New director of field education excited to launch social work students on a career path

Liz Davis
“Our goal is to help our students find meaningful learning opportunities in the field of social work that will provide a pathway for their future careers,” said new Director of Field Education Liz Davis.

Colorado State University’s School of Social Work recently named Liz Davis, M.S.W., director of field education. Davis joined the department as a coordinator of field education in 2014 and became an associate director in 2016. During that time, she connected hundreds of master’s-level social work students with a career direction.

“Field education” refers to what is commonly known as internships. Social work students utilize field education to fulfill requirements for degree programs and to explore areas of practice, which can include schools, hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, human service agencies, community mental health, and many more.

In leading the team of field coordinators and field instructors, Davis is now responsible for creating opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to enter the broadly diverse range of career options for social workers. CSU’s School of Social Work assists students with more than 300 field placements each year.

“We support our students in developing practice skills and building professional networks in the field of social work that can help guide next steps on their career journeys,” said Davis.

Background in social work and education administration

Davis built the foundation of her career in the areas of school social work, special education administration, community mental health, and early intervention social work. She began working with students with disabilities in school systems north of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1999, Davis received her M.S.W. and moved into early intervention social work for community mental health.

After moving to Fort Collins in 2001, Davis spent 11 years in Loveland and Fort Collins school districts as a disabilities coordinator for a preschool program, a district autism coordinator, a school social worker for middle and high schools and a special education administrator. She supported early childhood education, out of district placements, and helped develop better systems to support school social work interns.

Davis effectively took a leadership role in special education administration. As a founding board member of the Colorado School Social Work Association, she helped build a school social work community in the state. Her service included various statewide leadership roles, task groups, and an advisory role with the Colorado Department of Education, where she worked part-time as she joined the School of Social Work.

In addition, Davis mentored countless Social Work students as a field instructor, providing personalized guidance and oversight for these students to work towards the required field education hours for their degree programs. In their field placements, Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) students complete 450 field hours for their degree program. Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) students complete from 675 to 945 field hours, depending on the type of master’s program, such as full-time, part-time, advanced standing, or distance.

Enabling social work graduates to move forward into their careers

Since joining the School of Social Work, Davis has been highly influential in creating meaningful connections for both social work students and social work alumni of Colorado State University. As an associate director, she has focused primarily on master’s-level field placements and fostering networks in the community, in order to assist School of Social Work students with individual career goals.

In collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education, Davis led efforts to align school social work licensure criteria with university curricula, resulting in valuable updates to CSU’s PreK-12 School Social Work Certificate program. She also worked to develop and support a university-level collaboration with the University of Denver and Metro State University, to review school social work curricula in response to the latest evaluation and licensing changes in the state.

Davis also served and continues to serve on committees and boards on and off campus, and around the state, such as the Colorado School Social Work Association and the National Association of Social Workers Colorado Chapter.

“Liz has proven to be an invaluable member of the field education team and our school,” said Audrey Shillington, director of the School of Social Work. “In her new role as director of field education, she will provide critical leadership for our students to gain hands-on experience in a supportive learning environment, and find their place within the diverse array of social work career options.”

The School of Social Work is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences.