Empowering people to build community

Williamstown has embarked on a research project to better understand safety and wellbeing in Williamstown, and we need your help! This research explores how the town addresses public safety needs now, how residents feel about their own safety, and how we can create a greater sense of well-being and belonging.

Who conducts this research?

Support and oversight of the research and program design is provided by a group of local social work practitioners: 

  • Aseel Abulhab, LCSW
  • Abby Reifsnyder, LICSW
  • Eva Tracy-Raeder, LICSW 
  • Dr. Kerri Leyda Nicoll, MSW, PhD
  • Elizabeth Whitney, LICSW

 

These experienced professionals bring a wealth of knowledge to this project concerning mental health and wellness, sociocultural issues, and community-building. The research team provides updates to this committee at least twice per month. Other collaborators include the Town Manager, the Select Board, and the Town’s Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity (DIRE) Advisory Committee. The research team actively seeks input from other community groups and individuals who want to participate in the project.


Please feel free to contact us at community-research@williamstownma.gov.

Jennifer James

Jennifer James is the Town’s Research Director for Community Assessment and Engagement, a newly created position developed to help address community needs. She holds advanced degrees in social work, forensic psychology, and information systems and has acquired significant professional research experience at three major universities. She has worked on projects involving researchers from all over the world whose expertise spanned numerous disciplines in the social and natural sciences.

Christina Daignault

Christina Daignault is working on the project as an outreach consultant. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Christina grew up on the South shore and moved to Adams, Massachusetts in Northern Berkshires nineteen years ago where she still resides. She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and works as a therapist in North county. Christina has served on several different boards and committees throughout Berkshire County.

Abby Reifsnyder

Abby Reifsnyder has lived in Williamstown since 2003 (and the Berkshires since 1994). A licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW), she has worked with a wide variety of populations, including homeless folks (here and in New York City), victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, children and adolescents in DCF custody, at-risk high school students and youth in residential care. She currently has a private therapy practice in North Adams.

Elizabeth Whitney

Elizabeth Whitney moved to Williamstown in 2020. She first lived in town when she came here with her family in 1977 and is a graduate of Mt Greylock Regional High School and Williams College. She has strong family ties to town and has been a frequent visitor. Elizabeth has devoted most of her career to developing and operating recovery-oriented mental health services with a focus on people who are living with serious mental health conditions. She is a clinical social worker (LICSW) with experience as a senior manager in a community-based health organization, a consultant, and in higher education.  

Aseel Abulhab

Aseel Abulhab graduated from Williams College in 2015. She then completed two international fellowships focused on D/deaf access to education, and worked at an education non-profit organization in Boston. She returned to Williamstown in January 2020 after completing her MSW. A licensed social worker, she now works at the Davis Center, Williams’ multicultural/intercultural center, where she supports the Center’s social justice education offerings, one of the College’s first year orientation programs, student staff, and a number of student organizations.

Kerri Leyda Nicoll

Kerri Leyda Nicoll moved to Williamstown in 2014 when she joined the faculty at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). Now an associate professor of social work, she teaches courses on social policy, community organizing, U.S. poverty, and intergroup dialogue. Dr. Nicoll has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Social Work and Political Science from the University of Michigan. She brings both research and practice experience to this project, having conducted in-depth interviews, partnered with community-based organizations, and served as an economic and racial justice advocate and educator.

Eva Tracy-Raeder

Eva Tracy-Raeder moved to Williamstown in 2017. She is a clinical social worker in private practice in North Adams. Prior to opening a private practice, Eva worked with individuals across the lifespan in settings including: early childhood and elementary education, vocational training for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, the performing arts, and palliative and hospice care.

How can you get involved?

If you would like to be interviewed as part of this project, please click here to register.