Culturally-Attuned Mentoring for Graduating Latina/o Social Workers to Foster Career Advancement


  • Nelly Rojas Schwan University of Saint Joseph
  • Lirio K. Negroni University of Connecticut School of Social Work
  • Annette Santiago-Kozmon University of St. Joseph



Mentoring, Latina/o professionals, Latino culture, career advancement, developmental relationships


The underrepresentation of Latinas/os in the social work profession, especially in higher levels of administration, has been amply documented. Successful Latina/o professionals can address the need for Latina/o leadership in the field by mentoring new graduates and supporting their development and career planning as they enter the professional world. This article presents an innovative mentoring program for Latina/o social work professionals conceptualized and led by the Latina/o Network of the Latina/o Network of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The program matches a Latina/o master’s in social work graduating student with a senior Latina/o social work professional. The model of the mentoring program incorporates a coordinator, a liaison to each mentor-mentee dyad, a mentor-mentee developmental relationship, and group gatherings. A key aspect of the model is the attention to and inclusion of Latino cultural values of familismo, personalismo, confianza, and colectivismo, to foster the development of a sense of community. Empirical and anecdotal data illustrate the outcomes of the program. The implementation of the program, the lessons learned, and its applicability to other professionals and cultural groups are discussed.

Author Biographies

Nelly Rojas Schwan, University of Saint Joseph

Dr. Nelly Rojas Schwan is Assitant professor at the Univerisity of Saint Joseph. Her scholarly interests include cultural competence in services to opperessed poipulations, especially the Latino community.

Lirio K. Negroni, University of Connecticut School of Social Work

Ph.D., LICSW Associate Professor

Annette Santiago-Kozmon, University of St. Joseph

Adjunct faculty Director of Healing House of Connecticut