Faculty gift energizes powerhouse student ‘Alliance’
A faculty member’s generous personal donation of $30,000 to benefit student groups is the first gift of its kind to the Wayne State University School of Social Work. In November 2021, Associate Professor of Teaching Judith Wineman and her husband Dr. Kim Schopmeyer initiated the Wineman/Schopmeyer Family Endowed Student Support Fund to fuel the critical work of the Social Work Student Alliance (SWSA), known as “the Alliance.”
An umbrella student organization for all School of Social Work student groups, the Alliance launched in April 2021 and is already a powerful force for good in Detroit. “Even when I’m not around anymore, the fund will be helping our students, which is very cool,” said Judith. The endowed gift will generate annual interest payments — forever — toward the Alliance’s efforts to build a strong student support network and expand the School of Social Work’s community impact.
“Teaching social work students about advocacy and activism is core to our teaching mission, and the ability of students to engage in these activities outside the classroom with their peers is optimal in facilitating skills and lasting relationships,” said Dean Sheryl Kubiak. “This unique gift allows us to strengthen our student organizations and continue to enrich students’ experiences and their ability to effect social change.”
Help rushes in
As a hub of student volunteerism, the Alliance magnifies the School of Social Work’s ability to help Detroit residents in need. When community emergencies arise, the school’s student groups mobilize to respond. They are “the helpers” whom Mr. Fred Rogers advised us to look for in times of turmoil — organizing drives for food and providing access to essentials — and they are hands-on activists for countless social equity, service and sustainability projects.
In the late summer of 2021, after tornadoes and floodwaters ravaged more than 40,000 residences in metro Detroit, Alliance students teamed up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work as responders. “Our students connected the impacted residents with the most essential FEMA resources to get them the help they needed,” Judith said. Offering one-on-one assistance was essential and effective, and the Alliance’s work is now a national FEMA model.
A student group renaissance
As the faculty liaison to student organizations at the School of Social Work, Judith advocates for the role these groups play in student life, academic success and career preparation. “We have over 900 students who rely on the support of their fellow student colleagues, and student organizations provide the channel to make those connections,” she said. “They are an outlet for pursuing passions for community action and for developing professional skills they can take with them after graduation.”
“Social work students carry so many of the values and so much of the ingenuity and innovation that our profession exemplifies. We needed a central place where they can get involved with helping their communities, as well as each other,” said Academic Services Officer Andre Iadipaolo ’19, M.S.W. ’20. Iadipaolo collaborates closely with Judith through his role at the School of Social Work in coordinating student activities and leading the Alliance. As a student under Judith’s mentorship, he started a renaissance of student organizations that led to the Alliance’s creation.
Curbing the trend of losing important student organizations when their leaders graduate is another goal of the Alliance, which gives new students the knowledge to continue those groups’ missions. Judith is grateful for help and encouragement from her colleagues in realizing these goals. “Dean Kubiak has been amazing and so supportive of all the student endeavors,” she said, as well as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Anwar Najor-Durack and Associate Dean for Research Richard Smith.
Deep roots and many branches
Judith has uncommonly deep family roots at Wayne State — a preponderance of Winemans and Wineman in-laws who are alumni, which includes Judith’s husband Kim, M.A. ’77, a retired professor of sociology at Henry Ford College who earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University — her mother, her aunt, her uncle, her sister, her stepdaughter, her nephew, and the list truly does go on. Even her late father, Saul Wineman, who ventured out to study philosophy at the University of Michigan, joined the Wayne State faculty in the 1980s as a professor in the humanities after many years as a popular radio personality in Detroit.
It was her uncle, Professor David Wineman, a renowned and beloved School of Social Work faculty member for 33 years, who welcomed Judith to visit the school throughout her childhood, and who is most likely the impetus for her participation in a picket line at Wayne State when she was in junior high school, though she can’t remember the specific cause. And that is no wonder, given the many causes she and her family have championed for decades.
Like her father, Saul, Judith also ventured out, earning her M.S.S.W. at Columbia University before working for over 30 years in New York City and nationally as a political and community organizer for organizations that included ILGWU (now UNITE) and AFL-CIO, where she supervised and developed programs for retired immigrant, and primarily women, union members. She returned home to Detroit in 2006, serving as development director for the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and as a social work lecturer at Marygrove College before joining the faculty at the School of Social Work, a place she never imagined she’d haunt again.
Last grandma standing
Judith’s mother, Marilyn Wineman, was likely pulling Judith back through the sheer force of her personality. Still a dynamo at the age of 97, Marilyn studied social work at Wayne State through the education curriculum, before there was a School of Social Work. “She earned her degree in 1948 at a time when students were mostly here on the G.I. Bill and there weren’t many women,” said Judith, who hangs her mother’s diploma in her office. Marilyn was a social worker in foster care for 40 years, and she worked with tireless kindness and zeal until she was 89.
Nicknamed “last grandma standing” by Judith’s son, Sam Cooper, Marilyn still visits the School of Social Work to impart her clinical expertise, and she is a favorite among faculty members and Judith’s students. She is also the inspiration for Judith and Kim’s decision to continue the Wineman family’s legacy of service through Wayne State and the School of Social Work.
“This gift doesn’t surprise me at all, because Judith Wineman is one of the most committed student advocates at Wayne State University,” said Iadipaolo. “The endowment is extremely generous, and it's going to help take the Alliance, and what we’ve been building on a grassroots level, to the next step. This is only the beginning.”
The Social Work Student Alliance meets publicly every Tuesday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Zoom. All social work students are invited to join. Contact Andre Iadipaolo at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to be added to the Alliance's email list.