Meet Our Faculty

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
Elizabeth Scott

Average class size: 18

Laura Saunders
Michelle Putnam
Joel Blanco-Rivera
Kathleen Millstein

215

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

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Denise Hildreth
Cathryn Mercier
Johnnie Hamilton-Mason

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason

Dr. Johnnie Hamilton-Mason is a Professor at Simmons College School of Social Work.  She teaches Advanced Clinical Practice, HBSE, Leadership, Political Strategies for Clinical Social Workers Practice, Practice with Immigrants and Refugees, Realities of Racism and Oppression and Qualitative Research. From 2004- 2007, Dr. Hamilton-Mason served as Director of the Doctoral Program at SSW.  In 2005 she co-founded the SSW’s Pharnal Longus Academy for Undoing Racism. From 2001 through 2008, she served as a Harvard University W.E.B. DuBois Institute non-resident fellow in African American research.  Her scholarship and research interests are primarily on African American Women and Families, the intersection of cross cultural theory and practice, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. She has served as a Researcher at the University of Texas’s Hurricane Katrina Researcher Collaborative.  She has recent publications entitled “Working with African American Families”, “Work-life fit: The intersection of Developmental Life cycle and Academic Life Cycle”, “Hope Floats: African American Women's Survival Experiences after Katrina”, “Black Women talk about Workplace Stress and How They Cope”, “And Some of us are Braver: Stress and Coping among African American women”, “Psychoanalytic Theory: Responding to the Assessment Needs of People of Color?” "Using the Color of Fear as a Racial Identity Catalyst", and “Children and Urban Poverty.” With over twenty-one years of full-time teaching experience, she continues to enhance her teaching through clinical practice in urban agencies, as well as through consultation and education locally and internationally.

       Dr. Hamilton-Mason presents papers regularly at national and international conferences on such topics as the dynamics of diversity; teaching and learning issues related to diversity; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the United States and Africa; urban practice and urban leadership educational outcomes; cross cultural competency and racial identity theory in clinical work. Previously, Dr. Hamilton-Mason was appointed as Co-Chair of the HIV/AIDS Task force for the National Association of Black Social Workers and currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Council on Social Work Education’s Council on the Role and Status of Women in Higher Education. Dr. Hamilton-Mason is currently on the editorial board for Health and Social Work and the Journal of Social Work Education.  She is also a Board of Trustees member for Research Education Collaborative for Al Quds University and the Heritage Guild.  In 2013, she was honored to receive the Massachusetts NASW Social Work Educator of the Year Award.  As a practitioner, researcher and scholar, her passion lies with serving underrepresented populations and communities.


Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott

I am an Associate Professor of Biology and co-director of the Undergraduate Program in Public Health.  I did my graduate training in Applied Microbiology at London University. I am also the co-director and founder of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community Settings

My research looks at broad issues associated with the transmission of microbial pathogens in the indoor environment. The applied research in my lab allows undergraduate students to get involved in developing and piloting research methodologies and also, to get published in peer review journals. 
 
I serve as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Forum on Home Hygiene and on the editorial board of the American Journal of Infection Control. This allows me to disseminate information on matters of hygiene and infection control and I am frequently quoted in the press. 

My passion is for microbiology and public health and I am committed to the rigorous preparation of Simmons students for graduate programs and careers in this field. I am also deeply committed to two other related issues. One is finding strategies to inform the general public on aspects of microbiology and infection control that impact our daily lives. The other is the issue of keeping women in the STEM disciplines and strengthening the STEM pipeline for women from school through to postdoctoral careers. 


Laura Saunders

Laura Saunders

Laura Saunders received her master's from Simmons College GSLIS in 2001, and after working as a reference and instruction librarian for several years returned to Simmons College and completed her PhD in 2010. She teaches courses in reference and information services, user instruction, services...

Michelle Putnam

Michelle Putnam

Dr. Putnam’s research focuses on the intersections of aging and disability, with particular emphasis on understanding how public programs and public policy meets the needs of persons aging with disability. Within this area, her work examines collaborations between aging and disability service providers and their capacity to serve the aging with disability population, long-term care and support needs of persons aging with disabilities, the role of activity portfolios in fostering well being among older adults, and the relationship of asset accumulation in fostering financial security and independent living among older adults and persons aging with disability. 

Dr. Putnam’s scholarship is both independent and done in collaboration with colleagues across institutions and disciplines, and when possible with direct stakeholders. Funders of Dr. Putnam’s research and/or research collaborations include the John A. Hartford Foundation, the AARP Foundation, National Institute of Aging, and the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County. She is frequently engaged to speak about aging with disability and public policy to research, practice, and policy audiences.

In addition to her research, Dr. Putnam actively participates at the national and international level in building bridges across the aging and disability fields of policy and practice. Most recently she is serving on the expert panel that drafted the Toronto declaration on bridging knowledge, policy and practice in aging and disability, a product of the 2011 Growing Older with Disability meeting at the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiveing, Disabiliity, Aging, and Technology held in Toronto, Canada. With the help of March of Dimes Canada, she coordinated a supplement issue of the International Journal of Integrated Care about bridging aging and disability and the rationale or and need for the Toronto Declaration. Dr. Putnam continues to coordinate the activities of that expert panel as they develop the entity, Bridging Aging and Disability International Network, to facilitate knowledge development, transfer, and translation between the fields of aging and disability. She was recently appointed as Editor of the Journal of Gerontological Social Work.

Dr. Putnam is one of the few scholars in the field of social work studying aging with disability and is recognized for her leadership in this area. She has actively worked to build awareness of the distinctions between aging with long-term disability and incurring disability for the first time in later life as it relates to provision of supports and services and the overall experience of aging. Her work is both theoretical and empirical, but always related to public policy and the practical aspects of making aging and disability policies and programs work well for people aging with disabilities and their families. Dr. Putnam’s current interest in capacity building within aging and disability service networks directly stems from her prior work. She believes that building capacity to meet unique needs of aging with disability populations has potential to compliment and move current discussions focused on institutional systems change to also include discourse what individuals and their families need to live independently, engage in their community, and experience positive aging. 


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. 

Joel Blanco-Rivera

Joel Blanco-Rivera

Joel A. Blanco-Rivera earned his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. His research interests are the study of the relation between archives and transitional justice in Latin America, government accountability, and the documentation of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States. He has an MSI with specialization in archive and records management from the School of Information at the University of Michigan. From 2004 to 2005, he was a lecturer at the University of Puerto Rico's Graduate School of Information Sciences and Technologies, where he taught courses for the certificate in archives and records management. His dissertation research is a case study of the work of the National Security Archive in the context of transitional justice in Latin America. It focuses on the efforts of this organization to obtain U.S. declassified records for investigations about past human rights violations in Latin America. He has been teaching in the archives area at Simmons since the spring of 2012.

Joel Blanco-Rivera's Curriculum Vitae

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.

Denise Hildreth

Denise E. Hildreth

“Live to do good and you will never tire of your employment.”  I read this quote at the age of 17 and, since then, have kept it pinned to my wall. Even before then, my career path was mapped out - I never really wanted to be anything other than a professional social worker.  Looking back more than 20 years later, there is still no career I would rather have and nothing more rewarding than watching students gain a passion for the work that I love. 

I began my career as a child welfare practitioner, working with children and families facing a host of what seemed like impossible challenges. I saw the ways in which their situations were impacted not only by their choices, but by their environmental context and social forces and injustices that impacted their ability to thrive and meet their goals. I learned early on that being a good social worker involved working alongside clients as they confronted personal challenges while also advocating for social change. My professional identity became strongly rooted in a social work strengths perspective and a commitment to social justice. 

I became a social work educator in 2002 out of a desire to share my knowledge and experiences and to be a mentor and guide for the generation of social work professionals that would go on to replace me in the field. As Director of the new BSW Program at Simmons, I have sought to develop a learning community where my students can develop the knowledge, values, and skills needed to become competent, ethical generalist social work practitioners. As a teacher, I look to create a learning environment that is based upon mutual respect and an appreciation for intellectual curiosity, challenge, professionalism, and lifelong growth.  In the classroom, I strive to assist students in developing strong critical thinking, writing, and professional practice skills that allow them not only to assist individual clients in locating needed resources and addressing specific problems, but to examine the critical role that the social environment and systems of power and oppression play in all of our lives. It is my hope that students not only become strong practitioners, but equally strong advocates and agents of social change.  

In addition to my passion for child welfare work, I am a homicide bereavement researcher, specifically examining the ways in which homicide bereavement impacts the employment of surviving family members.


Stephen Berry

I attended Vanderbilt University where I double majored in History and Fine Arts earning the Bachelor of Arts and later a Masters of Education degrees. I also hold a M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary as well as a M.L.I.S. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. I earned my doctoral degree in the Graduate Program in Religion of Duke University with qualifying exams on colonial America history, the history of religion in America, history of Reformation Europe, and Atlantic World travel literature. My doctoral dissertation, “Seaborne Conversions 1700-1800” examined the role of religion aboard eighteenth-century British sailing vessels crossing the Atlantic.

I have been a member of the History Department at Simmons College in Boston since 2007 where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Early American and Atlantic World history. I currently direct the department’s undergraduate program in public history, which means I teach an introductory course on public history that is combined with the history of Boston, a course that focuses on the role of objects in historical understanding, as well as supervising internships at a variety of museums and historic sites in the area. I teach separate graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of the Atlantic World from Columbus to the Haitian Revolution. I normally handle the first half of the American history survey, which covers colonization through reconstruction as well as an African-American history survey course. Finally, I typically teach our department’s core seminar for our undergraduate majors, “Interpreting the Past,” which introduces students to the theory and method of history. As a teacher of the humanities, my two overall goals for students in all of my courses are to be critical thinkers and excellent writers.

My wife Dana and I live in Maynard, Massachusetts with our teenage daughter and son. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and playing board games. In addition to writing about ships, I love sailing, but I know just enough about boats to be a danger to others and myself.

Cathryn Mercier

Cathryn Mercier

As an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College (BA '81) Cathie Mercier was drawn to the scientific emphasis and empiricism of experimental psychology. A psychology major, she did not take her first course in children's literature until her senior year. "Like Alice, I fell down the rabbit hole and I've yet to come up," said Mercier.


Cathie brought the taut writing style and analytical sensibility required of psychology to the study of literature for children and young adults. She completed her Master of Arts degree in Children's Literature in 1984; in 1993 she earned a Master of Philosophy in English at Simmons as a steppingstone to her doctoral studies. She pursued doctoral work in the University Professors Program at Boston University ('02) where she wrote about the confluence of social movements and images of the child in American picturebooks. She holds a PhD in Children's Literature.


Cathie was appointed to Simmons in 1985 and has been teaching in the graduate degree program in children's literature ever since. She teaches criticism, contemporary young adult realism, the child in fiction, the picturebook and a survey course. Her thesis, independent study, and internship advising embrace a wide range of topics, from a cultural analysis of Printz titles to an annotated bibliography of historical fiction for curricular use. "As advisor of a thesis that asked, 'What can queer theory tell children's literature?' I met regularly with the student to discuss ideas. We both learned from the books, and I hope she learned from me. But I consider it my best teaching experience because of how very much I learned from her," said Mercier, who was thrilled when part of her student's thesis was included in a book of new voices in children's literary criticism.


In the undergraduate curriculum, she taught children's literature as a key focus in her honors seminar titled "Stories of Childhood," a course that was part of a learning community that paired with Economics professor Niloufer Sohrabji's course "Stories of Democracy." She won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Academic Advising.


At Simmons, Cathie has served in a variety of administrative roles. Currently, she directs the Center for the Study of Children's Literature,the graduate degree programs in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature, the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children (on-campus and at The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA), and dual degree programs that combine the MA with degrees in library science, or teaching, or writing for children.


Cathie has been contributed to Children's Literature and to The Horn Book. Her skill at "close reading, an ability to talk about books so that others see the book at its most ambitious and complex, and a talent for collaboration" have made her a valuable member of national book award committee.  She currently serves on the Subaru Prize Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences/ Young Adult Division.


Past award selection service includes the 2012 Caldecott Award (Ball for Daisy),  1999 Newbery Award Committee (Holes), the 1994 Caldecott Award (Grandfather's Journey), and the inaugural 2000 Sibert Award Committee (Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado). Cathie was honored to serve Chair of the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee (Ashley Bryan) and as Chair of the 2004 Sibert Award Committee (The American Plague). She has twice been a member (once chairing) the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and served as a judge for the New York Times Best Illustrated Books.  


Cathie  completed her third study of an important young adult author with co-writer Susan Bloom; it also marks their third book with editor Patty Campbell.  Russell Freedman was published in 2009 by Scarecrow Press and will be the first book at Scarecrow to focus on nonfiction. Prior collaborations are Presenting Avi and Presenting Zibby Oneal. These books and their audience of teachers, librarians, and young adults fit perfectly into Cathie's driving belief that the "work of the critic is not to 'take apart' a book, but to read well and deeply enough to offer insight and illumination to the text and to oneself."

Cathryn Mercier's Curriculum Vitae

Bridget Lynch

As an artist, B. Lynch, has been working with the topic of folly for many years. Her theatrical installations of the Folly pantheon have been shown at many solo exhibitions in New England. Her new project: The Red and the Grey showed at two venues in 2013.

Lynch has been combining digital and other media for several years, including "Tragical, Comical"... an installation with video and a site-specific labyrinth at the Grimshaw-Gudewicz Gallery in Fall River MA in 2008.  She presented a mixed media and video installation, Truth & Folly at UMass Amherst November 2004. Chain of Fools: Hogarth Reinterpreted by B. Lynch, a mixed media and video installation at University of New Hampshire. January 2006 her project Just a Pack of Cards, with the Open Studio Program was on view at the Currier Museum in Manchester NH. Other shows of note are: the Throne Project 2003, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Fool’s Progress, Eastern CT State University;The Game of Folly, The Art Complex Museum; and Plucked Fruit, Montserrat College of Art. Lynch has shown extensively in group shows, including The Chicken Show at the Boston Center for the Arts; as well as shows in Germany and the Midwest. Her popular lectures on the topic of Folly and art have been given at many universities and colleges.

Nevada, California, Texas and Alaska have played host to her videos and sound projects from 2011-2012. Video projects were screened at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg, University of California Chico State, Lexington Art League among others. The Artist Foundation, Boston, premiered her solo video project: The Lunar Cycle 1 in November 2009.  Studio Green Gallery in Munich Germany premiered two videos in Fall 2009. Miss Kittikins... is included in Creatures Great & Small, a show originating at Murray State College in Kentucky, it has a catalog and traveled to Paducah and Lexington Ky.  
 
The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts awarded her a fellowship in 2008. She has won several awards for her projects, including a Puffin Grant and Ludwig Vogelstein award. She is a co-founder of the Hall Street Artist Collaborative, which produced two outdoor video screenings. Her bibliography includes reviews in Sculpture Magazine, ART New England, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Patriot Ledge, the Wire and others, as well as several exhibition catalogues, and two cable TV presentations. She is included in the Springfield Ohio Museum of Art; The Boston Public Library, Boston; the Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA; Eastern Connecticut State University Collection; University of NH Art Museum; Private collections in the USA, Germany and Sweden.

Critics say of her work: “Created with compassion, originality and wit, Lynch’s tableaux are metaphors for society.”—Alicia Faxon Art New England. "Lynch has inspiration and intellect to spare. Her installation embraces the illogic of chance, double dealing, and rule breaking that too often define our lives. Her work also includes the overt nod to Dada and recalls Duchamp's passion for chess."—John Stomberg ART New England.