Letter from our Director

Greetings Curtis Center Friends, 

As I return to campus after a year-long sabbatical, the phrase “being buried under emails” has a whole new meaning!

If you know anything about me, you will not be surprised to hear that I did not necessarily "slow down" while on my sabbatical. I did, however, enjoy having some free time to read, write, travel, and spend quality time with my family. I also had an opportunity to build new healthy habits, self-reflect, and watch TV (which is HUGE for me). 

Though I have already thanked her several times since my June 1st return, I want to publicly acknowledge Dr. Jackie Hawkins, who served as Curtis Center Acting Director while I was away. Dr. Hawkins stepped up last September and directed the Curtis Center in my absence. Now that summer is finally here, I hope she can get some (much-deserved) rest before we kick things into high gear this fall. Please join me in thanking Dr. Hawkins for her leadership and management of the Curtis Center this past academic year. 

I also want to thank the Curtis Center team for respecting and honoring my time away. Thanks to the rest and recovery I was able to experience over the past few months, I am ready to jump back into the swing of things and re-ignite our health equity work in the coming months.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks either via Zoom or, my personal preference, over brunch!



Dr. Daphne C. Watkins

Curtis Center Director, Professor of Social Work,

Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, National Center for Institutional Diversity

The Curtis Center team would also like to give a special thank you to our Associate Director, Dr. Jaclynn Hawkins, for serving as Acting Director while Dr. Watkins was on sabbatical! Thank you, Dr. Hawkins!


Brittany Ribeiro Brown

The Curtis Center would like to spotlight Doctoral Student Research Assistant Brittany Ribeiro Brown! Click the video below to hear Brittany talk about the research she supports at the Curtis Center!

Click here to view Brittany's video!


Members of the Curtis Center team attended the CDI-MOD Symposium on May 17th! Pictured here are Faculty Affiliate Dr. Gretchen Piatt, Pre-doctoral Fellow Alana Ewen with her research poster titled, "The Relationship Between Depression, Metabolic Indicators (Hemoglobin A1c), and Stress Reactivity," and Associate Director Dr. Hawkins.

Alana also attended the American Diabetes Association’s 83rd Scientific Sessions and presented her poster on Dr. Hawkins’ research with peer leaders titled, "A Peer-Led Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) and Support (DSMS) Intervention for Black Men with Type 2 Diabetes--Results of a Three-Month Pilot Randomized Clinical Control Trial."

Together Kroger and the MIU Men's Health Foundation donated 30 brand new blood pressure monitors to Dr. Hawkins' research participants! This will provide 30 men living with type 2 diabetes access to blood pressure monitoring at home!


We have two new faculty affiliates joining the Curtis Center Team!

Welcome Dr. Okeoma Mmeje and Dr. Chloé Powell!

Okeoma Mmeje, MD, MPH 

Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 

Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Obstetrics and Gynecology

University of Michigan

Medical School

Chloé Powell, MD

House Officer 5 (ADT),

Integrated Vascular Surgery Resident

University of Michigan

Medical School

Department of Surgery


Curtis Center Pre-doctoral Fellow, Nina Jackson Levin, Joint PhD in Social Work and Anthropology, successfully defended her dissertation, "Meta/Static Ethnography of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncofertility Research and Practice at a United States Hospital: Implications for Sexual and Gender Minorities.”

Levin plans to complete a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan Department of Endocrinology.

Curtis Center Doctoral Student Research Assistant, Allura Casanova, Joint PhD in Psychology and Women's Studies, successfully defended her dissertation, "#MenToo: Men’s Experiences of Sexual Harassment Within a Woman-Dominated Setting." Dr. Watkins was a member of her dissertation committee.

Casanova will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at Furman University in Greenville, SC, and will continue to search for a tenure-track position in psychology and/or gender studies.


Curtis Center Undergraduate Student Research Assistant Keion Harris will be returning to the University of Michigan as a Rackham Merit Fellow and Joint Ph.D. student at the School of Social Work and Department of Psychology while being under the mentorship of Dr. Watkins and Dr. Kevin Cokley.

In June, Faculty Affiliate Dr. Lenette Jones was named the inaugural Nancy S. and Michael B. McLelland Professor of Nursing.

Faculty Affiliate Dr. Anao Zhang was selected as an American Psychosocial Oncology Society Health Disparity Scholar for 2023-2024.

Faculty Affiliate Dr. Piatt was promoted to full professor with tenure at the University of Michigan Medical School, effective September 2023. She also received the 2023 Endowment for Basic Sciences Teaching Award and the 2023 MICHR Distinguished Clinical and Translational Research Mentor Award.


In partnership with Peers for Progress at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research (MCDTR), Drs. Deshira D. Wallace and Colin Orr presented "Adapting Diabetes Prevention to Latines and Spanish Speaking Communities," a webinar moderated by, Dr. Hawkins. You can find the recording on our Education/Training page on our website.

In April, Curtis Center Faculty Affiliate Dr. Katie Schultz presented "Findings from a Social Network Study with American Indian Youth on a Northern Plains Reservation," at ResilienceCon 2023 in Nashville, TN.

Earlier this summer, Dr. Schultz also presented "A Social Network Study with American Indian Youth on a Northern Plains Reservation: Substance use, suicide risk, and exposure to violence," at the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) Sunbelt 2023 conference in Portland, OR.

In June, Faculty Affiliate Dr. Piatt presented "New Directions for HSR Program Directors: LHS Core Competencies and Health and Healthcare Equity and Justice" at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting.


Dr. Watkins’ YBMen team has been involved in an 18 month Michigan Health Endowment Fund (MHEF) project in partnership with Packard Health. We formed the "Washtenaw County Coalition to Improve Behavioral Health for Young Black Men". The Coalition included representatives from 10 local organizations, in addition to the Curtis Center. The project was led by Keith Miller, Kiyoshi Shelton, and Jamie Abelson. Each of the 10 local organizations received “catalyst funds” to initiate, or add to, a project to support the behavioral health of young Black men. One organization, the Corner Health Center, used their catalyst funds to launch a project to support young Black fathers. They then applied for and received a $200,000 grant to continue their work. The MHEF funding has ended, but the Coalition aims to continue meeting, to support each other and apply for additional funding to keep the work moving forward.

Keith Miller, Jr., YBMen Project Managing Director

Kiyoshi Shelton, YBMen Project Community Engagement Manager 

Jamie Abelson, Curtis Center Program Manager

Dr. Watkins and Curtis Center Faculty Affiliate Dr. Paul Fleming co-authored a viewpoint article for the Public Health Post titled Not Reforms but Alternatives: The benefit of alternative response programs (2023, June).

In June, previous Curtis Center Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr. Ed-Dee Williams, attended the first in-person meeting of the Black Empowerment in Autism Network at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During the meeting, Dr. Williams and more than 20 researchers, educators, medical professionals, psychologists, speech pathologists, and social workers convened to discuss strategies to bridge the gaps in autism research and ways to enhance communication tactics between practitioners and clients, which could result in more equitable and effective outcomes for Black autistic populations.

💡 In case you missed Dr. Williams’s Curtis Center Health Equity Seminar on 11/10/22, titled, “Exploring Depression in Black Autistic Youth,” you can view the recording on our website.


Faculty Affiliate Dr. Zhang and Postdoc Levin presented "Understanding and Evaluating Health and Mental Health Disparities Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer: Investigation findings from an integrative research group affiliated with an AYA oncology program," at the 5th AYA Global Cancer Congress, the world’s largest academic conference focusing on adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology. Dr. Levin also gave a plenary talk there on "Mental Health in AYAs: The impact of cancer on life and the impact of life on cancer." 


Ahmed, Y., [...], Watkins, D. C., & et. al. (2023, April). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Diagnosis, Management and Outcomes of Aortic Stenosis in the Medicare Population. PLOS ONE.

Ahrens, K., [...], Zivin, K., & et. al. (2023, May). Prevalence of Testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus Among Medicaid Enrollees Treated With Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in 11 States, 2016–2019. Clinical Infectious Diseases.  

An, Q., [...], & Zhang, A. (2023, June). The Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression Among Individuals with Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Current Diabetes Reports

Anderson, R. E., [...], & Anyiwo, N. (2023, May). “The Talk” Tells the Story: A Qualitative Investigation of Parents’ Racial Socialization Competency With Black Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research

Anyiwo, A., & et. al. (2023, March). They Raised Me to Resist: Examining the Sociopolitical Pathways Between Parental Racial Socialization and Black Youth's Racial Justice Action. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.

Asdigian, N. L., [...], Schultz, K., & et. al. (2023, April). Grounding Evidence-Based Prevention Within Cultural Context: Promising Effects of Substance Use Prevention Adapted for American Indian Families. Substance Use and Misuse.

Austin, A. E., [...], Zivin, K., Burns, M. E. (2023, June). Trends in Use of Medication to Treat Opioid Use Disorder During the COVID-19 Pandemic in 10 State Medicaid Programs. JAMA Health Forum.  

Azzawi, S., [...], Piatt, G. A., & et. al. (2023, June). 914-P: Veteran Experiences with Hybrid Closed-Loop (HCL) Insulin Delivery Systems in Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Diabetes.

Cheung, C. K., Lee, H., Levin, N. J., & et. al. (2023, May). Disparities in Cancer Care Among Sexual and Gender Minority Adolescent and Young Adult Patients: A scoping review. Cancer Medicine.

Cross, F. L., & et. al. (2023, April). 161 Black and Latino Perspectives on COVID-19 Vaccines: A Mixed-Methods Examination. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science.

Cross, F. L., & et. al. (2023, April). 159 Bearing a Higher Burden: Black and Latinx Community Perspectives on the Impact of COVID-19. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science.

Cross, F. L., & et. al. (2023, April). The Role of Documentation Status Concerns, Perceived Discrimination, and Social Support on Latinx Adults’ Physical and Mental Health. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Dalton, V. K., [...], & Zivin, K. (2023, June). Trends in Chronic Pain Conditions Among Delivering Women with and without Mood and Anxiety Disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry

Ewen, A., Kloss, K. A., [...], Piatt, G. A., & Hawkins, J. M. (2023, June). 543-P: A Peer-Led Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) and Support (DSMS) Intervention for Black Men with Type 2 Diabetes—Results of a Three-Month Pilot Randomized Clinical Control Trial. Diabetes.

Fleming, P. J., & et. al. (2023, April). Fear of Deportation and Associations with Mental Health Among Michigan Residents of Middle Eastern & North African Descent. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.

Fleming, P. J., & et. al. (2023, January). Antiracism and Community-Based Participatory Research: Synergies, Challenges, and Opportunities. American Journal of Public Health.

Fossa, A. J., [...] Zivin, K., & Adar, S. D. (2023, June). Sociodemographic Correlates of Greenness within Public Parks in three US Cities. Wellbeing, Space and Society.

Franklin, C., [...], Zhang, & et. al. (2023, April). Solution-Focused Brief Therapy in Community-Based Services: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. Research on Social Work Practice.

Friedline, T., Cross, F. L., [...], & Schultz, K. (2023, March). Dismantling White Supremacy and Promoting Antiracism in Social Work: Tensions, Paradoxes, and a Collective Response. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.


Gao, Y. A., [...], Zivin, K., & Jarlenski, M. P. (2023, June). Sex-Related Differences in the Prevalence of Substance Use Disorders, Treatment, and Overdose Among Parents with Young Children. Addictive Behaviors Reports.

Gerlach, L. B., [...], Watkins, D., & et. al. (2023, May). Factors Associated With Benzodiazepine and Antipsychotic Prescribing in Hospice: A Qualitative Study of Hospice Prescribers. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

Hall, S. V., Zivin, K., Piatt, G. A., & et. al. (2023, July). Factors Associated with Mental Health Treatment Among Michigan Medicaid Enrollees with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, 2012–2015. General Hospital Psychiatry.

Hamby, S., Schultz, K., & Taylor, E. (2023, May). Health-Related Quality of Life among American Indian and Alaska Native People: Exploring Associations with Adversities and Psychosocial Strengths. Health & Social Work.

Hope, E. C., Anyiwo, N., & et. al. (2023, May). Sociopolitical Development: A History and Overview of a Black Liberatory Approach to Youth Development. American Psychologist

Izadi, L. H., Mmeje, O., & et. al. (2023, June). An Effectiveness-Implementation Trial Protocol to Evaluate PrEP Initiation Among US Cisgender Women Using eHealth Tools vs. Standard Care. Frontiers in Reproductive Health.

Joiner, K., [...], & Piatt, G. A. (2023, June). 1797-PUB: Perspectives of Primary Care Providers on the Acceptability of a Brief Video to Decrease the Use of Diabetes-Stigmatizing Language. Diabetes.

Jones, L. M., & et. al. (2023, April). Blood Pressure and Self-management in Black Women With Hypertension: Protocol Revisions to the Brain Relationships Among Information, Neuroprocessing, and Self-Management Study Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. JMIR Research Protocols.

Jones, T. M., [...], & Spencer, M.S. (2023, May). The Role of Colorblind Racism and White Fragility in Maintaining Racist Bullying in Middle School. Psychology in the Schools.

Lantz, P. M., [...], Mmeje, O., & et. al. (2023, March). Abortion Policy in the United States: The New Legal Landscape and Its Threats to Health and Socioeconomic Well-Being. The Milbank Quarterly.

Lin, Y. K., [...], Piatt, G. A., & et. al. (2023, June). 653-P: Associations between Anxiety and Depression Levels and Hypoglycemia Awareness and Beliefs in Long-Term Advanced Diabetes Technology Users with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Diabetes.

Luo, Y., Zhang, A., & An, Q. (2023, May). A Parent Education Program for Single Fathers’ Parent-Child Relationship in Rural China: A Pretest–Posttest-Follow-Up Study. Research on Social Work Practice

Mmeje, O., & et. al. (2023, April). Creating Opportunities to Engage with Prospective Historically Marginalized Trainees with Clinical Simulation. Journal of the National Medical Association.

O-Keefe, [...], Schultz, K., & et. al. (2023, April). Conceptualizing Indigenous Strengths-Based Health and Wellness Research Using Group Concept Mapping. Archives of Public Health.

Oshman, L., [...], Piatt, G. A., & Griauzde, D. H. (2023, April). Primary Care Providers’ Perceived Barriers to Obesity Treatment and Opportunities for Improvement: A mixed methods study. Plos one.

Salunke, D., [...], Allen-Meares, P., & et. al. (2023, April). Learnings from Pilot Testing HFChat, An Interactive Dialogue Agent that Can Assist Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino Patients with Heart Failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure.

Saslow, L. R., Jones, L. M., & et. al. (2023, May). Comparing Very Low-Carbohydrate vs DASH Diets for Overweight or Obese Adults With Hypertension and Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Trial. The Annals of Family Medicine.

Schultz, K., & et. al. (2023, April). Tribal Reservation Adolescent Connections Study: A Study Protocol Using Mixed Methods for Examining Social Networks and Associated Outcomes Among American Indian Youth on a Northern Plains Reservation. Child Abuse & Neglect.

Schultz, K., & et. al. (2023, May). Exploring Strengths, Psychological Functioning and Youth Victimization Among American Indians and Alaska Natives in Four Southern States. Child Abuse & Neglect.

Schultz, K. & Spencer, M.S. (2023, March). Centering Indigenous Research & Communities in Advancing Antiracist Research. Journal of the Society for Social Work Research (JSSWR). 

Smith, M. J., [...], Williams, E.-D. G., & et. al. (2023, June). Enhancing Pre-Employment Transition Services: A type 1 hybrid randomized controlled trial protocol for evaluating WorkChat: A virtual workday among autistic transition-age youth. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications. 

Spolum, M. M., Lopez, W. D., Watkins, D. C., & Fleming, P. J. (2023, January). Police Violence: Reducing the Harms of Policing Through Public Health-Informed Alternative Response Programs. American Journal of Public Health.

Sripada, R. K., [...], Zivin, K., & et. al. (2023, June). Testing Adaptive Interventions to Improve PTSD Treatment Outcomes in Federally Qualified Health Centers: Protocol for a randomized clinical trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials.  

Teasley, M.L., Spencer, M.S., & Bartholomew, M. (Eds.). (2023, June). Social Work and the Grand Challenge to Eliminate Racism. Oxford University Press, NY.

Tuitt, N.R., [...], Schultz, K., & et al. (2023, May). Preliminary Findings on Social Networks of American Indian Parents Participating in a Family Based Substance Use Prevention Program with their Children. Journal of Child and Family Studies.


Watkins, D. C., & Johnson, N. C. (2023, January). Advancing Education Research Through Mixed Methods with Existing Data. In R. J. Tierney, F. Rizvi, & K. Ercikan (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (4th ed.).

Williams, E.-D.G., Casanova, A., & Watkins, D.C. (2023, April). Black Boys’ Perceptions of Depression and Mental Health: Findings from the YBMen Project. Special Issue Journal of Social Problems.

Williams, E. D., & et. al. (2023, April). Barriers to School-Based Mental Health Resource Utilization Among Black Adolescent Males. Clinical Social Work Journal.

Williams, E. D. G., & Smith, M. J. (2023, June). Virtual Interview Training Among BIPOC Autistic Transition-Age Youth: A secondary analysis of an initial effectiveness RCT. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Williams, E. D. G., & et. al. (2023, April). Perspective: The role of diversity advisory boards in autism research. Autism. 

Wytiaz, V. A., Levin, N. J., [...], Zhang, A., & et. al. (2023, June). Body Image Disturbances in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients with Cancer Confronting Infertility Risk and Fertility Preservation Decisions. Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Yu, Z., An, Q., Hawkins, J., & Zhang, A. (2023, May). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression Among Chinese Diabetes Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Research on Social Work Practice.

Zhang, A., [...], Levin, N. J., & et. al. (2023, May). The Relationship Between Unmet Cancer Care Needs and Self-Rated Health Among Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer: Official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.

Zivin, K. & et. al. (2023, June). Pregnancy, Transitions, & Suicide in the US 2003-2020: Evidence from the National Violent Death Reporting System. OSF Registries. 

Zivin, K., et. al. (2023, May). Behavioral Health Provider Burnout and Mental Health Care in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of General Internal Medicine.


On July 1, Dr. Michael Spencer started his position as the new Ballmer Endowed Dean of Social Work at the University of Washington! Before joining the UW, Dr. Spencer was professor and associate dean at the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

At spring graduation, Dr. Jodi J. Frey received two awards from MSW and PHD students at the University of Maryland: the Exemplary Faculty Award (Social Work MSW program) and also the Dr. Donna Harrington Exemplary Faculty Mentor Award (Social Work PhD program).

In April, Dr. Frey was also interviewed for NBC on national news about her CDC-funded research focused on men’s suicide prevention. She was also interviewed for the national podcast, Headspace for the Workplace about her work more broadly on the National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention.

In March, Dr. Paula Allen-Meares was interviewed by Northern Public Radio about her work through the HHS grant project on improving health literacy and health awareness.

Along with two other colleagues, Dr. Allen-Meares will soon publish a third edition of The School Services Sourcebook: A Guide for School-Based Professionals.

Dr. Allen-Meares's and Dr. Jorge Delva's book Cross-Cultural Research was translated into Japanese by Oxford Press.

Dr. Derek Griffith was recently quoted in The Washington Post article, A Silent Crisis in Men’s Health Gets Worse (4/17/2023), and in the Afro article, How Can Black Men Advocate for Themselves in the Doctor’s Office? Experts Say Patients Should Get Comfortable Asking and Answering Probing Questions (5/6/2023).

Dr. Griffith was also awarded the American Psychological Association’s 2023 Presidential Citation for his extraordinary leadership in addressing the impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of the nation and specifically for African American and Latino men.

Dr. Tanya Sharpe is the recipient of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) 27th Annual 2023 Social Policy Researcher Award for her extensive career of research in social policy on survivors of homicide victims. Dr. Sharpe also received the 2023 Aaron Rosen Lecture Award and delivered her lecture titled, "Beyond a Seat at 'The Table': Building a Legacy of Research for Black Survivors of Homicide Victims."


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"We acknowledge that The University of Michigan, named for Michigami, the world’s largest freshwater system and located in the Huron River watershed, was formed and has grown through connections with the land stewarded by Niswi Ishkodewan Anishinaabeg: The Three Fires People who are the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi along with their neighbors the Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot nations.”


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