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Biographies of Ph.D. Alumni Presenters

Valandra, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW

Valandra is a child welfare scholar with practice, advocacy, and research experience with families and service providers in child protection, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. Her research focuses on trauma and violence prevention with an emphasis on African American families experiencing poly-victimization.

Jennifer Simmelink McCleary, Ph.D., LMSW

Jennifer Simmelink McCleary completed her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work in 2013. She was an Assistant Professor at Tulane University School of Social Work from 2013 to 2017. She has practice experience in the fields of both addiction treatment and refugee mental health, as well as extensive experience in macro social work practice with refugee communities and related policy development. Her overarching research agenda focuses on community development and the development of culturally and linguistically relevant social supports for groups displaced by conflict. She works with refugee groups in displacement and resettlement settings to develop better understandings of the impact of conflict-related displacement on families and communities, as well as to enhance the re-development of displaced communities. Her work is founded on collaborative partnerships with refugee communities and utilizes participatory research approaches that emphasize swift translation from knowledge to practice. In Fall 2017 Dr. McCleary will join the University of Minnesota Duluth Department of Social Work faculty as an Assistant Professor.

Annette Semanchin Jones, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Annette Semanchin Jones is an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, State University of New York. Her research is focused on innovative approaches in child welfare that aim to strengthen child well-being and permanency. Her research projects include examining the implementation of differential response in child welfare, examining the risk factors, case practices, and policy implications related to chronic neglect, and promoting relational permanence and connections to caring adults for youth in foster care. Annette is a faculty collaborator with the Institute for Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care at the University at Buffalo. She recently worked on a collaborative project through the National Center for Social Work Trauma Education and Workforce Development (funded by SAMSHA). The focus of this project was to help build organizational capacity to implement evidence-based trauma treatments with children and families in the child welfare system. Annette was the recipient of the Children’s Bureau National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services Dissertation Award, for a study which focused on child safety and racial equity outcomes in the implementation of differential response. She is currently a member of the Disproportionate Minority Representation Committee through the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project. Annette also has over a decade of professional experience working with children and families in child welfare.

Iris PrettyPaint, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Dr. HeavyRunner-PrettyPaint is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and a descendant of the Crow Nation in Montana. She has more than 35 years of experience as a researcher, evaluator and educator. She is a leading authority on Native cultural resilience; indigenous evaluation methods; project planning and development; and student retention within American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Dr. PrettyPaint is experienced in providing training and technical assistance across a wide range of topics (e.g., community based engagement and strategic planning; service delivery system and community readiness assessment; capacity building and programmatic sustainability; suicide surveillance, prevention and postvention; youth violence and substance abuse; and community well-being) with tribes, grantees, and organizations. She is a practitioner of continuous quality improvement and provides direction for the enhancement of workforce skills and competencies; selection of evidence-, practice-, and culture-based interventions; and monitors data-driven progress toward achieving results. Dr. PrettyPaint holds her doctorate in administration/evaluation, a master of social work degree from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas.