Meet the Trainer: Elise Eckelkamp

Elise DeWinter Eckelkamp, MSW, MEd. has been a life-long advocate for youth and families, beginning her career working in residential care with children and adolescents. She’s been a teacher, organizer, executive director, trainer, and coach, as well as a BUSSW field instructor, faculty advisor, course developer, and facilitator.  Her primary areas of practice include education, child health and welfare, differing abilities, family support, housing, systems change, and the development of strategic collaborative partnerships.

In addition to being a trainer in the new Trainers Hub, she helped develop the certificate program that credentials its participants. We spoke with her about her experience building out this essential program and her experiences with The Network for Professional Education. 

Why did you find the Trainers Hub to be a good fit for you in addition to your other training and coaching efforts? 

I really enjoyed working with the team to develop and write the [Train-the-Trainer] curriculum.  It was fun to reflect on the various things that I love about training and how so many elements of good training are intimately connected to the fields of social work and education. Training happens across most industries (banking, law, retail, finance, etc.), but the opportunity to develop and implement training in the human services sector impacts policy and progress with implications for decades to come. It is one of many ways macro social workers can impact change. I am glad to be a part of encouraging and supporting more positive change efforts to support and benefit individuals and families everywhere. 

You also had a hands-on role in developing the certificate program for the Trainers Hub. Can you speak more to that process and how this program was designed to support experts in the field and build community? How is it unique?    

One of the things that makes this certificate unique is that it was designed to be straightforward, with a balance of giving people information on some of the best practices for quality training, while also encouraging the learner to reflect on their own personal style and skills that they already have. The curriculum invites people to be active learners, reflect on their training experiences, and identify new things that they want to practice or learn in the next steps of their careers. 

Students and learners work through a variety of exercises in each of the three courses, many of which build upon earlier activities. As an online learning curriculum, it is hands-on, interactive, and product-focused. Students complete each of the three courses by submitting work throughout each module. When all three courses have been successfully completed, the learner is invited to join The Network Trainers Hub and get connected to other trainers who have received the same certificate of completion.

What role do you feel the Trainers Hub has in building a stronger health and human services workforce, especially when it comes to equity and supporting diverse communities?  

As a social worker and educator, my work is to create fair, just supports and systems to help individuals and families get what they need to create, build, and sustain better lives for themselves and their communities. Having more practitioners share a common set of standards around quality instruction helps the field deliver better training in a variety of disciplines and communities. 

As we certify more and more people, the Trainers Hub will help build a stronger workforce that can accomplish even more. Expanding the Hub’s reach will support trainers who work in different communities, languages, cultures, and environments throughout the state, country, and world.  And extending into other communities and cultures will continue to strengthen the fabric of equality and justice. Pieces of training may look different from one community to another, but they will share a core set of “fixed” ingredients. It is the “variable” ingredients that get added to that common core that make each training a unique and lasting experience.

Read more about Elise Eckelkamp’s work here.

Learn More About the Trainers Hub