Alumnus Jeffrey Bolton Reflects on the Impact of His Education on His Career
In fall 2017, the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business launched a joint Master of Social Work (MSW)/Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. The joint degree program is designed to provide students with a unique combination of social work knowledge and skills and exceptional strength in management decision making and leadership. Although this is a new program, in the past, some Pitt MSW students did go on to pursue an MBA. One of those graduates is Jeffrey W. Bolton. Bolton earned his MSW at Pitt Social Work in 1979 and returned to Pitt to earn his MBA in 1987. After serving in various roles at Carnegie Mellon University, including chief financial officer, he joined the Mayo Clinic, where he currently serves as chief administrative officer and vice president. Bolton reflects on his time at Pitt and the impact of his education on his work today.
How has the social work education you received at Pitt helped you in your career?
“There are significant benefits to a social work education. I recognized, from a career standpoint, that I was interested in opportunities in a mission-oriented organization. It also helped me to develop interpersonal skills and taught me group dynamics, which have been extremely helpful throughout my career.”
Why did you decide to get your MBA?
“My second job out of graduate school was with the City of Pittsburgh as a grants administrator working on a program that provided job skills to the unemployed. It was a good program. However, many good programs in the private and nonprofit sectors were eliminated under [then President Ronald] Reagan. I realized how vulnerable important social programs are because they depend on external funding from the state, county, and federal governments; it is unreliable support. I wanted to learn another
set of skills because although these programs and organizations may have a critical societal mission, they are vulnerable without a sustainable business model. I wanted to create business models to support social services.”
What do you feel are the benefits of having both degrees?
“Both degrees gave me a combination of skills; they are complementary degrees. Social work skills make you a more effective and successful leader, and they are so important in the day-to-day work. Being able to understand people and practicing active listening are key skills.”
What do you envision the next generation of MSW/MBA graduates doing?
“I’m excited about the next generation. Millennials are incredibly bright, energetic, and looking for a purpose in their work. An MSW/ MBA matches that purpose-driven philosophy with business skills. Today, social entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in the social service realm. Leaders in program entrepreneurship will be an important part of training.”
If the dual degree program existed back when you got your MSW, would you have gotten both degrees simultaneously?
“Yes, and I probably would have focused more on administration and research. It certainly would have been more efficient [than getting both degrees separately].”
2018 Alumni Awards
Distinguished Alumnus–Social Work Education
David Miller (PhD ’93)
Associate Professor, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
David Miller’s research focuses on the health status of African American males. Specifically, he is investigating how African
American males participate in the informed decision-making process regarding cancer screening. Miller’s interests also include health behaviors of minority men, development and validation of the Urban Hassles Index, retirement preparation and the role of social workers for those falling short of post-employment income streams, and the in- fluence of social networks on the sexual behaviors of elderly adults. Miller chairs the health path of study and is the lead instructor for the school’s research sequence. He also is director of the International Education Program at the Mandel School.
Distinguished Alumnus–Social Work Practice
Don Goughler (MSW ’76)
Executive in Residence, The Forbes Funds
Don Goughler is a nationally recognized leader and executive coach in nonprofit executive management. He served as CEO of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania (now Wesley Family Services) for 15 years, managing a $27 million budget and leading a staff of more than 500 people. Prior to that role, Goughler was CEO of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc., for 22 years. In his current role as executive in residence at The Forbes Funds, he has provided direct coaching to more than 220 executive directors and board leaders, sharing his expertise and wisdom with the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the region. Goughler is a highly visible and impactful alumnus of the School of Social Work, where he has been an adjunct instructor for more than 20 years.
Outstanding Alumni Awards
Samantha Balbier (MSW ’98)
Executive Director, Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership
Samantha Balbier has led the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership for the past four years, coordinating and guiding the collective voice of the nonprofit community to advocate and lobby for critical issues affecting the sector. At a time when policy practice has resurged as vital to effective social work practice, Balbier has stood out in the region for her leadership and passion. She has given back to the school in many ways, including offering the keynote address at Pitt Social Work’s student-organized policy practice forum on proposed federal budget cuts. Her knowledge and understanding of the budget climate and how it impacts human services both locally and nationally are remarkable.
Rosa Davis (BASW ’81, MSW ’86)
Executive Director, POWER
Rosa Davis has led the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER) for 26 years, growing the organization from one program to a multifaceted continuum of treatment and support services designed to reflect women’s lives and experiences. Davis’ leadership and impact have been critical to addressing issues related to addiction and trauma in the region. Her reputation is enhanced by her involvement with several professional and community organizations. Davis is committed to supporting women in recovery, and she is beloved for both her expertise and her compassion.
Outstanding Field Instructor
Robyn Markowitz Lawler (MSW ’10)
Assistant Director, Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh
Robyn Markowitz Lawler has been a go-to field instructor for Pitt Social Work since shortly after her graduation. She is lauded by the field staff for her interpersonal skills, planning and organization, and leadership. She has hired several of her interns upon completion of their placement, confirming the strong partnership Markowitz Lawler has forged between Hillel and Pitt Social Work.
Monica Ruiz (BASW ’15, MSW ’17)
Executive Director, Casa San José
Monica Ruiz is the executive director of Casa San José, a nonprofit serving the needs of the Latino community in Western Pennsylvania. She has been a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues. Ruiz fights for those facing deportation proceedings and launches projects to assist women, youths, and high school students. She received the 2018 New Person of the Year Award from the Thomas Merton Center for her work.