Social Worker Geena Berg

Social Worker Geena Berg

Geena Berg is a Hennepin County social worker embedded with UMPD who aims to connect with individuals who’ve come in contact with law enforcement by assisting them with social service, mental health, and substance use needs and goals. This partnership broadens the services the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) can provide to the community as a whole.

“We work with the same population, yet we approach situations in different ways. Law enforcement officers may have initial contact, but I can get involved and provide follow-up, ongoing support, and connection to longer-term services,” she says. 

Such support can look like assistance with housing, food, and applying for benefits, along with crisis stabilization or safety concern assessment. Whether individuals need a quick resource or longer-term help, Berg wants each connection to leave a positive impact. “It can be overwhelming to ask for assistance,” she says. “Allowing clients to lead with their needs and work at a pace they feel comfortable with gives them a voice.”

At the University, and nationally, institutions have acknowledged the need for a more inclusive and constructive culture of safety. To Berg, that strategy begins by establishing rapport with clients, which can be the foundation for building trust with social services and law enforcement. 

“Being embedded in law enforcement, sometimes individuals have preconceived notions or might not have had the best interactions with these systems in the past. If I can do what I can to help provide a positive experience, things can change.” 

Along with client rapport, Berg is strengthening relationships with UMPD and appreciates the ability this partnership has to lead individuals a step closer to safety in their situation. “We can combine resources and work well together.”

Berg brings expertise in community mental health case management for those diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness after working with a Hennepin County Assertive Community Treatment Team for the past five years. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Dakota and is working toward her Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) licensure.

“I consider myself a compassionate and empathetic person, so finding a career to highlight those strengths was important to me,” she says. While social work is a field with challenging work, Berg is in it for the long haul. 

“Each day brings something new to the table. I might not always have big wins, but helping individuals take those small steps to work towards their goals and independence is really rewarding,” she says. “Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I am making a difference, even in the smallest ways.”