Meet Our Faculty

Valerie Leiter
botticelli

Average class size: 18

Katherine Jung Reis
Ben Cole
Cathryn Mercier
Paul Abraham
Naresh Agarwal

215

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

Tien Ung
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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

beal
Dana Grossman Leeman
Carole Biewener
Abbie Frost
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.

botticelli

Peter Botticelli

Peter Botticelli has a doctorate in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S.I. degree with a concentration in archives and records management from the University of Michigan School of Information. His most recent position was at University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science, where he directed the school's Digital Information Management (DigIn) graduate certificate program. Previously, he held research positions at Cornell University Library, the University of Michigan, and Harvard Business School. He has taught graduate courses on digital libraries, digital curation, scholarly communication, and digital preservation and has published research in history and archival studies.

Peter Botticelli's Curriculum Vitae

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.

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

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham was born and raised in Boston and was connected enough to the “Athens of America” to stay here for his degrees: his undergraduate studies at Boston College, his master’s at Boston University and his Doctorate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  He majored in French at BC and started traveling back then with a year in France and a semester in Mexico. His first position was teaching French and Spanish in Brookline, Subsequently, he spent a summer in Spain and a sabbatical in Japan, just after earning his TESL degree at BU.

After several years in Brookline, Abraham went on to teach international students and do administration at the Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) at Boston University. From there, he went to head up a similar program at Bradford College in Haverhill, MA.

After completing his doctorate in Reading and Second Language Acquisition at Harvard, he became a faculty member in the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language Program at Simmons. A few years later, he became the Program Director. 

Abraham’s first sabbatical in 2003 took him to the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH) as a Fulbright Scholar where he taught a graduate seminar in second language reading as well as an undergraduate course in applied linguistics.  The Fulbright was followed up by a Fulbright Alumni Award between USACH and Simmons College with faculty and student exchanges from 2004-2007.  

Abraham calls his second sabbatical his “Asian” sabbatical. In spring 2013, Abraham served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist for a month at Dong Thap University in Cao Lahn, Vietnam, where he taught undergraduates, English language faculty, and local teachers. His focus was on test taking skills and strategies.

He followed up with a trip to China with Primary Source where he visited migrant schools in Shi-an and Beijing.  At the end of the term, he was invited to Yamagata University in Yamagata, Japan, where he observed classes in public schools and universities and piloted a small research project on teacher attitudes towards teaching English.  

Currently, Abraham directs both the MATESL Program and the Language and Literacy Program, a Special Education language-based reading program, in the Education Department. 

Abraham is a frequent presenter at TESOL and he has coauthored, with Daphne Mackey, an ESL reading and vocabulary series, Contact USA, with Pearson as well as Get Ready: Interactive Listening and Speaking, a low-level listening and speaking book.

Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal

Naresh Agarwal, who joined the faculty in Fall 2009, earned his doctorate from the National University of Singapore (NUS)'s Department of Information Systems, School of Computing. His teaching areas are evaluation of information services, technology for information professionals, web development & information architecture, and knowledge management. Agarwal's research area is information behavior and knowledge management – the way people look for information and the contextual factors that impact their choice of information sources. He seeks to understand and synthesize the apparent contradictions in this phenomenon and tries to reconcile multiple perspectives – the user (context, seeking, sense-making, serendipity) versus systems/technology, theoretical and empirical studies, and a variety of contexts - office workers, medical residents, LIS students, faculty, librarians, toddlers, etc. His publications span these areas. Agarwal has held various leadership positions at ASIS&T - the Association for Information Science and Technology. He was a member of the ASIS&T Board of Directors from 2012-2014. Agarwal was awarded the ASIS&T James M. Cretsos Leadership Award in 2012. Prior to entering the doctoral program at NUS, he worked for six years in technology roles in the voice-over-IP, bioInformatics and digital cinema industries. Among other things, Agarwal has been a debater and public speaker and likes to paint in oil and watercolor in his free time. You can learn more about him at http://www.nareshagarwal.co.nr/.

Naresh Agarwal's Curriculum Vitae

Tien Ung

Tien Ung

I am a practice researcher - motivated by an unyielding sense of responsibility to capture best practice through collective action in the context of complex, diverse, and uncertain conditions amidst the face of high stress, significant risk, and competing demands.  I believe social workers are like social surgeons and as such are perfectly poised to lead social change, dissect and disrupt the status quo - relentlessly innovating to improve the lives of others.  The roots of my current scholarship can be traced directly to my practice and specifically to my previous career as a child protection social worker.  

My philosophy of teaching, my approach to scholarship, and my commitment to service can be summarized in three words: Engage, discover, and act.   This simple mantra scaffolds my own relentless pursuit of social change via effective knowledge management within non-linear and complex systems of care.  I aim to demonstrate the ways in which practice research can advance reality based teaching, stimulate community and user participation, and promote both service and learning in higher education.  Specifically, my research, teaching, and service inform best practice in the domain of culturally authentic, utilization focused, and community based participatory research.  

At the School of Social Work, I also direct the Urban Leadership Program, a community of engaged emerging leaders who work tirelessly with our local neighbors in order to seed possibilities through collective action.  Through these partnerships we form strategic alliances to develop leadership capacity.  In all that we do, we pledge to demonstrate how an institution of higher education can be a reliable, authentic, hard working, and trustworthy partner and ally.  In this endeavor we aim to contribute and promote knowledge and understanding about what leadership in the context of social work is, along with how it unfolds, evolves,  and works in urban communities. 


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!

Judith Aronson

Judith Aronson

Judith Aronson has been teaching graphic design at Simmons for seventeen years and has been a practicing designer and photographer for more than thirty years. Prior to Simmons she taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. Earlier in her career she was a program analyst in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in Washington, DC, served as a VISTA Volunteer in East Harlem, and worked as a city planner for the New York City Environmental Protection Administration. For fifteen years she lived overseas: three years in South East Asia and twelve in England where she was a photojournalist. Aronson holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Michigan and a MA in City Planning and a MA in Fine Art/Graphic Design, from Yale University.

Her special interests are typography, environmental design, and photojournalism. In 2003 she received a grant from the Colleges of the Fenway to teach the course Wayfinding: Design, Information Architecture and Public Spaces. Wayfinding is a specialty that applies design principles to information systems that help people move through complex urbanscapes — hospitals, airports, college campuses and the like. In 2006 Aronson had a one person retrospective in Boston of her color photographs, TACTILE |MERCANTILE, with pictures ranging from the young Mick Jagger, to the slums Harlem and the exotic scenery in South East Asia. In 2010 she published LIKENESSES, with the Sitters Writing About One Another, a book of black and white portraits of writers and artists. The book led to a number of exhibitions both in the US and England including at the Picture Gallery, Christ Church, Oxford, The Poetry Society, London and the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. A poetry competition sponsored by Bristol University in conjunction with the last show produced thirty poems each responding to one of her photographs. In 2015 the exhibition will move to the Cambridge University Library in England for twelve months.

Aronson’s photographs are held in collections at The National Portrait Gallery, London; Christ College, Cambridge; Keble College and Christ Church, Oxford University; Brotherton Library, Leeds University; and the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute), Washington, DC. Her work has been published in The Sunday Telegraph, England, the New York Review of Books, The Threepenny Review, Ms. Magazine, and the Boston Globe.

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Judy Beal

I have had many leadership roles in my 43 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. 

I received my BSN from Skidmore College, MSN from Yale, and DNSc from Boston University. I am a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice.

Dana Grossman Leeman

Dana Grossman Leeman

Program director and associate professor of practice Dana Grossman Leeman, MSW, PhD, is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Chapter of the International Association of Social Work with Groups (IASWG), and the co-chair of Symposia for the International Board of the IASWG. She is on the editorial advisory board of the journal Social Work with Groups and is a consulting editor for Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Dr. Leeman teaches Social Work with Groups, Advanced Clinical Practice, and Advanced Group Work with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations.

Carole Biewener

Carole Biewener

With a background in Economic Development and Political Economy and a joint appointment in Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies, Professor Biewener’s most current research interests address the political economy of food – a fabulous way of combining her love of gardening and food with her keen interest in community economies.

In 2013 she completed a long-term, collaborative research project with Marie-Hélène Bacqué (Professor of Urban Studies, Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre) that traced the genealogy of the term "empowerment" in the fields of gender and development, urban policy and social work. Publications from this research include “Feminism and the Politics of Empowerment in International Development” (forthcoming in Air and Space Power Journal–Africa and Francophonie); L’empowerment, une pratique emancipatrice (Editions La Découverte, 2013; Spanish translation forthcoming in 2015); and “Different manifestations of the concept of empowerment. The politics of urban renewal in the United States and Great Britain” (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, August 2012).

Prior research and publications have addressed community development and social economy projects in the United States and Canada, debates at the intersection of poststructuralist feminism and postmodern Marxism, and the French Socialist government's financial and industrial policies in the 1980s.

Currently Professor Biewener is an Associate Editor for Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society and she has served on the Editorial Board of Rethinking Marxism (1990-2001). In 2009 she co-organized (with Randy Albelda, UMass-Boston) the 18th Annual Conference of the International Association for Feminist Economics, “Engendering Economic Policy,” which was hosted by Simmons College.

Professor Biewener oversees the Economics Department Internship program, and was Coordinator for the interdisciplinary minor in Social Justice from 2004-2013.