Meet Our Faculty

Suzanne Leonard

Average class size: 18

Joel Blanco-Rivera
Michelle Putnam
Gary Bailey

215

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

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

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Brue Tis
Suzanne Leonard

Suzanne Leonard

Suzanne Leonard is Associate Professor of English, and co-coordinator of the college's interdisciplinary minor in Cinema and Media Studies. She is the author of Fatal Attraction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) and co-editor of Fifty Hollywood Directors (Routledge, 2014).

She regularly instructs classes on American film and television studies, feminist media studies, women's literature, literary interpretation, and cultural studies, and frequently teaches courses affiliated with the Women's and Gender Studies department and the college's Gender and Cultural Studies Master's program. She also teaches graduate classes through the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at MIT.

Professor Leonard is most interested in the intersections between feminism and popular culture, and her work has examined topics including: the treatment of the adultery plot in feminist novels; marriage envy; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's epic romance; Lily Tomlin; political spouses and The Good Wife; reality television and celebrity culture; and working women in American film and television.

Professor Leonard is currently working on a book on marriage and wives called Wife, Inc.: The Business of Marriage in Twenty-First Century American Culture.


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.

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

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. 


Jo O'Connor

O’Connor has worked for nearly 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 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 five 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.

Go Sharks!

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


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.

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Shelley Strowman

Dr. Strowman teaches Biostatistics and Capstone Seminar III in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.  She also provides statistical consultation on Capstone projects and Master's theses in the Nursing and Nutrition departments.  Dr. Strowman joined the School of Nursing and Health Sciences faculty in 2008 after working for several years in the Academic Technology Department as a Statistical Software Consultant.

Professor Strowman has supervised several DNP Capstone projects including:

  • Teleneurology in Long Term Care: Value of a Joint Nurse Practitioner-Neurologist Videoconferencing Clinic
  • Early Integration of Palliative Care in Patients with Pancreatic Cancer: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Survivorship Care Plans: Exploring Lymphoma Patients' Knowledge of their Disease and Follow-Up
  • Improving Exercise Prescribing in a Rural New England Free Clinic: A Quality Improvement Project Implementing Exercise Prescribing Guidelines

Dr. Strowman brings to the classroom over 20 years of experience in research, including several years as a consultant in public health.  She has provided statistical and survey consultation in a variety of areas including cardiovascular health promotion, tobacco control, the relation between stress and hospitalization, and health risk behavior.  Dr. Strowman's professional experience is integrated into her teaching through an emphasis on real-world examples and applications.

Professor Strowman has also taught Statistics and provided consultation in the Schools of Social Work, Management, and Library and Information Science.

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.


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. . .

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LaDonna Christian

LaDonna L. Christian, BSN, MSN, APHN-BC,  joined the department of nursing at Simmons College five years ago as faculty in the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program and a year later she was named the program Director. She is pursuing a Doctorate in Health Professions Education at Simmons College. She received her undergraduate degree from the University Of Michigan College Of Nursing and her Masters Degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in Community Health Nursing. She also completed her Advance Practice Certification in Community Health Nursing and a Certificate Advance Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Health Professions Education. Her background and clinical expertise is in Public Health Nursing and Environmental Health with a focus on policy and the underserved and minority population. LaDonna spent 17 years in public health working with HIV, STI, and TB patients. She began teaching at Brockton Hospital School of Nursing, but has also taught at South Shore Regional Technical, and Coppin State University School of Nursing in Baltimore MD.  LaDonna is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Theta Kappa Chapter at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Theta at Large Chapter at Simmons College, The Mary Mahoney Nursing Honor Society, American Nurses Association, and Chi Eta Phi Black Nurses Association, The National Black Nurses Association and the New England Regional Black Nurses Association.  Some of her presentations include the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators conference in Hartford CT (ACHNE), Society of Public Health Educators conference in Boston MA (SOPHE), The M. Elizabeth Carnegie Research Conference at Howard University Washington DC, Robert Wood Johnson New Careers in Nursing Conference in Washington DC, The University of the Virgin Islands Health Disparities Conference, the Hawaii International Conference on Education in Honolulu Hawaii, the National Black Nurses Association 40th and 41st Annual Conferences and the Organization of Nurse Educators Leadership Training.

Brue Tis

Bruce Tis

Bruce Tis is a computer engineer having worked at Digital Equipment Corporation before entering academia. He joined the Simmons College faculty in 1998 after spending 11 years on the faculty at Boston University teaching graduate students in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems MS degree programs. He specializes in computer networks, computer and network security, operating systems, and database management systems. He has done research in distributed operating systems and is also interested in computer science education having published papers on curriculum design and computer science pedagogy and conducted workshops on computer security. Most recently he has spend considerable time designing, developing and teaching online courses.

Masato Aoki

I started my own college education as a pre-med major. (Guess what my parents did.) In my second semester, I discovered economics, and I’ve been a student of economic systems ever since. I continue to be fascinated by the dynamics that subject the economy to instability and even crisis; competing economic theories, from those that celebrate market outcomes to those that problematize class; economics as a window into social justice issues; and education reform movements as reflections of economic priorities. While I did not become a physician, I have devoted my life to studying the physiology and metabolic system of an important patient: the economy.

I love teaching as a craft, as a way to inspire students, and as a way to be inspired by students and colleagues. The classroom is a sanctuary, and time preparing for class and helping students pursue their own research is precious. Teaching extends to working one-on-one with students during office hours and engaging in intellectual play with the Economics Student Liaison (similar to economics “clubs” at other institutions). I also take great pleasure in advising students, which for me means helping them (1) discover their passions, (2) figure out what difference they want to make in the world and how to prepare to make that difference, and (3) navigate Simmons and Boston to get to most out of their college experience.