MSU Denver

Kristen Atkinson, MSW, Ph.D. | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research and/or Practice

Kristen’s research explores young people’s activism for social justice and social change. She is particularly interested in the impact of popular education and youth organizing on young people’s development, as well as how youth activists shape the world around them. Her research draws on the methods and philosophies of community-based participatory research.


Kristen is a full-time clinical faculty member at MSU Denver, teaching primarily in the MSW program. Her practice background is centered around positive and community youth development and includes work to reduce interpersonal and community violence, build intergenerational partnerships and embed anti-oppression within our organizations.

Kristen began teaching in 2009 and has taught foundation practice courses, history and philosophy of social work, participatory research, program development, program evaluation and youth development theory and practice courses. She currently teaches Capstone I and II, Research Methods and Advanced Integrated Practice: Leadership. Her approach to teaching is grounded in critical and transformative pedagogies, as well as a deep-rooted joy in journeying with people as they embark on self-discovery.

Kristen hails from Michigan, where she earned her BSW from Eastern Michigan University. She completed her MSW at San Francisco State University and her Ph.D. from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois Chicago. When not working, you can find Kristen hanging outside with family and friends – gardening, hiking, biking, etc. – or inside (very awkwardly) practicing beginner piano.

Erin Boyce, MSW, Ph.D. | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research and/or Practice

My research interests are focused in multiple aspects of child welfare, including the impacts of abuse and neglect, family engagement, parent training, and trauma along the life course. Most recently, my research has focused on the primary caregiver’s relationship with social workers and case managers, as an avenue for incorporating trauma-informed practices geared toward reducing child removal and increasing reunification. This year I will work on a project looking that the effectiveness of services geared toward college students who also experienced foster care. I enjoy working with students, brining them into the work I am doing and supporting their own research goals.


Dr. Boyce received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Then received a PhD from the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

Dr. Boyce’s social work practice has been focused on program evaluation. She has provided management, data collection, and data analysis for large federally funded programs, to working within the non-profit sector providing direct evaluation of mental health services for at risk youth and adolescents. Dr. Boyce is currently interested in using her evaluation skills in the macro area of social work, focusing on the role of systems in the lives of families, in particular poverty and child welfare.

Currently, Dr. Boyce is a full-time faculty member at Metro State University where she teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Classes taught include Research (BSSW/MSW), Power, Oppression, & Privilege (BSSW/MSW) and Gender in Social Work (BSSW). She has also taught classes in trauma theory and the integration of social work ethics through a social justice lens.

Bianca Brandon, MSW | Lecturer in Social Work

Julie Clockston, DSW, LCSW, Cert Ed | Assistant Professor

Areas of Research and/or Practice

I am interested in research that focuses on utilizing a community-based participatory action research approach through qualitative, mixed methods involving public and private partnerships and social work. I enjoy incorporating students into the research and learning process for program evaluation and research methods. I love supporting students in getting past the fears of research and exploring areas that are important to them as social workers. I am interested in educating and incorporating Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) work across all areas of social work. It is my goal to integrate it into every area that I teach.

I am interested in developing approaches to enhance the quality of life for all people, mostly lower socio-economic individuals residing in America. As a result, my professional goal is to become an established researcher for individuals and families with developmental and intellectual disabilities. I plan to seek opportunities to enhance my understanding of innovative research methods and increase my capacity to apply mixed methodologies to a given research question. Moreover, I intend to use my experience to influence positive outcomes for individuals involved in the human service system and the CPS department through community participatory research by adopting a care perspective system. My academic commitment is to research, community advocacy, and teaching social work.


Julie Clockston (She/Her/Hers) is a proud alumna of MSU Denver, where she earned both her BSSW and MSW. She was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She completed her Post-Masters Certificate in Education with a specialization in college teaching, instructional design online track, and her Doctor of Social Work (DSW) at Capella University. She is the President of The National Association of Social Workers Colorado Chapter (NASW, Colorado) 2019-22. At NASW, she serves on the education and the diversity, equity, and inclusion committees.  She is the president of The Association of Successful Parenting (TASP), an international organization. At TASP, our mission is: We are Dedicated to Enhancing the Lives of Parents Living with Cognitive Difficulties and Their Families through Education, Advocacy, and Support. At TASP, she serves on the education committee and as chair of the executive committee. In addition, at TASP, she is a lead trainer, educating professionals who work with parents living with Developmental/Intellectual disabilities (IDD).

She serves on several other organizations and university boards. She is a social work solopreneur who has worked with individuals living with IDD for 26 years. During the course of her career, she has been a state-licensed therapeutic foster parent and early childhood educator. She is a mental health normalizer who works in private practice specializing in trauma work utilizing evidence-based modalities such as EMDR, Brainspotting, and an eclectic variety of treatment approaches. She is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She is a coach and consultant, and forensic competency-based parenting assessor. She especially, loves working with students and is a field instructor, university professor, lecture, author, and speaker. She enjoys teaching a variety of social work courses. She desires that students leave her class feeling heard and valued. She wishes for them to learn first and foremost to gain the competency and skill set they will need to go forward. Outside of her professional ecosphere of all the most significant things in life are her four children.

Currently, Dr. Clockston is a full-time Faculty Assistant Professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, primarily in the BSSW program. She is involved in the BIPOC Faculty and Pedagogy and Diversity Committee. Being a full-time professor in higher education at MSU Denver is a pinnacle accomplishment and is one of her most rewarding professional endeavors.

Perri Corvino, MSW, LCSW, LAC | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research and/or Practice

Perri is currently focused on her PhD dissertation: bringing trauma-informed care to higher education classrooms. She is also developing a training program for supervisors to provide compassionate and effective supervision to therapists with a personal history of trauma. She is very curious about the relationship between spirituality, mental wellness, trauma, and healing.

Perri’s clinical work addresses the complexity of healing from trauma and addiction by using psychodynamic psychotherapy, trauma-informed care, anti-oppressive practice, and harm reduction.


Perri is a full-time clinical faculty member at MSU Denver. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Potsdam in Psychology. She received her Master of Social Work degree and Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently completing her PhD studies at Smith College’s School for Social Work. Perri has worked in outpatient, residential, and jail-based addiction treatment settings in the Denver Metro area. She attained her addiction counselor licensure to enhance her capacity to facilitate healing from substances and trauma. She supervises licensed therapists. She teaches Generalist Practice, Social Work Supervision, and Trauma-Informed Social Work.

Kristin Danhoff, MSW, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor

Areas of Research and/or Practice

I am passionate about educating the next generation of social workers – to think critically, to respond with integrity, and to think of our world (and its inhabitants) in a holistic way. I am encouraged for the future of our profession every day by the passion, intellect, drive, sense of justice, and commitment I see from our amazing students! My work experience prior to arriving at MSU Denver focused in child/family work, medical social work, program evaluation, and domestic violence. Kristin is the author of the book: 101 Careers in Social Work (with her colleagues Dr. Ritter and Dr. Obermann).


Dr. Danhoff is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. Kristin received her PhD from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO and her MSW from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Her areas of research have focused on program evaluation (which can take you so many places!), education/teaching theories, and wellness. Kristin examines how the fundamental beliefs educators have about teaching and learning present in the classroom setting. She is interested in exploring how those teaching philosophies influence student outcomes, engagement, and sense of belonging. Dr. Danhoff is passionate about helping her students think of themselves holistically to help them prepare to be well in this profession of wellbeing.

Dr. Danhoff teaches primarily in the BSSW program and has taught: across the Generalist Practice sequence (GP I, II, and III), Social Work Experience and Field Experience, Case Management, Research I and II, and Research Methods (MSW).

Kristin is originally from Nebraska and have lived in Colorado for the last 18 years. She has over a decade of experience in the field of social work with state agencies, hospitals, and community-based non-profits in Nebraska and Colorado. Kristin loves sports (Go Avs and Huskers!), her pet ‘children’ (she is anxiously awaiting her next Golden Retriever adoption) and traveling.

Lori Darnel, JD, MSW | Assistant Professor

Areas of Research and/or Practice

Criminal justice reform, child protection, and cultural responsiveness.


Lori Darnel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver teaching in the Macro Content Area. Starting at MSU Denver in 2013, Ms. Darnel was an adjunct at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work since 1999. Combining a theoretical knowledge with practical experience, Ms. Darnel focuses on teaching advocacy skills and interdisciplinary education with an emphasis on legal issues and policy.

Ms. Darnel is a native of Colorado and received both her Juris Doctorate and Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver. She has dedicated her career to advocacy including at risk youth, families and senior populations. Starting her career at the Denver District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor and then moving into the non-profit sector with nonprofit management, Ms. Darnel has continuously integrated the practice of law with social work.  Prior to coming to MSU Denver, Ms. Darnel practiced law extensively in criminal, juvenile and family law areas.  In addition, Ms. Darnel practiced social work in the area of aging through ombudsman work in long-term care, truancy through program development for school districts and judicial districts, as well as non-profit management.

Barbara Decker, MSW | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research and/or Practice

I am most interested in exploring how students who have been marginalized in the educational system, especially those with disabilities or who are first generation college bound, can feel accepted and find ways to share their gifts in schools and universities.


Barbara is thrilled to join the Department of Social Work at MSU Denver and believes that her career has been building toward helping her be prepared to teach the amazing students at this university.  She has spent her career working with students at the university and high school level who have been marginalized in the education system. Barbara worked at the University of Denver’s Learning Effectiveness Program and taught at the Women’s College at DU.  Later, she directed a comprehensive support program for students with learning disabilities and ADHD at a Denver high school. Barbara was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver in the Graduate School of Social Work. Most recently, Barbara worked with a local mentoring agency and headed efforts to provide case management and mentoring for underserved students after they completed high school.  Barbara earned both her BA in Sociology and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver.  With two teenagers, her hobbies revolve around learning to love her children’s hobbies (Yay, rugby and amateur theater productions!).  But an ideal day for her would involve a long walk with her husband and fabulous greyhound, a dinner at home with her family, and curling up on the couch with a good book and her aggressively affectionate cat.

Matthew Drake, MSW, LCSW, Ph.D. | Lecturer in Social Work

Tanya Greathouse, LCSW, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor


Tanya Greathouse, Ph.D., earned her BA in Sociology from University of Colorado Boulder, a Master’s in Social Work from University of Denver and a PhD in Clinical Social Work from Smith College. She completed American Management Association Managers training and VISIONS Multicultural training. Dr. Greathouse serves as a Faculty Field Advisor at the rank of Adjunct Associate Professor for Smith College School for Social Work, Affiliate Faculty for Metropolitan State College of Denver and is a private psychotherapy practitioner in the Denver/Boulder area. Her foundation of cultural competency is informed by her teaching curriculums and multicultural trainings. She holds certifications as; Administrator and Interpreter for the Intercultural Developmental Inventory and QPR Gatekeeper Instruction.

Outside of her professional activities, Greathouse is an avid bicyclist, outdoor enthusiast and enjoys cooking with her partner.

Louise Haimowitz, LCSW | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research and/or Practice

Perinatal Mood Disorders, Failure to Thrive in Infancy, Early Trauma, Attachment Disorders, Parenting.


Louise Haimowitz LCSW has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1985, and has held numerous community mental health positions providing clinical supervision, and program administration within nonprofit settings serving at-risk populations children and families in need of trauma-informed care. Louise has also maintained a private practice and utilizes her advanced certification in the use of EMDR for treating complex trauma, as well as specialized training in the use of DBT and Trauma-Informed CBT. Louise currently provides consultation to child protection caseworkers aimed at improving resiliency and reducing the incidence of vicarious trauma. Louise has been an instructor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver since 2011, and has been grateful for the opportunity to work with students teaching primarily MSW courses : Generalist Practice I & II; Advanced Integrated Clinical Practice, Maternal & Infant Mental Health; and Field Experience III & IV. Louise incorporates mindfulness practice into all class sessions as an element of her trauma-informed teaching approach.

Olivia Hunte, MSW | Lecturer in Social Work

Christian Itin, MSW, Ph.D. | Professor


I was born in Queens New York and grew up in Connecticut. I’ve lived in Vermont, New Hampshire, Upstate New York, and Northern California. This is my third time moving back to Colorado.

I discovered a passion for social justice as a child of the 60’s. I grew up with a growing awareness of the racial, economic and environmental issues surrounding us. I began engaging in service in junior high and it has been a part of what drove me to social work. I also discovered my love of the outdoors in junior high through skiing. These early passions have been at the foundation of my career for over 30 years. I have sought to combine social work with work in outdoor adventure and wilderness contexts for much of my career. In the pursuit of combining these areas I deepened by knowledge of experiential education, group work and experiential practice. These elements make up the majority of my professional writing and presentations. I have been fortunate to travel around the world meeting amazing people and having incredible conversations about the power of work with people by engaging them in activity and group process. I truly believe (and the empirical data supports this) that a group of people engaged in activity is a powerful vehicle for change.

What attracts me to MSU Denver is the commitment of this University to the ideas of social justice and social action. The rich diversity of lived experience in our students, faculty and staff is a testament to the mission of our University. I hope to meet you and have a conversation!

Shawna Margesson, MSW, Ph.D. | Lecturer in Social Work

Amanda Marsh Baranski, DSW, LCSW | Clinical Field Faculty

Dawn Matera Bassett, LCSW, Ph.D. | Professor


During the past 30 years Dr. Matera Bassett has worked with children, adolescents, transition-aged youth and their families who have complex behavioral health issues. Dr. Matera Bassett has worked in residential, day treatment, community-based, and sub-acute mental health settings as a Program Manager; Cultural Competence Liaison; Continuity of Care Coordinator; Family, Group & Individual Therapist, Program Specialist & Trainer, Case Manager; Family Preservation Counselor; and Youth Treatment Counselor.  Dr. Matera Bassett has been a member of several federal, state, and private grant projects. Current grant projects include:

  • Principal Investigator, HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education & Training for Professionals
  • Principal Investigator, HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education & Training for Paraprofessionals
  • Co-principal Investigator, THRIVE vicarious trauma training and consultation initiative with Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)
  • Principal Investigator and Leadership Council, Kemp Center, Child Welfare Training System, subaward
  • Chairperson, Colorado State Resiliency Taskforce

Her grant project foci has included workforce development, vicarious trauma, children of incarcerated parents, and recruitment of foster parents with diverse identities. Dr. Matera Bassett has also been involved in grant projects from the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Daniels Fund where she has developed curricula and trained therapists, case workers, teachers, foster parents, and paraprofessionals on how to effectively work with children and adolescents and their families.  She has drafted policy white papers and legislation that have been adopted by the state of Colorado. Dr. Matera Bassett’s research interests lay in improving the efficacy of services provided to children, adolescents and families. The foci of her interest are on projects which support clinical staff development; address the impact of vicarious trauma on the workforce; build personal, familial and community assets; and explore the efficacy of interventions. Dr. Matera Bassett actively engages in dissemination of scholarship through National and International presentations and peer-reviewed journals.

Laura Montero, MSW | Lecturer in Social Work

Areas of Research

Program evaluation, transition-age foster youth, crossover youth, and international social welfare policy


Laura Montero received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from University of Michigan with a concentration in social policy and evaluation and completed two years of doctoral coursework at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Driven by the profound experiences she had while working with transition-age foster youth in Los Angeles, Laura applies techniques of qualitative research to examine, evaluate, and promote more constructive social policies and programs for young people. Laura’s research has taken her to Melbourne, Australia, where she led a study exploring the resettlement experiences of asylum seekers and refugees and to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she interviewed policy experts, defense attorneys, politicians, and youth advocates on the concept of a “minimum age of criminal responsibility” (MACR).

Laura has been teaching Capstone I & II at MSU Denver since 2018, where she works to make research accessible and applicable to the professional goals of her students. In addition to the Capstone series, she has taught Foundations in Social Welfare Policy, Community Organizing, and Research Methods. Through her teaching, Laura works to inspire students to embrace and promote the fundamental link between research and practice in their own social work careers.

Ann Obermann, LCSW, Ph.D. | Associate Professor

Areas of Research and/or Practice

I am passionate about preparing social workers to thrive in any work environment through igniting their passions, challenging their critical thinking, nurturing their desire to be change agents, practicing their use of evidence based practice, and seeing the leader within!


Ann is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in the Department of Social Work. She received her Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College. Ann also received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. Her research interest is in how the organizational health of human service organizations impacts employees, client outcomes, and quality of services.

Ann’s passion is teaching and training. She has been an affiliate instructor at MSU and University of Denver for a combination of 7 years. Her classes have included: Direct Practice, Family Therapy, Mental Health Assessment, Trauma Interventions, Trauma, and Child Maltreatment. She enjoys training child welfare and mental health professionals on many topics including trauma, adolescent development, leadership and supervision, and family engagement.

Ann has lived and worked in the Denver area for the past 20 years. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Colorado with extensive social work practice experience working in human service management, community mental health, and with at risk families and adolescents in both child welfare and mental health settings. Ann loves everything outdoors and enjoys playing the fiddle.

Jessica Ritter, MSSW, Ph.D. | Professor

Areas of Research and/or Practice

Dr. Ritter’s professional social work experience has focused on child welfare, child well-being, and children’s rights. In her research she has studied the political participation of social workers in the U.S. She is the author of two books: 101 Careers in Social Work and Social Work Policy Practice: Changing our Community, Nation, and the World.


Jessica Ritter is a Full Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work at MSU Denver. Dr. Ritter grew up in Texas, but since receiving her PhD she has been a faculty member at George Mason University in the DC area and at Pacific University located just outside of Portland, Oregon. At Pacific University she served as the BSW Program Director and Associate Dean of Social Sciences. Dr. Ritter began her social work career in child protection due to her strong desire for working with children and families served by the child welfare system. Her career as a social worker and social work academic has been dedicated to child welfare and children’s rights as well as political advocacy focused on social and economic justice issues.

Professor Ritter earned her BSW, MSSW, and PhD in social work at the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches a variety of courses including Generalist Practice, Child Maltreatment, Research Methods, and Social Welfare Policy. She has a special passion for teaching policy with the goal of getting social work students excited about social policy, demystifying the political process, increasing students’ levels of political efficacy, and inspiring them to be engaged politically. Dr. Ritter is a Fulbright scholar and is the author of two books—101 Careers in Social Work and Social Work Policy Practice: Changing our Community, Nation, and the World. Being a social work educator is one of the great joys of her life!

Eileen Starr, MSW, LCSW, Ph.D. | Associate Professor

Area of Research and/or Practice

Religious and Cultural Tolerance in Northern Irish Participants; Impact of the Ulster Project Delaware (Cross-community Programs); Community and Sectarian Violence, especially with children and adolescents


Eileen Starr was born and raised in Newark, Delaware and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Delaware; Maryland; Colorado). She received her PhD and Master’s Degree in clinical social work from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and did her dissertation research in Northern Ireland. While in Northern Ireland, Eileen also facilitated seminars dealing with challenging families and children/adolescents in the Social Work Department at Queen’s University, Belfast, NI.

Eileen has been a community social work practitioner most of her career at Upper Bay Counseling and Support Services Inc. (UBCSS), a private, non-profit agency in Cecil and Harford Counties in Maryland. At UBCSS, Eileen developed and was the supervisor of the School Based Mental Health Program (SBMH). She continues her private practice through tele-psychiatry with Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health (Delaware) on a part-time basis. Eileen has been an adjunct professor since 2000 teaching undergraduate and graduate social work classes at Widener University, Chester, Pa, Salisbury University, Md. and the University of Delaware in the sociology and criminal justice departments.

Eileen is behavioral in her teaching style and clinical work, describing her style as “very interactive in partnership with her students, clients & families to help them meet their goals established in the classroom and in the therapeutic process.”  She believes a reciprocal therapeutic relationship cultivates the best possible outcomes in her students as well as her clients.

In her “off time,” Eileen enjoys outdoor recreation and has coached and officiated girls’ basketball at the Middle and High School levels, taking her High School teams as an assistant and head coach to regional and state championship games. She is hoping to coach again in the Denver area.

Ann Sullivan, LCSW, Ph.D. | Clinical Field Faculty

Kate Trujillo, LCSW, Ph.D. | Interim MSW Program Chair & Associate Professor

Areas of Research

My career in social work is dedicated to child welfare with a focus on healing trauma, attachment, and permanency.


I am a full-time member of the faculty at MSU Denver, Department of Social Work. I have been practicing social work with a focus on child welfare since 1999. I earned a Master’s Degree (2001) and a PhD (2010) in Social Work, both from the University of Denver. My focus has been permanency and adoption. I have held a number of positions: caseworker, clinician, supervisor, research assistant, grant administrator for a Children’s Bureau federal demonstration project, and non-profit executive.

My research is focused on children from vulnerable populations who have been displaced, disrupted, abused or who have otherwise experienced trauma. Framed by critical realism, my research relies heavily on recognizing the importance of embodiment and engagement as foundations for human relationships. My orienting research question has been to investigate how vulnerable children approach their performance of everyday life and orient themselves toward their possible futures.

In November, 2015, I traveled with Dr. Jo Bailey and Dr. Dawn Matera Basset to Arad, Romania for a conference focused on developing the workforce in Romania to help with children who are in need of care. It was amazing to me to see the similarities and differences in our struggles to create healthy beginnings for children who, for whatever reason and through no fault of their own, find themselves in orphanages, group homes, or foster homes. The challenges of our filed are indeed intense.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your learning and professional development. I know you will change the world!