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For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop


Elizabeth Lightfoot

Professor; Doctoral Program Director
Ph.D., Indiana University,
M.S.W., University of Minnesota
B.S. Santa Clara University

School of Social Work
Rm 105 PetersH

1404 Gortner Ave
Tel: 612/624-4710

Areas of Interest

Social Welfare Policy, Community Practice (Community Organizing and Advocacy), Disability Policy and Services, Gerontology, Child Welfare, Community Based Participatory Research, International Social Work, New Technology and Social Work

Liz Lightfoot is a Professor and the Director of the Doctoral Program at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Her main research interests are in the area of disability policy and services, and the intersections of disability with child welfare, aging, violence prevention and health.  She currently has several research projects underway exploring parental supports for parents with disabilities. She also has recently been involved in several community based participatory research projects related to refugee health.  Liz is very interested in international social work, and spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Namibia in 2008 where she has ongoing collaborations, is involved in developing the SSW's new International Specialization, and is coordinating the new MSW overseas placement in Namibia. Finally, she has been interested in how people and professionals have adopted new technologies into their lives and work, and is particularly interested in how technology has been used for broader social change both locally and internationally. The courses she teachers regularly include social policy and research courses in the PhD program, and community practice, community organizing, policy, management and new technology courses in the MSW program.  She also advises a number of doctoral students.

Selected Publications

  1. Lightfoot, E. (In Press).  Disableism. In Smelser, N. & Baltes, P. (Eds). International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Second Edition. Pergamon.

  2. Lightfoot, E. & Slayter, E. (In Press). Disentangling over-representation of parents with disabilities in the child welfare system: Exploring child maltreatment risk factors of parents with disabilities. Accepted in Children and Youth Services Review.

  3. Lightfoot, E. (In Press). Social work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In Solomon, P. (Ed.). Social workers’ desk reference. (3rd Edition). New York: Oxford University Press.

  4. Lightfoot, E.  (In Press). Children and youth with disabilities in the child welfare system.  In Mallon, G. & Hess, P.  (Eds). Child welfare in the 21st century: A handbook of children, youth, and family services: Practices, policies and programs.  New York: Columbia University Press.

  5. Simmelink, J., Lightfoot, E. , Dube, A., Blevins, J. & Lum, T. (2014). Health beliefs and practices of East African refugees: Views of East African community leaders and health care providers.  Accepted in  American Journal of Health Behavior.

  6. Lightfoot, E., Simmelink, J. & Lum, T. (2014). Asset mapping as a tool for community based participatory research in social work.  Social Work Research.

  7. LaLiberte, T. & Lightfoot, E. (2013).  Breaking down the silos: Examining the intersection between child welfare and disability.  Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7(5),  471-479.

  8. Ananias, J. & Lightfoot, E. (2012). Promoting Social Development: Building a Professional Social Work Association in Namibia.  Accepted in the  Journal of Community Practice.

  9. Lightfoot, E & LaLiberte, T. (2011) Parental Supports for Parents With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(5), 388-391.doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-49.5.388

  10. Hill, K., Lightfoot, E., & Kimball, E. (2011).  Independent living services for youth with disabilities as they transition from foster care. Child Welfare, 89(6), 62-81.

  11.  Lightfoot, E., Hill, K. & LaLiberte, T.(2011).Prevalence of children with disabilities in the child welfare system.  Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 2069-2075, DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.02.019.

  12. Lightfoot, E., LaLiberte, T. & Hill, K. (2010). Disability in the termination of parental rights and other child custody statutes. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34, 927-934.

  13. Lightfoot, E.& Kalomo, E. (2010).  The interplay of population aging and HIV/AIDS on social development in southern Africa: The case of Namibia. Social Development Issues, 32(1): 1-15.

  14. Haihambo, C. & Lightfoot, E. (2010). Cultural beliefs about disability in Namibia: Implications for inclusion of people with disabilities.  International Journal of Special Education, 25(3), 76-87.

  15. Hewitt, A., Lightfoot, E., Bogenschutz, M., McCormack, K., Sedlezky, L., & Doljanic, R. (2010).  Parental Caregivers’ Desires for Lifetime Assistance Planning for Future Supports for Their Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Journal of Family Social Work, 13(5).

  16. Lee, H., Park, E. & Lightfoot, E. (2009). When does a battered woman seek help from the police? The role of battered women’s functionality. Journal of Family Violence. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-009-9283-y. 

  17. Lightfoot, E., Maree, M. & Ananias, J. (2009). Exploring the relationship between HIV and alcohol use in a remote Namibian mining community. African Journal of AIDS Research, 8(3): 321-327.

  18. Moone, R. & Lightfoot, E. (2009). Social marketing strategies for reaching older people with disabilities: Findings from a survey of Centers for Independent Living Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 8 (2), 65-81.

  19. Lightfoot, E.& Williams, O. (2009).  The intersection of disability, domestic violence and diversity: Results of national focus groups. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 17(2), 133-152.

  20. Lightfoot, E.& Williams, O.  (2009).  Critical issues in researching domestic violence and people with disabilities. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 17(2), 200-219.

  21. Lightfoot, E. (2008).  Disability policy.  In  Midgley, J., Martin, T. & Livermore, M. (Eds.). Handbook of Social Policy. Thousand Hills, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 445-462.

  22. Lightfoot, E.(2008). Social work and case coordination with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In Roberts, A.  (Eds.). Social Workers’ Desk Reference. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Lightfoot, E. & Lee, H. (2011, June). Community Based Participatory Research: A methodological workshop for social work. APISWEA International Conference 2011. Shanghai, China.

  23. Lightfoot, E., LaLiberte, T., & Hill, K. (2007). Guide to Legislative Change: Disability status in termination of parental rights and other child custody statutes. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

  24. Lightfoot, E. & LaLiberte, T. (2006). Approaches to child protection case management for cases involving people with disabilities. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30 (4), 381-391.

  25. Lightfoot, E. (2007). Disability. In Blackburn, J. & Dulums, C. (Eds.) Handbook of Gerontology: Evidence based approaches to theory, practice and policy. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  26. Lightfoot, E. & Lum, Y. (2006). Work behavior of older people with disabilities in the era of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Journal of Social Services Research, 32 (4), 171-191.

  27. Lightfoot, E. (2006). Social Work Practice with Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities. In Berkman, B. & D'Ambruoso, S. (Eds.). Oxford Handbook of Social Work in Aging. Oxford University Press.

  28. Lightfoot, E. & Gibson, P. (2005). Universal Instructional Design: An innovative framework for accommodating social work students. Journal of Social Work Education, 41 (2): 269-277.

  29. Lightfoot, E. (2005). International social welfare treaties: Implications for the United States. In Hokenstad, M. & Midgley, J. (Eds.) Lessons from abroad: Adapting International Social Welfare Innovations. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

  30. Lum, Y. & Lightfoot, E. (2005). Effects of volunteering on the physical and mental health of older people. Research on Aging, 27 (1): 31-55.

  31. Umbreit, M., Vos, B., Coates, R. & Lightfoot, E. (2005). Restorative justice in the twenty-first century : A social movement full of opportunities and pitfalls. Marquette Law Review, 89 (2), 251-304.

  32. Lightfoot, E. (2004). Community Based Rehabilitation: A rapidly growing method of supporting people with disabilities. International Social Work, 47 (4): 455-468.

Selected Presentations

  1. Selected Recent Publications

    Lightfoot, E. (March 2014). Views of community practice social workers on professional identity and licensing 120th Minnesota Social Service Association Annual Training Conference, Minneapolis, MN.

  2. Lightfoot, E. & Ananias, J. (2013, July). Professional Associations as a New Frontier in Promoting Social Development. International Consortium for Social Development’s 18th International Symposium, Kampala, Uganda.  

  3. Powell, R., Kaplan, K., LaLiberte, T. & Lightfoot, E. (2013, April). Ensuring the rights of families affected by parental disability: A call to action. Invited presentation,  Child Welfare League of America’s National Conference, Washington, DC.


  4. Bricout, J., Lightfoot, E., Blakey, J. & Ateek, S. (2012, November).  Designing university community partnerships as platforms for sustainable social work innovation. Presented at the 58th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Washington, DC.

  5. Lightfoot, E. (2012, May).  Community based participatory research: A natural fit for social work research.  Invited workshop, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

  6. Lightfoot, E.  (2012, February).  Community based participatory research: Explorations for research in the Thai context. Special lecture, the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

  7. Lightfoot, E., Lum, T., Dube, A. & Blevins, J. (2012, January). Cultural health asset mapping to reduce health disparities: A community based participatory research project in the East African refugee community. Presentation at the 17th Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Work Research, Washington, DC.

  8. Putnam, M., Lightfoot, E. & Lum, T. (2012, January). Mixed measures: Distinguishing disability from aging in social science research on successful aging. Presented at the 17th  Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Work Research, Washington, DC.

  9. Lightfoot, E. & LaLiberte, T. (2011, October). Parental supports for parents with disabilities. Presented at the 57th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

  10. Bogenschutz, M. & Lightfoot, E. (2011, October). Twin Cities-Zambia Disability Connection: Creating community for inclusion of people With disabilities. Presented at the 57th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

  11. Lightfoot, E. & Lee, H. (2011, June). Community Based Participatory Research: A methodological workshop for social work. APISWEA International Conference 2011. Shanghai, China.

  12. Hollister, D. & Lightfoot, E. (2011, March). Advantages and limitations of short-term overseas study tours for MSW students.  Presented at the 4th Conference on International Social Work, Los Angeles, CA.

  13. Lightfoot, E., Bricout, J., Cramer, L., Slayter, E., Parish, S., & Putnam, M. (2011, January). Methodological, logistical and ethical issues in social work research related to people with disabilities.Presentation atthe 16th  Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Work Research, Tampa, FL.

  14. Lightfoot, E., Lum, T. & Blevins, J. (2010, November) Community-Based Participatory Research: A sustainable approach to social work research. Presented at the 56th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Portland, OR.