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Pictured left to right: Orion Mowbray, Trina Salm Ward, Tiffany Washington, Mary Caplan and Leon Banks

School of Social Work Welcomes New Faculty

Posted September 24, 2013
by Laurie Anderson

Athens, Ga. – The School of Social Work at the University of Georgia recently welcomed five faculty members to its ranks. Mary Caplan, Orion Mowbray, Trina Salm Ward and Tiffany Washington joined the School this fall as tenure-track assistant professors; Leon Banks joined as admissions coordinator for the master of social work program.

“This is an exceptional group of scholars and researchers,” said Dean Maurice C. Daniels. “The depth and breadth of their backgrounds, experiences, and interests not only reinforces the School’s support for cutting-edge social work research, instruction and practice, but also its commitment to social justice.”

Mary Caplan earned a doctorate and a master's degree in social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Oregon. She worked in the youth development field for nearly a decade after earning her undergraduate degree until her passion for economic justice motivated her to further her education. Her research interests include the relationship between social policy and consumer debt; predatory lending; and economic survival strategies of mental health consumers. Her teaching background includes social policy; community practice; social work research; community mental health; and poverty.

Orion Mowbray comes to UGA from the University of Michigan, where he earned a doctorate in social work and social psychology; master's degrees in social work and psychology; and a bachelor's degree in psychology. He also earned a master's in sociology from Eastern Michigan University. Raised by parents who were concerned with social justice issues related to poverty and mental health, his research interests include the role of social networks and other social phenomena, including stigma, prejudice and discrimination. His social work teaching interests include research methods; mental health assessment; human behavior/social environment; and quantitative methodology and data analysis.

Trina Salm Ward earned an interdisciplinary doctorate in health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she also earned a master's degree in social work. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin. Her research addresses the social, biological, and environmental aspects of infant mortality. Salm Ward’s social work teaching interests cover qualitative research methods; social and behavioral theory; and community (macro-level) courses. She holds a joint appointment with the College of Public Health and will oversee the new dual master’s degree in social work and public health.

Tiffany Washington earned a doctorate in social work and a bachelor's degree in communication studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master's in social work from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. At one time she considered a degree in law, but found that social work best integrated her concern for advocacy, research and social justice on behalf of underserved populations. Washington’s research interests include aging and chronic disease, health disparities, and intervention fidelity. Her teaching interests encompass aging and health; aging and public policy; social work practice in health care settings; health behavior theory; and service-learning.

Leon Banks is a familiar face at the UGA School of Social Work, having earned a doctorate at the School and served as a temporary assistant professor and part-time instructor. Banks received a master's in social work from Savannah State University and a bachelor's in psychology from Howard University. His background includes youth and prisoner counseling, 12 years as a clinical case manager for a family agency, and six years as co-owner of Equilibrium, a firm that offers social services. In addition to coordinating admissions for the master of social work program, Banks teaches graduate students, assists with practica placements, and provides liaison services to students in field practicums.

Founded in 1964, the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia prepares culturally competent practitioners and scholars to be leaders in addressing persistent and emerging social problems through practice, research, and policy. For more information, see www.ssw.uga.edu.