A Foundation of Strengths. A Vision of Justice. A Mission of Change.
  • Home
  • Alumni & Community Partners
  • Alumni Spotlight

Alumni & Retired faculty and Staff Profiles

News and Updates

BSW alum, Robert Sagastume, who is now in the in the master's program at Washington University was honored by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) at the 5th Annual Social Work Day on the Hill on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. He was awarded Outstanding Student of the Year. Robert Sagastume was selected among thousands of applicants to attend the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) this fall. CGIU seeks to bring together student leaders to develop concrete steps toward solving global issues. Sagastume received this honor based upon his “commitment to action” proposal, which came from an idea he had while serving as co-director of an undocumented youth-led group, the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance. “It includes a program where undocumented/DACA students mentor other immigrant and non-immigrant students so they can achieve postsecondary education,” he explained. Sagastume was born and raised in Honduras until age 12 before migrating to the United States, navigating through society as a DACA immigrant. At the Brown School, he is a Clark-Fox Policy Scholar, which provides a rigorous and immersive experience to help understand the formation of social policy as a high-impact tool for positive change. He will graduate with a dual master of social work and master of social policy degree this year.

Brandi Schneider, Director of Aging Services and Administration at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/Schmieding Center for Senior Education, received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in gerontology from Kansas State University in 1996 and received her master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on gerontological administration from the University of Kansas in 1999. She has worked in a variety of geriatric settings, including nursing homes, in-patient geriatric psychiatry, home health, adult day services, and caregiver education. Brandi currently works at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/Schmieding Center for Senior Education as the Director of Aging Services and Administration. In her role there, she offers individualized education and support to older adults and their families, as well as group support and community education. She is involved in program development and community collaboration efforts.

Grace’s Place Crisis Nursery added counseling services to its list of programs to help aid youth in Franklin County. Jorie Moeller, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), will provide counseling services to area youth. She has been practicing in the field of social work for 13 years and has a wide range of experience including work in the foster care system, working with at-risk adolescents in a wilderness treatment facility, mental health case management and providing counseling services in an array of different settings. Moeller received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Kansas State University and a master’s of social work from the University of Kansas. Read more. 

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has named Tanya Keys deputy secretary. Keys previously served as regional director for the Children’s Division in Jackson County, Mo. She began her human services career in front-line foster care case management and previously served as child welfare director for the former Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Keys earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. Read more. 

Sheria Howard, a nontraditional student, wife and mother, chose to come to the KU Edwards Campus with the goal of earning a degree that would allow her to pursue her passion of serving others and extend a helping hand to communities in need. Howard achieved this goal and graduated in May 2018 with a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.). Howard is currently pursuing her second master’s degree at the Edwards Campus – a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.). What keeps her going is seeing how government can affect social change. Read more

Michelle Needham will serve as the Director of Operations and Scheduling for Governor-elect Laura Kelly. She will oversee all scheduling and internal office operations. Previously, she was campaign scheduler for Kansas Secretary of State candidate Brian McClendon. Needham graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Welfare. She went on to work in various family and behavioral welfare positions focused on improving the lives of families and adults with disabilities. Read more

Anna Williams, s'05, was elected to the Oregon Legislature to represent House District 52. She is the voice for the 63,000 constituents who live in this district in the Oregon House of Representatives. The voters loved her social work and education background, and her priorities are addressing climate change, housing, education, and access to social services for people who live in rural communities. She is looking forward to using her social work administration degree to improve how legislation is created and implemented in Oregon. She is currently employed with Simmons College in Boston, MA.  

Joni Colwell named new manager of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Colwell is a native of Yuma County, Colorado, and a graduate of Benedictine College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in both sociology and English. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas. Read more. 

Reno County Magistrate Judge Cheryl Allen announced she is retiring Nov. 30 and will move to Lawrence to be closer to her children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. Read more. 


Staci Smock joined Katie's Way in September 2018. She is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker and completed her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Wyoming before completing her master’s degree in social work at the University of Kansas in 1998. After completing her MSW, Staci served for six years as the social worker for the inpatient Geropsychiatric Unit at Geary Community Hospital. Staci then worked for eight years as a Program Manager in Behavioral Health at Mercy Regional Health Center overseeing an intensive outpatient mental health program.

Prior to joining Katie’s Way, Staci worked for the VA Hospital providing therapy for Veterans dealing with issues including depression/anxiety, trauma, relationship issues and substance abuse. She is skilled in utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Solution Focused Brief-Therapy (SFBT). Staci primarily serves thier teenage and young adult population and specializes in mood disorders, anxiety/panic disorders, PTSD, psychotic disorders, adjustment disorders and family conflict. Staci looks forward to partnering with individuals and families to develop a treatment plan which aligns with their goals and desires and promotes their journey to wellness and recovery. Information courtesy of Katie's Way website

Lawrence Public Schools recognized MSW clinical student Carole Cadue-Blackwood, Kickapoo, for her tireless work to rename a local middle school. Her community organizing that led to naming the school Billy Mills Middle School also caught the attention of the National Indian Education Association. NIEA recently named Carole “Parent of the Year” at their national conference. Congratulations Carole! Carole also played a large role in helping establish Billy Mills Day. During the City Commission meeting on October 16, it was proclaimed, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, as Billy Mills Day.

Lynne Horwitz Green, s’70, founder of Van Go Inc., an arts-based social service and job-training agency for at-risk teens in Lawrence, will retire in December after 23 years at the helm.

Melinda Carden Lewis, s’99, an associate professor of social welfare at KU, co-wrote Making Education Work for the Poor, which was published in August by Oxford University Press.

Amanda Spangler Everson, c’12, s’18, works at KVC Kansas in Olathe, where she’s a child-placing agency supervisor. She lives in Overland Park with her husband, Jeffrey, and their two sons, Mason and Brantley.

Kelly Riegel Miller, s’18, works at the welcome center at KU’s Edwards Campus.

Melissa Byler Burrow, s’18, is a Parent Management Training-Oregon model (PMTO) therapist at KVC Kansas in Olathe. She and her husband, Zachary, live in Kansas City.

Jennifer Ananda, alum, has been hired as Emporia State’s first Title IX Coordinator

Susan Ridenour, s'85, currently works for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. 

Suzanne Wikle, s'06, currently works for the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington D.C.

Michelle Ree Patterson, s'95, is employed with HIT Inc. in Kansas City. She purchased this company in July 2017 and moved back to the KC area. 

Erin Pullen, s'11, works at Wyandot Center as the director of housing programs. 

Becky Fast, s'93, g'96, is the executive director for the Kansas Chapter, NASW. She has diverse background in clinical practice and macro policy through working as a clinical social worker at Kansas City Hospice and serving as a city council member on the Roeland Park City Council.  She was first introduced to the advocacy efforts of KNASW through leading the Chapter's political action arm and later served on the KS Chapter and NASW Board of Directors. During her tenure on the board, she helped facilitate the passage of the Social Worker Safety Act in honor of Teri Zenner.

MSW grad, Keri Ingle was elected to the Missouri Legislature in this past election. "She is smart, terrific and passionate, and she worked in child welfare for many years. I couldn't be prouder of her accomplishment, winning in the 35th in Lee's Summit, MO, in a district where a different party from hers had dominated for a bit. Pretty cool and it makes me feel hopeful... wanted to pass it on to all of you.” - Ed Scanlon

Recent PhD graduate, Dr. Eunji Nam, has received the Korean American Social Work Educators 2018 Award for her dissertation. Dissertation title: Family, Friends, and Romantic Partners’ Influence on Mental Health Recovery among Emerging and Middle-aged Adults with Serious Mental Illness. Dr. Nam is settling in her new home in Orlando for her position as assistant professor at University of Central Florida.

Kevin Wayne Edwards, s’97, is currently working at Deloitte Consulting LLP in Florida.

Cheryl Mathis, s’07, is currently working at Dignity Health in Arizona.

Marcy Shadden, s’16, s’18, is team lead at Comprehensive Mental Health Services in Independence, Missouri. She has two sons, Tyree and Terrell.

Kaylee Edwards, s’18, works at American Century Investments in Kansas City, where she is a client services representative. She lives in Mission with her husband, Leon, and their son, Leon III, who just turned 1.

Abigail Eisenhutt, s’18, is a day-treatment specialist at Cornerstones of Care in Kansas City.

Jennifer Manka, s’18, works for Johnson County in the department of human services. She and her husband, Keith, live in Shawnee and have two children, Caleb and Athena.

Jason Hurd, s’18, is a recovery advocate at First Call in Kansas City.

Laura Sadowski, s’18, lives in Dodge City, where she is a therapist at Compass Behavioral Health.

Kimberly Darrough-Hayden, s’18, is a counselor at Ulysses High School. She and her husband, Sam, live in Ulysses.

Camille Bollig Ellard, s’84, s’86, works at Haysmed in Hays, Kansas.

Laurita Burbach, s’96, is currently living in Collyer, Kansas.

Robin Unruh, s’02, works at Genesis Family Health in Garden City, Kansas.

Gretchen Heasty, s’94, c’95, s’98, director of TRIO Supportive Educational Services (SES) & STEM at KU, in May was named 2018 Academic Advisor of the Year.

Tiffany Gabel Rito, s’02, s’03, is a licensed master social worker for the Johnson County Department of Corrections.

Dawn Puderbaugh Hodges, s’92, s’96, JD 96, was recently hired as the Administrator/COO of the Greenwood Genetic Center. The Greenwood Genetic Center is a nonprofit institute centered on clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research. Read more

Preston Williams, s’79, and wife just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary on June 26, 2018. They have a 12-year-old granddaughter who just was promoted to the 7th grade and their only child, who is 36 years of age, is being promoted to an upper tier position with the IRS agency in Missouri. Preston is a cancer survivor, having survived thyroid cancer, and both he and his wife are type II diabetics but doing reasonably well at the ripe old ages of 67. They cheer for KU in both football and basketball, and hope that the football team will be a success this Fall. His wife is also a 1973 social work undergraduate from Washburn University in Topeka. (picture above) 

Anna Bailey, s'10, s'13, joined Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as a Law and Policy Fellow and works with the Connecting the Dots: Bridging Systems for Better Health project. She has prior experience at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and in both the U.S. House and Senate. Anna also worked for a community mental center for three years in her native state of Kansas where she served people experiencing homelessness. Anna holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in social work administration from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. (https://www.cbpp.org/anna-bailey)

Andrew Brown, s'12, is currently working at KDADS in the Behavioral Health Services Commission as the Prevention Program Manager. He serves as the state's representative to the National Prevention Network (NPN) and chairs the NPN Research and Evaluation Committee.

Jay Logan, s’99, currently works with the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka, Kansas.

Sallie Mae West, s’99, currently works with the State of Missouri in Liberty, Missouri

Judi Berry, s'76, is currently self-employed.

Beth Black, s’77, is a physical therapist at Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. She lives in Albuquerque with her wife, Gail.

John Blosser, s’96, s’98, lives in Overland Park, where he’s president of Integrated CareGroup and Pharmacy Distribution Partners.

Heather Bradley-Geary, s'04, currently works as an adjunct instructors with the KU School of Social Welfare and serves on the national NASW Board of Directors. She is the director of supportive housing for Vecino Group in Kansas City. The Vecino Group is a company devoted to housing for the greater good. Affordable housing, supportive housing, student housing; every project they touch has to address a broader community issue, set an example, give back, and inspire the people working on it with a sense of higher purpose. That's housing for the greater good. That's what they do. This position currently involves working for a national NGO on ending homelessness via increasing affordable housing.

Portia Davis-Owens, s'15, is currently employed with Swope Health Services in Kansas City.

Russell DeTrempe, s’81, is director of maximum security and chief of operations at Fulton State Hospital, where he’s worked for more than 30 years. He makes his home in Hartsburg, Missouri.

Tim DeWeese, s'99, is currently employed with Johnson County Mental Health Center

Kimberly Downs Gorombey, s’03, is a social worker in the Liberty School District in Missouri.

Taylor Ermoian, s’16, recently returned from Jerusalem, where he spent a year working as a human rights researcher and a social worker and teacher at a local school. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Kristi L Giltner, s'88, is currently employed with State of Kansas, Department for Children and Families.

Francis S. Hastings, s'87, s'87, recently moved to Arizona as his wife accepted a position as an occupational therapist at Valley View Medical Center. They moved from Fleming Island, Florida, where they lived for seven years after leaving Kansas. Francis worked for Florida Mentors for a period of time before his health prevented him from doing the work he loved and trained for. His wife and him are getting to celebrate thier 10th anniversary in July, and his 20th anniversary of his liver transplant end of March.

Helen Kershaw, s'86, is enjoying retirement years living half year in Texas and other half in the mountains of North Carolina. Even though she retired, her social work classes and work experiences continue to be useful in both her life and the lives' of her friends.

Lemuel E. Kimes, s'85, principal at Kimes and Associates in Kansas City, Missouri. Kimes & Associates provides several services to assist in the areas of business consulting, individual coaching, and group or staff training.

Fred M. Kouri, s'86, is licensed as a MHA, MSW, LMSW, LCSW, CNP and currently employed with Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Jacob Marshall, s’16, is a sign-language interpreter for Kansas City Public Schools. He lives in Prairie Village.

Rose McClanahan Schmidt, s'70, s'77, is retired.

Cynthia A. O'Connell, s'98, is retired, but planning on having a small private practice this year in Manhattan, Kansas, that specializes in trauma recovery and addiction recovery.

Cheri L. Pfanenstiel, s'92, is retiring after 34 years of service to the social work profession. The last 26 with the Manhattan/Ogden school district as an elementary school social worker.

Eric Sader, s'13, is currently employed with the City of Bloomington in Indiana.

Tara Scarce, s'10, is currently employed with USD417.

Avis Smith, s'84, is currently employed with the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare as a lecturer at the Edwards Campus.

Catelyn Smith, s'13, s'14, is currently employed at the State of Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Leslie Traylor, s'15, is currently employed with Immanuel Lutheran Church and University Student Center.

Susan Tusher, s'92, s'94, is currently employed with the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita/Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center.

Mary Webb Murphy, s'80, s'82, is currently employed with Kingswood, a not-for-profit Life Plan Community in the heart of in Kansas City.

Sheri Pierce Williams, s’74, is the DCF East Region Supervisor for Foster Care and Residential Licensing Division. Her two children, Danny Williams and Katie Williams McGee are KU graduates. She has been married to husband Gary Williams for 42 years.

Adele Falk, s’14,after graduation, she passed her LMSW exam and went to work for Skills to Succeed, an organization that serves adults with autism in Olathe, Kansas. Then she went on to secure employment as an Outreach Advocate for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center (WASAC) in Wichita, Kansas.

Yehoshua M. Othniel, s’07, Yehoshua, a.k.a. "Josh" Othniel, returned to the seminary and earned his Doctorate in Ministry in the spring of 2015 fulfilling a life long dream and giving his late mother bragging rights in Paradise. Now she can say "My son the doctor!" Yehoshua is employed full-time as a Renal Social Worker with two dialysis centers, Independence and Parsons, Kansas where he was recently promoted to Social Worker II. Prior to enrolling at KU, Yehoshua was an ordained Rabbi. In 2017, he became  a volunteer Police Chaplain for the Independence Police Department; their first non-Christian chaplain. Yehoshua is the current Vice President of the National Association of Social Workers, Kansas Chapter and a volunteer board member on four additional boards of directors. After a two year clinical internship with Care Counseling, Inc. of Parsons, Kansas, Yehoshua has been specializing in "Faith-based Therapy Services," which combines the early roots of social work with evidence based practices in the service of families and individuals.

Victoria Sander, s’17, currently working on clinical licensure; working in a private practice, Mindful Matters providing therapy and Brookdale Home Health assisting elderly clients in accessing community resources to help them be successful and maintain independence for as long as possible.

Michelle R. Shaheen, s’80, s’85, Clinical Manager: Social Work, Chaplain and Bereavement Services at Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice in Wichita, Kansas. 

Kathryn Anderson Orr, s¹12, joined McCallum Place as a community liaison and outreach representative, working to support and educate community clinicians, school personnel and medical providers about eating disorders and resources for treatment.

James Edward Hafner, s¹87, has maintained a career for the past 30 years in nephrology social work. He has been a long-standing member of the Council of Nephrology Social Workers having leadership roles in both the local chapter and on the national level. He recently decided to retire at the end of March 2018.

Timothy Hornik, s¹10, is one of the eight KU students to receive a Wounded Warrior Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year. Timothy Hornik is the recipient of the Bill and Shanthi Eckert WWS at KU. Hornik is a native of Chicago, a retired U.S. Army captain and the CEO of Blind Not Alone LLC.  In 2004, while serving in Iraq as an Air Defense Artillery platoon leader, he was shot in the head and consequently blinded. Despite his injuries, Hornik obtained a master¹s degree in social work from KU in 2010 and is currently pursuing a doctorate in therapeutic science at the KU Medical Center. He plans to use his degree, along with his considerable social work case management experience, to assist and advocate for disabled veterans. Hornik, his wife, Cate, and their two daughters live in Lawrence.

Claire Jones, s¹15, received her LCSW in Missouri and is working in private practice.  Clientele is often from foster and adoptive resources where children have been impacted by trauma.

Krista Kastler, s¹10, is currently a Child and Family Therapist at The Children's Place, where she specializes in addressing issues related to complex trauma, attachment, and the difficult behavioral struggles that often accompany those areas. She is also an EMDRIA Approved Consultant and assist with EMDR trainings across the region.  

Lemuel E. Kimes, s¹85, currently works at Kimes & Associates.

Jacob Marshall, s¹16, is currently working in the Kansas City Public Schools.

Mary Webb Murphy, s¹80, s¹82, is currently working at Kingswood.

Cheryl Karczewski Rathbun, s¹87, was promoted to chief clinical officer at Saint Francis Community Services in Salina, where she has worked for the past 39 years.

Harry Satariano, s¹77, has a private practice in Overland Park. After the past five years providing clinical services in rural communities, Harry has re-established private practice in Overland Park, KS. specializing in family and group psychotherapies.

Kim White, s¹05, earned the 2016 West Virginia Social Worker of the Year, presented by the National Association of Social Work, West Virginia Chapter. She completed her doctorate in education last year, and started teaching in social work in Marshall University¹s new master¹s program in the fall of 2016. Kim also is a member of the board for Mental Health Matters, a grassroots group fighting for expanded mental health access, and Create Huntington, the grassroots group of people in the city sharing ideas and working toward positive changes.

Ashley Williamson, s¹17, after graduating Ashley was hired at Women's Employment Network, her practicum site, as the Community Engagement Coordinator. At WEN she has revamped and re-energized the volunteer program and the alumnae association. She also manages a program helped develop with WEN staff called WEN on the Road, an initiative that brings client-favorite workforce and financial workshops directly into the community. Williamson was recently selected to the steering committee for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Nonprofit Connect and as a protégé in the C. Stephen Metzler Mentor program of the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Image of Sharon Brown, Johnson County Department of Corrections, KU MSW

Sharon Brown, Johnson County Department of Corrections, KU M.S.W.

Gravitated towards corrections as she felt there was a strong need for social workers in this setting.

Image of Annie Olsen-Meehan, Ewing Marion Kauffman School, KU MSW

Annie Olsen-Meehan, Ewing Marion Kauffman School, KU M.S.W.

Annie remembers sitting in a social work class at KU and deciding this is what I want to do. It wasn't just about helping people, but it was also appealing to her that she would have multiple career paths or avenues after graduation.

Image of John Sergent, Amulatory Social Worker, Mercy Hospital and KU BSW and MSW alumnus

John Sergent, Ambulatory Social Worker, Mercy Hospital, KU B.S.W. and M.S.W.

I choose Social Work because it gave me an opportunity to understand the hardships of my past much better and change the trajectory of my future. Social Work is one of the most universally recognized professions in the delivery of both national and international social service programs.

Michelle Levy, Research Associate, KU School of Social Welfare, KU B.S.W.

The social worker that I met that day helped my family navigate through those challenging times. I am forever grateful for her support and for introducing me to the profession of social work.

Kellie Henderson, 2014 M.S.W.

Kellie was one of twenty students who began KU master’s classes the summer of 2013 with the launch of KU’s new western Kansas-based M.S.W.

Molly Tye, 2006 B.S.W.

Molly’s interest in social work began with a desire to mentor youth in the inner city. She was able to sharpen her skills during her practicum at an inner city school district.

Venida Chenault, 1986 B.S.W., 1990 M.S.W.

In December 2004, Chenault was named Haskell’s vice president of academic affairs, which gave her administrative oversight of a $3-$4 million budget and supervisory responsibility for all academic programs, budgets, faculty and staff within the Division of Academic Affairs.

Laura Moriarty

Laura Moriarty, 1993 B.S.W.

Instead of writing down her own thoughts, she decided to write the stories from the perspectives of the patients.

Sam Finke

Sam Finke, 2004 M.S.W.

Sam Finke graduated from the B.S.W. program in 2003 and the M.S.W. program in 2004.

Joel Karman

Joel Karman, 1996 M.S.W.

Currently, Karman is the associate hospital director at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System where he manages 35 departments and roughly 400 employees.

Paul Gutierrez

Paul Gutierrez, 2009 M.S.W.

Since graduating, Gutierrez has worked in direct therapy and counseling at the Mattie Rhodes Center in Kansas City.

Adele Falk

Adele Falk, M.S.W. student

Read about Adele Falk’s decision to choose the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Kansas.

Felicia Mitchell

Felicia Mitchell, Ph.D. student

Read Felicia Mitchell’s journey from KU undergrad to working on her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare.


Social Welfare Events