MSW: Master of Social Work

West Chester University

West Chester Campus

Reynolds Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 267-386-3015

Faculty and staff

MSW faculty

image of Page Walter BuckPage Buck, MSS, PhD, LSW
Program Director, Department Chair and Associate Professor
Faculty Webpage

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Buck's primary research and advocacy work focuses on the experiences of mild traumatic brain injury among both survivors and practitioners. She is currently working with two MSW students on a qualitative study of the experience of rehabilitation workers in the mTBI field and recently had an essay published in the journal Neurology Now. Dr. Buck is also collaborating with West Chester University colleagues on the development of a model of field education in social work programs from a systems perspective.



Dr. Nadine M. Bean

Nadine M. Bean, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor
Faculty Webpage

Dr. Bean is a practitioner, researcher and teacher. Her commitment to underserved populations is best exemplified by her work in New Orleans' devastated Lower Ninth Ward, where she has set up a drop-in center for emotional, social, and spiritual support services. She is a disaster mental health services volunteer with the American Red Cross and has served on a number of disasters. Dr. Bean is also a trainer for the Red Cross in psychological first aid for military families and was president of the NASW-Pennsylvania Chapter between 2005 and 2007. Supporting her work in disaster settings is Dr. Bean's experience both in child welfare and in the use of a narrative approach to understand diverse populations.



Dr. Wan-Yi ChenWan-Yi Chen, MSW, PhD
Associate Professor
Faculty Webpage

Dr. Chen focuses on social work research related to children and adolescents. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, her work has documented the long-term effect of childhood neglect and personal victimization on individual developmental outcomes. Dr. Chen also evaluates innovative child welfare service delivery models and service outcomes and investigates organizational factors associated with social work research grant success.



Dr. Linda ElloLinda Ello, MSW, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor

Dr. Ello's work focuses on gerontology and research. She has an extensive and varied range of clinical experiences. Dr. Ello worked as a licensed clinical social worker for many years in a private psychiatric hospital, a community mental health center, and in private practice. She provided inpatient and outpatient services to individuals, couples, and families. Dr. Ello has been the chair of the research content area in the MSW Program for the past 11 years. She is currently working on a research initiative regarding infusing gerontology content into all MSW foundation courses.



Holbrook profile pictureAmber Holbrook, MSW, PhD, LSW
Assistant Professor

Dr. Holbrook’s clinical practice has focused on trauma, mental health, and intimate partner violence. She has served in supervisory and administrative roles in human service and advocacy organizations where her skills in program and policy development, grant writing, and participation in county and state task forces have improved services for individuals with mental illness and victims of intimate partner violence. Dr. Holbrook received her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. Her research has focused on substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders in pregnant and parenting women. She has published several articles on the treatment of opioid dependence during pregnancy, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and co-occurring mental health disorders in substance-using women.



Gwenelle O'nealGwenelle O'Neal, MSW, DSW

Faculty Webpage

Dr. O'Neal's areas of interest include community mental health services, multicultural resources, and universal design to enhance student and consumer engagement and participation. She has worked professionally and volunteered for various organizations focusing on educational, mental health, and community issues, in Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.



Michael PfeifferMichael Pfeiffer, MSS, MLSP, LCSW
Assistant Professor

Mr. Pfeiffer has taught at Bryn Mawr College and West Chester University in human behavior theory, human development, critical psychopathology, and social work practice, and has been a field liaison for 10 years. His clinical practice has focused on individual, couples, and family therapy, informed by structural family therapy, Imago Relationship Therapy, and narrative/deconstructive approaches. His current research investigates the role of psychiatric diagnosis in the reproduction of stigma for gender nonconforming people. Mr. Pfeiffer is especially interested in fostering the development of robust understandings of professional ethics among social work students and in the field. 



Tennille profile pictureJulie Tennille, MSW, PhD, LSW
Assistant Professor

Dr. Tennille has taught advanced clinical social work practice at the University of Pennsylvania since 2003 and also at Temple University in 2012 and 2013. Her research focuses on developing effective models for teaching evidence-based practice in social work, HIV prevention, and the role of intimacy in mental health recovery. She has worked in direct practice, services research, and administration in public mental health and HIV/AIDS services for more than 25 years. In recent years she has been part of a research team of therapists expertly trained to provide Motivational Interviewing to women in emergency room settings. Dr. Tennille is passionate about social justice, teaching, and continuing her lines of research and scholarship. She received her PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania. 



MSW staff

Lisa AllenLisa G. Allen, MSW, LSW
Director of Field Education

Ms. Allen has spent most of her career in the field of public and non-profit child welfare. She received a certification in Child Welfare through the University of Pittsburgh in 2001. One of her most recent positions in this field was her role as Student-Intern Coordinator for the Chester County Department of Children, Youth and Families, where she provided supervision and guidance to both BSW and MSW students. Ms. Allen has also worked for many years as a clinician with the sex offender population. She has additional experience working with the aging population in Chester County. She earned her MSW from Temple University and her BSW from Shippensburg University.



Victoria McDonald, MPAGraduate Social Work professor Victoria McDonald

MSW Recruiter

Ms. McDonald has worked in the social services field for 15 years. She came to non-profits after leaving the corporate world. Ms. McDonald is also a veteran, having served for eight years in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Most recently, she directed the social services department at The Salvation Army in West Chester. She has volunteered for most of her adult life, serving on executive committees, standing committees, and governing and advisory boards. Ms. McDonald is an advocate for differently-abled individuals and all marginalized populations and has written for several publications, including the MSW Program’s student-run journal, VOICES. She earned her bachelor’s degree in management and master’s degree in human resource management from West Chester University, and expects to finish her Master of Social Work degree at WCU in 2014.


image of Theresa SullivanTheresa Sullivan, MSW

Director of Field Education for Philadelphia

Ms. Sullivan collaborates with the MSW and BSW programs at West Chester as the Director of Field Education for Philadelphia. Her field experience in micro and macro practice, as well as social work research, has enhanced her passion for social justice, especially involving the critical and devastating crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. She was most recently a program manager at Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice. She has also worked in the fields of family homelessness policy advocacy and case management, school-based social work as a violence prevention specialist and sexual health educator, and in a peace and justice exchange program for teens. She earned her MSW at Temple University and an undergraduate degree in psychology at Fordham University.



Becky VanderMuelen Rebecca VanderMeulen
Department Secretary

Ms. VanderMeulen was a full-time freelance writer, specializing in higher education and business, before coming to West Chester. She volunteers with Chester County Futures and the undergraduate admissions office at American University. Ms. VanderMeulen is working toward her M.Ed. in School Counseling at West Chester University.



Adjunct faculty

Raymond BoldenRaymond Bolden, MSW, DSW

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Bolden's work focuses on social policy and the use of media in social work advocacy. He has more than 30 years of social work experience in the non-profit setting and is presently the executive director of the Salem County Inter Agency Council of Human Services, a multi-service organization in New Jersey. Dr. Bolden has also been a consultant and trainer in non-profit development, grant writing and administration. His current research is on community planning, the health and welfare of children and families, and ethics and values of social workers. He has also written extensively on the subject of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.


LaFortune profile pictureAswood M. LaFortune, MSW, DSW, LSW

Adjunct Professor


Dr. LaFortune is a licensed social worker with extensive experience in community mental health services, inpatient treatment, individualized treatment planning, case management, and discharge planning. Additionally, she provides individual, family, and group therapy with adults in various settings. Her areas of expertise include crisis intervention, major mental illness, correctional services, inpatient treatment, psychoeducation, and community social service.Her primary research interest includes the reintegration of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom into their communities after sustaining traumatic brain injuries in combat. Dr. LaFortune's dissertation topic explored the continued effect of traumatic brain injury on the daily lives of an OIF/OEF veteran and a civilian several years post-injury. She received her DSW from the University of Pennsylvania.



Mary LookingbillMary Lookingbill, MSW, LSW
Adjunct Professor

Ms. Lookingbill has more than 25 years of experience in direct practice, administration, and program development on the micro, mezzo and macro levels of service delivery. A great deal of her professional career has focused on children and families, attachment and childhood trauma. Most recently, she joined with a diverse group of professionals from across Pennsylvania to develop protocols for identifying and treating children and adolescents who misuse fire. Ms. Lookingbill belongs to the Pennsylvania State Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Advisory Group and is a consultant to the state, writing curricula and giving presentations on the topic. She is an adjunct lecturer and field instructor for Temple University Harrisburg, Millersville University, and Widener University. She is an invited speaker at various local, regional and national conferences. Ms. Lookingbill earned her MSW at the University of Kansas.



Leigh AnneLeigh Anne Mertz, MSW, LSW
Adjunct Professor

Ms. Mertz has been program director for the Delaware County Court Appointed Special Advocates Youth Advocates since 2007. CASA recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. She has spent most of her professional career in the child welfare arena, including employment with the Allegheny County CASA program and work experience in wrap-around mental health services and residential facilities. She has served a faculty field liaison for the MSW Program since 2011, as well as an adjunct professor at Eastern University. Ms. Mertz has an MSW, with a certification in Child Welfare, from the University of Pittsburgh.



Myers profile pictureMeg Myers, MSW, LCSW
Adjunct Professor

Ms. Myers is an outpatient therapist in a non-profit mental health agency in Wilmington, Del. Most of her professional experience has been working with at-risk youth as a family therapist in a dual diagnosis partial hospitalization program. She has also worked as a custody mediator for the Chester County court system. She is also trained as a yoga instructor and has taught yoga, meditation, and mindfulness skills in clinical practice to offer clients alternative ways to self-soothe, self-regulate, and find alternatives to substance use. Ms. Myers is interested in clinical work with trauma survivors, especially with regard to chronic childhood trauma. She earned her MSW from West Chester University and is working toward her DSW at the University of Pennsylvania. For her doctoral dissertation, Ms. Myers is working on a qualitative study exploring the impact of clinical work with traumatized clients on social workers.



Owens profile pictureCarlita Owens, MSW, LCSW
Adjunct Professor

Ms. Owens has more than 14 years of experience rich in direct practice, program development and implementation on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of service delivery. She brings a wealth of experience in working with culturally diverse populations. Since 2007, Ms. Owens has been the clinical supervisor of the Adult Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. She also conducts psychosocial evaluations for the Philadelphia Prison System. Her areas of interest are policies and programming that affect community re-entry among women with co-occurring disorders. Ms. Owens has an MSW from Temple University and is a doctoral candidate in the Social Work program at Widener University. She has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Social Work and Gerontology at Shippensburg University and the Center for Social Work Education graduate program at Widener University.



Stephen StoefflerStephen Stoeffler, MSW, LSW
Adjunct Professor

Mr. Stoeffler has experience in the fields of child welfare, probation and parole, older adult protective services, and family homelessness. He teaches in graduate and undergraduate social work programs in the areas of diversity, ethics, social problems, human behavior, spirituality, research, social work practice, programs and organizational development, and social and economic justice. His areas of interest include social work education, social and economic justice, poverty, race relations and macro practice. He was the recipient of the 2011 Kristin Bowser Young Social Worker of the Year Award, given by the National Association of Social Workers-Pennsylvania Chapter, for his contributions and leadership within the profession of social work. Mr. Stoeffler received his MSW from Temple University and his BSW from Shippensburg University. He is currently a PhD candidate at Widener University's Center for Social Work Education. 



Betty SurbeckBetty Surbeck, MSS, MLSP, PhD
Adjunct Professor

Dr. Surbeck has extensive experience in child welfare and mental health services. In addition to her teaching, she is currently working on several research projects including a study of how personal narratives of positive coping strategies impact the coping strategies individuals use in stressful situations. Her other work involves the integration of the social work values of social justice, integrity, dignity, and worth of the person in the social work practicum through an examination of social workers as moral agents. She is in the process of developing a research agenda to study patterns of healing and narratives approach to health.