Meet Our Faculty

Becky Thompson
Ellen Grabiner

Average class size: 18

Laura Saunders
Niloufer Sohrabji
Lowry Pei
Heather Hole
Gerald Benoit

215

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

Kathleen Millstein
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Student-to-faculty
ratio of 10:1

Michelle Putnam
Hugo Kamya
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“The faculty are extremely accessible. There’s the sense that we’re here for common goals.”

Kara Mellonakos '15HCMBA

Arlene Lowenstein
Justin Beebe
Diane Grossman
Tien Ung
Becky Thompson

Becky Thompson

Becky Thompson, Ph.D. is a scholar, poet, activist, and yoga teacher whose work focuses on trauma and healing. She is the author of several books on social justice including Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for those Healing from Trauma, When the Center is on Fire: Passionate Social Theory for Our Times, (co-author, Diane Harriford); Mothering without a Compass: White Mother’s Love, Black Son’s Courage; A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: A Multiracial View of Women's Eating Problems, A Promise and a Way of Life and a recently published book of poetry, Zero is the Whole I Fall into at Night.  She is Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Simmons College and has taught at Duke University, Wesleyan University, the University of Colorado, Bowdoin College, and elsewhere. She has received numerous honors and awards, including from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for University Women, the Ford Foundation, Political Research Associates, the Creative Justice Poetry Prize, and the Gustavus Myers Award for Outstanding Books on Human Rights. Becky is a senior level yoga teacher (RYT-500) and teaches at conferences, workshops, in college classes, and community centers internationally and nationally.

Becky Thompson CV

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.

Laura Saunders

Laura Saunders

Laura Saunders received her master's from Simmons College GSLIS in 2001, and after working as a reference and instruction librarian for several years returned to Simmons College and completed her PhD in 2010. She teaches courses in reference and information services, user instruction, services...

Niloufer Sohrabji

Niloufer Sohrabji

As a college student I was drawn to economics because it taught me how to think about, and address the many challenges that ail our world. I became an educator because I wanted to share this knowledge and inspire my students to make a positive difference in the world.

Lowry Pei

Lowry Pei

I grew up in St. Louis, got my B.A. in English at Harvard (1967) and my Ph.D. at Stanford (1975). I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. I came to Simmons in 1985 after teaching at the University of Missouri, UC San Diego, and Harvard’s Expository Writing Program. Despite having done a dissertation on Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels, I didn’t become a Victorianist; instead I’ve spent my career teaching writing. At Simmons I was director of Freshman Writing, later called Writing and Thinking, from 1985 to 1996, and then directed MCC, the first-year core/writing course, from 1996 to 1999. In 2004-2006, I led faculty workshops and seminars on teaching writing as part of the “Writing Infusion” initiative, whose goal is to have writing-intensive courses offered in all majors. I chaired the English Department 2002-2007.

I currently teach creative writing, both fiction and non-fiction, and Approaches to Literature, otherwise known as spring training for English majors.

Heather Hole

Heather Hole

Heather Hole is Assistant Professor of Arts Administration and Art History in the Department of Art and Music at Simmons College. She is the author of the book Marsden Hartley and the West: The Search for An American Modernism, published by Yale University Press, and the curator of the traveling exhibition of the same name. In her previous position as curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, she played a key role in planning and installing the new Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in November of 2010. 

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

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. 


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.

Justin Beebe

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.

Diane Grossman

Diane Grossman

Diane Grossman received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from New York University, where she was an Ida Parker Bowne Scholar. She is a Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and Philosophy and Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department. Grossman has served Simmons as Chair...

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.