SP2 Honors Class of 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees
Authored by: Russell Roberts
On October 23rd, Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) celebrated the Hall of Fame class of 2021 with a ceremony at The Study, a hotel at 33rd and Chestnut, followed by a luncheon with inductees and their friends and family in the courtyard at the Caster Building on Locust Walk.
This marks the fourth year that SP2 has honored distinguished alumni for their accomplishments and contributions in their respective fields benefiting the Penn community and the lives of students, colleagues, and clients. The Hall of Fame class of 2021 includes five new inductees bringing the total number to 19 members.
“These SP2 alumni were chosen because of their ongoing commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion for all in today’s complex and ever-changing world. Their innovation and impact are an inspiration for the SP2 community.”
Sara S. Bachman
The five inductees this year were chosen by the Dean’s Alumni Advisory Board after a call for nominations was sent to SP2 faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. The inductees are:
Melissa Dichter, PhD, 2009
Melissa is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Temple University and Core Investigator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. Dr. Dichter earned her PhD in Social Welfare and Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, and her BA in Child Development at Tufts University in Massachusetts. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in health services research at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. Prior to her position at Temple University, Melissa was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.
“This school has been foundational for my career development and important for my personal and life development. This is really an honor, and I appreciate being back here.”
Alison Floyd, NPL, 2016
Alison currently serves as the Chief of Staff for Development, Marketing, and Communications at the national education nonprofit City Year. In this role, she coordinates the strategy and operations in support of optimizing City Year’s external positioning while enhancing focus on private sector fundraising, development operations, and transformational investments. Alison started her career in child welfare as a social worker with the Philadelphia based nonprofit Turning Points for Children. After identifying a gap in agency services, Alison was selected to lead the organization’s emergency hunger-relief initiative. In 2013, she launched the Food and Wellness Network (FAWN) at Turning Points that quickly grew to annually connect thousands of families to a healthier choice-based food pantry and other essential services. Alison then served as the Operations Coordinator for the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Repositioning Fund, a pooled fund supporting formal, long-term collaborations between nonprofits.
“I felt a level of transformational growth at SP2, soaking up as much learning as I could from my peers, practitioners, and professors. My time at Penn has helped me become someone who listens and trusts herself, approaches change with more openness and curiosity, and continues to, despite it all, see the world as it could be and not accept it simply for what it is.”
Ashley C. Kenneth, MSSP, 2008
Ashley C. Kenneth is President and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI). At TCI, she is able to turn her passion for racial and economic equity into action. As President, Ashley provides the vision, inspiration, and strategic management to achieve the organization’s goals, maximizing the impact of TCI’s policy analysis and legislative engagement, and strengthening collaboration with partner and community organizations. Ashley previously worked as Director of Advocacy and Policy for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society where she was responsible for policy development, analysis, and volunteer engagement in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 2021, Ashley was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to the Commission to Examine Racial and Economic Inequity in the Law. She has a master’s degree in social policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in communication and sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Anu Rao, MSW, 1978
Dr. Rao served as ombudsman at Princeton University, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Asian Development Bank, and OMV Petrom in Bucharest, Romania, where she practiced according to the standards of the International Ombudsman Association to resolve disputes by confidential listening, coaching, and mediation. Skilled in conflict management services, she provided neutral and confidential services to individuals and organizations, and provided executive and conflict coaching services to leaders, academics, and employees at all levels. She has provided strategic planning, culture change, process change, organizational interventions, turnaround, and team building for work groups. Dr. Rao uses interviews, 360 feedback, Appreciative Inquiry, Eqi, and other tools to make assessments and provide feedback for change at all levels. She worked in Higher Education as Director of Organizational Development and Training at Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania Health Systems & Medical Center.
“I am humbled and grateful for the enormous and wonderful honor of being inducted into the SP2 Hall of Fame. I’m forever grateful to the School of Social Work, (SP2) as it has been a foundation and central pillar in my personal, professional and community life.”
Todd W. Rofuth, DSW, 1984
Dr. Todd W. Rofuth has just completed serving for 21 years as Chairperson of the Social Work Department at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and was the former Director of the Urban Studies Program for 10 years. He has taught at the doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate levels including many courses in management, leadership, research, social welfare policy, ethnic realities, and the thesis clinical practicum seminar. Prior to working in academia, he served in appointed leadership/management positions in Maryland and Pennsylvania state government, serving as the Director of Maryland’s Welfare to Work Initiatives, as Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Office of Client Rights, and as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Public Welfare in Pennsylvania. He also worked as a policy analyst in the Office of the Administrator of the General Services Administration in President Carter’s Administration redesigning procurement regulations to provide greater opportunities to women and people of color. While in the doctoral program at Penn, he worked as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School studying the impact of economic development on job creation for low-income populations.
“This is a huge honor. I really appreciate it. I never expected my career to end up this way at Penn. I had some amazing coaches and role models and I look back at my time here fondly.”
Sara S. Bachman, PhD