Ohio National Association of Social Workers Member Spotlight: Rita Abdallah

(Published in the Ohio National Association of Social Workers Monthly, January 2016)

Rita is a native Clevelander and first-generation American. Her parents instilled a love of people, education, and hard work.

After college, Rita served as a full-time Jesuit Volunteer in Hartford, Connecticut where she gained her greatest education – working with the underserved affected by HIV/AIDS. Rita’s statewide advocacy efforts brought much-needed funding and recognition to this once-disenfranchised group.

In 1994, Rita returned to Cleveland as the executive director of a non-profit that provided social services to Arab Americans. She learned about the political, social and religious challenges faced by Arab Americans. For example, a Palestinian village migrated to Cleveland to escape from constant conflict. Villagers maintained customs of their former life, like co-habiting with goats and chickens. They didn't know that the city might have reasons why farm animals shouldn't live in the suburbs!

From that colorful first job, Rita's 25+ years in social work spanned academia, fundraising, and healthcare.  She earned several service awards, including "Exceptional Commitment to Social Work Profession" from the Ohio National Association of Social Workers, Region 3.  Rita also wrote an article for the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing and co-authored other clinical oncology articles.

A few years ago, Rita decided to shift gears and start her own business.  She wanted to combine her clinical skills and spiritual curiosity. Today, Rita is the Founder of Turning Point Services, Ltd., where she researches, writes and speaks on topics that support professionals and groups.  She is an expert on the topics of happiness, self-care, grief recovery, wellness, cancer survivorship, work-life balance, and conquering the challenges of change.   

Aside from speaking, Rita provides spiritual coaching to those who seek support with adjusting to change in positive and healthy ways. Rita has been a faithful member of Ohio NASW since 1994.  “Ohio NASW has been a true partner in supporting my growth as a professional,” she said.  “Over the years, this membership has provided me with great credibility, resources and networking opportunities.“ 

When you ask Rita about a career in social work, she emphasizes the value in a degree with so much flexibility, fun, and inspiration.  "On the path of social work, I've experienced moments that tested all parts of me. No doubt, these tests have been the gateway to expand myself from the inside out."

You can find Rita on our webinars, live CE workshops, and on the web: www.ritaabdallah.com.