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Jan/Feb 14 Currents In Memoriam
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In Memoriam

Catherine P. (Katy) Papell, 97, died on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at the Greenhill Center in West Orange, New Jersey.

Born in Kalamazoo, MI, Katy lived in Flushing, NY for 50 years prior to moving to West Orange 4 years ago. She had a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in Education from Columbia Teachers College, a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, and her Doctorate in Social Work from Yeshiva University. She committed her life to the celebration of diversity, to social/humanitarian causes, and to building connections between people. She was a Professor Emeritus of Adelphi University’s School of Social Work where she taught for 40 years. Katy was a founding member of the International Association of Social Work with Groups; a member of the National Association of Social Workers, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens in Flushing, NY among many other professional and civic affiliations.

Katy is survived by her children, Linda Kwiatek (and her husband, Louis), Laurie Papell, and Thomas Papell (and his wife, Frances); by her sister Gertrude Peck Handelsman; by her grandchildren, Jesse Freedman, Claire Papell, Emma Freedman, Julia Papell, Terri Bates, Christine Kwiatek and James Kwiatek; and by her great grandchildren, Sarah and Jennifer Bates.

Contributions in her honor can be made to: The Catherine Papell Symposium Scholarship Fund: International Association of Social Work with Groups


JEAN ISBELL passed away on December 11, 2013 in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. She received an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from New York University. While serving as a Resident Therapist for the New York State Division for Youth, Jean pursued both her Bachelor’s and, later, a Master’s of Social Work at Adelphi University. Jean found employment through the American Red Cross as a Midnight Shift Supervisor, at Beth Israel Medical Center as a Clinic Administrator, and at Queens Hospital as a Hospital Administrator. She later solidified employment within the New York City Department of Education as a school Social Worker.

Realizing the power in options and possibilities for advancement as a school administrator, Jean acquired her Master’s of Education/Supervision and Administration via Touro College and received her license as a District/School Administrator through the NYC Department of Education.

Jean was an advocate for worker rights and employment advancement as well as improving the workplace atmosphere and addressing crisis situations. She was elected United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader of Brooklyn School for Career Development High School. She was sought out as a mentor for emerging professionals. In this, she served as an academic adviser for students on MSW degree tracks at both Hunter College (CUNY) and Fordham University and as adviser at the State University of New York (SUNY) Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center.


Thomas A. Dern, the Chief Operating Officer of YAI, a New York City-based nonprofit organization, passed away on Monday, Dec. 9, at his home in Baldwin, N.Y.

Mr. Dern, who oversaw one the largest systems of group residences for people with developmental disabilities in New York State, dedicated his more than 35-year-career to promoting the rights and abilities of individuals with disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.

"Tom was a cherished colleague and formative leader whose contributions to the agency and the field are hard to overstate," said Stephen E. Freeman, YAI’s CEO. "Tom made a remarkable difference in the lives of many, many families and was a passionate advocate for people with disabilities. We are deeply shaken and saddened by the loss of our friend. Our hearts are with Tom’s wife Patty, his son Marc, and the entire Dern family."

Mr. Dern joined YAI as a counselor in the agency’s Astoria Residence, which was the second community-based residence for people with developmental disabilities to open in New York State.

Mr. Dern’s served as Associate Executive Director of the YAI before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2009. He oversaw more than 100 YAI residential programs, as well as the Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities (RCALD), and the National Institute for People with Disabilities of New Jersey (NIPD/NJ).

A graduate of St. John’s University, Mr. Dern earned his Master’s of Social Work from Hunter College.

Recognized as an expert in the field, Mr. Dern also helped prepare a future generation of social workers by mentoring staff, and by teaching at several colleges, including Hunter and Adelphi colleges, St. John’s University and Long Island University.

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