Meet Our Faculty

Denise Hildreth
Gerald Benoit

Average class size: 18

Gary Bailey
Mary Wilkins Jordan

215

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

Jennifer Putney
faculty icon

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

Melanie Kimball
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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.


Gerald Benoit

Gerald Benoit

Professor Benoit directs the Information Science & Technology Concentration at SLIS and teaches undergraduate computer science, graduate information science, and doctoral-level classes. Prior to entering the academic world, he worked as a rare materials librarian, later settling into programming/analysis and even started the marketing firm, Imada Wong Park + Benoit. Prof Benoit’s work experience and research interests aim at improving the human experience through ethical, technically-informed, and purposeful application of information systems. Consequently, his service, research, and teaching activities integrate the sciences and arts of information. Students in his courses learn standards, hands-on competencies, interoperability of data, professional and scholarly communication to fulfill their own career interests while addressing real-world needs. His work is framed by the philosophy of language, aesthetics, computation, and the emancipatory use of technology. Working with colleagues, Benoit’s research studies the innovation and management of new systems.

Some research projects focus on multilingual issues; others on visual resources; some on digital object repurposing in data-rich settings. All are designed to let students participate and apply their knowledge to their own projects. Active projects include the information science virtual lab, innovation and information discovery, information aesthetics and visualization. The lab’s collections include images from the Boston Public Library’s digital collection, metadata records, social tags and expert text. The whole is a research platform to generate data for retrieval algorithm design, human information seeking behavior, and innovative interfaces.

Since 2004, Benoit has organized a research and discussion colloquium, referred to as the “Lunchtime Lectures”. In 2012, he proposed and lead the Simmons Study Abroad Program in Rome (2013) and Paris (2014).

Gerald Benoit's Curriculum Vitae

Richard Gurney

Dr. Gurney is an expert in the field of Green Chemistry Education, where he has been actively developing curricula for the past 13 years. He focuses his teaching and research on the applications of green chemistry and finding solutions for everyday problems using materials that are "benign by design." As the Principle Investigator and Director of the Undergraduate Laboratory Renaissance Program, funded in part by the W. M. Keck Foundation and the National Science Foundation, Dr. Gurney is currently studying the effectiveness of an entirely project-based, research-integrated, greener organic chemistry laboratory experience as one component of a completely re-engineered, undergraduate, green-laboratory curriculum. The ULR Program encompasses a fundamental reengineering of the undergraduate laboratory curriculum using the principles of green chemistry to expose students to the excitement of research beginning in their first-semester of their undergraduate career. The integrity of the knowledge learned within the ULR laboratory sequence has been maintained, while providing an environment for students to hone their higher-order cognitive skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. From 2008 – 2013, the W. M. Keck Foundation supported the effort to expand this pedagogy to course-based laboratories not only in Chemistry, but also in Physics and Biology, with a total of 9 faculty participants. Dr. Gurney is also highly active in the development of greener polymeric systems capable of closed-loop molecular recycling, in collaboration with Dr. Debora Martino at INTEC (Instituto de Desarrollo Tecnológico para la Industria Química) and the Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Santa Fe, Argentina. Funding in part to support undergraduate participation in this collaboration and research has been provided by the (Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina (CAI+D Tipo II PI 11-57), CONICET (PIP 112-200801-01079 and D-1280/2011) Argentina, the NSF OISE (#1031394), the Semiconductor Research Corporation Educational Alliance-Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and the Presidential Fund for Faculty Excellence at Simmons College for the financial support. Dr. Gurney is one of the 16 founding members of the Green Chemistry Education Network and one of the ten founding faculty Board Members for the Green Chemistry Commitment.

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


Nancy Lee

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

Leanne Doherty

Dr. Doherty received her PhD in Government with a concentration in Public Policy from Northeastern University after receiving a BA in Government from Clark University. As an undergrad, she had many different roles as a student, not unlike many of our students here at Simmons: captain of the Women’s Basketball team, member of the Admissions Staff, and explorer of the many academic opportunities that a liberal arts college has to offer.

Currently, Dr. Doherty serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences where she supports the Dean of CAS around faculty and student academic needs. These include areas such as general education, academic support, and majors/program curriculum. She is also the director of the graduate Program in Public Policy as well as the 3+1 accelerated program in Public Policy. 

A proud member of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Dr. Doherty’s teaching is centered around the American Political System, with a concentration on gender and politics, popular culture and public policy. She was honored to be named Professor of the Year by students in 2008 and received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising in 2009. 

She is also the co-host of the Sports Profs, a weekly sports talk radio show on Simmons College internet Radio. Each week, Dr. Doherty with Dr. Daren Graves from the Education department talk sports as it intersects with race, gender, and class. “Real talk, with an academic twist.” When not at Simmons, Dr. Doherty enjoys watching and playing all sports with her two partners in crime, husband Mark and son, Donovan. She also enjoys music, reading, and really bad television.

Mary Wilkins Jordan

Mary Wilkins Jordan

Mary Wilkins Jordan came to Simmons GSLIS from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she earned her doctorate. Prior to entering academia, Jordan worked in public libraries as a director and administrator. Her research and consulting work now focuses on ways to help libraries to function better and to serve their communities more effectively. She teaches Management and also Evaluation classes, as well as Public Libraries, Reference, and the Internship class, all with a focus on helping students acquire the skills they need to be successful in their professional careers. Jordan also has a J.D. from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and worked as an attorney before entering the library field.

Mary Wilkins Jordan's Curriculum Vitae

Richard Wollman

Richard Wollman is Professor of Creative Writing, Shakespeare, and 17th Century Literature. He is both a poet and a sculptor whose work may be viewed on his website

Professor Wollman is on the Advisory Board for the Mass Poetry Outreach Program at UMass Lowell as well as the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Newburyport. He is on the Executive Committee of the Powow River Poets and is a member of both the Newburyport Art Association and the John Donne Society.

Melanie Kimball

Melanie Kimball

Melanie Kimball, who began at GSLIS in Spring 2009, received her doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she also got her master's degree in library and information science. Kimball has published articles in Library Trends, Public Libraries, and Teacher-Librarian, among others.

Melanie Kimball's Curriculum Vitae


Donna Beers

Donna Beers is Professor of Mathematics at Simmons College where she has taught since 1986. At Simmons she has served as chair of the Mathematics Department as well as director of the Honors program.

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).