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The Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) at the University of Houston prepares  diverse leaders in practice and research to address complex challenges and achieve sustainable social, racial, economic, and political justice, locally and globally, through exceptional education, innovative research, and meaningful community engagement. We are excited to connect with you!


Noteworthy 2017


We are proud to share the many accomplishments of our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community of supporters in the second annual edition of Noteworthy, our year end publication. Covering the the 2016-2017 academic year, Noteworthy showcases the very best of the UH Graduate College of Social Work.



  • Diverse Students. 56% Ethnic Minorities

    • 20 Languages Spoken within the College


  • 42%
    Bilingual or Multilingual 

  • 5 Research Centers 

  • 32 Active Research Projects 


X Suicide Assessment and Treatment, Second Edition

Empirical and Evidence-Based Practices

The most comprehensive and current evidence-based coverage of suicide treatment and assessment for mental health students and practitioners, this book prepares readers how to react when clients reveal suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The components of suicide assessments, empirically-supported treatments, and ethical and legal issues that may arise are reviewed. Vignettes, role play exercises, quizzes, and case studies engage readers to enhance learning.

About the Author:

Robin E. Gearing, PhD, LCSW is an Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Mental Health Research and Innovations in Treatment Engagement and Service at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Dr. Gearing’s research and clinical expertise focuses on improving the mental health outcomes of adolescents and young adults with serious mental illnesses, and their families. His research is driven by an interest in informing and improving engagement and adherence to empirically-supported psychosocial and medication treatment, and developing evidence-based interventions.

Dana Alonzo, PhD, LCSW is an Associate Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service and a Founder and Director of the Suicide Prevention Research Program. She has many years of clinical experience working with individuals with suicidality in a variety of settings. Dr. Alonzo's research focuses on examining risk and protective factors related to suicidal ideation and behavior and developing interventions aimed at facilitating the treatment engagement and adherence of individuals at risk for suicide

X Political Social Work

Using Power to Create Social Change

This social work book is the first of its kind, describing practical steps that social workers can take to shape and influence both policy and politics. It prepares social workers and social work students to impact political action and subsequent policy, with a detailed real-world framework for turning ideas into concrete goals and strategies for effecting change. Tracing the roots of social work in response to systemic social inequality, it clearly relates the tenets of social work to the challenges and opportunities of modern social change. The book identifies the core domains of political social work, including engaging individuals and communities in voting, influencing policy agendas, and seeking and holding elected office. Chapters elaborate on the necessary skills for political social work, featuring discussion, examples, and critical thinking exercises in such vital areas.

About the Author:

Suzanne Pritzker, PhD is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she teaches courses in policy analysis and advocacy in the MSW and PhD programs. Her research focuses on young people’s civic engagement and on strategies to increase political participation. She has authored over 20 publications on topics specifically related to policy and civic engagement. Her political social work experience includes working as a Virginia Governor’s Fellow, as an appointee in the Office of the Virginia Secretary of Education, and as an analyst with the Virginia General Assembly. Suzanne earned her BA in History and M.Ed. in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia, MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a PhD in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. At the University of Houston, she coordinates the College’s Austin Legislative Internship Program, through which graduate social work students are competitively selected to intern full-time in the Texas Legislature, founded and leads a monthly Policy Insider Series that brings social work policy experts to campus monthly, and chairs the College’s Political Social Work Specialization. She is a member of the Council on Practice Methods and Specializations with the Council on Social Work Education, an ally of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work, and a member of the board of Influencing Social Policy (ISP).

Shannon R. Lane, LMSW, PhD is Associate Professor at the Adelphi University School of Social Work, where she teaches policy and research in the BSW, MSW, and PhD programs. Her research includes efforts to increase the political involvement of social workers and underserved populations and her advocacy focuses on issues such as health care access and gender based violence. Her political social work experience includes eight years with Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. Shannon earned her BA in Psychology from George Washington University, MSW from the University of Michigan, and PhD in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She is affiliated with the Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut, where she contributes to the Annual Campaign School for Social Workers, an evaluator of the Voter Empowerment Program, and chairs the Board Committee on Research. She is also a member of the Council on the Status and Role of Women in Social Work Education with the Council on Social Work Education, an ally of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work, and a member of the advisory board of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP).

X From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy

A Human Rights History and New Fertility Frontiers

Intercountry adoption has undergone a radical decline since 2004 when it reached a peak of approximately 45,000 children adopted globally. Its practice had been linked to conflict, poverty, gender inequality, and claims of human trafficking, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (HCIA). This international private law along with the Convention on the Rights of the Child affirm the best interests of the child as paramount in making decisions on behalf of children and families with obligations specifically oriented to safeguards in adoption practices. In 2004, as intercountry adoption peaked and then began a dramatic decline, commercial global surrogacy contracts began to take off in India. Global surrogacy gained in popularity owing, in part, to improved assisted reproductive technology methods, the ease with which people can make global surrogacy arrangements, and same-sex couples seeking the option to have their own genetically-related children. Yet regulation remains an issue, so much so that the Hague Conference on Private International Law has undertaken research and assessed the many dilemmas as an expert group considers drafting a new law, with some similarities to the HCIA and a strong emphasis on parentage. This ground-breaking book presents a detailed history and applies policy and human rights issues with an emphasis on the best interests of the child within intercountry adoption and the new conceptions of protection necessary in global surrogacy. To meet this end, voices of surrogate mothers in the US and India ground discourse as authors consider the human rights concerns and policy implications. For both intercountry adoption and global surrogacy, the complexity of the social context anchors the discourse inclusive of the intersections of poverty and privilege. This examination of the inevitable problems is presented at a time in which the pathways to global surrogacy appear to be shifting as the Supreme Court of India weighs in on the future of the industry there while Thailand, Cambodia and other countries have banned the practice all together. There is speculation that countries in Africa and possibly Central America appear poised to pick up the multi-million dollar industry as the demand for healthy infants continues on.

About the Author:

Nicole F. Bromfield, is Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. Her research interests are on women and children’s health and social wellbeing, with most projects being driven by community needs with the desired outcome being social policy change. She has a PhD in public policy with a specialization in social and health policy and holds an MSW with a community organization concentration. Bromfield’s dissertation research was on the development of federal human-trafficking legislation in the USA, where she interviewed over 20 key policy players involved in its making. She has published on issues relating to human trafficking and has more recently taken an interest in global surrogacy arrangements, as well as social issues occurring in the Arabian Gulf nations.

Karen Smith Rotabi is Associate Professor of Social Work at the United Arab Emirates University. Her work combines historical, sociological, and ethical dimensions in a policy analysis framework, especially considering the human rights of vulnerable populations. She has published extensively on intercountry adoption and relevant laws, particularly focused on the USA and its powerful interface with impoverished countries such as Guatemala where she has worked in a variety of initiatives to include rural health promotion programming for children. Her research agenda is focused on global social work practice, child protection, and family support, to include families impacted by war. She has consulted on child-protection initiatives in a number of countries including Belize, India, and Malawi and co-edited the 2012 book Intercountry Adoption: Policies, Practices, and Outcomes, which was awarded a Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2013. Rotabi was involved in the early stages of USA implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption as she assisted in the accreditation process from 2008-2012, evaluating dozens of US-based adoption agencies to ensure that they were effectively practicing within international standards. More recently, she has turned her attention to commercial global surrogacy as a replacement for intercountry adoption. Today, Rotabi’s service work in this area includes joining an expert group on child rights and global surrogacy, convening under the leadership of International Social Services in Geneva, Switzerland.

X Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families

Culturally Responsive Practice

Designed for students of social work, public policy, ethnic studies, community development, and migration studies, Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families provides the best knowledge for culturally responsive practice with immigrant children, adolescents, and families. This textbook summarizes the unique circumstances of Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino, South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern immigrant and refugee populations and the challenges faced by the social service systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, education, health, and mental health care, that attempt to serve them. Each chapter features key terms, study questions, and resource lists, and the book meets many Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) competencies. The book addresses the policy landscape affecting immigrant and refugee children in the United States, and a final section examines current and future approaches to advocacy.

About the Author:

Alan J. Dettlaff is Dean and Maconda Brown O'Connor Endowed Dean's Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston.

Rowena Fong is the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and president of the Society for Social Work and Research. With Alan J. Dettlaff, Joyce James, and Carolyne Rodriguez, she is the editor of Addressing Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Human Services: Multisystemic Approaches (Columbia, 2014).

X Addressing Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Human Services

Multisystemic Approaches

The issue of racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, particularly as it impacts African American children and families, has long been a concern to practitioners and policymakers. However, disproportionality is not limited to the African American community. Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander populations experience inequities in treatment. From leading voices on culturally-competent care comes a cutting-edge book that examines disproportionalities across all of these racial and ethnic groups.

Eliminating Racial Disproportionality and Disparities examines a wide range of systems that often affect and interact with child welfare. Chapters are devoted to the juvenile justice system, mental health, the courts, education, and healthcare, making it the only book to offer a multisystemic approach to disparities and disproportionality. Filled with in-depth case studies, key terms, study questions, and resources, and written to reflect CSWE-mandated competencies, this expansive book gives students, educators, policymakers, practitioners, and administrators new knowledge for providing culturally competent services while simultaneously addressing disproportionality across various systems of care.

About the Author:

Alan J. Dettlaff is associate professor in the Jane Adams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for African Americans and Latinos. He is cochair of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, a coalition of individuals and organizations focused on the needs of immigrant families involved in the child welfare system. Dettlaff is an Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy faculty fellow; a member of the Child Welfare League of America National Advisory Council on Cultural Competence and Disproportionality; and editorial board member for Child Abuse & Neglect and Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Rowena Fong is the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and president of the Society for Social Work and Research. The author of seven books, she writes often on disproportionality and serves on the Austin Disproportionality Advisory Committee and the Texas Health and Human Services Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities Taskforce. She received the 2008 Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education Award from the Council on Social Work Education and has served on the editorial boards of Social Work, Journal of Social Work Education, Research and Social Work Practice, and Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work. She is currently serving on the editorial boards of Child Welfare, Journal of Public Child Welfare, and Religion and Childhood.

Joyce James is the former associate deputy executive commissioner of the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities and the Texas State Office of Minority Health at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As a thirty-four year professional in child welfare and health and human services, she has been an influential voice on institutionalized racism as the root cause of disproportionality and racial inequities in systems serving children and families. Her work was the driving force behind Senate Bill 6 of the 79th Legislative Session, which made Texas the first state to establish a statute to address disproportionality. As the former Texas Child Welfare Director, she implemented a community engagement model currently referred to as the Texas Model for Addressing Disproportionality and Disparities that has proven effective in decreasing disproportionality for African American and Native American children and improving overall outcomes for all populations. She consults and speaks on this topic across the country and is the recipient of local, state, and national awards for her work.

Carolyne Rodriguez has worked in the child welfare field since 1970, with her most recent work focusing on broad, systemic changes in such areas as all stages of child protective services; kinship and transition services; and impacting disproportionality and disparate outcomes of children of color in the child welfare system and other related systems. She directed the systems improvement work for Casey Family Programs in Texas from 2002 through May 2013. Texas Strategic Consulting involved a collaborative effort between Casey and the state child welfare system as well as numerous stakeholders and other systems. Ms. Rodriguez retired from Casey Family Programs May 31, 2013, after more than twenty-eight years of service to the organization.

Dr. Alan J. Dettlaff

Strategic Plan

The GCSW Strategic Plan is a reflection of the talents of our dedicated faculty, students, staff, alumni, donors, community partners, and friends. It purposefully charts our course for the next five years. Together, we adopted a vision for the College that defines the work that we do: To achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global. We invite your feedback on the plan, which is designed to outline to our community who we are, where we are, and where we are going.