Meet Our Faculty

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Average class size: 18

Tien Ung
beal
ladonna

215

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

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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

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

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
Gerald Benoit
Martha Mahard
Michelle Putnam

Gregory Slowik

Music courses cover a wide range, including music history, theory, and performance (through an inter-institutional agreement with the New England Conservatory of Music.) The music program at Simmons is an academically oriented one designed for liberal arts students who study music as a humanistic pursuit; examining prevailing musical, social and expressive influences from diverse eras and cultures.

My professional life has been divided into two areas, performer and teacher. Luckily, one enhances the other. For many years I performed a great deal of piano solo repertoire, a piano concerto and chamber music with colleagues in Boston, around New England and beyond. A solo concert at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, will always remain a highlight, closely followed by a number of chamber music concerts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and a radio broadcast on Chamberworks, heard on WGBH Radio, Boston.

Teaching has always been my first love, however, and I have served on the faculty of a small, European-style conservatory, The Longy School of Music in Cambridge, and at a large research institution where I taught music theory for 10 years at MIT, also in Cambridge. But teaching music history and theory in a liberal arts college is my preferred academic venue and Simmons College and I have been together for many years.

Writings on music appear in the Journal of the Haydn Society of Great Britain and in Abafazi, a journal exploring women of African descent ("Marian Anderson: The Lady from Philadelphia Revisited.") I frequently judge piano competitions for private music schools, statewide piano competitions for the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Music Teachers Associations as well as national competitions for the National Music Teachers Association.

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Justin Beebe

Dr. Beebe joined the faculty at Simmons College in July 2013. He has been a physical therapist since 2000, and practiced primarily in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy settings.  He served as an assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of South Dakota for nearly five years after completing his PhD in Movement Science from Washington University in 2008.  Dr. Beebe has 13 peer-reviewed publications and 30 national and international presentations.  He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association where he serves as Chairman of the Section on Research Abstract Review Committee, and is a member of the Research Committee of the Orthopaedic section.  He is a manuscript reviewer for Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy Journal, and SportsHealth.

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. 


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Judy Beal

Dr. Beal has had many leadership roles in her 40 years as a nurse. She currently serves as Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College with responsibility for three nationally accredited academic programs. Prior to coming to Simmons in 1983, Dr. Beal taught at Boston University and Skidmore College. Dr. Beal has been a leader in nursing education since 1978. 

At Simmons she has 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 1 partnership 5 years ago to 8 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 she is further replicating these programs.

As a RWJ Executive Nurse Fellow from 2008-2011, she created a national forum on academic-practice partnership by successfully engaging a national association to identify this issue as a strategic priority. She 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.

She has 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, she has served as a two term elected board member and is the newly elected secretary of AACN, secretary and vice president of MACN, chair of the MARN Nominations Committee, and co-lead of the RWJF Massachusetts Action Coalition.

Dr Beal is widely published with more than 100 peer reviewed articles. Her well- funded program of research focuses on role development of neonatal nurse practitioners and for the past 15 years on the development of a model of clinical nurse scholars. She is sought after as a regional and national speaker. Dr. Beal is 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 is the Vice President of the MA Association of Colleges of Nursing, where she is active in the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Nursing and Allied Health Initiative. 

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.

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).

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.

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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.

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. . .

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.


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

Martha Mahard

Martha Mahard

Martha Mahard has more than three decades of professional experience with the Harvard University Libraries, including work in photography and visual collections at the Fine Arts Library, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard Theatre Collection of The Houghton Library. In addition to her numerous journal articles and presentations in the field of photographic archives, cultural heritage, and digital preservation, she is the co-author with Ross Harvey, of The Preservation Management Handbook: A 21st Century Guide for Libraries, Archives and Museums (published by Rowman and Littlefield in April 2014). With Michele Cloonan she was co-principal investigator for the IMLS (Institute of Library and Museum Services) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians grant which supported the development and implementation of the Cultural Heritage Informatics concentration. She has served as a consultant on major projects for museums and libraries, including the Worcester Art Museum and the Boston Public Library, and is a current board member at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Mahard received an M.A. in Theatre History from Tufts University, and her M.S. and D.A. from Simmons SLIS.

Martha Mahard'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.