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Dr. Judith Willison

Judith Willison
Associate Professor of Social Work
Burrill Office Complex, Room 102W

BS, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
MSW, Boston College
PhD, Simmons College

Judith Willison grew up in a white, Jewish, family of teachers who were civil rights activists. When her mother came out as a lesbian in Dr. Willison's childhood, she became acutely aware of marginalization based on sexual orientation. After earning her MSW and working in the criminal justice system, Dr. Willison more fully understood systemic racism and the criminalization of poverty and mental illness. Her commitment to social justice and to using her privilege in the service of allyship grew. After 22 years of practice within the criminal and juvenile justice systems as a clinician, supervisor, administrator, advocate and trainer, Dr. Willison returned to school for a PhD while working full time. In 2011 she joined the faculty in BSU's School of Social Work and focused her scholarship on criminalized behavior within systems of social inequity. To target the implications of institutionalized white supremacy and its effects on individuals entangled in the justice systems, her feminist participatory action research contextualizes women’s experiences of multiple oppressions interlinked to race, class and gender, highlighting social injustice in women’s incarceration. Dr. Willison is committed to community advocacy with formerly incarcerated people in efforts to stem mass incarceration. She is committed to culturally-inclusive social work education that empowers students, elevates their voices and prepares them to work toward social justice.

Area of Expertise

Feminist Participatory Action Research; Mental Health as a Clinician, Supervisor, Administrator and Trainer; Forensic Mental Health; Violence Prevention