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Alumni in Leadership


Rosemarie Hunter, PhD

Dean, School of Leadership Studies
Gonzaga University

PhD 2004

Dissertation Title: “Community Conversations: Sustaining Community Engagement in Schools of Social Work Located in Research-Intensive Universities”

Dr. Rosemarie Hunter joined Gonzaga University in June 2019, as the Inaugural Dean of the School of Leadership Studies. The School offers undergraduate studies in the Comprehensive Leadership Program, while graduate students have options that include a Master in Organizational Leadership and the Master in Communications and Leadership Studies and the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies.  Within the Jesuit tradition of education, the hallmark of this leadership approach is the relationships that faculty form with students, listening for understanding and drawing students deeper into a personal and collective journey of reflective learning that leads to the critical awareness of our power, privilege and responsibility to act in ways that supports a more just and caring world.

Previously, Dean Hunter served as social work faculty at the University of Utah from 1995 – 2019. While at Utah, Dean Hunter served in several administrative positions including, Special Assistant to the President for Campus-Community Partnerships, Director of University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), and Director of Undergraduate Social Work Field Education and Director of International Social Work. Dean Hunter earned a PhD from the University Utah, and a master’s from Brigham Young University, both in social work. Dean Hunter is a founding partner of the Bridging Borders Project, a global collective working together to transform traditional boundaries and create vital networks that lead to pathways in education for communities living at or working with those at the marginsHer community service includes serving on the Board of Community Campus Partnerships for Health and also served as a Global Ambassador for the Social Service Workforce Alliance. Dean Hunter’s accomplishments were recognized by the 2015 YWCA Outstanding Achievement Award in Community Service; the 2018 Excellence in Global Engagement Faculty Award, the 2018 Community Engaged Teaching and Scholarship Award.




Shadi Martin, PhD, MSW, MPA/HSA, MA

Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
University of Nevada, Reno

PhD 2004

Dissertation title: “Exploring Health Disparities: Perceptions of Culturally Appropriate Health/Mental Health Care Among Late-in-Life Iranian Immigrants”

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has named Shadi S. Martin, Ph.D., vice provost for graduate and international education. Martin, a professor and founding dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work, will begin work at UAB June 1, 2022.

Under Dr. Shadi Martin leadership, the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Social Work has experienced its highest enrollment in history with nearly 800 students an increase of 433% over the past four years. Meeting the workforce needs of the State of Nevada is just one of Dean Shadi Martin’s goals since joining UNR SSW in 2018. Dean Martin has led the School through a laundry list of accomplishments that positioned the School for continuous growth despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

 Shadi Martin led the School to achieving its long-awaited goal of becoming the first independent stand-alone School of Social Work in the State of Nevada.  Shadi Martin was named the founding dean and the first woman of color to serve as an academic Dean at this Carnegie Research 1 (R1) University.  The independent SSW developed its new vision and mission around leadership, social justice and social work values. 




Halaevalu Vakalahi, PhD, MSW, MSEd

Dean, College of Health and Society
Hawai’i Pacific University

PhD 1998

Dissertation Title: “Adolescent substance use in Utah: the influence of family-based risk and protective factors”

Dean Vakalahi is a Pacific Islander woman, born in Tonga and raised in Hawai'i.  She is a Professor and Dean of the College of Health and Society at Hawai'i Pacific University with kuleana over disciplines of nursing, public health, and social work. For over two decades in academia, she has been blessed to have served in various faculty and administrative capacities in a number of universities, professional organizations, and communities. Her scholarly contributions are in the areas of Pacific Islander families and communities and Women of Color in academia. She is deeply committed to the advancement of Women of Color in academia as a demonstration of social and economic justice. With clarity of purpose in the academy, Dean Vakalahi is firm in her belief that representation matters, systems responsiveness matters, and investment in leadership matters.




Dena Ned, PhD, MSW

Associate Dean of the Office of First Generation Access
Director, American Indian Social Work Program
Associate Professor (Lecturer)

PhD 2013

Dissertation Title: “Title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act 36 years Later: An Interpretive Policy Analysis”

Dr. Dena Ned is the inaugural Associate Dean of the Office for First Generation Access at the University of Utah. In this role, she works with three programs in Undergraduate Studies: the Dream Center, First-Gen Scholars, and First Star Academy—all of which share the goal of increasing the enrollment, retention, and graduation success of first-generation college students. She is also serving as a Director of the American Indian Social Work Program and is a professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work.

Last Updated: 12/14/21