New Faculty and Staff
Six new staff members have joined the Steve Hicks School of Social Work’s community in the last few months.
Marie Cloutier serves as Executive Director of Development and Constituent Relations. Her charge includes growing a base of donors and friends who help SHS meet its mission through financial support. She has broad experience in development at UT, most recently in the College of Liberal Arts procuring major and principal-level gifts to support students and faculty.
Lovdy Grossman, MPA, is Director of Professional Development. She brings 15 years of experience in continuing education and program development for professionals in public and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining SHS, she served as Director of Education at the Texas Library Association and as Director of Conferences and Training at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Jeanette Davidson, Ph.D., serves as the inaugural Director of the Center for Societal Impact (CSI), which aligns interdisciplinary efforts in research and scholarship, curriculum and instruction, and community partnerships to solve critical social problems. Areas of focus include aging, disability, housing, community development, children and families, and health. Previously, Dr. Davidson served on the faculty at the University of Oklahoma.
J.D. Moore, MPA, is Director of Marketing & Communications. Previously, he worked for the Greater San Marcos Partnership, where he focused on economic development
and public sector service. He oversees all marketing and communications activities at SHS, where his priority is to help SHS tell its stories – particularly those of its outstanding faculty, staff, and students whose work changes lives.
Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D., joins SHS as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. A 2012 graduate of the doctoral program at SHS, Dr. Gomez previously served as Interim Dean of the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. Under her leadership, she oversaw strategic, financial, and academic decisions for nearly 1,000 students across three academic programs, doubling research funding. Prior to serving as Interim Dean, Dr. Gomez was Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at VCU.
Erin Swearingen is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Societal Impact and works closely with Dr.
Jeanette Davidson. A proud alumna, she graduated from UT with a degree in Government, focusing on law and political communications. Prior to returning to UT, she worked for five years in the local political sphere focusing on elections, higher education, and energy policy.
Liz Nowicki, ACSW, LCSW, MSSW ’86, retired in December 2022 as Director of Professional Development. Nowicki founded the school’s first Office of Professional Development in 2000. While there, she oversaw the office’s exponential growth, hosting multiple conferences, workshops, and certification courses. She extended the program’s reach nationally, serving on the national Continuing Education Network (CENET) associated with Council on Social Work Education, and served as co-chair of the CENET group from 2005 – 2019.
Nowicki also coordinated and managed the Texas School Social Work conference, the largest gathering of school social workers in Texas. Her contributions enhanced our school’s national reputation and advanced the profession of social work.
Michele Rountree, Ph.D., retired in 2022 as Associate Professor. During her time at SHS, she created an interconnected body of research, teaching, leadership, and service that focused on health promotion, prevention, and equity. Her research focused on the health and wellness of marginalized communities, particularly those of Black women. Her research was at the nexus of experiences related to co-occurring disparities, including maternal mortality and morbidity, substance use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and HIV/AIDS health outcomes.
Dr. Rountree often employed a community-based participatory research approach to ensure the translation of research findings to practice and policy. She is the “founding mother” of Black Mamas ATX, a nonprofit that developed directly from her research project, Black Mamas Community Collective.
Dede Sparks, LMSW, retired in August 2022 from her position as Assistant Clinical Professor. She was a valued part of the Field Education team throughout her tenure in SHS, teaching in BSW field work and liaising with MSSW students interning in the Houston medical complex, including those at the Michael D. DeBakey Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center and UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Sparks advanced interprofessional education (IPE) in her role as Assistant Dean for Health Affairs, collaborating with the Dell Medical School, the College of Nursing, and College of Pharmacy. She developed IPE simulations and coursework, including the Foundations of Interprofessional Practice. She also played a key role in establishing social work education at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Calvin Streeter, Ph.D., MSW, retired in August 2022 as the Meadows Foundation Centennial Professor in the Quality of Life in the Rural Environment. Joining the faculty in 1989, Dr. Streeter chaired the Community and Administrative Leadership concentration, and the International Committee. He also liaised with interns at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, and with Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) in Chennai, India. He was also the social work faculty liaison with Projects with Underserved Communities, a collaboration between UT’s Schools of Engineering and Social Work.
In addition to his interest in rural social work, his scholarship focused on school-based services, homelessness, disabilities, and employment policy, and was featured in more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, monographs, conference proceedings, technical papers, and research reports, as well as in numerous national and international conference presentations. He chaired or co-chaired the School’s efforts through numerous reaccreditation processes with the Council on Social Work Education.
The Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHS) community was deeply saddened by the passing of three of our longtime colleagues, including Dr. Beth Pomeroy, Jack Nowicki, and Russell Smith.
Elizabeth C. (Beth) Pomeroy, Ph.D., ACSW, LCSW, died on May 27, 2022. After beginning her career as a clinical social worker, Dr. Pomeroy earned a doctoral degree in social work at UT Austin to pursue a career in teaching and research.
She taught at the University of Central Florida before returning to UT Austin where she held the Bert Kruger Smith Professorship in Mental Health and Aging and co-directed the Institute for Grief, Loss and Family Survival. She conducted significant research in the areas of grief and loss, HIV/AIDS, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Dr. Pomeroy was recognized with many awards, including the University of Texas Board of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and the National Association of Social Workers, Central Texas Chapter, Social Worker of the Year Award. She was also inducted into the UT Austin Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
Perhaps above all, Dr. Pomeroy was distinguished by her ability to connect with others. She gave freely of her time as a mentor for both students and colleagues. Her friend, Lori Holleran-Steiker, Ph.D., ACSW, noted that “Beth had a deep passion for SHS. She was known for establishing deep and meaningful friendships with colleagues and students.”
Jack Nowicki, LCSW-S, MSSW, adjunct professor, died on January 22, 2023. Nowicki was a treasured teacher and a valued part of the SHS community for over 25 years, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses. He developed and taught a course on Solution- Focused Brief Therapy for the School, one of few in the country taught in a university setting. Nowicki’s many contributions had a global reach. In March 2020, he partnered with Dr. Cynthia Franklin and doctoral student Weiwen Zeng to deliver a remote crisis-intervention training using Solution-Focused approaches for social workers and counselors in Wuhan and other places in China. Over a long practice career, he worked for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and several Austin-based nonprofit agencies. He also maintained a private practice, providing therapy services and clinical supervision for social workers pursuing licensure.
A talented artist and writer, Nowicki painted, wrote short fiction, and contributed to professional publications.
Nowicki met the challenges of several health conditions over the past 25 years, and maintained blogs until May of 2022, including Jack’s Kidney Adventure, and later, Jack’s HHT Adventure, which have followers from across the globe.
Russell Smith, LMSW, adjunct assistant professor, died on February 17, 2023. He taught classes on grant writing/fund development and on nonprofit financial management at SHS. He received undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and completed the MSW degree at the University of Houston School of Social Work.
Smith’s family has a long history of supporting SHS. A professorship held by Dean Allan Cole was established in honor of Russell’s grandmother, Bert Kruger Smith.
Russell followed in the footsteps of his grandmother and grandfather, Sid, to become a community leader in his own right. He held executive leadership positions in many nonprofit organizations, including YouthLaunch, Austin Child Guidance Center, and Refugee Services of Texas. He also served as a volunteer board member for nonprofits such as Regarding Cancer, Austin Groups for the Elderly, and the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin.
Knowing Russell’s passion for the students he taught, his dear friend, Dr. Scott McGraw, established the Russell Alan Smith Memorial Fellowship in Graduate Social Work Studies. Donations are encouraged in his name.