Meet Our Faculty

Rebecca Koeniger-Donohue
Denise Hildreth

Average class size: 18

Cathryn Mercier
Steve Ortega
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Gary Bailey

215

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

Dolores Pelaez
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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Erica Gunn
Hugo Kamya
Eileen Abels
George Coggeshall
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.


Shirong Luo

Shirong Luo has been a member of the philosophy department at Simmons College since 2006. Prior to his appointment at Simmons, he had been a visiting professor at Mount Holyoke College for two years (2004-2006). The first recipient of the Dean's Award for Exceptional Faculty Scholarship at Simmons College (2012), Dr. Luo has focused his research on Chinese philosophy of the classical period, comparative philosophy, and feminist ethics. He was an invited lecturer at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers (2008).

Among the many courses Dr. Luo has taught at Simmons are Asian Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, World Religions, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophy and the Arts, Philosophy through Literature and Film, Philosophy of Human Nature, American Pragmatism, Biomedical Ethics, and MCC.

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

Steve Ortega

Stephen Ortega

My name is Steve Ortega, and I teach in the History Department at Simmons College. I have a Bachelor’s degree from New York University, a Master’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD. from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. I am the director of the History MA program, which includes...

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Judy Beal

I have had many leadership roles in her 42 years as a nurse. I currently serve as Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College Prior to coming to Simmons in 1983, I taught at Boston University and Skidmore College. 

  

At Simmons, I have been instrumental in building early innovative models of academic practice partnerships locally and then globally. In Boston, the unique model of "hospital as client” with the hospital financing the academic progression of employees in RN-BSN and RN-MSN programs grew from one partnership five years ago to eight partnerships. With foundation funding, she partnered with the University of Cairo to replicate an accelerated second degree BSN program for unemployed university graduates. This effort significantly advanced workforce capacity and elevated the level of professional nursing practice in Egypt. With academic and practice partners in Saudi Arabia and with philanthropists in Bangladesh and Israel, I am further replicating these programs.

As a RWJ Executive Nurse Fellow from 2008-2011, I created a national forum on academic-practice partnership by successfully engaging a national association to identify this issue as a strategic priority. I developed and co-led the AACN-AONE Task Force on Academic-Practice Partnerships. This group has significantly elevated the conversation on and strategy for developing academic-practice partnerships.

I have served as president, secretary, director and chair in many organizations including: Sigma Theta Tau International, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing (MACN), Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses (MARN), and Yale University Alumni Association. Most recently, I have served as a two term, elected board member and the secretary of AACN, secretary and vice president of MACN, chair of the MARN Nominations Committee, and co-lead of the RWJF Massachusetts Action Coalition.

I am widely published with more than 120 peer reviewed articles. I am on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing as well as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, the Journal of Professional Nursing, and Research in Nursing and Health. 

Dr. Beal received her BSN from Skidmore College, her MSN from Yale, and DNSc from Boston University. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice.

Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW is currently a Professor of Practice at Simmons College School of Social Work and at the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences. At the School of Social Work he coordinates the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression sequence. He chairs the School of Social Work Awards Committee; is Chair of the Simmons College Black Administrators, Faculty and Staff Council (BAFAS); is a member of the Simmons Faculty Senate; is vice chair of the Simmons President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council (PDIAC) and co-Chaired the Simmons College Initiative on Human Rights and Social Justice.

 In 2010 Professor Bailey was elected President of the International Federation of Social Workers. He is the first person of color to hold this post and only the third person from the United States to do so. IFSW is a federation representing over 90 countries and 746,000 social workers globally. He is a past president of the North American region of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) located in Berne, Switzerland having served in that role from 2003 until 2006.He was appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Policy, Advocacy and Representation Commission (the PARC) in August 2006 where his responsibilities included the review of existing and the development of new policies; and he oversaw  the IFSW representatives at the United Nations in Nairobi, Geneva, and New York City and Vienna.

In 2010 he was appointed to the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) Global Commission. He previously served on the board of the North American and Caribbean Association of Schools of Social Work representing CSWE

He is a member of the board of the Fenway High School in Boston where he serves on the Governance and Facilities committees. In 2009 he was appointed by the Honorable Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts, to serve on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). MEFA, created 30 years ago, is a self-financing state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriation which sells bonds to help undergraduate and graduate students fund higher education. To date, MEFA has issued approximately $4.2 billion and bonds and have assisted hundreds of thousands of families in financing a college education. At MEFA he chairs the Nominating Committee, and is a member of the Audit Committee. He was reappointed by Governor Patrick to a term ending in 2019.
 He is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) Board of Ambassadors and the AIDS Action Advisory Council. He is a Trustee of the Union United Methodist Church (UUMC) in Boston.

Professor Bailey was the Chairperson of the National Social Work Public Education Campaign. He is a former member of the NASW Foundation Board of Directors. He was a member of the board of the NASW Insurance Trust (now Assurance Services, Inc.), a public company which is the largest provider of insurance services for professional social workers. 

He is a past President of National NASW having served as President from 2003 until 2005. He was President-elect from 2002-2003. His tenure at NASW National has included serving as the NASW National 2nd Vice President from 2000-2002 and as the Associations Treasurer from 1995-1997. He was also the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of NASW from 1993-1995

Professor Bailey is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He was named Social Worker of the Year by both the National and Massachusetts NASW in 1998. He was made a Social Work Pioneer by NASW in 2005, making him the youngest individual to receive this honor and joining individuals such as Jane Addams and Whitney M. Young.

In May 2013 Professor Bailey received the degree Doctor of Humane letters , honoris causa, from the University of Connecticut


Dolores Pelaez

Maria Dolores Pelaez Benitez

I am a native of Spain and hold a doctoral degree in Hispanic Literature from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid.  After teaching Spanish at Boston University, I joined the faculty of Simmons College in 1992, where I became Associate professor (1999) and Professor of Spanish (2010).

Ellen Grabiner

Ellen Grabiner

I am currently the Chair of the Communications Department at Simmons College, in Boston, Massachusetts. I was hired fourteen years ago as an instructor quite simply because of my immersion in what were then the newest media in the communications field: the world wide web, digital imaging, and digital video editing. I was hired with the hope that I would help to bring the department into the 21st century, both in terms of preparing the communications students for the world that awaited them, but also in terms of helping them to explore, articulate and question the tremendous changes in media that surrounded them.

Fast-forward fourteen years and we are all still reeling from the accelerating speed at which new media has evolved. There is not a corner in the developed world today that has remained untouched by this gargantuan moving target of change. As a department that understands communication as a discipline that not only utilizes media but also critiques it, at Simmons we have embraced an approach that emphasizes media convergence: we employ new media to observe, explore, question, track, and understand new media. At the same time, we encourage our students to inhabit a meta-space in which they can approach the study of new media through philosophical, theoretical, political, social, technological, and aesthetic lenses.

My work as an educator, mentor, and developer of curricular initiatives includes co-design and co-direction of Simmons’ interdisciplinary minor in Cinema and Media Studies, my pioneering work in the first learning communities as part of the Simmons Honors program, my development of courses in cinema and media theory, storytelling, digital cultures and communications technologies, and my design and leadership of an intensive January course at Simmons called the World Challenge. In this short course that occurs over intersession, students work together in self-guided, faculty supported teams to solve a pressing social/political/environmental problem and develop actionable solutions which they then present to potential funders. The World Challenge I co-taught with Professor Nanette Veilleux and Professor Laura Saunders of SLIS, was entitled, “Would I Lie to You?” and responded to the problematic of the role of media/information today. Many of the solutions the students developed relied on social media, including concepts for mobile apps to alter the ways in which we access and share information.

Wanda Torres Gregory

Wanda Torres Gregory

My areas of teaching include contemporary philosophy, ethics, logic, nineteenth-century philosophy, and philosophy of language. A recipient of the 2001 Simmons College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, I have taught many different courses with the same objective of guiding students on the path of philosophy, the pursuit of wisdom. My mission as a teacher is to inspire students to think philosophically—to wonder, reflect, and reason methodically about the great problems. The synergy of my teaching and scholarship is reflected in my textbook as leading editor, World Ethics (CA: Wadsworth, 2003), which includes multicultural and feminist perspectives along with the European classics in one comprehensive anthology in ethics.

My scholarship is dedicated to the philosophy of language and I specialize in twentieth-century German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. In addition to professional presentations and journal articles that focus on Heidegger and compare his views with those of twentieth-century analytic philosophers W.V. Quine, Rudolf Carnap, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, I have published the following two co-translations of Heidegger's works on language: On the Essence of Language (NY: SUNY Press, 2004), which was nominated in the spring of 2005 for the German Translation Award presented by the American Translators Association; and Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language (NY: SUNY Press, 2009), which was nominated for the Goethe Institute’s 2010 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize.

Erica Gunn

Erica Gunn

I am perhaps an unlikely chemist. Naturally inclined to music and language rather than science, I struggled with the basic mechanics of understanding chemistry. After failing my first chemistry test in high school, I knew that I would hate the topic forever. Achieving high final grades in both accelerated. . .

Hugo Kamya

Hugo Kamya

Scholarly and Practice Interests

Caring across communities; the psychological impact of war; children living in families with HIV/AIDS; culturally competent family therapy; culturally competent services for immigrants and refugees; youth violence related to HIV/AIDS; interracial relations; spirituality in therapy.

Eileen Abels

Eileen Abels

As Dean of the Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), Eileen Abels brings more than 30 years of award-winning expertise in library and information science to the school to help prepare 21st century information professionals for work in libraries, archives, information institutions, and cultural heritage organizations. She has led a distinguished career as an educator and innovator. She is the recipient of the ALISE Award for Professional Contribution to Library and Information Science Education, the ASIS&T Thomas Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher award, the Special Libraries Association Rose L. Vormelker award, and the Medical Library Association's Ida and George Eliot prize, among others.

Prior to joining Simmons SLIS, Abels was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at the iSchool at Drexel, The College of Information Science and Technology. Specializing in digital reference, she oversaw ipl2, a digital library resulting from the merger of the Internet Public Library and the Librarian's Internet Index. Her current research interests focus on the future of reference services, libraries, and library and information science education.

Her leadership positions include serving as president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) and President of Beta Phi Mu (International Library & Information Studies Honor Society). She is widely published, including articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters. Abels has also edited several books and co-authored two books.

Abels also held a faculty position for 15 years at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies and has been a librarian and information professional in special libraries, including the Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas in Mexico, Price Waterhouse's Washington National Tax Service, and Boston Consulting Group.

She obtained her MLS degree from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. from UCLA. Abels received her bachelor's degree from Clark University.

Eileen Abels' Curriculum Vitae

George Coggeshall

George Coggeshall

Dr. Coggeshall joined the Simmons College PT Faculty in 2008.  He has over 35 years of physical therapy practice with experience in a variety of settings.  George’s primary teaching responsibilities at Simmons College include Cardiovascular and Pulmonary PT and Physical Therapy Management.  His background includes; PTA Program Chair at Bay State College, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Massachusetts Respiratory Hospital and he has owned and managed a private practice.   Dr. Coggeshall continues to actively practice physical therapy at the Brigham and Women's Hospital with a primary clinical focus of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy. George’s extensive professional service includes; President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the APTA 2010-2013 and continues to serve as a national delegate to the APTA House of Delegates.

George’s academic degrees include; BS Biology - University of Rhode Island, MSPT - Boston University and DPT - Sacred Heart University.