ASPIRE Spring Update

As the 2018-2019 academic year comes to a close, the ASPIRE team has exciting updates to share with our community. This year has been especially active as our two research initiatives (Women ASPIRE and Providers ASPIRE) completed all data collection in Jordan and Turkey. Here are some highlights from our year!

In September, we added two more people to the ASPIRE team. We welcomed second-year Master’s student Hani Alhomsh and myself to the team. Hani brings a wealth of experience from the humanitarian field, where he has worked with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and has led operations in the Aleppo government in Syria prior to his admission to Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW). In his field placement over the past year, Hani has focused on issues related to refugee resilience, inclusion, and social safety nets. He also supported the team in cleaning data from studies in Jordan and Turkey. Since joining the ASPIRE team last Fall, I have been thrilled to be engaged with ongoing projects. My background in project management with child welfare, intimate partner violence, and international initiatives has proven particularly helpful. An internship with Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services gave me a solid foundation upon which to build my work with ASPIRE. I am especially excited to contribute a child-centered lens to ASPIRE and other initiatives with the CSSW Social Intervention Group.

Last October, Dr. Nabila El-Bassel (SIG Director and ASPIRE Co-PI) delivered the keynote address at the Ending Gender Inequalities: Evidence to Impact Conference in South Africa. Entitled “Typologies of Gender Inequalities among Refugee Women: Global Perspective,” Dr. El-Bassel presented global epidemiology on gender inequalities in humanitarian contexts while incorporating early descriptive findings from Women ASPIRE. You can read more about this presentation here.

Fall semester saw the completion of our data collection both in Jordan and Turkey. Dr. Dasgupta traveled to Jordan in September to support the Women ASPIRE team during the last few months of data collection, where she was joined with Friends of ASPIRE members Louis De Caprio and Thaddeus De Caprio. Members of the De Caprio family created a short film in partnership with Meel Productions that highlighted the work of the Women ASPIRE team. Check out this short video to hear directly from the incredible research team in Jordan!

Photo of Dr. El-Bassel presenting at the Ending Gender Inequalities: Evidence to Impact Conference in South Africa (October 2018)

Photo of Dr. El-Bassel presenting at the Ending Gender Inequalities: Evidence to Impact Conference in South Africa (October 2018)

Fundraising video for Women ASPIRE. 

Join us for the ASPIRE dissemination event on April 25!

Join us for the ASPIRE dissemination event on April 25!

In the spring, after an intensive few months of data cleaning, the research team began analyzing data. We look forward to disseminating findings from both studies over the summer and in the Fall 2019 semester. To kick off this process, we are pleased to announce that we will be hosting an event on April 25, 2019, 4-6 PM at the School of Social Work. This event will include presentations on each study by ASPIRE investigators from the U.S., Jordan, and Turkey. Dr. Maysa’ Khadra, Associate Professor at the University of Jordan School of Medicine, and Dr. Deniz Yukseker, Professor in the Political Science and International Relations Department at Istanbul Aydin University, will present key findings with Drs. Nabila El-Bassel, Neeraj Kaushal, Anindita Dasgupta, and Ms. Melissa Meinhart. The event will also be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. Don’t forget to register – we hope to see you there!

Our work remains critical. Migration, displacement, and refugees have always been a timely area of focus, especially as current levels of displacement reported by the UNHCR are record-high. Detention centers, family separations, and a lack of due process are faced by people migrating to the U.S. to escape extreme poverty, violence, and persecution.[i] Like refugee women globally, Rohingya women continue to face violence, while their families grapple with challenges of being stateless.[ii] The war in Syria – now in its ninth year – and refugees who are affected by this protracted crisis, is uncertain. Meanwhile, in countries of resettlement and asylum, stigma toward refugees and stretched resources make access to needed care and services challenging.[iii] For these reasons and more, our collective consciousness, awareness, and work are critical. Women ASPIRE’s emphasis on women’s access to health and social services in Jordan, in addition to Providers ASPIRE’s focus on provider well-being in Turkey, are imperative topics that shed light on how we can move toward refugee health and well-being in productive, affirming ways. We hope our dissemination efforts in 2019 will provide a guide for next steps and important considerations ahead. Stay tuned!



Jenny Hartmann, MSSW, LISW/LMSW  



[i] Ataiants, J., Cohen, C., Riley, A. H., Lieberman, J., T., Reidy, M. C., & Chilton, M. (2018). Unaccompanied children at the United States border, a human rights crisis that can be addressed with policy change. J Immigr Minor Health, 20(4), 1000-1010.

[ii] CEDAW. (2017, October 4). Joint statement of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the situation of Rohingya women and children in Myanmar. Retrieved from

[iii] Rousseau, C. (2018). Addressing mental health needs of refugees. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 63(5), 287-289; UNAIDS. (2017). Background note: Zero discrimination in health care settings. UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. Retrieved from