Council of Deans

Council of Deans

The School of Social Work Council of Deans is composed of a number of school leaders in charge of specific administrative areas to support our mission. Below is a brief description of the roles and responsibilities of each office and an organizational chart for the school.

  • Dr. Hara’s work has focused on support for cancer patients, their caregivers, and those bereaved by cancer.

    Dr. Richard Hara is a Lecturer at the Columbia School of Social Work, where he teaches courses on direct practice, clinical practice evaluation, and health care policy. He previously served as a clinical social worker at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and as Director of Online Services at CancerCare, in which role he managed a national program of online support groups serving the needs of cancer patients and caregivers.

    Dr. Hara has presented on cultural competence in oncology social work, end-of-life and bereavement counseling, and the use of online communication with clients in a clinical context. He co-authored a guide for cancer caregiving, and has published articles on cancer survivorship, domestic violence screening, and intervention issues in the oncology population. He contributed a chapter on bereavement groups to the Handbook of Oncology Social Work (Oxford University Press, 2015). He has been the principal investigator for an institutional training grant from the American Cancer Society for second year MSW students in clinical oncology social work.

  • Qin Gao is a leading authority on China’s social welfare system and the founding director of Columbia University’s China Center for Social Policy, the first research center of its kind within a school of social work.

    Qin Gao is a Professor of Social Policy and Social Work and the founding director of Columbia University’s China Center for Social Policy. She is a faculty affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC) and of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, a member of the Faculty Steering Committee for the Columbia Global Centers | Beijing, an Academic Board Member of the China Institute for Income Distribution at Beijing Normal University, and a Public Intellectual Fellow of the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

    Dr. Gao’s research examines the changing nature of the Chinese welfare system and its impact on poverty and inequality; effectiveness of Dibao, China’s primary social assistance program; social protection for rural-to-urban migrants in China and Asian American immigrants; and cross-national comparative social policies and programs. Dr. Gao’s book, Welfare, Work, and Poverty: Social Assistance in China (Oxford University Press, 2017) presents a systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the world’s largest social welfare program. Dr. Gao’s work has been supported by multiple national and international funding sources such as the National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Social Science Fund of China, Asian Development Bank, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

    Dr. Gao holds a BA from China Youth University of Political Studies (China), an MA from Peking University (China), and an MPhil and PhD from the Columbia School of Social Work. She has recently been interviewed by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; the Council on Foreign Relations; and SupChina’s Sinica Podcast.

  • Dr. Jethwani is a developmental psychologist who specializes in educational reform. She analyzes the factors that will make students of all backgrounds feel welcome in school.

    Monique Jethwani joined the full-time faculty at the Columbia School of Social Work in 2012. She previously served as a postdoctoral research scientist at CSSW’s Center for Research on Fathers, Children, and Family Well-Being and is now the director of faculty development.

    Dr. Jethwani has experience in developmental research, program development and evaluation, and direct services for youth. For several years she was director of the Safe Harbor program at Safe Horizon, where she managed the local operation (five sites) and national replication (ten sites) of a comprehensive school-based violence prevention program. She has also provided consulting services that include training, curriculum development, and program planning and evaluation for organizations such as The Children’s Aid Society, The After-School Corporation, Educators for Social Responsibility, Forestdale Inc., and the Partnership for After-School Education.

    Dr. Jethwani has also worked with schools and youth organizations in India, Bermuda, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she conducted quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation studies, consequently identifying best practices. Her mixed-methods doctoral dissertation from New York University, entitled When Teachers Treat Me Well, I Think I Belong: School Belonging and the Psychological and Academic Well-Being of Adolescent Girls in India, earned her the NYU Steinhardt award for outstanding research contribution. Her work in Bermuda focused on the lives of unemployed young Black Bermudian men and the gender gap in educational attainment. It resulted in educational policy recommendations made directly to the Bermudian premier and was featured on the front page of The Bermuda Royal Gazette.

    Most recently, Dr. Jethwani has partnered with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering to evaluate several projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. These projects aim to engage middle school, high school, and college students and their teachers in robotics and cybersecurity activities. Findings have identified strategies to better engage female and minority students in STEM-related activities and careers.

    Dr. Jethwani holds a BA from Barnard College, an EdM from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a PhD from the New York University School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

  • Moira Curtain is Assistant Dean and Director of the Advising Department at CSSW. She previously served as an associate director in the Field Education Department, and managed the International, Immigrant and Refugee Field of Practice. She has taught the Immersion Seminar and the Seminar in Field Instruction at CSSW.

    Prior to joining CSSW, Ms. Curtain was involved in work related to medical social work, foster care, and human rights. She was a Program Director at the Center for Urban Community Services in New York for five years, in which role she worked with formerly homeless people, many of whom also were living with substance use problems, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS. She has consulted with the United Nations, the Soros Foundation, and the International Studies Trauma Program. She serves as a representative to the UN for the International Association of Social Work, and as co-chair of NASW-NYC’s Chapter for the International Affairs Committee. Ms. Curtain earned her BA from La Trobe University (Australia), her BSW from the University of Melbourne (Australia), and her MSW from the Columbia School of Social Work.

  • Melissa Begg became Dean of Columbia School of Social Work on September 1, 2019. She is deeply committed to the pursuit of better science for a better society through research, education, practice and collaboration.

    Dr. Begg is a population health scientist with 30 years of experience and a longstanding commitment to developing the strongest possible evidence base for human health and well-being. Her early research focused on technical methods for evaluating associations from correlated data (such as sibling and family studies), especially as applied to early life determinants of adult health. Dr. Begg has promoted innovation in graduate health professional education, including the implementation of a major redesign of the Columbia MPH curriculum, emphasizing interdisciplinary engagement, practical skill-building, and leadership training for health professionals at all levels. In collaboration with public health and social work colleagues, she participated in launching a new cultural competency training program for MPH students, co-authoring a manuscript on the results. She formerly served as Vice Provost for Academic Programs for Columbia University and Co-Director of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

    Throughout her career, Dr. Begg has developed and directed a number of educational and career development programs to support success in interdisciplinary team science. She has led two NIH-funded training programs to promote diversity: one aimed at undergraduates from under-represented groups, introducing them to careers in the population health sciences; and one aimed at under-represented junior faculty, providing grant-writing advice, career guidance, and mentorship. In 2006, Begg received both the University-wide Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Mailman School Teaching Award from the Graduating Class. She also received the 2013 ASPPH/Pfizer Award for Teaching Excellence. Over the past 15 years as an academic administrator, she has focused on convening interdisciplinary scientific teams, developing innovative curricula, creating mentorship programs, and enhancing diversity in the research workforce.

    Dr. Begg received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Fairfield University and a Doctor of Science in Biostatistics from the Harvard School of Public Health.

    Born and raised in Queens, New York, Dr. Melissa Begg first joined Columbia University as an Assistant Professor of Public Health (Biostatistics) in 1989, after receiving her ScD from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her early research focused on technical methods for evaluating associations from correlated data such as sibling and family studies, especially as applied to early life determinants of adult health.

    As she progressed as an academic, Dr. Begg found herself becoming more and more invested in developing and evaluating academic programs. She found it fascinating to consider how educational programs are created and implemented, and ways to assess whether students in these programs achieve the goals set for them. Reflecting this growing interest, she occupied a series of positions that expanded her capacity as an academic administrator.

    Rising to the position of Co-Director of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the Irving Medical Center—one of over 60 medical research institutions across the nation that work together to speed the translation of research discovery into improved patient care—Dr. Begg promoted innovation in graduate health professional education and directed a number of career development programs for young investigators. With independent funding from the NIH, she initiated two career development programs to promote diversity: one aimed at college undergraduates, introducing them to careers in the population health sciences; the other at underrepresented junior faculty, providing grant-writing advice, career support, and mentorship.

    When serving as Vice Dean for Education at the Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Begg succeeded in implementing the redesign of the Master of Public Health program’s core curriculum to what has now become the industry standard—a daunting project that required close monitoring and evaluation on multiple levels.

    On the strength of these many achievements, Dr. Begg was recruited to join the Provost’s Office in 2014 as Vice Provost for Academic Programs. In this role she is charged with overseeing university accreditation, approval processes for all new educational programs university-wide, educational agreements with domestic and international partner institutions, cross-school fellowships and awards, the support of interdisciplinary research and teaching, selected faculty leadership development programs, and the academic review of schools and institutes at Columbia.

    Dr. Begg is the recipient of numerous awards, including the University-wide Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Mailman School Teaching Award from the Graduating Class in 2006. In 2012, she was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and received the Lagakos Distinguished Alumni Award in Biostatistics from her alma mater, the Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Matthea Marquart is the Assistant Dean of Online Education at the Columbia School of Social Work. She collaborates with colleagues across the School, focusing on quality of experience for online MSW students and instructors. She also teaches Social Enterprise Administration.

    Ms. Marquart previously served as the National Director of Training at Building Educated Leaders for Life, in which role she launched an award-winning blended e-learning and in-person training. She also served as President of the NYC Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and as Director of Foundation and Government Relations at Inform, Inc. She has been a member of the Community Resources Exchange Leadership Caucus for Early Career Executive Directors, and a blogger for New York Nonprofit Press.

    Ms. Marquart has published articles related to online education and training, and has presented at conferences including the Social Work Distance Education Conference, the International Conference on E-Learning in the Workplace, the Online Learning Consortium’s International Conference, the National Organization for Women Conference, the Women Fighting Poverty Conference, and the Somos El Futuro Hispanic Conference. Recent publications include the EDUCAUSE Review article “Online Students Develop Marketable Professional Skills” and the co-authored book chapters “Instructional Strategies for Synchronous Components of Online Courses” and “That Human Element: Fostering Instructor Presence Through Online Instructional Videos.”

    Ms. Marquart holds a BA in English from Emory University, during which time she completed a year at Oxford University and coursework at UC Berkeley, and an MSW from the Columbia School of Social Work. Her additional coursework includes a United Way of NYC Senior Fellowship in the Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute at Baruch College, and a Business Certificate from Columbia University, both completed by taking online courses.

  • The Associate Dean for Communication Strategy, Development and Alumni Affairs is responsible for engaging alumni and friends who share the School’s vision; promoting the visibility of the School through strategic communications; expanding connections with key stakeholders; managing existing and new fundraising initiatives, with a particular focus on scholarship support; identifying new partners and supporters dedicated to social and racial justice; leading impactful cross-disciplinary teams, initiatives, and projects; and, serving as liaison to the University’s development and alumni relations efforts.

  • The Senior Associate Dean for Administration, Finance and Planning (SADAFP) serves as the chief financial and administrative officer of the School and is responsible for financial planning and operations, human resources, computing and instructional technology, facilities management and administrative planning. Under the direction of the SADAFP, the Office of Administration, Finance and Planning facilitates the procurement, hiring, space and other needs of the faculty and staff of the School of Social Work, and oversees the activities of the Office of Computing and Instructional Technology. The office works closely with the CSSW Office of Sponsored Projects in the management of externally funded activities. It serves as liaison to various University offices, including: Office of Budget & Management, Controller, Provost Office, Treasury, Internal Audit, Procurement, Human Resources, General Counsel and Facilities.


  • The Assistant Dean for Student Services leads the Offices of Career Services and Leadership Management, Student Life, and Student Services. The Career Services arm guides students and alumni toward successful career outcomes by providing resources, support, and connections to opportunities and networks that enhance their educational and professional experience. The Office of Student Life plans and oversees all aspects of student life, including but not limited to: managing our three student orientations each academic year; training peer mentors; and overseeing 25+ student groups and the Student Union. The team also plans and executes the school-wide graduation ceremony and advises and guides students in producing the school’s affinity graduations. Student Services manages student enrollment and all matters related to registration each term. The team administers program requirements and academic policies, conducts degree certifications, facilitates disability accommodations, assigns classrooms, manages student records and licensing paperwork, and provides market research around student enrollment and course data to other student support offices.

  • Led by the Associate Dean of Computing and Instructional Technology, staff in Office of Computing and Instructional Technology (OCIT) use their extensive experience and expertise to provide computing and instructional technology support to faculty, researchers, administrators and students. This team provisions, manages, and supports all OCIT managed desktops, laptops, as well as printing and unified communication services. They provide guidance and recommendations for technology solutions, provide assistance with institutional purchase, deploy equipment and technology, and ensure adherence to data security and privacy regulations. The members of the office also manage and provide a wide-range of IT related resources and tools (e.g., Qualtrics, Turnitin, Columbia Pro Zoom Account, STATA Se, etc.) necessary for staff and students alike. In addition to the management of computing, data and communication services, the OCIT team maintains and supports all Audio Visual infrastructure for classrooms, conference rooms, specialized rooms, student computer labs and printers. The team also maintains and provides ongoing support for the School’s residential onsite and online courses as well as virtual meetings, workshops, trainings, webinars, special events and Help Desk assistance to all faculty, administrators, researchers, and students.

  • Ana Abraído-Lanza's research focuses on cultural, psychological, social, and structural factors that affect health and mortality among Latinos; health disparities between Latinos and non-Latino whites; and the health of immigrant Latinos.  Her research on the Latino mortality epidemiologic paradox and on acculturation have contributed to national and international debates on the health of Latinos.  Prior to joining Columbia’s School of Social Work, she was Vice Dean and Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, and Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.  Her honors and awards include the Dalmas Taylor Distinguished Contributions Award from the Minority Fellowship Program of the American Psychological Association, the Student Assembly Public Health Mentoring Award from the American Public Health Association, and the Mailman School’s Teaching Excellence Award. She served on the Community Task Force on Preventive Services of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and on Editorial Boards of Health Education and Behavior, and Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

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