Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Undergraduate Faculty

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Dr. Ruth Charles

IVE Coordinator, Professor
Maxwell 269
507.457.5674
RCharles@winona.edu

Ruth has an MSW and PhD from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Ruth’s central interests are policy analysis, qualitative research methods and work on trauma informed care. Ruth is a Master Trainer and Certified Presenter for ACE Interface, which trains and presents research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).

Ruth’s activism and social justice has her involved in local community planning/implementation on trauma informed care and legislative analysis. Ruth coordinates the IV-E Child Welfare program that focuses on preparing BSW social workers to work in foster care.

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Dr. Charissa Eaton

BSW Program Director, Professor
Maxwell 267
507.457.5563
CEaton@winona.edu

Charissa joined the faculty in 2010. She has an MSW from the University of North Dakota and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, School of Social Work. Charissa is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in Minnesota.

Her practice experience includes geriatric case management, dialysis social work, hospital social work, and administration. Charissa’s academic and research interests are aging, medical social work, and ethics.

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Dr. Cathleen Jo Faruque

Professor
Maxwell 273
507.457.5431
CFaruque@winona.edu

Cathy has been with the WSU Social Work Department since 1997. Cathy served as Coordinator of the Rochester Social Work Program from 1997-2004, Field Director of the Department of Social Work from 2004-2009 and Chair of the Department from 2009-2018.

Cathy has a BS in Sociology from Winona State University and an MSW from San Diego State University. She has her PhD in Psychology from North Central University. Cathy is an Licensed Independent Social Worker in the state of Minnesota. She is a Board Certified Professional Counselor and Certified Fellow and Diplomate with the American Psychotherapy Association.

Her academic interests are primarily focused in mindfulness-based stress reduction, environmental social work, international social work, religion and spirituality in social work, trans-cultural practice, institutional discrimination, racism and homelessness.

Her 17 years of practice experience is predominately in mental health, homelessness and work with older persons. She has published several books and journal articles. Cathy produced a documentary on trans-cultural practice and poverty in Bangladesh and is also a published poet. Currently, Cathy is developing a non-profit to provide low-cost continuing education for social work professionals.

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Dr. Mary Kirk

BSW Rochester Hybrid/Field Coordinator, Assistant Professor
Maxwell 265 (Winona campus) | ST130 (Rochester campus)
507.457.5432
MKirk@winona.edu

Mary began teaching at Winona State University in the spring of 2014. She has held appointments in both the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) program and the Social Work BSW Program. Mary serves as the BSW Hybrid/Field Coordinator at WSU-Rochester.

In May of 2019, Mary completed her Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) from St Catherine University and the University of St Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and an MSW from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Mary is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota.

Her prior social work practice experience includes school social work, medical social work, homelessness services, mental health advocacy, parenting education and clinical work with children and families. Her academic interests include the strengths perspective and resiliency, social work pedagogy, children and families, child welfare, play therapy, women/gender studies, poverty and international social work.

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Lori Moe

Office Manager
Maxwell 255
507.457.5420
507.457.2928 (fax)
lmoe@winona.edu

Lori joined the Social Work Department at Winona State University in 2008. She is the office manager on the Winona campus for Social Work, Recreation and for the Recreation, Tourism and Therapeutic Recreation (RTTR) program.

She started working for the State of Minnesota in 1985 for the Department of Health. Lori worked 11 years for the Department of Corrections and joined Winona State in 1998.

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Dr. Jay Palmer

Professor
Maxwell 275
507.457.5562
RPalmer@winona.edu

Jay joined the faculty in 2007. He received an AS in Health Science in 1985 and worked as a psychiatric nurse before earning a BS in Human Services from California State University Fullerton in 1992. Jay received an MSW from California State University Long Beach in 1995, and a PhD in Social Work at the University of South Carolina 2009.

His social work practice experience includes the areas of HIV/AIDS, homelessness, gang involved youth, mental health, and persons with developmental disabilities. As a board member, Jay has worked with organizations that support LGBTQ persons, and ones that address sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

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Dr. Anne Vande Berg

BSW Field Director, Associate Professor
Maxwell 260
507.457.5401
AVandeBerg@winona.edu

Anne joined the Social Work Department at Winona State University in July 2013. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Macalester College in 1988 and her MSW from the University of Minnesota in 1999, where she was also a Title IV-E Child Welfare Fellow.

She completed her Doctorate of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine University in May 2017. She is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in the state of Minnesota and has over 17 years of professional experience in social services, with seven years post-graduate direct practice experience.

Anne's practice areas and interests include trauma-informed practices, interprofessional education, children and families in education settings, and nonprofit management.

Graduate Faculty

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Marit Appeldoorn

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
marit.appeldoorn@winona.edu

Marit joined the faculty in 2022. She earned a BA in Peace and Global Studies and Psychology from Earlham College, and an MSW from the Smith College School for Social Work. She is a board-certified social work supervisor and is credentialed as a play therapist and supervisor (RPT-S), and is a past president of the Minnesota branch of the Association for Play Therapy.

Marit is a clinical social worker with 25 years of experience in community and private practice mental health settings. She is the co-founder of Safe Haven, an organization dedicated to providing professional support, training, mentorship, and consultation to mental health and education professionals.

Marit's professional and research interests include integrative and neurobiologically informed treatment of trauma, clinical supervision, children's mental health and play therapy, and vicarious trauma in helping professionals.

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Arlene Bjugstad

WSU-Rochester on Broadway
Assistant Professor
arlene.bjugstad@winona.edu

Arlene is a proud WSU alumna, earning her Bachelor of Social Work from Winona State University in 2008, a Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston. Arlene has worked as a licensed social worker for the past 14 years in a variety of practice settings including early intervention, K-12 education, practice with immigrants and refugees and survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Currently, Arlene is focused on conducting research with forced migrants and unaccompanied immigrant children from Latin America as well as school-based research on the development of social and emotional skills among transition-age youth. Arlene teaches across the MSW curriculum and enjoys discussing culturally relevant practices and the intersection of micro and macro practice in social work.

Arlene is an outdoor enthusiast and avid gardener who enjoys exploring her beach neighborhood outside of Houston, Texas with her 12-year-old son and multiple pets.

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Dr. Arlen Carey

 Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2535
ACarey@winona.edu

Arlen Carey is Professor of Social Work and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. He earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D in Sociology, specializing in social theory and demography, at the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT-Austin, he was an NICHD Training Fellow, University Fellow, and Research Associate at the Population Research Center. He subsequently earned an M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work at the University of Central Florida where he was a Sociology faculty member for seven years.

Arlen has practiced clinical social work for nearly 25 years, and he has more than 25 (mostly concurrent) years of university teaching experience. Curiosity about human behavior and striving for social justice are consistent threads in his life and professional career. Early in his career, he studied the evolution of human behavior and researched the largely structural causes of health and longevity disparities between Mexican immigrants, Mexican Americans, and the dominant white, non-Hispanic populations in Texas. Similarly, he has investigated the differential impacts of health care access and public health system development across genders. More recently, Arlen has focused his curiosity on trauma’s causes and impacts as well as on means to help people heal from trauma.

Arlen joined the Social Work Faculty at Winona State University in 2004. For more than 10 years, he served as Rochester Social Work Program Coordinator and taught and developed a broad array of undergraduate courses. Beginning in 2015, he and collaborator, Dr. Jessica Tye, began development of the WSU MSW Program. Arlen served as the Program’s initial Director until 2022.

In addition to his service at WSU, Arlen practices Trauma Therapy at AMAR Wellness Services in Rochester, MN. He has earned a certificate in Traumatic Emotional Stress Studies from Bessel van der Kolk’s Trauma Center and has been trained in and continues to study Trauma-Focused Neurofeedback, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Somatic Integration and Processing (SIP) trauma treatment modalities.

Most important in Arlen’s life are his partner (and fellow clinical social worker) Amy and his children, Lily and Jasper, who reside with him in Rochester.

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Dr. Alex Espadas

Program Director, Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2538
alex.espadas@winona.edu

Alex joined the faculty in 2018, and he works on the Rochester campus. He earned a BS in psychology, with a minor in sociology from the University of Houston, and a MSW and PhD in social work from the University of Houston.

Alex’s has conducted and published research on access to mental health services and recidivism and cultural pathways to mental and healthcare services. He has extensive social work practice experience working with clients with opiate and other drug use concerns, inpatient clients with severe and persistent mental illness, and community advocacy among immigrant and international communities.

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Tonya Klees

Office and Administrative Specialist - MSW Program
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2539
tonya.klees@winona.edu

Tonya joined the Master of Social Work Program at Winona State University in 2019. She is the Office & Administrative Specialist at the Rochester on Broadway location.

Tonya began working for the public sector of Minnesota in 2000. Tonya worked 17 years as Office Services Coordinator for the City of Rochester – Public Works Department prior to joining Winona State University.

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Denise Moody

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
Denise.Moody@winona.edu

Denise started in 2006 as an adjunct with the Bachelor of Social Work program at Winona State. She joined the faculty of the MSW program in 2022. She earned a Master of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/College of St. Catherine and a Bachelor of Social Work from Winona State University.

Denise is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota. Her social work practice experience includes school social work, school-based mental health, and adoption.

Denise's academic and research interests are student mental health, educational leadership, social emotional learning, trauma-informed practices in schools, educator resilience, and belonging in schools.

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Dr. Doyle Pruitt

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2539
doyle.pruitt@winona.edu

Doyle joined the WSU faculty in August 2021. She earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Social Work from Nazareth College in 2001, a MSW from Syracuse University in 2002, and a PhD in Social Welfare at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2013. In 2018, she completed a year-long practice fellowship in clinical supervision through Adelphi University.

She is a licensed, independent clinical social work practitioner in both Minnesota and New York. Doyle seeks to provide culturally responsive, client-centered, and compassionate care aimed at ending and healing trauma. With over 20 years of sustained clinical practice, Doyle has provided individual, family, and group therapy in residential and outpatient treatment settings, clinical supervision, forensic evaluations, and consultation and trainings to various state agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and members of the legal system.

She is a close partner with the child advocacy center in expanding the capacity of the community to effectively work with victims of sexual abuse through education, supervision, and the development of additional multidisciplinary teams for victims’ post-legal involvement and the minors who caused the harm.

The overarching goal of Doyle’s research is to promote hope, growth, and resilience. Her interests are on forensic social work policy and practice, the prevention and treatment of trauma, and the individual and organization practices promoting well-being of helping professionals. Doyle has multiple peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. She has presented at local, national, and international conferences, including in Hong Kong, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Ireland, and France.

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Sara Ranssi

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
sara.ranssi@winona.edu

Sara is joining the faculty this year. Sara has a MA from Northern Illinois University in Deafness Rehabilitation Counseling and an MSW from the University of Minnesota. Sara is a Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor (RPT-S) and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). She specializes in providing culturally and language specific mental health services for deaf, deaf/blind and hard of hearing individuals of all ages. In addition to her teaching and therapy work, Sara provides clinical social work and play therapy supervision and presents nationally on understanding and treating trauma in children and adolescents with a hearing loss. 

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Sky Smith

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2542
sniesensmith@winona.edu

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Alicia Snow

MSW Field Coordinator, Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.457.5420
alicia.snow@winona.edu

Alicia joined the MSW program as an adjunct in 2020 with a passion to work with students in their field placements. In Fall 2021, Alicia joined the MSW team full-time and works on the Rochester campus. She earned her MSW from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was a Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholar.

Alicia has extensive clinical social work practice experience in community mental health, partial hospitalization programming, crisis centers, and outpatient therapy settings. She has been trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, and Managing and Adapting Practices.

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Dr. Jessica Tye

MSW Field Director, Associate Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway
507.535.2536
JTye@winona.edu

Jessica joined the faculty in 2011 on the Rochester campus. She earned an Ed.D. from St. Cloud State in Higher Education Administration, a Masters of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/College of St. Catherine, and Bachelors in social work and psychology from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

Jessica is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota. Her social work practice experience includes chemical dependency treatment, grant administration, child welfare services, and gender specific case management. Jessica’s clinical social work practice experience includes conducting assessments, diagnosis, and treatment planning for dual-diagnosis clients in outpatient treatment, facilitating severe and persistent co-occurring therapy groups, and leading a multi-disciplinary treatment team.

Jessica’s academic and research interests are college student mental health, substance use and abuse, child welfare, social work field education, higher education leadership.