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New Faculty: Five Objects that Matter
September 20, 2021

Rutgers School of Social Work is pleased to announce the hiring of three new faculty members. Assistant Professor and Chancellor’s Scholar for Inclusive Excellence in Intimate Partner Violence Prevention & Intervention Maxine Davis, Associate Professor of Professional Practice Tawanda Hubbard, and Associate Professor and Chancellor’s Scholar for Inclusive Excellence in Interpersonal Violence Research Chiara Sabina began in their roles on September 1, 2021.
Maxine Davis
Dr. Maxine Davis is a second-generation activist who is passionate about discovering how to end violence perpetration in romantic and intimate relationships. She studies people who act abusively and interventions designed to help them change. As a scholar of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPV/A), she focuses on interventions to assist Black and Latino men in ending abusive behaviors in their romantic relationships.

Tawanda HubbardDr. Tawanda Hubbard’s practice interests include working with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families struggling with adverse childhood experiences, parenting, parent-child conflict, family conflict, ADHD, mood disorders, ODD, relational challenges, personal and family crisis, unresolved trauma, and self-development. Dr. Hubbard’s scholarship interests focus on in-home/in-community behavioral health, relational neglect in adolescence, opposition in adolescence, personhood, family wellness, relational interventions, structural discrimination, anti-racism and anti-oppression, incorporating social justice in clinical practice, clinical supervision, and creating and sustaining nurturing spaces for Black women in leadership.

Chiara SabinaDr. Chiara Sabina’s research centers on interpersonal victimization, especially intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and dating violence among Latinos. Dr. Sabina employs a contextual, strengths-based perspective with respect to interpersonal violence focusing on understudied groups, the influence of cultural variables, help-seeking responses, and examination of the service-delivery system.

We asked them to identify five meaningful objects in their homes and offices.

Maxine Davis

01/ FRAMED PHOTOMaxine Davis' Framed Photo
A framed photo of internationally renowned St. Louis activist Bertha Knox Gilkey is centered alongside Maya Angelou in each office space I occupy. Every action I take is a response to the questions: what would Aunt Bertha say about this? Would she expect me to stand up or stay silent—how would she advise me to speak? Studying under Aunt Bertha and my mother (Maxine Johnson), watching their seamless synergy in pursuit of justice taught me lessons that guide me every single day. As community organizers, committed to causes beyond themselves, they taught me true social work. As a guidepost in all my decisions or endeavors, I strive to make them proud and please God. 

I recently found a connection to nature and deeply enjoy the beauty in living plants. I love writing or working outdoors because I get to be closer to trees and large bodies of water. Plants give me calming energy and fill my heart in an indescribable manner. I’m growing my collection both outdoors and indoors, but only with “easy” perennials or low maintenance and forgiving varieties because I have a long way to go before I can claim a green thumb. Nonetheless, plants give me great joy, and I aim to cultivate a small forest in my office and home garden.

It took 213 credit hours, three degrees in three different disciplines across two states, and seven years as a full-time student before I was instructed in a university by a Black woman. Her name was Dr. Renee Cunningham Williams, one whose accomplishments have earned the rank of full professor, but yet to be named as such by my alma mater. In this photo, I had the honor of being pictured along her side at my graduation in 2018. Less than 2% of tenured full rank college professors are Black women. My wish is for no college student to be deprived the gift of having a remarkable Black woman instruct them during the course of their formal education. I gleefully adorn a custom handpainted stole each time I wear regalia; each color figure, quote, and placement thereof is selected with intention. Of special notation is my grandmother, Helen Underwood, who made all of my accomplishments possible by being at the center of the village that raised me.

04/ GUATEMALAN PAINTINGMaxine Davis' Guatemalan Painting
I bought this original painting from an artist in Antiqua after visiting Guatemala in 2011. It hangs in each office I occupy. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the obvious beauty in the mountains I climbed but also remember the piercing images of the local dump—the first place I saw abject poverty. Guatemala holds a special place in my heart and always will. 

My nails are art and expression that serve as evidence of the freedom I have to be myself in places that were not originally built for me. Soft pink and gold are colors that make me smile. I adorn a ring gifted by Keith, a husband supporting my visions in theory and reality; a partner who is too amazing to describe in words alone. The ring is engraved with “purpose driven,” a perfect description of who I am.

Tawanda Hubbard

This is one of my favorite pictures in my home. Laying back with ones’ feet up, basking in the sun with peace and quiet, feeling a gentle breeze. She reminds me to take time to do nothing, to just sit in the sun, take it all in and do so guilt free. This picture has become a part of me that at the mere thought of the image I can take myself to a peaceful, calming place internally.

This wall unit hangs in my front room on the main level of my home. There is nowhere you can turn without seeing pictures of my family and me. It is full but not complete. There are more pictures of family and friends throughout the house. The pictures capture our love, strength, and connections. They remind me of the cloth I am cut from, shoulders I stand on, and that I am never alone.

03/ A SHELTERING TREE Tawanda Hubbard's sheltering tree
A dear friend of mine gave me this portrait over 20 years ago and explained to me the importance of our friendship during a painful time in my life: the loss of my youngest brother. We have been there for each other and our families over the years. She has taught me what true friendship looks and feels like. It is a blessing to have a friend who becomes your sheltering tree.

As a social work practitioner, I hear many stories full of hurt, pain, sorrow, and struggle from those I support on their journeys of healing and recovery. I start my day with a positive and inspirational word that helps to center and ground me. When needed, I can take a moment to reflect on the words and I feel lifted, insulated, and energized. It feels like a warm blanket on a cold day.

05/ OLDIES BUT GOODIES Tawanda Hubbard's Oldies but Goodies
I make it a practice to decompress at night by watching one of my favorite television shows as often as I can. It is one of my ways of slowing things down. I have watched many of these shows with family and friends. They bring comfort, familiarity, and many laughs. It is a great way to end the night and take it easy after a full day.

Chiara Sabina

As Joyce Kilmer wrote, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” And the splendor of trees is even more magical in the fall. This beautiful one greeted me for many years on my way to work. It served as a daily reminder to pause, breathe, and appreciate what is around me.

Sign me up! I love traveling and taking in different ways of life. Visiting is wonderful, but living abroad has changed me. I lived abroad in Granada, Spain during college and then again in 2015-2016 in Quito, Ecuador. One memorable trip was staying in my great grandfather’s home in Camagüey, Cuba. Another was witnessing the marvels of Machu Picchu. Traveling is life-giving to me, and my list of places visited is not quite long enough.

03/ HOT AIR BALLOON Chiara Sabina's Hot Air Balloon
My ride on a hot air balloon was unforgettable and was the most wonderful celebration of another year of life. Being literally a mile high let me enjoy my local world in a whole new way and take in the buzz of life below at first, and then the stillness that envelops our daily life. It was much more peaceful than my sky diving journey, although that was exhilarating as well.

This song composed by Violeta Parra and performed by Mercedes Sosa signals gratitude and connectedness. Some of the translated lyrics are, “Thank you to life, that has given me so much, it has given me laughter and it has given me tears, that’s how I can tell joy from agony, the two materials that form my song, and your song, which is the same song, and everyone’s song, which is my own song.”

05/ EVENT TICKETS Chiara Sabina's Event Tickets
I’ve collected tickets for decades to remember the events and activities that inspire me. I love going to see foreign films, listening to the symphony, appreciating the visual and performing arts, dancing, taking in lessons from the wise, and wondering at the gift of life. One of the events I especially enjoyed was listening to Thich Nhat Hanh speak in Chicago. Another was hearing the live salsa of Marc Anthony.

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