SSW Faculty Professional Notes - Spring '19

June 9, 2019
Spring 2019 Faculty Professional Notes
Peterson, Kiesel, Hepperlen and Fletcher at the Social Work Distance Education Conference

Kingsley Chigbu, assistant professor, published, Vulnerability mitigation through the assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries in the African Journal of Social Work, 9(1), 9-21. In March, he participated in “Intersections of advanced thinking and intensive writing across disciplines," an interdisciplinary panel presentation at the Minnesota Writing and English Conference. Chigbu, who uses the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) framework in his doctoral pedagogy, presented specifically on lessons learned from The Intersections of Advanced Thinking and Intensive Writing in a Doctoral Quantitative Research course. 

Michael Chovanec, professor, presented a poster at the Council for Social Work Education, 64th  Annual Program Meeting, Group Symposium, Nov. 8-11, 2018 in Orlando, Florida entitled, "Transforming Men Who Batter into Men Who Matter: Building Empathy in Treatment.”  

Kari Fletcher, associate professor, published five co-authored, peer-reviewed manuscripts related to health behaviors among student veterans (published in Traumatology; the Journal of American College Health; and the Archives of Sexual Behavior). In addition, she co-presented two national presentations: one disseminated 2017 Service Women Action Network (SWAN) Summit focus group data at the 2019 Society for Social Work and Research Conference, in San Francisco; another presented emerging findings of DSW students’ experiences staying connected with one another throughout their program at the 2019 Social Work Distance Education Conference, San Antonio. Finally, Fletcher served as a conference delegate and gave one of the opening remarks at the first Annual International Military Social Work (IMilSW) Conference at the Thayer Hotel, West Point, New York.

Renee Hepperlen, assistant professor, and Lance Peterson, associate professor, presented at the Social Work Distance Education (SWDE) conference on April 12, 2019. The presentation was based on research about faculty's teaching experiences and students' learning experiences in the new MSW hybrid program. Their project was entitled, "Serving Two Masters: Navigating University Online Teaching Standards and our Commitment to Social Work Education." 

Hepperlen and Lisa Kiesel, associate professor, also presented at the SWDE conference in San Antonio in early April. Their presentation focused on an examination of discussion postings for two hybrid courses taught in the MSW program. Through their analysis, they considered best practices with writing and facilitating online discussion postings within a social work context. Hepperlen also presents at the AAIDD conference in June describing the Kusalama+ program to support families who have children with disabilities living in two communities in Lusaka, Zambia.  

Katharine Hill, associate professor, has two articles coming out focused on her work on voter engagement in social work practice and education. From the Empire State to the North Star State: Implementing and Evaluating Voter Engagement in the Undergraduate Classroom was published in March. A second manuscript, Creating a Culture of Voting in Direct and Generalist Practice is forthcoming in Advances in Social Work.  Both of these pieces were co-authored by colleagues from the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut. She has also continued her work with the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign – view their work at! 

Tonya Horn, assistant professor, received an internal Graduate Research Team Grant and will be working with three Area of Emphasis in Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (AEIR) Scholars in the MSW program over the summer. The team will be interviewing Karen interpreters and providers to develop best practices for working with this population in health settings.   

Miriam Itzkowitz, clinical faculty, will remain at the Institute to Transform Child Protection during the 2019-20 academic year. ITCP works toward a more effective nationwide child protection system to preserve families, prevent trauma and build resilience through innovative policy, forward-thinking education and ongoing training. View their work at

Melissa Lundquist, assistant professor, presented a poster at the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network General Assembly, March 18 in Orlando, Florida. The poster described an interprofessional collaboration using a photovoice project involving teens living with parental cancer in their family. She also was invited as an international guest lecturer to the Doctoral School of Sociology at the University of Bucharest in Romania to discuss her research exploring the experience of fathers living with advanced cancer. 

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel, associate professor, has been conducting national workshops to promote her recently published “Yes, I Can, (Si, Yo Puedo) Curriculum/Book and Empowerment Program” for immigrant Latinas in group settings. She conducted a workshop in April in collaboration with Whittier College’s social work department and L.A. CADA in Los Angeles. 

Ande Nesmith, associate professor, spent this past academic year on a Fulbright Scholarship in the Czech Republic researching their child welfare system of foster care and orphanages. She traveled to 16 Czech cities and villages, talking to social workers, NGO's, government officials, people who grew up in care, and orphanage directors. She published in the journal Advances in Social Work Practice and presented her research at three Czech public venues. 

Lance Peterson, associate professor, published, “Becoming Competent to Teach Competence: Learning and Teaching Relational Process” in Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping Volume 24 Number 3 in October, 2018.  

Pa Der Vang, associate professor, presented at the annual NASW-MN conference in June on “Self Construal: Satisfaction in Work and School.” She is also working on an edited volume about Hmong women's writing in leadership. She coordinated the third Hmong Social Worker's Coalition Conference held at St. Catherine University this spring, thanks to the support of the School of Social Work. She has been named Mission Chair for the Liberal Arts at St. Catherine University.

Robin Whitebird, associate professor, presented the research "An Online Self-Management Program for Chronic Pain: PACT- Patient Activated Care and Training,” at the Gerontological Society of America's 70th Annual Scientific Meeting in November 2018 in Boston. Whitebird also published a co-authored article, Potentially Preventable Hospital and Emergency Department Events: Lessons from a Large Innovation Project in the Permanente Journal 4(22) in 2018.