About Us

A national learning collaborative to engage social work scholars and leaders in learning about and experimenting with futures and foresight frameworks to energize and expand health-related social work thinking and practice for a rapidly changing future.

Laura Nissen Ph.D. LMSW

 CADC III Professor

Social Work Health Futures Lab Founder

With a long-term commitment to innovative systems change, Laura Nissen has worked with futures practice and lenses throughout her career. She credits a futures lens with the extended and continuous success of the Reclaiming Futures initiative and its ability to energize and provide architecture to a complex and interdisciplinary juvenile justice reform effort. She’s a former Dean and  current Professor of  Social Work at Portland State. She’s the first inaugural Presidential Futures Fellow at Portland State. Foresight practitioner and a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Future, and has spoken on futures thinking in social work and social change at the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, and in numerous social work education, and community spaces.

Social Work Futures Blog

Portland State University Futures Collaboratory


Jake Dunagan Ph.D.,

Government Futures Lab,

Institute for the Future and Coach,

Social Work Health Futures Lab

Jake Dunagan helps people see and feel alternative possibilities so they can create better futures. His work as an experiential futurist, political system designer, and professor of foresight centers around the concept of social invention—developing futures concepts and participatory platforms to help organizations around the world re-imagine and re-design their futures. Jake directs the Governance Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research and education group in Palo Alto, CA. He teaches foresight in the Design Strategy MBA program at the California College of the Arts, the Design in Health MA program at UT-Austin, the Diseño de Mañana program at CENTRO-Mexico City, and IFTF’s Foresight Essentials trainings..

Governance Futures Lab


National Advisory Committee

Heidi Allen Ph.D., M.S.W.

Associate Professor, Columbia University

Professor Heidi Allen studies the impact of social policies, like Medicaid– America’s health insurance for the poor – on health and financial well-being.  She is a former emergency department social worker and spent several years in state health policy, where she focused on health system redesign and public health insurance expansions.

Darla Coffey, Ph.D., M.S.W.

President/CEO of the Council on
Social Work Education

Dr. Coffey has an extensive background in social work practice in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence. More recently, Coffey has been advancing the causes of provider well-being and leadership in presentations and writings. Coffey is the 2017 recipient of the Advocate for Human Rights Award by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Mit Joyner, DPS, L.C.S.W.

Professor Emerita of Social Work, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Professor Joyner has numerous publications the most recent is a co-authored book “Critical Multiculturalism and Intersectionality In a Complex World” 2nd edition (2018). Professor Joyner has presented hundreds of invitational papers, lectures, and panel presentations at numerous universities, agencies, businesses, and professional conferences throughout the world.

Goutham Menon, Ph.D.

Dean of the School of Social Work, Loyola University

Dr. Menon is currently on the advisory board of the Global Institute of Social Work, based out of Singapore, to produce online training programs for social workers and humanitarian workers who do not get empirically-based practices in the regions they work in. His area of expertise lies in the utilization of information and communication technologies for human services and for distance education.

Deb McPhee, Ph.D.

Dean of the Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University

Dr. McPhee has more than 25 years of leadership experience in academia, professional social work practice, and the private sector and has worked throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Her direct practice experience ranges from community-based mental health in New York City to serving as the Chief of Social Work Services for the U.S. Army in The Netherlands during the Gulf War.

Desmond Patton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University

Pioneering Social Worker at the Intersection of Artificial Intelligence, Social Media, Empathy, Race and Society; Founding Director, SAFE Lab; Co-director, Justice, Equity and Technology Lab; Associate Dean for Innovation and Academic Affairs, Columbia University; Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights

Nancy Smyth, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.

Dean of the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo.

Under Nancy Smyth’s leadership, the University at Buffalo School of Social Work has integrated a trauma-informed and human rights perspective throughout the master’s curriculum, established the Buffalo Center for Social Research, expanded international education and research, and raised the rankings of the MSW program to top 10 percent in the United States.

Martell Teasley, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Dean of the College of Social Work, University of Utah

Professor Teasley is the lead investigator on the Social Work profession’s Grand Challenge to Eliminate Racism, his major areas of research interests are African American adolescent development, school social work practice, and diversity in social work education.

Edwina Uehara, Ph.D.

Dean of the School of Social Work, University of Washington

Dr. Uehara’s scholarship seeks to understand the interplay of social structure and the cultural construction of health, illness and healing. Her research has been published in a range of journals in social work and related disciplines, including American Journal of Sociology; Journal of Health and Social Behavior; Archives of General Psychiatry, and many more.

Jose Coll, Ph.D., MSW.

Dean and Professor , School of Social Work. Portland State

Dr. Coll has held numerous academic leadership appointments before becoming Dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University.   He is a well-known expert in the area of Military Social Work Practice and has written, researched and taught widely on this topic.

Social Work Health Futures Fellows

Alexis Glennon

Alexis Glennon

About Email More from Alexis Glennon Glennon is interested in the future of digital and new media literacy skills in social work education and...

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