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Tulane School of Social Work Alumni Association and Alumni Engagement

The Tulane University School of Social Work Alumni Association is made up of all graduates from the MSW, DSW, DRLA, and Duel-Degree programs of the School. Alumni engagement events and endeavors are facilitated by the Director of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Board who is focused on promoting and supporting the Tulane School of Social Work in its mission and programs. 

Alumni Board members must be alumni of Tulane’s School of Social Work and must abide by the code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. New nominations for the TSSW Alumni Association Board are welcome and will be considered on a rolling basis. Nominations must be submitted through the nomination form below.

Nomination Form

Find a list of emeritus members of the TSSW Alumni Association here.

Questions? Contact us at


Active Board Members:

Amy L. Sandridge, MSPH, PhD, MSW, LCSW

President of TSSW Alumni Association Board & Psychiatric Social Worker (SW *15)
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    Licensed in Alaska and Louisiana, Dr. Sandridge earned her MSW from TSSW in 2015. Her doctorate in Epidemiology is from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She was also a student at SPHTM from 1987 to 1988 in the Departments of International Health and Epidemiology. She earned her MSPH from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College. 

    Dr. Sandridge has investigated the psychosocial health of New Orleans Police Officers and the institutionalization of children in Armenia, supported by the Lumos Charity. Her PhD dissertation explored risk factors for congenital heart defects. She is an expert on the cultural practices of the Middle East, particularly the Gulf, specifically, consanguinity. Dr. Sandridge has authored peer-reviewed publications and has presented her work extensively at international, regional and local scientific meetings and conferences. Additionally, she has served on several Institutional Review Boards.

    Dr. Sandridge has been on the faculty of the American University of Armenia and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. She has also worked for the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, the National Health Service in Scotland, the Navajo Reservation, and with Johns Hopkins University in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She has worked, locally, for Odyssey House, River Oaks and Greenbrier/Covington Behavioral Health and recently completed a six month locum tenens with Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation in rural Alaska.  

    Her current research interests include the best strategies for working with individuals who have recently entered the recovery process and children of parents with mental illness/substance abuse issues.  

Allyson Bodin O’Connor, DSW, LCSW-BACS, ACSW

Vice President of TSSW Alumni Association Board, Behavioral Health Specialist, Jefferson Parish Schools (SW*92, SW*93)
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    Allyson Bodin O’Connor has her Doctor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Tulane University and has over 25 years of experience as a Louisiana Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board-approved Clinical Supervisor specializing in trauma-informed, crisis intervention services for children, adolescents, adults, and families in inpatient and outpatient behavioral health and medical settings. She currently works as a behavioral health specialist in a multidisciplinary, rural school-based health center and as a crisis-trauma-informed therapist in a local Victim Assistance Program. Her research focuses on psychological resilience, violence prevention (Intimate Partner Violence), and disaster research.

    She has administrative experience as a Director of Therapeutic Services in grassroots efforts to develop programs and establish services for underserved populations in rural areas. She has recruited and trained volunteers, marketed programs and services in community-based agencies, and functioned as a Director of Medical Programs and liaison to a National Medical Advisory Board of a non-profit organization. She has also worked in private practice, ambulatory resident-driven medical clinics, emergency rooms, home health, hospice, and palliative care services.  

    She has trained and mentored MSW students, residents, and staff and taught a Psychopathology course at Tulane University, School of Social Work.


Kathryn S. Katz, MSW, LCSW, MPH

Secretary of TSSW Alumni Association Board (SW*75)
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    Kathryn has lived most of her life in Connecticut. She received her Bachelor’s degree at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, CT with a Sociology/Social Work major. After working a few years, she took a journey south to New Orleans to attend the Tulane School of Social Work. 

    As a 1975 MSW graduate, Kathryn began her studies with a focus on direct, clinical services. But her three semester field placement at Kingsley House provided many opportunities to also delve into program development, administration, and community organizing activities. 

    For two post MSW decades, Kathryn worked for services on behalf of the elderly—as the Director of Social Services in a large nursing facility; developed and administered among the first Adult Day Health programs in CT; and was the New Haven Regional Director of a Statewide Community Based program which enabled seniors to remain at home rather than placed in nursing facilities. Concurrently, she was President of the CT Association of Adult Day Centers and Secretary of the National Institute of Adult Daycare, a constituency group of the then National Council on Aging. 

    In the 1990’s, Kathryn earned a Master’s of Public Health degree from the Yale School of Public Health. This enabled her to shift the focus of her career into a wellness and preventive health model. She was employed by two large CT managed care companies where she administered programs for members with behavioral health concerns as well as to develop and implement quality of care initiatives. 

    Since retirement, Kathryn continues to consult with managed care companies and continues her clinical work as a Hospice volunteer. She believes strongly in giving back her time and talents to schools and organizations that have impacted her life and that is the focus of her involvement with the TSSW Alumni Board. In her free time, she sings with her church choir, gardens, travels, and enjoys being with friends, family, and her dog, Kobe.

Antrina M. Bell, DSW, LMSW

Instructor of Social Work (SW*19)
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    Dr. Antrina M. Bell received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/Social Work from Alcorn State University (2003).  She received her Master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she specialized in school social work (2005). In May 2019, Dr. Bell earned a Doctor of Social Work degree from Tulane University. Her research interests include forensic social work, children of incarcerated parents, exposure to trauma, and college student engagement andretention.

    Currently, Dr. Bell is an instructor at Alcorn State University.  In addition to serving as chair of the Admissions’ Committee, she teaches Basic Issues in Mental Health, Child Welfare, Community Social Work Practice, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Skills in Interviewing, and Social Welfare Policy and Services.  Dr. Bell is also a Board Member for Positive Choices Counseling Services (Vidalia, LA).

Allison Brauer, LCSW

School Social Work, KIPP New Orleans (SW*11)
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    Allison “Alli” Brauer is a Mexican/German American transplant to New Orleans, LA from Gaithersburg, MD. Alli earned her Bachelor’s in Art Therapy and Minored in Painting from Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2007. Alli moved to New Orleans and began working as a Preschool Teacher at Abeona House, a Reggio Emelia inspired early education childcare center that was one of the first to open after Hurricane Katrina. After three years of working with children and families as a teacher, Alli went on to complete a master’s degree in Social Work from Tulane University in 2011. 

    Alli currently works as a School Social Worker/Grief and Trauma specialist at KIPP Central City Primary School and is passionate about providing early intervention to help support the needs of the community and nurture the future of New Orleans. Alli is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with experience in Direct Clinical Services, Addiction Recovery Intervention, Crisis Intervention, Supportive Family Intervention, Parent Education and Early Childhood Intervention. With over 10 years of professional experience as a Social Worker, Alli has worked with Multidisciplinary clinical teams throughout the city along with individuals, families, and multiple schools. Alli currently serves on the Tulane School of Social Work Board of Alumni.

    Alli is active in her community as an artist and one of the founding members of the Krewe of Red Beans, a second line krewe and community organization in New Orleans. As the krewe members have grown, the parade has become very kid friendly. Started in 2009, the Krewe of Red Beans is proudly one of the only parades where parents march alongside their children. For many in New Orleans, the Krewe of Red Beans has become a Lundi Gras tradition. During the COVD-19 pandemic, the Krewe of Red Beans created and supported initiatives to feed front line workers at hospitals, support musicians, artists and culture-bearers and elderly in our community by providing door to clinic support and grocery deliveries.  

Christopher Ferraris, LMSW

Program Manager at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies (SW*09)
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    Christopher Ferraris is a New Yorker originally from the Northern Virginia area. Chris graduated with his MSW from the Tulane School of Social Work in 2009 and has worked in HIV research since then. Chris is a Program Manager at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University. In this role, he manages a portfolio of HIV research studies mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. He is interested in building the capacity of social workers and social work students in research operations and administration, program management, monitoring and evaluation, and data analysis and management.

    Chris is an avid runner, traveler, true crime podcast listener, and dessert expert. He is based in Manhattan. 

Almarie Ford, LCSW

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    Almarie Ford has over 40 years of social work experience in direct services, human services administration, and program development implementation and evaluation. Long time community organizer and child family advocate. Employed by Healthy Blue Louisiana, a Managed Care Organization contracted by the LA Department of Health since 2015 as a Senior Business Chance Manager in behavioral health. A Southern University at New Orleans Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work since 2012 teaching a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses. Served as the LA Office of Mental Health’s statewide Cultural Competence Officer from 2005-2012. Served as interim faculty for Brandeis University Heller School Center for Human Resources National Academy on Teen Parents and Self-Sufficiency issues from 1990-1994 while Director of the City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Human Resources Policy and Planning (Human Services) from 1986-1994. Ford is also a certified field instructor for Masters level social work and counseling student interns at Southern University at New Orleans, Clark/Atlanta, LA State, Grambling, Tulane, Xavier, and Layola.

    Ford has been a LCSW since 1979 and received her MSW from Tulane University in 1975 with a concentration in Community Organization and Planning and specialization in mental health. She also received her BA from Southern Illinois University in 1971 with a Sociology major and Psychology minor.

Jessica A. Irving-Marin, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (SW*15)
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    Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over fifteen years of experience in community-based youth development and program leadership. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from The University of Texas at Austin and spent three years following undergrad providing reading instruction to over-age students in St. Bernard Parish. Jessica joined the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) team as a social worker providing educational and social-emotional services to out-of-school youth and young adults. While at YEP, Jessica earned her Master of Social Work degree and certificate in Disaster Mental Health and Trauma studies. Jessica currently serves as the Director of YEP Educates, YEP's adult education service area. She has presented widely on the topics of youth development and youth re-engagement and has been instrumental in bridging the service gap for out-of-school youth in New Orleans. Jessica's additional professional interests include self-compassion and acceptance, work-life integration, helper burnout, and compassion fatigue. In addition to her membership on the TSSW Alumni Association Board, Jessica serves as the Secretary of the Board of Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program NOLA (LOOPNOLA) and spends much of her downtime hiking and camping with her husband and two-year-old son. 

Loree Short Joseph, LCSW

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    Loree lives in Arkansas and is married to James, whom she met while attending Tulane School of Social Work.  Loree has worked with many people:  people dealing with domestic violence, with the elderly, with mentally ill people with substance abuse issues, with children, with mentally ill people with medical problems, and with youth and adults in legal crises.  She has worked with homeless people and with school children who are being bullied.  She has appreciated working with all of them; however, she did not enjoy the endless paperwork involved.  Loree and James have 2 adult children going through college.  Loree works as church secretary at the church of Christ in Benton.

William J. Knecht, LCSW-BACS

Couples, Sex Therapies at Knecht and Associates (SW *73)
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    Bill Knecht has worked in mental health, substance abuse and program management since 1967. He is the Former Director of New Orleans Methadone Clinic and Touro Infirmary Chronic Pain Program and Former Chairman of ERACE (ERACISM). He was also an Adjunct Professor at the Tulane School of Social Work and has been a Field Supervisor for both Tulane and SUNO School of Social Work students. He has a private practice specializing in couples work, sex therapies. Bill's primary interest is in supporting currently enrolled students.

Laurie Smith Lawson, PhD, MSW

Executive Director at Clinton Community Christian Corporation (4Cs) (SW*08)
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    Laurie Smith Lawson is a 1983 graduate from Mississippi College, earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, and PhD in Social Work from Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.

    Dr. Lawson serves as Executive Director at Clinton Community Christian Corporation (4Cs) and is associate professor, chair of the Sociology and Social Work Department  and  director of the Social Work Program at Mississippi College.  She was named the 2012 Alumnus of the Year of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, and the 2021 Distinguished Lecturer for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    She has been instrumental in her community, in civic and Christian organizations, including former board member of Clinton Habitat for Humanity, the Mental Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Chapter,  and Hinds County Human Resource Agency.  She currently serves on the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Task Force, board member of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Community Advisory Board, and the Clinton Chamber of Commerce. 

    Lawson is a motivational speaker, with a strong belief in empowering and lifting others, encouraging self-actualization, while meeting others where they are.  Her life motto is “I live to serve and serve to live.” 

    She and her husband, Donald, reside in Raymond, MS.  They have four adult children, April, Douglas, Dierdre and Marshall.

Sarah McAllister, LMSW, JCTC, JCDC

Career Coach, Tulane University (SW*11)
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    Sarah Basinger earned her Bachleor’s in Psychology from Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina in 2005 and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Tulane University in 2011. Sarah currently works as an Alumni Career Counselor for Tulane University’s Office of Alumni Relations and is passionate about working with young alumni as well as Social Work alumni. Sarah loves teaching salary negotiation and helping alumni build professional confidence to secure and excel in their careers. With over 10 years of professional experience in higher education, Sarah has worked with female identified undergraduate students through the Newcomb Institute as well as Newcomb alumnae before moving over to the career services world. Sarah currently serves as the Secretary for the Tulane School of Social Work Board of Alumni. 

Jim Meadows, LMSW

Executive Director of SAGE New Orleans (SW*07)
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    Jim Meadows, LMSW, received his MSW from Tulane University School of Social Work in 2007. He has practiced as a licensed social worker in a variety of clinical and nonprofit settings, and has worked extensively with older adults. He is a columnist for Ambush Magazine, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. He previously served on the Board of Directors for PFLAG New Orleans and Friday Night Before Mardi Gras. As Executive Director of SAGE New Orleans, he is working to ensure that all LGBT+ older adults in the New Orleans area have the opportunity to live their best possible lives, with the dignity, respect, and good health that they deserve.

Diamond Perri’ Nickelson, MSW, CSW

Social Worker (SW*20)
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    Diamond Nickelson, a recent graduate of the Tulane University School of Social Work with a Master of Social Work degree brings a performance history of excellence in leadership beginning with her educational accomplishments and community involvement. That same community involvement led her to being featured in Tulane’s Alumni Spotlight. 

    Prior to pursuing her graduate degree, Diamond studied Psychology at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During her matriculation at SUBR, she served as a legislative assistant in student government, secretary of the psychology club, and as a diversity coordinator in the 86th Miss Southern University executive cabinet. While at the University, Diamond’s commitment and rigorous research enabled her to present at the 19th Annual Social and Behavioral Science Undergraduate Conference and be awarded the 2017 Psychology Top Researcher of the Year award. 

    Nickelson is a graduate of Xavier University Preparatory High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. During her tenure at XUP, she was a member of the diversity club, key club, Future Business Leaders of America, served 4 years on the student council and was elected as “Student Council President” by the student body.

    Diamond’s previous employment includes: a mental health hospital technician, a six-year internship in the Clerk’s Office of Orleans Parish Civil District Court and Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. She completed her MSW field practicum with University Medical Center’s Trauma Recovery Team.

    Diamond has a passion for social justice with a commitment and interest in education, juvenile justice, advocacy, and policy development. Her understanding of community needs and her involvement in student government at the high school, university, and graduate school level, led her to run for Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee. Though she was not elected, Diamond viewed the experience as “my season of introduction”. 

    As an individual who possess the core values of dignity, service and integrity, Nickelson will continue advocating for the community with an overall goal of meeting the needs of the underserved in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Tanya Pierre, LCSW

Social Worker (SW*90)
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    1990 Tulane School of Social Work Graduate 
    1990 Tulane School of School of Social Work Gerontology Certificate

    Currently Employed -Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
    Social Work Supervisor, Housing & Urban Development 
    Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program


    • National Association of Social Workers
    • Academy of Certified Social Workers
    • Board Approved Clinical Supervisor

Zachary C. Ransom, LSW

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    Zachary C. Ransom, LSW, graduated from Tulane’s School of Social Work in December of 2020. He was a member of the first few cohorts that were completely remote students. He also earned his Disaster and Collective Trauma certificate as a part of his curriculum. Prior to attending Tulane’s Social Work program, Zachary served the citizens of Harrison and Hancock Counties in MS as a Paramedic. This inspired him to pursue his further education with a focus on trauma. 

    Zachary has since moved to Pennsylvania. While they met in Louisiana, his girlfriend is from PA and they decided to raise their family in that area so that they would be near her extended family. After graduation and settling in the area, Zach quickly secured employment with Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems. Beacon Light is a subsidiary of Journey Health Care. The agencies which fall under the Journey umbrella all have a long and storied history of serving the residents of PA in different manners as non-profit organizations. Zachary began working with them as a Residential Master’s Therapist and quickly secured his Licensed Social Worker credentials from the PA board. He has since transitioned to a Residential Treatment Coordinator position at another of Beacon Light’s programs and is participating in weekly supervision toward his LCSW. 

    Zachary’s work in the residential treatment centers is focused on providing care to children suffering from varying mental health and intellectual disability diagnoses. He strives to provide them with the best case management and individual/family/group therapy services possible. His newer position as Treatment Coordinator places a large emphasis on ensuring that all services provided, and aspects of the facility are trauma informed. 

    Zach’s goals for now are to continue working with Beacon Light and work toward his LCSW. Serving on the alumni association, he hopes to help build a network of support among the diverse population that is Tulane’s School of Social Work Alumnus. He hopes to help offer direct support through helping to develop networking and CEU opportunities. He also hopes to help offer recognition to those of us doing great work in the field by nominating them for recognition through applicable awards.

Brianna Rock, LMSW, MPH

Deputy Judicial Administrator and Program Manager, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court (OPJC) (PHTM *19, SW *19)
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    Brianna Rock, LMSW, MPH is a licensed social worker and public health professional at the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court (OPJC), where she holds the position of Deputy Judicial Administrator and Program Manager. Brianna Rock was a 2019 graduate of Tulane School of Social Work (TSSW) and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (TSPHTM).

    Brianna’s professional history includes providing case management and crisis counseling for juvenile victims of sex trafficking, juveniles at high-risk for sex trafficking, child victims of other crime and abuse, and non-offending family members. In her current role at OPJC, Brianna has enhanced the capacity for trauma-informed care through the continued development of protocols and practices within the Juvenile Court to screen youth for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and human trafficking, through ensuring reporting and case coordination for child victims of crime, and through the reduction of re-traumatization of youth and families that is associated with coming to court through the use of Calming Studios. Further, Brianna has also developed a juvenile justice stakeholder meeting in New Orleans to not only reduce the retraumatization of youth and families associated with the juvenile legal system, but to also reduce the gaps in services by providing a more comprehensive continuum of care. 

    In her role on the TSSW Alumni Association Board, Brianna is most excited to connect with current TSSW students, to develop pathways for continued relationships between students and alumni, and to provide opportunities for networking for field placements and professional prospects.

Amy Simmons, PhD, LCSW-BACS

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (SW*03)
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    Dr. Amy Simmons is a licensed clinical social worker and board approved clinical supervisor.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of New Orleans in 2000 and then her Master’s degree in social work in 2003 from Tulane University. She subsequently earned her PhD in Counseling and Psychological Studies with a concentration in Trauma and Crisis Counseling from Regent University. Her dissertation focused on the preparedness and perceived self-efficacy of teachers in responding to suicidal students. Dr. Simmons was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and has a passion for working with adolescents.  She has centered her work on assisting adolescents and their families through her work in the public school system as well as in her private practice.

Michael Spencer, LMSW

Director for the Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Texas Department of State Health Services (SW*16)
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    Michael Spencer serves as the Director for the Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, TX.  In this role, he oversees a number of public and population health initiatives for pregnant women and new mothers, infants, children, adolescents, and children and youths with special health care needs as well as the state injury prevention programs for all Texans.

    He started his professional career working in the maternal and child health field since 2005, starting as a care coordinator and child passenger safety coordinator for medically complex children at Riley Hospital for Children before coming to Texas to work in state-level public health.  He also served as a public health analyst with the Health Resources and Services Administration as well as the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Director for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  

    Michael has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Purdue University (2005), a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University (2005), and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Tulane University (2015).  While at the Tulane University School of Social Work, he served as the President of the Student Government Association (2014-2015) and was awarded the Dean’s Leadership and Academic Excellence Award (2015). Additionally, he was nominated and received the Tulane 34 Award for Leadership, Service, and Academic Excellence (2016).  He’s also a recent graduate of the Texas Health and Human Services’ Executive Leadership Academy (2020).