New Faculty – Dr. Robyn Brown-Manning

Dr. Robyn Brown-Manning became a full-time Visiting Lecturer on the Silberman School of Social Work faculty in Fall 2016. She entered this role with a remarkable record of service to Silberman, having been an adjunct lecturer at the school for over fifteen years as well as earning both her MSW and Ph.D. degrees here.

Dr. Brown-Manning is an accomplished social work educator, practitioner, and facilitator who has spent her career in several settings working to empower people and communities.

Dr. Brown-Manning’s academic work is concentrated around African American families, particularly women and mothers. Her dissertation explores the experiences of African American mothers raising sons, through extensive ethnographic and qualitative research. It highlights the ways they navigate parenthood and care within the yoke of systemic discrimination against young black men. “I believe in a strength-based approach,” Dr. Brown-Manning says about her research. She elaborates, “People of the African diaspora often receive a slanted end in social work – they become recipients of others’ help. I want to change the discourse and make it really about their strength.”

As a seasoned practitioner of child welfare and family/group social work, Dr. Brown-Manning has enjoyed teaching these subjects to social work students and others. In numerous capacities, she has made an extraordinary impact – not only on individual lives and communities, but also on the structural approach to diversity taken by some of the country’s most influential organizations.

Her career began at The New York Foundling, one of the oldest family services providers in the United States, where she established a community-based youth pregnancy assistance program that was among the very first of its kind. Her work across 17 years there took shape while the American business world was moving to address changing worker demographics and historical exclusivity; so she began working with major companies nationwide to strengthen their missions of inclusion and diversity. More recently, realizing that she felt most rewarded by close partnerships that would “help [organizations] to develop cross-cultural dialogue truly and meaningfully,” she set up her own successful consultancy.

Dr. Brown-Manning lives and works by the understanding that she is “not a trainer, but a facilitator. Expertise is not in me – it is in the room.”

Dr. Brown-Manning is thrilled to hold a full-time academic role at Silberman. She teaches mainly in the school’s newly inaugurated BSW program, including Introduction to Social Work and BSW Practice Lab, as well as MSW Practice Lab.

“I’m an alumna, so this is a give-back,” she says, but there is even more that excites her. “It is the commitment to social justice and anti-oppression social work. This school is really about community. I always tell students, if they want to really understand people in urban settings who tend to be disadvantaged or marginalized, Silberman prepares them better for that than anybody.”

The Silberman School of Social Work is very excited to have Dr. Brown-Manning on the full-time faculty.