Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Undergraduate Faculty


Dr. Ruth Charles

IVE Coordinator, Professor
Maxwell 269

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.


Dr. Charissa Eaton

BSW Program Director, Professor
Maxwell 267

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.


Dr. Mary Kirk

BSW Rochester Hybrid/Field Coordinator, Associate Professor
Maxwell 265 (Winona campus) | ST130 (Rochester campus)

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.


Dr. Ann Lichliter

BSW Rochester Hybrid/Field Director, Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester ST 130

Ann began teaching at Winona State University in the Fall of 2023. In 1993, Ann received her bachelor’s degree in human services from Cornell College. In 1996, she received her MSW from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. In 2015, she completed her EdD from Saint Mary’s University.

Ann has more than 25 years of experience working with youth and families impacted by trauma, addiction, mental health, homelessness, poverty, and incarceration. She is clinically licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Throughout her years, she worked as a direct care worker, case manager, therapist, and program director.

Her academic interests include social work and field education pedagogy, the needs of transfer students, youth and adult mental health, and program development.


Lori Moe

Office Manager
Maxwell 255
507.457.2928 (fax)

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.


Dr. Jay Palmer

Maxwell 275

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.


Dr. Anne Vande Berg

BSW Field Director, Associate Professor
Maxwell 260

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


Dr. Arlen Carey

WSU-Rochester on Broadway

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.


Dr. Alex Espadas

Program Director, Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

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 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.


Emma Fuhrman

MSW Field Coordinator
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

Emma Fuhrman joined the MSW program as the MSW Field Coordinator and Assistant Professor in August 2023. Emma received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2020. Emma graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a Master of Social Work degree in 2021.

Emma has post-graduate direct practice experience in an outpatient therapy setting. Emma has research experience related to elder family financial exploitation.

Emma’s academic interests include social work field education, outreach, research, and aging.


Denise Moody

MSW Field Director, Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

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.


Dr. Doyle Pruitt

Assistant Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

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.


Sky Smith, DSW, LICSW

Title IV-E Coordinator, Associate Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

Dr. Sky Smith is an Associate Professor in the MSW program and joined in 2021. She is also the MSW Program's Child Welfare Title IV-E Coordinator. Previously, she held positions in the MSW program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and the BSW program at Winona State University.

Dr. Smith received her BSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has an MSW in clinical social work from Aurora University and a DSW from the University of St. Thomas. Her research and practice experience centers around trauma-informed and culturally relevant practices within all level of systems.

Dr. Smith has a breadth of practice experience, including oncology, private practice, child welfare, forensic interviewing, and trauma-informed interventions such as EMDR, Narrative therapy, and TF-CBT. Dr. Smith presents and speaks internationally on the topic of trauma-informed care in healthcare systems.


Dr. Jessica Tye

Associate Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

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.


Dr. Amy Fischer Williams

Associate Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

Amy Fischer Williams is an Associate Professor of Social Work. She joined the WSU faculty in 2023. Dr. Fischer Williams holds a BA in Psychology from Concordia University, St. Paul; an MSW from the University of Minnesota; and a DSW from the University of St. Thomas. Her dissertation is titled, "Tribal Sovereign Status: Indigenous Social Workers Inform Social Work Curriculum."

Currently, Dr. Fischer Williams practices psychotherapy part-time at Oneida Behavioral Health, a facet of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Health Division. She has also practiced as a school social worker in Wisconsin and as a macro practitioner, specializing in program evaluation and grant procurement. For more than 15 years, Dr. Fischer Williams served as an independent evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education-funded Native American Vocational and Technical Education Program (NAVTEP) and Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP) grants.

Before joining the WSU faculty, Dr. Fischer Williams served the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, holding associate and assistant professor appointments and served in MSW and BSW field coordinator roles. She also taught at the College of Menominee Nation, an accredited tribal college.

Dr. Fischer Williams' research area includes social welfare policy and its integration into social work curriculum, as well as social welfare program design and evaluation. Noteworthy presentations include speaking to the Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development in Hong Kong, China, and presenting a paper on Indigenous Human Rights: Sovereignty, Foods, and Water in Poznan, Poland (IUAES).

She is an alpine skier.


Dr. Kimberly Zammit

Associate Professor
WSU-Rochester on Broadway

Dr. Kimberly Zammitt is an Associate Professor in the MSW Program and joined WSU in 2023. Prior to joining WSU, she was the MSW Program Director and Professor at MSU-Mankato.

She has a PhD in social work from Jackson State University and an MSW from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a LICSW and has over 22 years of clinical social work practice experience in the fields of community behavioral health, child and adolescent behavioral health, and geriatric behavioral health.

She maintains a practice specializing in trauma and attachment issues and couple's counseling. She is trained in using Emotion Focused Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART), and Mindfulness-Based Interventions.

Her research interests are in the area of mindfulness-based interventions, trauma, LGBTQIA+ issues, and cultural responsiveness.