Honoring Linda Laviano: Long-Time Field Educator

Linda Laviano, MSW, graciously welcomed interns under her wing every single semester of her 18 years as a field partner with the Phyllis & Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, spanning more than 115 student interns since 2003. She also provided twice-yearly training to new supervisors, further demonstrating her exceptional commitment to our students. she was named the nation’s Field Educator of the Year by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in 2008.

On January 2021, Linda began her well-deserved retirement from the Office of the State Attorney, Broward County; however, the ripple effect of her professional legacy will be felt for countless years to come.  Linda, all of us – our school, our students, and the social work profession – are better because of your contributions. Thank you.

Georgia Brown, MSW

Georgia Brown, MSW
Field Coordinator

“I met Linda in 2011 soon after I started working at FAU as a member of the field team.  Students were always asking to be placed at the State Attorney’s Office so they could be supervised by Linda.  She always went above and beyond to provide a rich experience for our students, making sure that they received the best internship possible. We will miss her as a supervisor but hope that she will continue to teach within our school and community.”
Everiste Ambris, MSW

Everiste Ambris, MSW
Field Faculty

“Linda started supervising our social work students in 2003 and supervised over 115 interns from our school alone.  I worked with Linda as the field liaison for 15 years; she said she loved having students from our school as interns because they always arrived at the State Attorney’s Office ‘prepared and ready to work’.

“Linda’s goal was to make sure every student succeeded, no matter how challenging the internship.  She was very dedicated, structured, firm, professional, and prepared students to reach their full potential as future social workers. Linda served our profession well.

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James Walton,
MSW Student

“While documentation might seem like a dry subject, it was later in my internship at the Victim Advocates Unit that I saw how important proper documentation was in order for a client, often suffering from a horrific situation, to get needed services.

I was also able to see firsthand the respect that Professor Laviano was given by other members of the legal community as we walked through the courthouse.  The reason for this respect became clear as one day I looked up on the wall in the office and saw the letters and correspondence thanking Professor Laviano for her help in navigating the legal process. This experience showed me that compassion for victims can come in many forms and that we, as interns, were being taught to not only be aware of the trauma that the victims were facing, but also to help the victims chart their way through the complex legal process without retraumatizing them.  I am very grateful for my time learning from Professor Laviano and know that the social work community is losing the services of a valuable member and that her position will be difficult to fill.”

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Leah (Bowen) Rietz
Former Student

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I first had Ms. Laviano for my Policy class during my BSW Fall 2013 semester, and her class became the foundation for my love of macro social work. This class was very challenging, and it was the initial push I needed to become the clinical social work intern student I am today. I appreciated how dedicated Ms. Laviano was to APA format, and I have become a better writer because of it. When the time came to begin my BSW internship, I wanted to be supervised by her.

“The quote mentioned above represents her mentorship to me. I’ve always lacked faith in myself when making professional decisions, and she assisted by challenging me.  I remember the work week of my BSW internship with her and I asked her how I should handle a task. She asked me how I would handle the task, which allowed me to think for myself and to do so in a professional manner – basically, ‘figure it out.’ Ha!

“I’m in my last clinical semester, and I carry this motivation with me everywhere. I don’t need to see the “staircase” to have faith in myself. I know how to be professionally successful, and Linda Laviano was my inspiration. Thank you for your dedication to us, and congratulations on your retirement.

Bridget Schneiderman, MSW
Victim Advocate Program Coordinator City of Miramar Police Department

“To a wonderful mentor, leader, teacher, and advocate in the field of social work: Your service to others has been immeasurable.  This is reflected through your many years of dedication to working with crime victims and survivors, as well as preparing the next generation of social work professionals for the field. I cannot thank you enough for the positive impact you have had on me as a colleague and friend. Your contributions to the field leave behind a lasting legacy. I wish you all the best in retirement!”

Arlene Kaplan, MSW Ph.D.

Arlene Kaplan, MSW, Ph.D.
Instructor, FAU Sandler School of Social Work

“As a Field Education Faculty at the university level, I have worked professionally with Linda Laviano for over 25 years training social work students. Throughout the entire time, Ms. Laviano has always proven to be the consummate professional, ensuring social work interns are ready with the knowledge, skills, and values required to be a professional social worker.”

Elena M. Muñoz, MSW
Victim Advocate SAO17

“I first met Linda in 2007 when she became my internship supervisor at [The State Attorney’s Office (SAO)] while obtaining my BSW with FAU. She showed me the ropes in the field of social work, specifically victim advocacy. I strive to be the advocate she was, and I am still guided by her teachings and principles in social work and victim services.

“Linda became a mentor and she became a coworker; and more importantly, she became a dear friend. As her student, I always received truthful feedback so that I had an opportunity to improve my skills as a social worker. Linda has modeled exceptional professionalism and allowed me to take on challenges so that I could grow personally and professionally.

I will always be grateful that she recommended me for a position at SAO because of my work as an intern.

“To this day, I serve SAO as an advocate and following in her footsteps as she retires, to supervise interns and support them on their journey as she supported me in mine. Cannot forget to mention that we call ourselves the birthday twins because we share a birthday, and she would always be sure to bring cake and decorate our lunchroom at the office and sing happy birthday, whether you were an employee or a student intern.

Linda makes sure to make those around her feel loved and feel special.

“Linda has helped us celebrate countless birthdays, milestones such as baby showers, graduations, weddings and more!

Linda, as the sunshine lady, organizes game nights, dinner outings, and fundraising events for our coworkers. During the holidays, she is the cheer of our office by bringing milk and cookies and decorating the office Christmas tree while we sing Christmas carols. Every year, all of her coworkers look forward to Linda’s most famous and amazing roasted cinnamon pecan treat!

“I cannot say enough about Linda, and she will always be a friend as I refuse to say goodbye even after she retires. She will be missed daily.”

Interested in becoming a field educator with the Sandler School of Social Work?

Please email Georgia Brown, MSW, Field Coordinator: gbrown57@fau.edu