Title: Assistant Director, Doctoral of Social Work Program
Research interests: Death, Dying, and Bereavement; Women's Reproductive Rights; Adolescent Identity Development
Degrees: BA, Doctor of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania Master of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania Master of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
Courses taught: Literature Review and Case Study Modules; Bioethics; From Practice to Scholarly Thinking; Spirituality; Existential Theory and Thanatophobia
Tell us three interesting things about yourself that most people don’t know.
- I am a trained opera singer, having studied classical voice from the age of six (though these days I'm rusty).
- I am a Canadian
- My commercial self-help book, Grieving for the Sibling You Lost, is entirely based on my DSW dissertation.
What were the driving factors in your decision to join the Rutgers SSW faculty?
I love everything about the format and philosophy of the DSW, because it's really about turning seasoned clinicians into scholars that are disseminating important, practice-based information. I feel strongly about the importance of elevating the status of our brilliant social work practitioners and I believe that the portfolio created by students in the program is the best way to do that. Also, I was especially drawn here because I've been a fan of Judie McCoyd's research for some time now. The opportunity to work with her wasn't one I could pass up.
What drew you to the field of social work?
Back home in Toronto, my father is a labor lawyer and I was raised on the picket lines with union workers advocating for better wages and benefits. My dad was one of the first to negotiate same-sex healthcare benefits for professionals in Ontario and he's also been involved in mediating First Nations land claims between the government and Indigenous populations. So, from a very early age I was exposed to the importance of social justice and the value of community activism. Social work was a natural extension of this.
What do you do when you’re not teaching (i.e. other jobs, volunteer work, etc.)?
Caring for my three kids (currently ages four, three, and one), as well as for my three dogs and two cats. In my friee time, run and hike, and enjoying the beautiful nature trails by my home in Huntingdon Valley, PA.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
I'm all about self-deprecating humor and creating a comfortable, friendly environment for students. There's a lot of laughter in my classes and I welcome debate. I hope to be viewed as both a supportive coach and hopefully inspiring example of what they can accomplish with a DSW degree.
How do you see your role on campus, outside of teaching?
Strategic development of this terrific program, brokering strong relationships with other areas of the school, and being supportive of students and faculty alike.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not teaching?
Belting out show tunes on my commute from PA, writing, and working in small clinical practice.
What do you love most about your teaching at Rutgers SSW or the students you meet?
It's hard to identify just one thing. I've been here for three months and I love coming to work every day. There's an infectious energy and dedication to the social work profession, as well as a tremendous amount of pride for the school. It's hard not to get swept up in it.
What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in the field of social work?
Keep striving to learn. Find courses in areas of interest and soak up as much as you can. Challenge yourself to stay present and mindful when you feel uncertain or uncomfortable, and find a trusted supervisor to debrief with.