About The Dean

Dr. Jeanette C. Takamura is the first female dean at the nation’s first school of social work.

Much of her life’s work has been dedicated to in the advancement of national and state policies and programs in aging, health, and related areas. She was assistant secretary for aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1997 to 2001. There, she led the development and enactment of a modernized Older Americans Act and established the National Family Caregiver Support Program, the federal government’s first formal recognition of the significant contributions and needs of family caregivers. Recognizing the challenges and opportunities presented by the coming of age of the baby boom population, she also spearheaded an initiative to lay the foundation for aging policy and program coordination and collaboration across executive branch departments and agencies for the first decade of the new millennium.

Early in her career, Dean Takamura was a practicing social worker serving youth and families. She held senior executive positions in the Hawaii state government and faculty and administrative appointments in higher education in Hawaii and California. She has served on numerous national and international boards, commissions, and working groups, is a fellow of the National Academic for Public Administration and the National Academy for Social Insurance, and has received numerous awards, among them the Lucy Stone Award from the White House for her advocacy on behalf of older women and the enactment of the National Family Caregiver Support Program. In 2006, she was named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation, the premier professional association for social workers.

Her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology and her master’s degree in social work are from the University of Hawaii, and she holds a Ph.D. in social policy from Brandeis University.

Message from the Dean, Winter 2013

As we move into 2013, we are all cognizant of how dramatically the world and our nation have changed. We may have avoided the plunge off the fiscal cliff, but we are reminded that the ideological divide continues to rent us as a nation. 

Like others in the tri-state region, our School remains deeply concerned about the devastation that Hurricane Sandy wrought, but is heartened by the efforts being made by a number of CUSSW students, alumni, and colleagues to help victims, many of whom are still in need of relief.

Our School’s strength has long been in trauma- and loss-focused interventions, and now we add to this a new Center on Complicated Grief, launched in February 2013 and led by Dr. Katherine Shear, the Marion Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry in Social Work. A CUSSW News & Events article by Simone Scully describes the pioneering treatment for complicated grief that the new Center will help to promote.

In its Winter 2013 issue, Spectrum, the magazine for the Columbia School of Social Work, included an article by the newest member of our faculty, Assistant Professor Heidi Allen, about her research on the Medicaid program being implemented in Oregon. 

Also featured in this edition is an interview with Professor Fred Ssewamala and his assistant, alumna Vilma Iljic (MS’10) describing Professor Sewamala's new savings intervention program for AIDS orphans in Uganda, funded by the NIH, and its day-long launch event organized last fall in Masaka Town. 

Our students are always a source of pride and joy. For almost thirty years, the School’s Social Enterprise Administration concentration, under the leadership of Professor Shelley Akabas, has blazed a trail, opening new opportunities for our students and alumni in corporate and other atypical settings. This edition of Spectrum features just two such settings:  Starwood Hotels and the Ms. Foundation. We are also pleased to present the experiences of two students who were deeply engaged in community development last summer—not in the U.S., but in Tamil Nadu, India.

Spectrum also features an interview with Trélan Holder (MS’06), an alumna who will serve as president of our School’s Alumni Association, following in the capable footsteps of Emily Jabbour (MS’06).

This year we will welcome Angela Davis back to Columbia University. She was the keynote speaker at a conference organized last year by our students’ Criminal Justice Caucus—an event that has since been recognized by the Harlem community as one of the noteworthy 2012 Columbia happenings. Our involvement in the Harlem/Manhattanville community is deepening. This is thanks in part to the continuing work of faculty such as Professor Ron Mincy and in part to a new partnership the School has forged with the State and City Departments of Education, Columbia’s Double Discovery, the Center for American Studies, and others to create a new CUSSW Achievement Institute at the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.

Meanwhile, promising junior faculty from many other universities were everywhere in evidence at the School during several faculty-led events, including the Fragile Families Workshop, held at the School for the first time; the NIH Summer Institute, led by Senior Associate Dean Allen Zweben (PhD’77); and the HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Researchers, under the leadership of Associate Professor Elwin Wu (MS’00) and Professor Nabila El Bassel (DSW’89)

One of the highlights of last year was being invited by the Columbia Alumni Association to sponsor a public lecture on redefining poverty featuring three of our professors: Irv GarfinkelNeeraj Kaushal; and Jane Waldfogel. Also last year, Columbia University Press issued the Guide to Social Work Writing, co-edited by Warren Green—Mr. Writing Center at our School—and Associate Professor Barbara Simon, with articles by many of our faculty. 

Finally, we want to mention that our Fisher-Cummings Washington Fellows will be in the nation’s capital this semester, thanks to a generous gift by Marjorie Fisher and Julie Cummings (MS’12), and that we will be offering a Tony Tripodi Lecture on International Social Work because of a much appreciated gift from doctoral alumnus Tony Tripodi (DSW’63), who has shown stellar leadership as a researcher and educator. Thanks to these and other alumni who have given generously, we have been able to make many of students’—and our School’s—dreams  come true.

Jeanette C. Takamura
Dean and Professor