Faculty Directors

Richard James Gelles, PhD

Richard J. Gelles holds The Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence in the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

His book, The Violent Home was the first systematic empirical investigation of family violence and continues to be highly influential. He is the author or coauthor of 26 books and more than 200 articles and chapters on family violence. His latest books are Current Controversies on Family Violence, 2nd Edition (with Donilene Loseke and Mary Cavanaugh—Sage Publications, 2005) and The Third Lie: Why Government Programs Don’t Work and a Blueprint for Change (Left Coast Press, 2011).

Gelles received his A.B. degree from Bates College (1968), an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Rochester (1971), and a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of New Hampshire (1973). He edited the journal, TEACHING SOCIOLOGY from 1973 to 1981 and received the American Sociological Association, Section on Undergraduate Education, and “Outstanding Contributions to Teaching Award” in 1979. In 1999 Gelles received the “Award for Career Achievement in Research” from the American Professional Science on the Abuse of Children. Gelles has presented innumerable lectures to policy-making groups and media groups, including THE TODAY SHOW, CBS MORNING NEWS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW, DATELINE, and ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. In 1984 ESQUIRE named him to one of the men and women who are “changing America.”

Curriculum Vitae

Cindy W. Christian, MD

4022-TFC_Faculty_CindyChristian_158x231Cindy W. Christian, MD holds the Anthony A. Latini Endowed Chair in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  She is a Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Admissions at the Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Christian completed her pediatric residency and child abuse pediatrics fellowship at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she has spent her career.  Dr. Christian devotes much of her clinical and academic work to the care of abused children. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section on Child Abuse and Neglect, and served as the former Chair of the Academy’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.   Dr. Christian is a founding member of the Ray E. Helfer Society, and is a member of a number of other local and national organizations devoted to the care of abused and neglected children. In 2007, Dr. Christian was named Pennsylvania Pediatrician of the Year by the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  In 2010, Dr. Christian was appointed as the first medical director for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, leading the development of policies and strategies to improve the health of Philadelphia’s dependent children.  Dr. Christian was appointed by Governor Corbett to the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection.

Curriculum Vitae

Cindy Connolly, PhD RN FAAN

4022-TFC_Faculty_CindyConnolly_158x231Cindy Connolly, PhD RN PNP, is Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, where she holds the Rosemarie B. Greco Endowed Term Chair in Advocacy. Dr. Connolly’s research analyzes the forces that have shaped children’s health care delivery and family policy in the United States.  She is particularly interested in the evolution of pediatric medical and nursing practice, the way in which illness has been experienced over time by children and families, and the legacy of past politics in current health and social welfare policies.

After receiving her PhD in nursing history from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Connolly entered  postdoctoral training at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s History of Public Health and Medicine Program. Her time at Columbia was enhanced by a fellowship in the United States Senate with the late Senator Paul Wellstone [D-Minn] where she worked extensively on children’s health and social welfare issues, including reauthorization of the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA). After five years at the Yale University School of Nursing, she returned to the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches undergraduate pediatric concepts across multiple nursing courses as well as a Benjamin Franklin Honors seminar, “Children’s Health in the United States, 1800-2000”. Dr. Connolly completed an NIH-funded project focusing on an early twentieth century child-focused intervention, the preventorium, and her research was published in her award-winning book:  Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909–1970.

Her current research, A Prescription for a Healthy Childhood: A History of Children and Pharmaceuticals in the United States, 1945-2003, is funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award and interweaves history and policy to study children and pharmaceuticals in the post World War II United States.  One case study focuses on clinical trial participation in children living in foster care and institutional settings. Dr. Connolly is a 2015 recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Curriculum Vitae

Kara R. Finck, Esq.

4022-TFC_Faculty_KaraFinck_158x231Kara R. Finck, Esq., is a Practice Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic, which focuses on the legal needs of children and families. Students enrolled in the clinic engage in direct legal representation on interdisciplinary teams, while also working on systemic reform projects in the areas of child welfare, child health and Family Court.

Before coming to Penn Law, she was the Managing Attorney of the Family Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders, where she created a groundbreaking holistic legal practice for parents involved in the child welfare system.  The Family Defense Practice represented thousands of parents in Bronx Family Court through interdisciplinary teams of attorneys, social workers and parent advocates.

Her areas of specialty include child welfare, parents’ rights and interdisciplinary practice focusing specifically on law and social work collaboration. She has presented on best practices in child welfare and dependency cases, the collateral consequences of child welfare involvement and interdisciplinary collaboration. Her recent scholarship includes: Social Work Practice and the Law, co-authored with Dr. Lyn Slater, PhD (Springer Publishing, 2011).

Curriculum Vitae

Antonio Garcia, MSW, PhD

Antonio Garcia

Dr. Antonio Garcia is Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Child Well-Being & Child Welfare Specialization (CW2) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. His research focuses on disproportionality and racial disparities in child welfare, understanding epidemiological trends related to children of color’s experiences in foster care, etiological explanations for their increased risk of out-of-home displacement, and lack of access to and use of effective mental health interventions as compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Dr. Garcia’s work aims to further develop dissemination and implementation strategies to promote the use of evidence-based mental health interventions for the racially/ethnically diverse pool of youth served by the foster care system.

Curriculum Vitae

Johanna Greeson, PhD, MSS, MLSP

Dr. Greeson is Assistant Professor at the University of Pennyslvania School of Social Policy & Practice where she is Co-Director of the Child Well-Being & Child Welfare Specialization (CW2). Her published work includes scholarly articles on natural mentoring, evidence-based practices for older youth in foster care, including independent living programming, residential group care, intensive in-home therapy, low-income homeownership, and child/adolescent traumatic stress. Dr. Greeson has developed and is testing a theory and research-based intervention for older foster youth, Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere (C.A.R.E.), focused on the cultivation of resilience through the development of supportive adult relationships for foster youth.

Curriculum Vitae

Sara Jaffee, PhD

Dr. Sara Jaffee is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Director of the Undergraduate Honors Program and Director of Graduate Studies.  Dr. Jaffee is a a developmental psychopathologist who conducts research on at-risk families and children. She is interested in how stressful environments exacerbate underlying genetic vulnerabilities to affect children’s development, with a special interest in children’s antisocial behavior. Her work combines longitudinal, epidemiological methods with genetically-informative research designs to better understand how risk and protective factors operate in children’s development.

Curriculum Vitae