WCS-022: Dr. Anthony Hassan uses community building, fund-raising, and leadership efforts to expand military social work programs

Anthony HassanBack in World Changer Session #14, Tina Atherall of Hope for the Warriors nominated one of her personal heroes, Dr. Anthony Hassan, for his ground-breaking leadership with military social work. I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Hassan recently and he offered some of the best advice for community building, fund-raising, and leadership that we have heard yet.

About Dr. Anthony Hassan:

Anthony Hassan was appointed clinical associate professor at the USC School of Social Work in 2009, serving as the co-founder and inaugural director of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR), and chair for the military social work program.

A retired Air Force officer, he brings 25 years of experience in military social work and leadership development. He served during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 on the first-ever Air Force combat stress control and prevention team embedded with the Army.

While at USC, Hassan has been instrumental in the exponential growth of the military social work program, community-based research on veterans and military families, the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, and relationships with the most senior levels of leadership in the Department of Defense, Congress, White House, and City of Los Angeles. As a result, CIR is recognized as a national and international leader in military behavioral health education, research and community capacity building.

One of his greatest challenges:

Anthony expressed gratitude and even awe at the amount of support and success he is seeing with his work.

When he knows the work he is doing is making a difference:

It is in small moments when he witnesses the program allowing a student to finish her degree or when it helps a family that he knows it is making a difference.

Personal mantra:

“Social progress is when we no longer have to depend on a few extraordinary leaders to achieve change but instead we have community systems that empower ordinary citizens to achieve extraordinary results.”

~David Erickson

Practical advice:

You may be able to make the biggest difference not by creating another organization, but by merging or joining with an existing organization. Be a part of a collaborative that it is action oriented, that is driven towards change around program delivery, policy. That gives you the greatest chance of showing collective impact to investors so that they can believe in the work you are doing and fund you.

Best strategies for funding:

If you’re seeking funding from a philanthropy group you really influence them with data. What is the real need in the community that you are addressing? Why is your intervention different and how will it be evaluated compared to someone else? Strong proposals use data, speak to a real need, and can be evaluated.

Utilize more than one funder through challenge grants. Combine philanthropy, corporate giving, and government grants. Credibility and the ability to work with others is important. Collaboration is going to be key.

Tools or technology:

Anthony mentions using tools to measure the impact of programs to better evaluate success. His organization is also creating software tools to help train social workers and clinicians.

Recommended books and films:

Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems by William Eggers and Paul McMillan

Nomination for upcoming World Changer Sessions guest:

William Eggers

Dr. Kimberly Finney

The Classy Awards

How to get in touch:

CIR Website

Email: hassana@usc.edu