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Deborah A. Willis

Assistant Professor, MSW Program Director

Willis 206F Marshall




BA, Secondary Education, Sociology, Central Michigan University
MSEd. Outdoor Teacher Education, Northern Illinois University
MSW, Administration, Children and Youth, University of Michigan
Ph.D. Sociology and Social Work, University of Michigan

Professional Summary

Dr. Willis has spent more than 30 years as a practitioner, program administrator and evaluator in human services.  Dr. Willis provided prevention services in New York City to families and taught in the Bronx and Queens early in her career.  Working at the Family Assessment Clinic at the University of Michigan as a Civitas Fellow she was part of family assessment teams, delivered therapeutic services to children and adults who had experienced sexual abuse, and supervised MSW interns assigned to the clinic.  As a researcher and evaluator, Dr. Willis served as a research associate at the Center for the Study of Youth Policy focused on providing support to state juvenile justice systems forced by the courts to reform and an evaluator of child welfare services in Kent County.  Dr. Willis joined The Guidance Center as the Director of the Center for Excellence in September 2003 where she served as the liaison between University researchers and The Guidance Center and directed evaluation and training for the agency.  Dr. Willis also served as the Director of Programs at The Guidance Center from December 2006 through December 2009 and is a member of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency’s Children’s System of Care leadership, The Virtual Center of Excellence, the Advisory Board for the Family Alliance for Change (a parent advocacy group in Wayne County) and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Advisory Board.

Representative Courses Taught

SWRK 530: Social Work Research Methodology
SWRK 630: Action Research
U of M: Introductory MSW research course; Introductory and advanced child welfare policy course; Evaluation and advanced policy analysis course

Selected Presentations and/or Publications

Faller, K.C., Meezan, W., Mendez, M.M., Tropman, J., Vandervort, F., & Deborah Willis. The Supervisor in Child Welfare. in Austin, M. & Hopkins, K. (Eds.) (2004), Supervision as Collaboration in the Human Services: Building a learning organization. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.

Schwartz, I., Willis, D., (1994). National trends in juvenile detention. In Ira M. Schwartz and William Barton (Eds.) Reforming Juvenile Detention: No More Hidden Closets. The Ohio State University Press. Columbus: Ohio.

Schwartz, I., Willis, D., & Battle, J. (1991). Juvenile Arrest, Detention, and Incarceration Trends, 1979 - 1989. Center for the Study of Youth Policy, University of Michigan, School of Social Work. Ann Arbor: Michigan.

Additional Information

Contact Us: School of Social Work | 317 Everett L. Marshall Building | Ypsilanti, MI 48197 | Tel.: 734.487.0393 | Fax: 734.487.6832

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