My first job was working for my dad at his Karmelkorn Shoppe in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Then in 1971, we moved to Lake Park, Florida and he opened a shop in the Twin City Mall there.
I attended the University of Notre Dame and majored in Sociology. My direct experience working with people, such as at an internship at a juvenile detention facility and an experiential learning class in Death and Dying where we developed a relationship with two nursing home residents, convinced me that I wanted to work directly with people. So, after jobs at a juvenile treatment center and a group home for developmentally disabled adults, I returned to school and earned a Master's degree in Social Work at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. If you want more information about my job history, see my current CV ( , ).
My Education and Experiences
My graduate Social Work internship was with the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. I worked with the Office of Social Ministry assisting parishes to begin social ministry projects. I also began working with a refugee family who had just come from Cambodia. I was fascinated with their cultural and language differences. The following year, when my internship ended, I was hired by the Office of Migration and Refugee Services as a Job Developer for newly arrived refugees. I left that job to move back to Minnesota with my family in 1986. I accepted a job at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) in the Unaccompanied Minors Program. I worked with refugee children who were separated from their parents when escaping the dangers in their countries. These kids came from Vietnam, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran and China. Our program licensed foster families to care for them.
I learned so much at LSS, while being promoted to Supervisor and then Program Director. My responsibilities widened, yet I was no longer working directly with the recipients of service. I knew that a change was coming as my dissatisfaction with my job increased. I gave six weeks notice in mid-April 1999, without any idea of what would come next.
Two weeks before my last day, I received an email from my former supervisor, who was frantically looking to hire two Social Workers to supervise Albanians working with Kosovar refugees fleeing the war in Kosovo. My heart jumped! This was the opportunity for which I had unknowingly prepared myself.
One week after my last day at LSS, my plane landed in Tirana, Albania, on a runway lined with military attack helicopters. I was scared and excited at the same time. The work I did in Albania for three months changed me and my outlook on the world. For details of this work, see my Albanian Chronicles. Two months after returning to the U.S., I received another email from my friend at the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). This time, he was looking for someone to interview Sudanese unaccompanied minors in the Kakuma Refugee Camp managed by UNHCR in Northern Kenya. Again, my heart jumped! This was another experience made-to-order for my background and experience. I spent three and a half months altogether on two separate missions to Kakuma. For more details of my work there, see my Kenyan Khronicles. From 2000 to 2003, I worked in an environment totally different from the equatorial African desert. I was a School Social Worker for Valley View Middle School in Edina, Minnesota. I worked with students in 6th through 9th grades individually and in groups, providing therapy, social and emotional support and guidance. I also consulted with parents and school staff. St. Louise de Marillac (left) founded the Daughters of Charity in 1642 and the Sisters of Charity in 1655. She is the patron saint of Social Workers. Read more about her here.
Enjoying a recitation and singing performance by Kosovar youth at Divjaka collective center in Southern Albania.
Click on graphic to go to UNHCR website.
Valley View Middle School, Edina, Minnesota
On September 4th, 2003, I sold or gave away many of my belongings, rented my house, said many tearful goodbyes to my children and friends, and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to begin a new chapter in my life with my fiancée there. It didn't all happen on that very day, of course, but that was the day I left Minnesota on a jet plane after all was said and done. In November 2003, I began a volunteer position at the International Labour Office (ILO) for the SOLVE Programme, which addresses psychosocial problems in workplaces. I attended a two-week training in Brussels and became certified as a Course Director for this program. I ended my volunteer work in June 2004 and accepted a contract as an external collaborator with the ILO to write training curriculum about stress and young workers.
The jet d'eau in Lac Leman, Geneva, Switzerland.
A working man statue (L) and the ILO building (R).
New Web Site!
Check out the Psychotherapy Services I offer in the Geneva, Switzerland area!
In December 2004, I accepted a position with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to assist in combining four child protection program proposals into one proposal. I was to work in Jakarta, Indonesia for a period of 20 days. The earthquake and resulting tsunami that occured on 26 December 2004, changed my plans. I arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on 9 January 2005 to help with Australia's emergency response to the child protection needs of the thousands of unaccompanied, separated and orphaned children in Aceh Province. I worked in Banda Aceh for two months before returning to Geneva. For photographs of Banda Aceh, Calang and Borobudur, Indonesia, see my PhotoSite.
Cattle rumaged through the destroyed western coastal village of Calang in Aceh Province, Indonesia looking for scraps of food. Out of the village population of 7000, only 1000 villagers survived.
In December of 2005, I accepted a three month position as Team Leader of UNHCR's Project PROFILE in Bangladesh. Project PROFILE is a verification exercise for Myanmar Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. My job was to manage the exercise and supervise 31 national staff and one international staff. In three months, we verified 29,000 refugees. For more photos of Bangladesh see my Photosite.
As of September, 2006, I opened my private Psychotherapy practice in Geneva. As my French language skills are not yet developed enough to do psychotherapy in French, I am only working in English. Fortunately, there are many international staff here in Geneva working for the many UN, NGO and multinational agencies headquartered here. In keeping with my Clinical Social Work training and background, I offer a holistic and eclectic model of therapy customized for each person based on their needs, presenting issues and personality.
David speaking with Barna, one of the Verification Staff Interviewers in Nayapara Refugee camp in Bangladesh.