Meet Our Faculty

Jo O'Connor
Sarah Volkman

Average class size: 18

Katherine Jung Reis
Ben Cole
Justin Jones
Marianne Williams
Valerie Leiter

215

Full-time faculty members,
70% of whom are women.

Alison Marshall
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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

Kirk Beattie
Eduardo Febles
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“The faculty are extremely accessible. There’s the sense that we’re here for common goals.”

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Nancy Lee
James Corcoran
Patricia White
Heather Hole
Jo O'Connor

Jo O'Connor

Professor Jo O’Connor, MS, EdM has worked for more than 30 years in the marketing communication industry with specialties in entertainment, sports, oral presentation and event planning.

She has held leadership roles for the Boston Celtics, the Boston Garden/FleetCenter, CBS Radio, Sonesta Hotels, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts as well as worked twice in an agency setting.

Previously, O’Connor was full-time faculty member for 10 years at Boston University’s College of Communication – overhauling the oldest student PR agency in the county called "PRLab" and has been awarded numerous teaching awards there. She has also taught advertising at Northeastern University for four years and is currently teaching online communication courses at Lasell College, where she has been for nine years. She also runs a boutique mar/comm agency representing several regional clients.

O’Connor is delighted to be teaching full-time at Simmons College in Boston, where she is overseeing the new joint major (a collaboration between the Communication Department and School of Management) in Public Relations and Marketing Communication. This program is now the fourth largest program at Simmons.

Go Sharks!

Sarah Volkman

Sarah Volkman

Sarah Volkman is a Professor of Nursing at Simmons who has been involved in preparing nursing students in the basic science content since 1989. She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She holds a joint appointment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Immunology and Infectious Diseases where she is a Principal Research Scientist. 

In addition to teaching at Simmons, she continues to teach Infectious Diseases at Harvard University, where her scientific research interests involve understanding population genetics and the mechanisms of drug resistance in the human pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum. Dr. Volkman is an international expert on malaria and works with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Worldwide Antimalarial Drug Resistance Network, among other international groups focused on malaria. She is a Councilor for the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She has received several awards including the Young Investigator Award by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and was a Senior Teaching Fellow and a Christensen Fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Volkman has been recognized for both her research and teaching at the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Katherine Jung Reis

Katherine Jungreis

I am delighted to be beginning my fifth year as a full time faculty member after 23 years as an adjunct here at Simmons School of Social Work. When then Professor Sophie Freud initially suggested that I teach the Psychopathology course (now Assessment and Diagnosis) while I was a doctoral candidate at Simmons, I told her that I had never really considered teaching and wasn’t sure it was such a good idea. She countered with, “this is an offer you can’t refuse” and her wisdom was clear as I quickly found that teaching became one of the greatest pleasures of my social work career. 

Following graduation from Smith School for Social Work, I worked for almost twenty years at a community mental health center in a poor and working class town. My clinical work was with adults, families, groups and emergency services and I dealt with a variety of issues including many people with severe mental illness and their families. During that time Cambodian refugees moved into the community and we were actively involved in trying to provide culturally meaningful mental health services to them.

Like many others in our field, the direction of my work has been constantly evolving. Initially after graduation, I received training and became very involved with family therapy. Later, as I became more attuned to connecting the various parts of myself in my work, I wove in my curiosity about integrating spiritual/religious issues and psychotherapy. I joined the Jewish Therapists Network and taught in the Certificate Program for Jewish Communal and Clinical Social Work at Simmons. Other areas of special interest to me have included social work ethics, working with couples, mindfully connecting theory to practice and the use of movies as a powerful learning tool. Appreciating the meaning of work and the workplace was a central focus during the ten years that I consulted to the staff at the Federal Employee Assistance Program.

Most recently, I have been intrigued with relational aspects of social work supervision. I have given presentations and consulted on this topic and in the summers I teach in the Certificate Program for Advanced Clinical Supervision at Smith School for Social Work. While I no longer supervise students and staff in an agency setting, I have been able to continue a significant amount of clinical consultation to practitioners as well as consulting to staff at South Shore Mental Health Center which afforded me the ability to work again in a community mental health setting.

I believe that to most effectively teach I need to be directly involved in the work and that my ongoing clinical experiences enrich the learning in the classroom. I have found Simmons to be a wonderfully supportive, interesting and committed community that truly cares about helping students to be skillful, thoughtful and caring social workers. I am excited to be part of this community and to contribute to the professional growth of future social workers.


Ben Cole

Benjamin Cole

Ben Cole joined the faculty of Simmons College in 2012 after a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. Before that, Ben taught for three years as Hood House Lecturer in International Affairs at the University of New Hampshire (his alma mater). Since 2011 he has also served as a Research Associate at the Center for Systemic Peace, where he collaborates with his doctoral research mentor, Dr. Monty G. Marshall, on the production of cross-national governance and conflict datasets and publication of the Global Report series.

Ben’s teaching philosophy is characterized by a passion for collaborating with students in research, learning, and advising. He enjoys leading teams of student researchers, redesigning and teaching new classes, and talking with students about life and career plans. When not working with students, Ben loves spending time working on the family farm with his wife, Shannon, two beautiful children, and his grandfather, sailing along the coast, or settling into a good book with a hot pot of coffee at hand.

Justin Jones

Justin Jones

License/Certifications/Awards

Massachusetts licensed physical therapist since 1999
Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS) American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties
Teacher of the Year award: Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences 2012

Professional Organizations Membership

American Physical Therapy Association (1999-present)
MA Chapter APTA Shoulder special interest group (2008-present, served as treasurer from 1/09-1/13)

Growing up, and being involved in athletics, I have always been interested in how people maximize their functional potential as well as how they recover from injury and disease. Physical therapy has allowed me to pursue these interests from several perspectives. As a licensed physical therapist and board certified orthopedic clinical specialist, I treat patients with a variety of orthopedic conditions and have a specific focus and interest in complicated shoulder problems. Teaching at Simmons in the musculoskeletal sequence of the physical therapy program allows me to share my past and current clinical experiences with students in the classroom. This allows for a more dynamic and interactive lecture and lab experience, where I can utilize relevant clinical examples to highlight the content being taught. Additionally, working closely with research faculty, I have been able to look at the issues that I see clinically in combination with the material I teach and formulate research questions in collaboration with my colleagues who can put them into a laboratory based research study. I feel that this allows my clinical practice to inform my teaching, which informs my research. Ultimately, with the evolving technology and access to information that students have, my teaching philosophy is to maximize students time on campus with real life, hands on problem solving experiences that facilitate their growth as future clinicians and evidence based practitioners.

Valerie Leiter

Valerie Leiter

Val Leiter teaches courses on medical sociology, research methods, and sociology of childhood and youth—these topics dovetail with her research on children and youth with disabilities, medicalization, and gender and health. She received the Irving K. Zola award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2004 for her work on "Parental Activism, Professional Dominance, and Early Childhood Disability." Her first book, Their Time Has Come: Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood, was published in 2012, a result of her William T. Grant Foundation Scholars project on the “Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Disabilities.” The Sociology of Health & Illness: Critical Perspectives (9th edition), co-edited with Peter Conrad, was also published in 2012.

She is active in the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Sociological Association, where she has multiple leadership positions, including membership on ASA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the Editorial Advisory Board of Social Problems. On campus, Val is the Co-Chair of the Institutional Review Board, Co-Director of the Public Health program, and a member of the steering committee for the Master in Public Policy program.

Val mentors several students each year on their independent research projects. Right now, she is working with Sidney Jean (Public Health) on her senior thesis on women’s body images, Renata Bule (Public Health) on her senior thesis on health care for refugees and asylees, Mary Harrington (Public Health) on the role of faith and spirituality in medical care, Sarah Hewitt (Master in Public Policy) on calorie count menu policies, Youjin Kim (Sociology) on youth culture in Korea, and Danielle Funk (Master in Gender and Cultural Studies) on STDs among women who have sex with women.

Val is also a dedicated student of Iyengar yoga, learning from multiple teachers in the Boston area.

Alison Marshall

Alison Marshall

I am a Boston transplant from Denver.  I live in Boston with my husband and daughter.  I came to nursing via a winding road, but am so happy to have arrived.  I am a family nurse practitioner and work at a community health center and for the CDC.  I joined Simmons in 2014 and am so happy to be here!

Kirk Beattie

Kirk Beattie

My name is Kirk James Beattie (pronounced bay-tee). I grew up in a small, mostly suburban town called Clarkston on the far northern edge of metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. I attended an excellent, private college, Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan as an undergraduate. I majored in Political Science, and minored in French. I went to southern France on a junior year abroad program, and was totally smitten. I returned to France to conduct my senior thesis on a topic suggested by my college advisor, and about which I knew nothing: French foreign policy in the Middle East. This is literally how my lifelong interest in Middle East and North African politics began. At the time, the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with most countries in the region, a situation I felt could not last because of American allies’ energy needs, if not those of the U.S. Still enamored with France, I returned there for nine months following graduation from college. I audited Arabic and sat in on Political Science courses at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Aix-en-Provence.

During my third stay in France, I applied to graduate school programs in Political Science, and was accepted at The University of Michigan, the #2 program in the U.S. Over time I specialized in Comparative Politics, having acquired the impression that this subfield placed greater emphasis on understanding people’s concerns, beliefs and sentiments than did the International Relations subfield. Because I have a great fondness for foreign languages, and have been relatively adept at their acquisition, I went on to apply for various language grants and fellowships over the coming years, all of which either assisted me to pay for my graduate studies at Michigan in first Arabic, then Persian, and/or enabled me to seek admission to special, federally funded foreign study programs, such as the Tunisian Summer Study program, or the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program in Cairo, Egypt. I was fortunate to be selected for participation in these nationally competitive programs, as well as to be the recipient of several other national grants, such as an International Rotary Foundation Fellowship, and two Fulbright fellowships, that permitted me lengthy stays in Egypt or France.

Eduardo Febles

Eduardo Febles

Professor Febles, a native of Puerto Rico, received a B.A. in French and Political Economy from Tulane University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in French Studies from Brown University. He also studied at L'École Normale Supérieure, L'Institut d'Études Politiques, and La Sorbonne in Paris. Before coming to Simmons, he taught at Goucher College and Brandeis University. His research focuses on the intersections between politics and literature, especially in 19th century France. He is the author of Explosive Narratives: Anarchy and Terrorism in the Works of Emile Zola, published by Rodopi Press in 2010. He also edited with his mother, Dr. María Vega de Febles, a collection of articles written by his grandfather entitled Crónicas Ejemplares and published by Ediciones Universal in 2010. He is presently working on a project about the connections between homophobia and anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair. He is also the author of several scholarly articles, book reviews, and short stories.

Nancy Lee

Nancy Lee

Professor Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea and her family immigrated to the US when she was in middle school. She gravitated towards math and science courses in high school due to the language barrier and pursued chemistry at University of Pennsylvania. With BS in chemistry, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 4 years where she fell in love with synthetic organic chemistry. She decided to attend Brown to get a Ph.D. in organic synthesis. After a year of postdoctoral work at MIT in organometallic chemistry, she came to Simmons. She’s been teaching organic chemistry to science majors and pre health majors since 1994. She has put much of her effort into innovative teaching. There are two main areas of curricular change that she’s proud of: first is converting traditional lectures into “flipped lectures” for organic chemistry I and II. In the flipped lecture model, students watch a video before class and during "class", which is really a problem solving session, all the students are sent to white boards to solve problems. The second innovative curriculum change is the conversion of traditional labs to research incorporated labs. The recent paper entitled “Using Green Chemistry Principles as a Framework to Incorporate Research into the Organic Laboratory Curriculum” in the Journal of Chemical Education describes how this was accomplished. Research integration has made it possible for students to get involved in research in their first year. Peer mentoring is then used to train students for 2-3 more years in the art of research. This makes it possible for seniors to contribute independently. With these changes in curriculum, there has been tremendous evolution in how research is done by undergraduates at Simmons in the last ten years.

James Corcoran

James Corcoran

James Corcoran, an associate professor in the Department of Communications, is the author of two books on domestic terrorism. The first, Bitter Harvest: The Birth of Paramilitary Terrorism in the Heartland, examined the rise of the anti-tax movement in rural America embodied by extremists groups such as the Posse Comitatus. NBC-TV turned the book, which was based on Corcoran's Pulitzer Prize nominated coverage of the murders of three U.S. marshals by a militant tax protest group, into a made-for-television movie, starring Rod Steiger, entitled "In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas." Bitter Harvest received the Gustav Meyers Center's award for Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights and the Golden Pen Award. Penguin Press reissued it with a new foreword in 1995 following on the Oklahoma City bombing. A third edition was reissued in 2005.

His second book, Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat, was co-authored with Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Written after the Oklahoma City bombing, it traced the growth and impact of hate groups, militias, and racist demagogues.

Corcoran is a member of the United Nations' "Roster of Experts on Terrorism and Related Phenomena" and a recipient of the Bush Foundation Leadership Award, which is awarded annually to no more than 20 people who are considered of "substantial standing" in their fields. During his 10-year career as a journalist, which included work for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Newsweek, Corcoran received more than 24 state, regional, and national writing awards.

Patricia White

Patricia White

Patricia White has been teaching in the nursing programs at Simmons College since 1987. She is currently the Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and Co coordinated the Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Program for twenty five years. She received her B.S. and M.S. Degrees from Boston College and completed her PhD from University of Rhode Island.  She recently completed the Clinical Ethics residency in Nursing at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She has maintained a clinical practice since 1983 and currently practices in primary care and in an NP owned geriatric primary care practice. She currently teaches Ethics and capstone courses in the DNP program and teaches adult and geriatric content in the FNP Program. She also teaches research in the MS program and is a clinical instructor in community health.  

In addition to her teaching and practice, she has been involved in several research projects and enjoys working with students and colleagues on research related to Nurse Practitioner practice, patient outcomes in NP practices, end of life care, best teaching practices for accelerated students and DNP pedagogy and evaluation of the impact DNP alumni have on practice change and improving patient outcomes. 

Dr. White has also written and presented on the topics of clinical consultation, polypharmacy, ethics and bereavement and DNP program pedagogy and program evaluation.  She recently served for four years on the Board of Directors of the Leavitts Mill free health center in Buxton, Maine which is an NP owned free health clinic providing primary care to uninsured in rural Maine. She is active on the legislative committee of the MCNP and is the current PAC treasurer and is involved with the NONPF and is currently the co chair of the Faculty Development committee. She is a Fellow in the National Academies of Practice and she has recently been selected and inducted as a Fellow in the American Association  of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) June, 2014 at the AANP national conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Heather Hole

Heather Hole

Heather Hole is Assistant Professor of Arts Administration and Art History in the Department of Art and Music at Simmons College. She is the author of the book Marsden Hartley and the West: The Search for An American Modernism, published by Yale University Press, and the curator of the traveling exhibition of the same name. In her previous position as curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, she played a key role in planning and installing the new Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in November of 2010.