FACULTY AND STAFF
Ginneh L. Akbar, MSW, DSW, LSW
Program Director, Department Chair, Associate Professor
- Child welfare social work
- Social work and social media
"It's my charge to make my personal and professional time relevant and significant. West Chester is a good place for that because the school's values align well with my teaching philosophy. WCU genuinely cares, and it comes through in every facet of student interaction."
Page Walker Buck, MSS, PhD, LSW
Graduate Coordinator and Assistant Department Chair - West Chester Campus, Professor
- Veterinary social work
- The human-animal dynamic
- Traumatic brain injury
"The first day I drove into the parking lot of my MSW program, I knew I was home. It was exactly where I belonged and has been so ever since."
Casey Bohrman, MSW, PhD
Graduate Coordinator and Assistant Department Chair - Philadelphia Campus, Assistant Professor
- Intersections between the criminal justice and mental health systems
- Motivational interviewing
- Use of social media to influence social change
"What I love most about being a social work educator is that I never stop learning. My students constantly inspire me. Together we learn constantly new things from each other."
Wan-Yi Chen, MSW, MPhil, PhD
- Children and adolescents
- Victimization experiences and reaction to trauma
- Environmental impact in the person, family, and community
"As much as I enjoyed working in the field, I realized very early on that I could make a bigger impact as a professor; as a professor I could develop programs and set the pace for future social workers."
Christina Chiarelli-Helminiak, MSW, PhD
- Organizational factors that affect job satisfaction and burnout
- Integration of human rights in social work curricula
- Immigrant civic engagement
- Children's and women's rights
"In order to live together as a global society that appreciates peace, we must become aware of what limits peace."
- Trauma narratives
- Trauma-informed practice
- Clinical social work with urban youth
- Arts-based approaches
"Where there are stories of trauma, there are also stories of strength and resilience. As social workers, we can provide strengths-based, trauma-informed support to clients, communities, and systems in a way that acknowledges barriers while also making space for resilience and hope."
Linda Ello, MSW, PhD, LCSW
- Mental Health
- Child Welfare
- Family Therapy
- Social Work Education
- Play Therapy and Other Expressive Therapies
- Psychotherapy with Individuals and Couples
Erin Hipple, MA, MSW, PhD, LCSW
Research/Scholarship interests include:
- social worker experiences of negotiating clinical and activist practices
- liberation-based social work practice modalities
- resilience and healing in LGBTQ+ and alternative sexuality communities
- sex positive treatment of sexual trauma
- radical self-love and community care
“I am committed to co-creating educational spaces with students that center an ethic of care, pleasure + joy, somatic and emotional awareness, and expansive practices of consent in the pursuit of sustainable futures. I believe we can show up in all our messy humanness, disagree and discuss with dignity, and continue to move together in the direction of individual and collective liberation.”
Nia Johnson, Ph.D., LMSW
- Professional Identity
- Interdisciplinary collaboration in social work education and health awareness
- Job satisfaction
- Qualitative Research
“I believe that everyone deserves to live their absolute best life, and I’m committed to dismantling the barriers that interfere with that. The Social Work profession affords me diverse avenues to tackle those barriers.”
Angela Lavery, MSW, PhD, LCSW, FT
Associate Professor and the Graduate Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology
- Gerontology, Aging and Ageism
- End of Life Care and Grief/Bereavement Support
- Animal Assisted Interventions and Interactions
- Disability and Ableism
- Elder Abuse and Neglect
“I am passionate about recruiting students for the field of Aging Services and Gerontological Social Work. Every time I step onto campus and into the classroom, I am reminded of how grateful I am to work with such dedicated students and colleagues committed to social justice and human rights.”
Alison Updyke Neff, MSW, DSW, LSW
- Mass Incarceration & Prison Industrial Complex
- Organizational theory
- Harm reduction
- Practice areas: reentry support, medical social work, child welfare, mental health
Kerrie Ocasio, MSW, PhD
- Help-seeking and engagement in social services
- Foster care services and well-being outcomes
- Racial disparities in child welfare
- Implementation Science informed evaluations
- Practice-based service evaluation
"I'm thrilled to work in a department that consciously and deliberately works to support the students, while also providing them with a high-quality education that will prepare them to be leaders in the social work field."
Mia Ocean, MSW, PhD
- Access and equity in higher education
- Anti-oppressive, participatory qualitative research
- Applied research to enact structural and systemic change
"…I know it will take all of us working together to create positive change. Social work practice, whether in the field, classroom, or figurative laboratory, creates opportunities to fight for social justice in awesome and small ways, every day. We just need to join the fight."
Gwenelle O'Neal, MSW, DSW, LSW
- Community mental health services
- Multicultural resources
- Universal design to enhance student and consumer engagement and participation
"My interest in social work stems from the NAACP in the seventh grade during the civil rights movement. My community focus on democracy and economic development can be connected to that experience."
Julie Tennille, MSW, PhD, LSW
- Motivational Interviewing
- Role of intimacy and sexuality in mental health recovery
- Field education and pedagogical models to enhance workforce competence
"As a gay kid growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I learned a lot about what it was like to be an outsider. I've always connected to outsider identities. This led me to my profession and continues to shape the way I see the world and the depths of oppression and privilege that go unexplored."
Todd Vanidestine, MSW, MHR, PhD
- Racial & ethnic health inequities
- Anti-racism and anti-oppression social work
- Community organizing & organizations
“…experiencing interpersonal, institutional, and systemic injustices can often minimize the rich lessons found in our lived experiences. We often need to create supportive and liberated spaces, such as a classroom learning community, where we can gently remind each other of those inherent insights and our collective humanity. Doing so requires a mixture of relationship building, critical thinking, humility and accountable power sharing. And this is as much for me as it is for the people sharing the class experience with me because to be a good teacher, I must be a better learner.”
MSW Adjunct Faculty
MBA, MSS, LCSW, RYT
|Cornell Davis,III, MSW, LSW|
Jeanean Mohr, MSW
Assistant Director of Recruitment, Admissions, and Enrollment
"As a first-generation college graduate, I am intimately familiar with the value of higher education. I am thrilled to transfer my passion for education and social justice to the university setting and be surrounded by individuals dedicated to combating social and economic inequities."
Melissa Dziedzic, MSW
Director of Field Education, West Chester Campus
"It is an absolute honor to be able to fulfill my life purpose and mission by working with the next generation of social workers at West Chester University!"
Layna Smith, MSW
Director of Field Education/Adjunct Professor, Philadelphia Campus
“It is a pleasure supporting students in becoming the best social workers possible and even more rewarding to do it within an amazing department here at West Chester University!”
"As a WCU Alumni who studied Human Services and Psychology, I feel at home again working with the MSW faculty, staff and students. It's a pleasure to be a part of a department who prepares students for such noble work."