Union Institute & University and Rotary Club to host reception for Mandela Washington Fellows

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, News, Students | No Comments

Pictured left to right: Rotary World Affairs Committee member Baffour Otchere, Fellow Nahla Maalla, Fellow sponsor Megan Fischer of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, Fellow Leticia Asangono, Fellow Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Fellow sponsor Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm, and Rotary World Affairs Committee member Rand Oliver.

Union Institute & University and Rotary Club of Cincinnati will host a reception for Mandela Washington Fellows on Wednesday, August 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the university’s headquarters at 440 East McMillan Street in Walnut Hills.

“Union is delighted to join the Rotary Club of Cincinnati in hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows,” said Dr. Rand Oliver, UI&U professor and Director of Alumni Affairs and member of the Rotary Club World Affairs Committee. “Union’s commitment to social justice mirrors Rotary International’s mission to advance goodwill around the world.”

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders was established in 2014. The flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), it empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2019, the Fellowship has provided 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.

The Fellows, who range in age from 25 to 35, are all accomplished in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2018, Fellows represented a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meet the four Fellows working in Cincinnati below.


Mandela Washington Fellowship Biographies

Amedy Pereira, Sao Tome and Principe. Working with La Terza Coffee.

Amedy Taty Pereira is the manager of Ephraim, a family business that–in addition to producing coffee and cocoa– is also a restaurant and a guest house in the heart of São Tomé. Amedy inherited the company from his father, the only coffee and cocoa producer on the island at the time, at the age of 18 after a health scare. Given the opportunity to manage the growth of Ephraim, Amedy has been at the firm ever since. The opportunity to lead the company fostered a previously untapped entrepreneurial desire. Amedy is also a volunteer and leader in the Association Asas Célélé, which aims to support underprivileged children and orphans in the community of Roça Monte Café. He is a communicative, resilient, organized, and passionate leader that continually looks to develop his skills to add value to Ephraim.

Leticia Asangono, Equatorial Guinea. Working with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.

Leticia Alene Nsue Asangono has eight years of experience in the oil and gas industry and works as a contract analyst for Marathon Oil. She is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration at Atlantic International University and is a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur. Outside of her studies, Leticia runs ONG Pañales Y Comida Infantil (ONG PACOIN), a non-governmental organization that provides free food and diapers to children in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. As the founder of ONG PACOIN and a single mother, Leticia intimately knows the challenges parents face when raising a child. Leticia also volunteers with organizations, and currently works with the La Ronda Project by donating food and clothing to families affected by fires in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Leticia plans to open new ONG PACOIN branches throughout Equatorial Guinea to support more children and families in need.

Nahla Maalla, Sudan. Working with the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability

Nahla Maalla is a certified energy management professional and the founding engineer of the energy conservation project in DAL Dairy factory. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Arab Program for Sustainable Energy Youth program which took place in Egypt 2018 and was a member of the first prize winner team in the United Nations Development Programme 2015 Social Good Summit. She is also blogger, through which she shares her insights about the energy issues, opportunities and its associated socio-economic impacts on the sustainable development in Sudan.

Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Angola. Working with Carriage House Farm.

Otíl Venancio Amoroso Lufuma is a young farmer from Soyo, Angola with seven years of experience in agriculture. Otíl primarily works in banana and maize production and is the founder of an agribusiness start-up and manager of his own farm. Otíl has completed several trainings on modern farming technologies and volunteers in his community as a leading agriculturalist helping women and young children from low-income families to pursue careers in agriculture. Growing up in a low-income family himself, Otíl learned to farm from his grandparents. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Otíl’s long-term goal is to work on self-sustainable agricultural growth projects to fight malnutrition, hunger, and extreme poverty.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

mental health certificate

Alumni Spotlight: Agyei Ekundayo

By | Alumni, News | No Comments
mental health certificate

Welcome to “Alumni Spotlight.” Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates live the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Featured this month: Agyei Ekundayo

Education: Graduate Certificate in Health Education (2019)

Profession: Health Educator and Mental Health Awareness Advocate

Agyei Ekundayo is a passionate health educator and mental health advocate. Her favorite saying is, “Everybody ‘mental’ ain’t crazy. Many of us just need someone to listen.” Learn more below about Agyei and her quest to help people.


What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

My Graduate Certificate in Health Education makes me stand out as a professional. The certificate made me more marketable, and it helped me land my current job as a Community Specialist. Union’s certificate is designed to promote behavior change and to prepare for professional practice in wellness program management. In addition, I feel more prepared to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. All four HEC courses are equal parts CHES study guide. Awesome!

What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

The quality I admire most about Union is everyone’s willingness to help me on all levels. The staff and faculty were so accommodating to my many disabilities with unwavering support and patience.

If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

My advice is to go for it! I’m 41 and I pulled it off despite short-term memory loss due to past seizures, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression. UI&U won’t let you fall behind.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is my memoir, Hindsight is 20/20, 2nd edition. I want people to know that mental illness doesn’t have to be a death sentence and that the cycle of family trauma can be broken.

What is your passion away from work?

My passion is mental health. It’s like I always say: “Everybody ‘mental’ ain’t crazy. Many of us just need someone to listen.”


Union’s Graduate Certificate in Health Education is designed to help you better serve the community as a health educator. Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in the Graduate Certificate in Health Education program.

It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.


Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Anu Mitra named recipient of Union’s Gopman Faculty Research Award and a Fulbright Scholarship

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff | No Comments

A first-of-its-kind research project will take Dr. Anu Mitra to Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana.

Dr. Mitra, professor in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, will study the South Asian/Indian people who arrived in this Caribbean in the 1840s.

“The Herbert L. and Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman Research Fund will allow me to examine the art that emerged from the Indian migration to the Caribbean in the first wave of immigration,” said Mitra.

She seeks to stitch together their oral and visual traditions. In doing so, she will explore questions of visibility and invisibility, of distance and proximity, of power and powerlessness, of remembering and dis-remembering, as they are elucidated in the visual and cultural effects of the South Asian/Indian diaspora in this region.

Dr. Mitra’s project for the Fulbright Scholarship will extend this study and address questions such as:

  • Who is an American?
  • Can immigrants have the same influence and role in American society as their white counterparts?
  • How can immigrants reclaim self-hood?
  • Can this reclamation have redemptive values?
  • If so, what are they and how can they be accessed for the greater good of the American democratic process and a just society?


Dr. Mitra’s Research Advances the UI&U Mission

Both projects proposed by Dr. Mitra advance UI&U’s mission. They do so by using interdisciplinary methodology to explore issues of social justice and injustice in the world, which has been the compass guiding her work.

“I want to explore the feelings of inequality and disenfranchisement that are part of the Indian psyche and the injustices that are latent in the system that promotes this mindset. I also want to problem-solve, through the visual artifacts that remain, and determine how self-representation and self-identifying narratives can be changed through the pictorial story,” said Mitra.

Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs shared his thoughts. “Dr. Mitra’s work is an excellent example of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. Her goal is to shed light and develop new insights through multiple lenses. Her work informs her teaching and provides new perspectives to our students as they fulfill their educational journeys and pursue pathways where they can make a difference.”

Alumna Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman and her late husband, Herbert, established The Gopman Fund to encourage and fund faculty research. The Fulbright Global Scholar Program promotes international goodwill through the exchange of researchers and students in the fields of education, culture, and science.


About Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Mitra has served Union Institute & University since the 1990s, as an administrator, faculty member, and dissertation chair. She believes strongly in interdisciplinarity – believing that our world is too complex and dynamic to understand through the lens of a single discipline. Her research and workshops linking art and social justice and art and leadership development have been offered at many forums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and to doctoral candidates at Union Institute & University. She continues to be drawn to the idea that all problems are capable of being solved, but only if we are able to view multiple solutions through the lenses of different perspectives.

Dr. Mitra serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Art Museum. Her areas of expertise are visual culture, arts-based practices, art, and leadership development. She has presented on several aspects of her work, most recently at the Art of Management and Organizations, American Management Association, International Leadership Association, among others. Dr. Mitra has traveled to more than 50 countries and lived on three continents. Her passions include frequenting museums, movies, and reading fiction. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

2019 Mark Dunakin Award recipient

Fallen Officer Memorial Award 2019 Recipient Selected

By | Alumni, Students | No Comments
Mark Dunakin Award recipient

Officer Kyle Nathan Henricksen has received the 2019 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement. Union Institute & University presents the award to a graduate of the Criminal Justice Management undergraduate program.

The Mark Dunakin Memorial Award honors the memory of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student who tragically lost his life at age 40. He and three other Oakland police officers were killed in the line of duty on March 21, 2009. The award is presented to a new graduate of the UI&U Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates Sergeant Dunakin’s commitment to community service, academic success, and enthusiasm for the major.

The faculty chose Officer Henricksen as an example of someone who displayed extraordinary achievement throughout his undergraduate program. He not only works hard and maintains high standards, but shows a deep commitment to serving others in his community and beyond. He received the award at the California Commencement on July 21, 2019.


About Officer Henricksen

Officer Henricksen is a 10-year member of the Pleasanton Police Department (PPD) and a former deputy with Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO). With nearly 14 years of experience, he currently serves as Secretary for the Pleasanton Police Officers Association (POA). He is known there for his uncanny understanding of the law, departmental rules, union contracts, and professional protocol. Colleagues also say he’s infamous as a quick-witted, irredeemable jokester.

He completed the police academy at age 22, overcoming a broken foot during training to graduate on time. Immediately upon graduation he started his career with the ACSO, where he was assigned to the Alameda County Jail.

In 2009, he transferred to Pleasanton Police Department where he has served on patrol and joined the motors unit. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers recognized Officer Henricksen for his dedication to reducing drunk driving incidences in 2014.


An Officer and a Family Man

A consummate professional, Officer Henricksen is a dedicated father, husband, son, uncle, brother, and friend. He and his wife Jennifer serve as parents not only to their two biological children, but also to Jennifer’s younger sister and Kyle’s niece. The #Henricksen6, as they call themselves, spend their time shuttling among the children’s many sports activities and school events.

With the support of his wife and children, Officer Henricksen sought to fulfill a promise he made to himself, his parents, and his wife by completing his undergraduate education. In 2018, while remaining a fulltime member of the PPD, he was admitted to Union Institute & University where he majored in Criminal Justice Management. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

In addition to all of this, Officer Henricksen is currently fighting stage IV pancreatic cancer and undergoing experimental treatments. A true testament to his extraordinary character, Officer Henricksen maintained a full-time academic load after diagnosis and remains an active father and Secretary to the Pleasanton POA. Every day Officer Henricksen demonstrates that he will not not let his diagnosis define or limit him.

Fellow officer Ryan Tujague wrote the following: “Kyle is an amazing person and his family have this bond that you truly rarely see. Kyle is also the secretary for our POA. He continues to hold this position while he is battling pancreatic cancer; traveling to Stanford, getting treatment, attending his kids’ athletic events, and finishing his education. Kyle clearly has lot on his plate and he still answers his phone to answer POA questions from officers and other board members. He is well loved within our department.”


Past Award Recipients

Past recipients of the Union Institute & University Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement are:

  • 2011 – Isabel Resendez
  • 2013 – Frederick Henry Bobbitt Jr. and Tony Silva
  • 2015 – Ray Framstad
  • 2016 – Sergio Lepe
  • 2017 – Orrlando Mayes
  • 2018 – Heather Forsythe



Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Softball and Higher Education Equal a Home Run for Julie Crandall

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff | No Comments

When you talk to Julie Crandall, executive director of UI&U’s Sacramento Academic Center, you quickly learn she has two passions – softball and higher education.

The retired professional softball player, who attended University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on a full scholarship, is a two-time All-American.

“I was a tomboy and grew up playing baseball with the boys,” said Julie. “I switched to softball because opportunities for girls were more prevalent.”

Her prowess on the field landed her in the UNLV Hall of Fame as a team member and as a catcher. Her team was third in the nation. She was also the 1998 UNLV Sportswoman of the Year.

As a professional, she travelled the country and played exhibition games with the U.S. Olympic team.

“My mind focuses when I am on the field,” said Julie who now plays slow softball. “I am at my happiest playing.”

Crandall completed her master’s in communications at Auburn University in Alabama, where she was a graduate assistant. A chapter on her thesis on millennial celebration time and frequency was published Expressions of Ethnography—the chapter is titled “The Millennium Waltz”.

Her other passion is higher education.

“My parents were high school teachers. I always knew I was headed to college,” she says.

Julie believes in higher education and in Union. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Union students are special in that they are working adults, juggling a career, family, and school,” said Julie who teaches two classes for Union.

She recently became System Director for Regional Recruiting along with her duties as Executive Director of the Sacramento Academic Center. Her work fit into Union’s goal to develop unique adaptations to the various locations served, while maintaining seamless integration with the Enrollment and Marketing teams who are collectively focused on growing enrollment across all programs in all locations.

Julie looks forward to her new position.

“Union is a special place with infinite opportunities to transform lives and communities.”

Interesting facts about Julie:

Selected for the All-Star Team when playing professionally.

She has lived in nine states.

She can juggle!

She teaches two classes at Union: From Stone Tablets to Twitter and Human Communication and Misunderstanding.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.


Marine Veteran Continues Quest to Help Children

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff | No Comments

Mitch and Mindy Rivas are making an impact on the world of the medically fragile community through the Maryssa Mission Foundation (MMF). They created the foundation shortly after Maryssa was called to heaven in November 2015 at age two.


The Challenge

“We saw firsthand the challenges of a family with a medically fragile child. We often found ourselves living in a hospital room four hours from home. As doctors tried to understand and cure Maryssa’s uncommon diagnosis, we stayed by her beside constantly. Our stays at the hospital were met with financial struggles, periods of hopelessness, and a looming feeling of inadequacy as parents, because we were being split from our other three growing children who longed for their parents and sister.”


Partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The foundation partnered with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), where Maryssa had been a patient, to create the Home Away From Home Initiative. To date, the foundation has raised $37,500, enough to provide temporary safe lodging to families for more than 280 nights.


New Initiative

New this year is Maryssa Family Lounge. The lounge will be part of the expanded critical care building on the corner of the old and new hospital segments. This unique location symbolizes the transition of Maryssa’s life and journey in the hospital to the amazing mission of her foundation.  Families will have access to this 40-person capacity room, a safe refuge to digest information regarding their child’s care plan. And, it’s within running distance of their child’s room, in case a situation requires immediate attention. A $100,000 donation will make this family lounge a reality. The Rivas Family hopes to cut the ribbon on the lounge around her 7-year angel-versary in November of 2022. She would have been 9 years old. Her twin sister Malinah will do the honor of cutting the ribbon.


Union’s Role

Rivas, a Marine Corps veteran and UI&U alumnus, used his capstone project to create the blueprints for the foundation to honor Maryssa’s memory.

“UI&U played a vital role in the progress of MMF. My capstone project revolved around the strategic planning for our foundation. As we celebrate our fourth year of incorporation we are grateful to share our accomplishments with the university. I am forever grateful of UI&U’s part in this wonderful journey,” said Rivas.


What’s Next?

Our largest fundraiser, the MMF Spring Banquet and Auction Fundraiser, just raised more than $53,000 to benefit the medically fragile community and continues to grow. But our mission remains the same: to honor Maryssa and “Be the Blessing We Prayed to Receive®.” For more information, please visit


About Mitch Rivas

Mitch is a world changer who is living the UI&U mission to change lives and communities. He holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) from Union. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

portia simpson miller

“Journey, Break Every Rule” Docudrama Features Union Alumna

By | Alumni, Latest News, Students | No Comments

The Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Union alumna and former two-time prime minister of Jamaica, was featured in the docudrama “Journey, Break Every Rule.” The film premiered in Kingston in February. As Jamaica’s first female prime minister, she admits that she had indeed broken some rules as a fierce defender of the poor. Her three “p”s– persistence, productivity, and (putting) people first–led her to the highest political office in the land. Read more in this article from the Jamaica Gleaner.

As a leader in the Jamaican government, Simpson Miller has a track record as a fierce advocate for education. She strongly supports alternative models for those who are not well served by traditional forms of education. Often described as the “heart and soul” of her people, Portia has made remarkable inroads and contributions in her country. From her early days in the House of Representatives, in her positions as minister of a number of offices, to prime minister, she always met challenges head-on with a rare degree of integrity, focus, and positive vision for the future.


Voice of the Voiceless

A common refrain throughout Portia Simpson Miller’s long service was that she was the “voice of the voiceless in the corridors of power.” Her efforts and long-term commitment to address the concerns of women, the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised are renowned, as is her advocacy for social change, and her unwavering efforts toward peace in an increasingly violent world.

Portia’s deep understanding of community leadership, and her commitment to engage all citizens to be change agents, reflects her lifelong efforts to advance people’s lives through education and empowerment.

As prime minister, Mrs. Simpson Miller lived her creed and also breathed life into our university’s aspirational vision. During a visit to Union, Portia told the audience:

“One committed individual can influence an entire community to come together for a positive purpose. From strong, positive communities we can build strong, positive nations which can transform the entire world.”

Her abiding belief in our individual abilities to give back and to continually strive to make a difference, coupled with her heartfelt desire to improve the lives of her people, make her as an exemplary Union alumna, but even more so, as a citizen of the world. The university awarded her the university’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2001.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

law enforcement career

CJM Degree Impacts Law Enforcement Career

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments
law enforcement career

Union is saluting our Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students, staff, and alumni through the month of May in recognition of National Police Week, celebrated nationally from May 12–18, 2019.

This week we spotlight Sergeant Brian Kinney, Homicide Investigator, a CJM alumnus. Sergeant Kinney discusses the impact his CJM degree has on his life and law enforcement career.


Q & A with Sergeant Brian Kinney

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit the community?

A: The CJM degree benefits the community by providing a better-rounded officer who has been exposed to contemporary techniques within a justice organization, interpretation and analysis skills, and better communication tools. I also believe the degree makes for a more empathetic officer.

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit a Law Enforcement Officer?

A: I believe the degree provides an officer with better decision-making skills. In addition, the degree allows the officer to be eligible for promotion.

Q: What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A: My degree has given me a sense of accomplishment. I am the first male in my family to graduate from college. I am also a role model for my children. They watched me work full time and still complete my degree.

Q: What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A: Union allowed me flexibility and the ability to schedule classes around my work schedule. The program advisers understood that I worked full time and my classes had to be built around my work schedule.

Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A: Stick with it. Don’t quit. Your degree will open up professional opportunities that didn’t exist before.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A: My greatest accomplishment is my family. My wife and two children have supported me every step of the way professionally and personally.

Q: What is your passion away from work?

A: My passion away from work is to spend as much time with my family as possible.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.


criminal justice management

Criminal Justice Management Degree Benefits Community

By | Alumni | No Comments
criminal justice management

Union is saluting our Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students, staff, and alumni throughout the month of May in recognition of National Police Week, celebrated  nationwideMay 12–18, 2019.

This week we spotlight Glenn Cadwell, Law Enforcement Site Coordinator and Criminal Justice Management (CJM) alumnus.


Q & A with Glen Cadwell, Criminal Justice Management Alumnus


Q: How does a CJM degree benefit the community?

A: The Criminal Justice Management degree benefits the community in multiple ways. The Union degree gives officers more education and a global perspective. Students connect to a community of law enforcement personnel across the country. This offers the opportunity to find out how other departments handle community situations. Today’s officer must be community-minded and know how to talk with people.

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit a Law Enforcement Officer?

A: The CJM degree benefits the officer in two ways. First, many departments offer a financial incentive to complete a bachelor’s degree. Also, in many departments an officer has to have a degree to be promoted.

Secondly, for most officers, law enforcement is their dream job. It’s a calling, yet half will be forced to retire early due to an on-the-job medically related problem. They have to find another career path, which can be difficult in today’s world without a degree. If an officer is injured on the job and can no longer work in law enforcement, they have a degree to segue into another career. I always ask my recruits what they would do if they could no longer be in this line of work. Because Union’s CJM degree is a management degree, coupled with the officer skill set and training, they can find that next career.

Q: What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A: Watching officers obtain their degree is so exciting for me. They call me and let me know they have been promoted because of their degree. The best thing is when officers tell me that they have set an example for their children. They have worked full-time, mastered time management and goal-setting to graduate. Now their children don’t have an excuse to not complete their education.

Q: What attracted you to become a part of Team Union?

A: I’m an alumnus of Union’s CJM program. I think our degree program is the best in the country because of its emphasis on management skills.

Q: If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A: My career as a law enforcement officer was my dream job. It is a calling to be in this profession. It was always interesting because no two days were the same. A cop has to be able to solve problems on the spot, help people, talk with people, have medical training, have an understanding of the law, and be able to interact with the community.

Q: What surprises people about you?

A. That I can play basketball. Let me explain. For a number of years, my department sponsored a Saturday night basketball program named “Night Hoops” to give young people an alternative to hanging out in the streets. The league was open to ages 8 – 30. Many times the kids would say to me, “Wow, you can play basketball!”

Q: What is your favorite book, and why?

A: Two of my favorite books are The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner and Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Union Salutes Military Appreciation Month with a Feature on an Alumna Who Specializes in Traumatic Brain Injury

By | Alumni | No Comments
Dr. Mary Lee Etsy

May is Military Appreciation Month, when Americans are reminded of the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country.

Union is honored to feature alumna Dr. Mary Lee Esty, LCSW-C, Ph.D. in recognition of Military Appreciation Month. Dr. Esty is a clinical social worker and founder of Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Esty specializes in neurofeedback for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Her published research documenting the efficacy of neurofeedback (NFB) for recovery from concussion/TBI and post-traumatic stress appears in Military Medicine, and Jrl. of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, among others. Results from a study of NFB treatment with wounded combat veterans conducted in collaboration with the Traumatic Injury Research Program at the Military Medical School in Bethesda awaits publication.

She co-authored the book Conquering Concussion, Healing TBI Symptoms with Neurofeedback and Without Drugs, which won a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014.  It is a collection of neurofeedback treatment outcomes through case histories from young children to wounded and suicidal veterans. One combat outcome was also published in the American Psychiatric Association book, Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice, 2017.

Dr. Esty is a Senior Fellow in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback in the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Her interest in the field began in 1996 with a National Institute of Health grant.  She credits her Union degree with elevating her career. Find out more in the Q&A below.


Q & A with Dr. Esty

What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

It would have been impossible to accomplish the things I have without the Union degree. I doubt that I would have been able to increase the impact of this branch of alternative medicine without this degree.  The entire Union experience opened my thinking to new ways of evaluating information, especially as I was just starting to use NFB. This therapeutic intervention continues to expand in health care, opening multiple fields for researchers and practitioners.


What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

The excitement shared with fellow learners. In many fields there are people who fear change and say what won’t work. I never heard that at Union. While developing the learning agreement for my degree, my association with UI&U opened doors into programs that would have been otherwise impossible. Saying I was a Union student worked magic. I can’t imagine that I would have had as much fun as I still do without Union’s influence.


If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

Whatever you do, hold your beliefs lightly because they may change. A Union professor said this in the colloquium. Its message has never left me.


What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

Professionally, it is seeing people recover and being able to live productive lives. Personally, it is seeing our children and grandchildren thrive with bright futures ahead. My husband made this journey possible and he continues to support my efforts. Retirement sounds boring.


What is your passion away from work?

I was a violinist but can no longer play. However, our grandchildren carry on the musical tradition, giving me great pleasure. I love hiking in the Colorado mountains and never have enough time for reading.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.