Hello everyone! Thank you for your interest in my website. I thought I would provide some background information here so that you know a little bit about me.
I grew up in Wilmette, Illinois and was privileged to have two wonderful parents and a protective/caring older brother. My mother is a psychologist and psychoanalyst, and my father is a retired social worker (I guess its in my blood!) My brother somehow escaped this profession and is a design engineer for Apple.
I attended New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Illinois where I participated in band, cross country, Science Olympiad, dance, and even fencing. I went to college at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and graduated with bachelors degrees in Community Health and Spanish in 2008. From there, I worked in early childhood education until I went back to school to get my Masters in Social Work. I moved to Portland, Oregon and graduated with my MSW in 2012 from Portland State University. While I was finishing my MSW degree, I met my partner Shawn who was finishing an internship in Veterinary Medicine.
Shawn is originally from Bountiful, Utah and when it came time to look for jobs, we both applied to many jobs in Oregon, Utah, and Colorado. Shawn was lucky to get a wonderful offer in Utah and so we moved in the summer of 2012. The rest is history, as they say: We were married at Log Haven in Millcreek Canyon in 2014. We welcomed our son Christopher (CJ) to the world in December of 2018 and our youngest son Andrew was born in September 2021. We have one cat (Cricket) and 2 dogs (Banjo and Shay) who are crazy, wonderful, handfuls.
We love living so close to the mountains and enjoying all the beauty that Utah has to offer. I am a runner, road cyclist and hiker. I also love camping, kayaking, and just being in nature. Other hobbies include cooking, baking, reading novels, dancing, and speaking Spanish.
Please scroll down to learn about my education, employment history, and dissertation study!
In September 2019, I provided expert testimony at the Utah Department of Professional Licensing public hearing in support of a ban on conversion therapy for minors. It was a very moving experience to hear from individuals who had been forced into conversion therapy as minors, and from others whose lives have been negatively impacted by conversion therapy practices. In January 2020, Utah successfully passed the bill to ban conversion therapy for minors!
With the new administration, the Equality Act has made it through the house and to the senate. This important legislation would provide explicit federal protections again discrimination for LGBTQ+ Americans at businesses, government funded programs, housing, etc.
Besides becoming a community co-sponsor of the Equality Act, and calling Senator Mitt Romney to urge him to support this bill, I am taking part in a special event called Operation Senate Strikeforce with the Human Rights Campaign. I will be working with the Human Rights Campaign to connect voters with their Legislators to tell them it’s time to update federal law so that all people, including LGBTQ+ people, are protected from discrimination! With Operation Senate Strikeforce, HRC will be calling across the country every Tuesday and encouraging folks to call their senators and have them vote yes on the Equality Act!
Ben Winslow of Fox 13 News tweeted live about my expert testimony!
I was honored to be interviewed and featured in KRCL's Everyday People broadcast where I discussed the aims of my study, eligibility criteria, and the need for more research with LGBTQ populations.
I was honored to return to KRCL's Everyday People broadcast where I discussed the findings from my study with Lara Jones.
I double majored in Community Health and Spanish. I spent one semester in Costa Rica, immersed in "Tico" culture. After my semester at Heredia University ended, I traveled to Nicaragua where I volunteered at community health centers and local schools in Ciudad Sandino. During my time at Tufts, I served as a community health expert and Spanish interpreter for Engineers Without Borders. We traveled to El Salvador and Honduras, implementing slow-sand water filtration systems, and conducting community health assessments.
At Portland State University, I earned my Master's in Social Work with an emphasis on Social Service Administration and Leadership. My first-year placement was at a community justice center, and in my second-year placement, I worked at a community-based nursing home. When I graduated, I was awarded the Winkel award for excellence in social service and leadership. While at PSU, I also worked as a graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Communications where I assisted with research on using social media to grieve the death of a loved one.
In 2017, I began my doctoral studies in the College of Nursing. This program was a research-focused interdisciplinary health-outcomes program. I felt that this program was an excellent fit for my interests in psychosocial wellbeing in medical settings, and my love of research. I successfully defended my dissertation research and graduated with my PhD in December, 2021. I was a predoctoral fellow in the National Institutes of Health T32 Interdisciplinary Training in Cancer, Caregiving, & End-of-Life Care. My doctoral studies also included earning certificates in Gerontology and Nursing Education.
I recently began a position with the University of Utah College of Nursing as an Assistant Professor (Research). 85% of my time will be devoted to conducting rigorous health science research and 15% will be devoted to teaching in the PhD program. Along with a innovative team of scientists, I am crafting a program of research that investigates structural determinants of health (such as housing policy, distribution of wealth, etc.), with a specific focus on Hispanic/Latino populations, older adults facing dementia and their families, and LGBTQ+ groups.
In April, 2022, I began working as a Postdoctoral Fellow through the University of Utah's Clinical and Translational Science Institute's Spheres of Translation Across the Research Spectrum TL training program. I am currently engaged in a number of different research teams studying how to conduct social needs screening and referrals in community-based settings, facilitating engagement with research participants and community partners, and health equity for historically marginalized and minoritized groups. I am developing mixed-methods proposal to examine the physical and mental health outcomes of state eviction laws.
I worked as an oncology social worker at Huntsman Cancer Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah from May 2016 to July 2021. I have worked on the inpatient medical oncology unit and as an outpatient social worker for sarcoma, gynecology, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and many other clinics.
During my doctoral studies at the University of Utah, I have been working as a Graduate Research Assistant on a number of exciting projects. I worked on developing an end-of-life planning guide for patients with early Alzheimer's and their family members and presented this work at a national conference. In addition, I am currently working on a study looking at language use by hospice patients and their partner caregivers. I am also involved in two studies examining hospice providers' beliefs and attitudes regarding working with LGBTQ+ patients and family members.
I also served as a graduate research assistant for a professor in the College of Nursing. I helped organize and coordinate a poster session for students completing their final projects in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.
In 2012, I began working for Safe and Healthy Families, a department of Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. I worked at Safe and Healthy Families for 3.5 years as a medical social worker and therapist for children who had been abused, neglected, or witnessed domestic violence. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult job. However, it was in this position that I became interested in posttraumatic growth; many of my clients talked about how they were stronger than they were before, and how their traumatic experience has made them more appreciative of life.