings at or 312-935-4232.