Kristie Thomas

Professor and PhD Program Director

Kristie A. Thomas, PhD, MSW, is a Professor and the Ph.D. Program Director at Simmons University School of Social Work. Dr. Thomas has extensive practice, teaching, and research expertise in the field of anti-violence. Her work is focused on developing solutions to improve outcomes for people affected by intimate partner violence – particularly those who are economically and socially marginalized. In addition to many peer-reviewed articles, Dr. Thomas has authored online trainings, toolkits, and validated measures that are used widely by researchers and practitioners across the country. She is a recipient of the National Institute of Health's, Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program, a highly competitive award that supports the research of health professionals.

Dr. Thomas teaches at the master and doctoral level in the School of Social Work, mentors Ph.D. students in their dissertation work, and provides graduate students with research opportunities on her many current projects. Additional teaching interests include program evaluation, community organizing and development, and public health frameworks. Dr. Thomas is deeply dedicated to teaching, explaining that, "I will be forever indebted to my professors at the University of Pennsylvania; their wisdom, expertise, and constant quest for excellence and innovation – within themselves and among their students – continue to inform my research and teaching. My goal is to offer the same quality of training to my own students." Dr. Thomas is the recipient of two teaching awards: The Provost Award for Student-Centeredness in Graduate Teaching (2017), and the SAGE/American Evaluation Association Early Career Excellence in Teaching Award (2019).

Dr. Thomas serves the community and profession locally and nationally. In 2011, she co-founded the New England-based Domestic Violence Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative (DVPERC), which is comprised of over a dozen domestic violence programs and a handful of researchers spanning social work, psychology, and medicine. One of DVPERC's many projects led to the development of MOVERS (the Measure of Victim Empowerment Related to Safety), a validated outcome measure that has been adopted widely for research and evaluation purposes.

Prior to joining the Simmons faculty, Dr. Thomas served as assistant director of the Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships at the University of Pennsylvania and a research consultant for the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. She received her MSW and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice.


  • Ph.D. (Social Welfare), University of Pennsylvania
  • M.S.W. (Macro Practice), University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S., Psychology and Sociology, St. Joseph’s University


  • SW482: Domestic Violence and Family Welfare (clinical elective)
  • SW509: Evaluation in Social Work Practice (MSW required course)
  • SW 610: Social and Behavioral Theory (PhD required course)

Research/Creative Activities

Dr. Thomas conducts applied, community-based, and interdisciplinary research on the topic of intimate partner violence. She is currently completing a large-scale evaluation of a permanent housing program for IPV survivors in New York. She recently completed a research study funded by the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network that focuses on Responsible Fatherhood Groups as a vehicle for domestic violence education and prevention as well as an innovative pilot project called SASH (Survivors Achieving Stable Housing). Other recent collaborative research projects include the development of an online training for practitioners who work with people affected by intimate partner violence, and an online toolkit for emerging researchers on conducting community-based participatory research with members of the domestic violence community.

Recent grant funding

  • 2022-2023 Subrecipient Principal Investigator. (PI: Dr. Jill Messing of Arizona State University). Survivor Link + Public Health AmeriCorps Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Corporation for National and Community Service. ($1,000,000 total; $37,613 awarded to Simmons).
  • 2022-2024 Lead Evaluator. New Destiny Housing’s Emergency Housing Voucher Aftercare Program Evaluation. Funds from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, ($592,000 total; $100,000 for evaluation) awarded to New Destiny Housing Inc.
  • 2021-2026 Co-PI (with Dr. Melinda Gushwa). Institute for Trauma Treatment in Schools. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, $2,929,617.
  • 2020 – 2022 Lead Evaluator. School of Social Work Expansion of Practitioner Education Professions. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, $196,591.
  • 2020 – 2021 Lead Evaluator. Evaluation of New Destiny Housing Inc.'s Family Support Program. Funds ($50,000) from NY Community Trust awarded to New Destiny Housing Inc.
  • 2018-2019 Principal Investigator, Center for Policy Research, Fatherhood and Research Practice Network. Responsible Fatherhood Groups and domestic violence education: An exploratory study of current practices, barriers, and opportunities. $25,409.
  • 2017-2020 Co-Lead Evaluator (with Jill Messing). Survivors Achieving Stable Housing (SASH): Implementation and Evaluation. Funds ($70,000) awarded to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.


Select Recent Peer Reviewed Publications

* Indicates author was a graduate student at time of writing

Thomas, K.A., & Mederos, F. (2021). "You gotta make them feel": A study of evidence-informed strategies for addressing domestic violence in fatherhood programs. (Eds. J. Fagan & J. Pearson). New Research on Programs for Low-income Fathers. New York: Routledge.

Messing, J. T., Thomas, K.A, Ward-Lasher, A.* & Johnson, J. (2021). Survivors Achieving Stable Housing (SASH): A case study. Social Work, 66(1), 49-58. DOI: 10.1093/sw/swaa046.

Thomas, K. A., Messing, J. T., Ward-Lasher, A.,* & Bones, A. (2020). No easy decisions: Developing an evidence-informed process to allocate Housing Choice Vouchers to survivors of intimate partner violence. Housing Policy Debate, 30, 783-805.

Thomas, K. A., Ward-Lasher, A.,* Kappas, A.,* & Messing, J. T. (2020). "It actually isn't just about housing": Success in a Domestic Violence Housing First Program. Journal of Social Service Research. Advance Online publication, March 30, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2020.1745349

Ragavan, M., Thomas, K. A., Fulambarker, A., Zaricor, J.*, Goodman, L. A., & Bair-Merritt-M. (2020). Exploring the needs and lived experiences of racial and ethnic minority domestic violence survivors through community-based participatory research: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 21, 946-963. DOI: 10.1177/1524838018813204

Brewer, N.Q.* & Thomas, K.A. (2019). Impediments to academic performance among undergraduate survivors of intimate partner violence. Social Work in Healthcare, 58, 854-869. DOI: 10.1080/00981389.2019.1659905

Thomas, K. A., Mederos, F., & Rodriguez, G.* (2019). "It shakes you for the rest of your life": An exploratory study of low-income fathers' understanding of domestic violence and its impact on children. Psychology of Violence, 9, 564–573.

Ragavan, M., Thomas, K. A., Medzhitova, J.,* Brewer, N. Q.*, Goodman, L. A., & Bair-Merritt-M. (2019). A systematic review of community-based participatory research interventions for domestic violence survivors. Psychology of Violence, 9(2), 139-155. DOI: 10.1037/vio0000183

Sattler, L.,* Thomas, K. A. & Cadet, T. L., (2019). Reactive protection? Fear, victimization, and school violence among U.S. high school students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 34, 3666-3690. DOI: 10.1177/0886260516672054

Thomas, K. A., Goodman, L. A., Barkai, R., Collins-Gousby, D., Heimel, D., & Schon-Vainer, E. (2018). Conducting ongoing and regionally focused community-based participatory research: The story of the Domestic Violence Program Evaluation Research Collaborative (DVPERC). Journal of Family Violence, 33(8) 537-549. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-018-9978-z

Goodman, L., A. Thomas, K. A., Cattaneo, L. B., Heimel, D. Woulfe, J.,* & Chong, S. K.* (2016). Survivor-defined practice in domestic violence work: Measure development and preliminary evidence of link to empowerment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31(1), 163-185.

Thomas, K. A., Goodman, L., A. & Putnins, S.* (2015). "I have lost everything:" Trade-offs of seeking safety from intimate partner violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85, 170-180.

Goodman, L., A. Cattaneo, L. B., Thomas, K. A., Woulfe, J.,* Chong, S. K.* & Smyth, K. F. (2015). Enhancing survivors' wellbeing through program evaluation: The Measure of Victim Empowerment Related to Safety (MOVERS). Psychology of Violence, 5, 355-366.

Brewer, N.Q.* Thomas, K.A., & Higdon, J. (2018). Intimate partner violence, sexuality, and academic performance among a national sample of undergraduates. Journal of American College Health, 66, 683-692. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1454929

Dichter, M. E., Thomas, K. A., Crist-Christoph, P. Ogden, S. & Rhodes, K. V. (2018). Coercive control in intimate partner violence: Relationship with women's experience of violence, use of violence, and danger. Psychology of Violence, 8, 596-604. DOI: 10.1037/vio0000158.

Goodman, L., Thomas, K. A., Nnawulezi, N., Lippy, C., Serrata, J. V., Ghanbarpour, S., Sullivan, C., & Bair-Merritt, M. H. (2018). Bringing community based participatory research to intimate domestic violence research: An online toolkit. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 103-107. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-017-9944-1.

Brewer, N. Q.* & Thomas, K. A., (2018). LGBTQ intimate partner violence. In Oxford Bibliographies in Criminology, (Ed. Beth M. Huebner). New York: Oxford University Press.

Thomas, K. A., Sorenson, S. B., & Joshi, M. (2016). "Consent is good, joyous, sexy": A banner campaign to market consent to college students. Journal of American College Health, 64(8), 639-650. DOI:10.1080/07448481.2016.1217869

Thomas, K. A., So, M.* (2016). Lost in limbo: An exploratory study of homeless mothers' experiences and needs at emergency assistance hotels. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 97(2), 120–131.

Reports and other Publications

Thomas, K. A. & Mederos, F. (2020, January). Responsible fatherhood groups and domestic violence education: An exploratory study of current practices, barriers, and opportunities. Denver, CO: Fatherhood Research and Practice Network.

Thomas, K. A., Coley, E., Chadwick, M., Devereaux, D., Melbin, A., Miller, E. E., Yu, L., Zaricor, J.* & Hubert, S. (2020). Simmons University MA Chapter 260 Training on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Available at

Thomas, K. A., Chadwick, M., Devereaux, D., Melbin, A., Miller, E. E., Yu, L., Zaricor, J.* & Hubert, S. (2017). Simmons School of Social Work Domestic Violence Training (3rd edition). Available at

Goodman, L., Thomas, K. A., Serrata, J. V., Lippy, C., Nnawulezi, N., Ghanbarpour, S., Macy, R. J., Sullivan, C., & Bair-Merritt, M. (2017). Bringing community based participatory research to domestic violence research: An online toolkit for emerging researchers. Available at

Miller, E. C., Goodman, L. A., Thomas, K. A, Peterson, A.,* Scheer, J.,* Woulfe, J.,* & Warshaw, C. (2016, June). Trauma-informed approaches for LGBQT* survivors of intimate partner violence: A review of the literature and a set of practice-based observations. Boston, MA: GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project.

Kristie Thomas in the News

A group of students in a classroom

Simmons School of Social Work Welcomes New Cohort to the Survivor Link Public Health AmeriCorps Program

October is National Domestic / Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month. This semester, Simmons University welcomes twelve Master’s in Social Work students into the Survivor Link + Public Health Americorps program, which trains Social Work students to work with survivors.

View of the cupola from the quad through trees

Twelve Simmons Faculty Members Receive Promotions, Tenure, and Emerita/us Status

Last month, the Simmons Board of Trustees finalized decisions concerning the promotion, tenure, and emerita/us status of select faculty members. We are pleased to congratulate the following faculty members for their outstanding accomplishments: Promotion to the rank of Professor Daren...

The cupola on top of the Main College Building at Simmons University in the fall.

Simmons Joins National AmeriCorp Public Health Program to Support Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Simmons University will be one of fourteen universities working with experts to improve the public health response. Simmons University School of Social Work announced today that is joining a grant-funded partnership with the Office of Gender-Based Violence at Arizona State...

The Simmons cupola against a blue sky

Simmons Releases Annual Report on Research for Fiscal Year 2019

Dear Friends of Simmons University, I am so pleased to have the opportunity to reflect on the role of research at Simmons University, and to offer this Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2019 that features the research accomplishments of faculty...

The Simmons academic campus

School of Social Work Launches New Domestic and Sexual Violence Training for Massachusetts Licensed Health Professionals

Online training helps health professionals meet state law Chapter 260 requirements and prepares them for work with survivors and others impacted by domestic and sexual violence.

Shout-outs from Students and Alums

Christa Perry ’23MSW

Simmons Alumna Shares the Challenges and Rewards of Mental Health Therapy

Christa Perry ’23MSW is a mental health therapist for Embark Behavioral Health, a national company that provides mental health treatment to teens and young adults. Based in Vienna, Virginia, Perry counsels individuals and families in the eight-week Partial Hospitalization Program and the 15-week Intensive Outpatient Program.

Kyle T. Ganson ’20PhD

Kyle Ganson ’20PhD Broadens the Gender Perspectives of Eating Disorders

Kyle T. Ganson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. As part of his studies at Simmons, he created the course “Social Work Assessment and Treatment of Eating Disorders,” to be taught in Spring 2024. We spoke to Ganson about his doctoral experience at Simmons and the inspiration behind the course.