Child / Adolescent Social Worker
Indianapolis Public Schools and Sociology Department at Ivy Tech State College
David Townsend, MSW, QMHP career educator is an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and on crossing socioeconomic lines in education, work, and for social change.
David has invested nearly a decade instructing adults and out-of-school youths in reading, writing, speaking English, basic mathematical calculations so they might solve problems well enough to become active participants in society, to hold a job, and to further their education. He has worked in formats ranging from manuals, CD-ROMs, online instruction, and classroom/ presentation-based training. He has also enjoyed a consulting practice that has him involved at many levels in curriculum design projects, including conceptualization, planning, project management, storyboarding, scripting, sequencing the instructional experience, learning objectives, writing content, creating media enhancements, interface design, assessment questions, and learner feedback analysis. Other content areas have included early childhood literacy, adult literacy and behavioral intervention strategies.
Following employment in the fields of psychiatric social work and addictions, David has taught at Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Along with these formal employment undertakings, David has worked with varying community groups on issues of immigration, employment, education, criminal justice, feminism, anti-racism, health and other critical issues impacting individuals and groups. David’s research interests and community work continue to address the structural and complex issues that impede social justice and equitable treatment for marginalized populations.
A spirited educator, David is founder of Project 180, a community-based, multi-site adult literacy and empowerment program. David became known for helping students from all economic backgrounds achieve academic success and in 1999 received The Spirit of Philanthropy Award from Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy for his voluntary work with impoverished communities.
He received his B.A. from Indiana University, earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis.
Career accomplishments of which I am most proud:
Life is filled with milestones.
When looking back over my life, it is really difficult to pinpoint a single achievement of which I am most proud. After all, it is not the individual achievement that has shaped me; it is the accumulation of life’s triumphs and disappointments that make me who I am.
I have been extremely fortunate in my career and have seized opportunities that allowed me to flex muscles I didn’t even know I had. My experiences have been diverse and challenging, even daunting at times. I have reveled in small achievements and suffered through big struggles. I have trained new staff, motivated weary teams, and celebrated with them as they realized their own personal goals. I have worked with incredible mentors who have taken me under their wings, helped me to better understand the dynamics of higher education. They prodded me along, encouraged me to take professional risks that have paid off handsomely.
One accomplishment that I remain proud of is the establishment of Project 180. A program designed to empower low-income individuals to tackle the issue of literacy and poverty. I was given the opportunity to be instrumental in nurturing systemic change in the educational, economic and community systems that oftentimes produce and perpetuate poverty.
Project 180 is an educational experience designed to be used with a comprehensive program of client social services. The specific focus of Project 180 is the acquired mindsets of clients, which interferes with their efforts to escape the conditions of poverty they are experiencing. The program was designed to assist groups of individuals to free themselves from their past and to seek, find and keep good paying jobs.
Early life experiences that set me on a course of achievement:
In the second grade, I happened upon a book that literally revolutionized my way of thinking: Oh, the Places you’ll go! By Dr. Seuss
What I really enjoy about my current endeavors:
I have the opportunity to assist others in moving their lives forward.
The biggest challenge students face in career preparation:
There is lots of talk about the global financial situation, slowed economic growth and rising unemployment. Unfortunately this is the situation new graduates find themselves facing when looking for a job. I say keep your eyes fixed and your chin up. The real challenge will be seeing opportunity even in these times – continuing to persevere and remaining confidant. Remember; never let go of your dreams.
Helpful hints for preparing for my field:
In many areas a network is a valuable commodity. Many new jobs are gained through one’s network. Accordingly, it can be very useful to build up a network of contacts in the chosen career area. Take unpaid internships, employment in an effort to build competency and confidence all the while build your network base.
Some general achievement advice:
Posses the belief that anything is possible. Regardless of my circumstances and sometimes even in spite of them, I have always believed in possibilities – that alone has made all the difference.