Jason J. Dickinson, chair, is the director of the Robert D. McCormick Center for Child Advocacy and Policy and Associate Professor of Psychology. He received a PhD in Legal Psychology from Florida International University. His research interests include children’s eyewitness testimony, forensic interviewing and investigative decision-making. His research has been supported by several grants from the National Science Foundation and he regularly consults with the legal community to help translate research into public policy. He teaches courses on forensic psychology, forensic interviewing, statistics and human sexuality.
Nathaniel Aker is the program assistant for the Department of Social and Child Advocacy. He received a Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Montclair State University.
Jacqueline Catalano, program manager of the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, received an MS in Counselor Education from Queens College. Ms. Catalano monitors all the department’s academic programs, graduate application process, interviews prospective students, advises both undergraduate and graduate students, coordinates assessment, manages the MA Online Program, supports administration of the MSW and provides support to all the department’s initiatives. With more than 30 years of experience in child welfare and higher education administration, her areas of interest include higher education, academic advisement, child welfare and child advocacy. Prior to joining Montclair State’s Center for Child Advocacy in 2007, she worked for more than 15 years as the Director of Homefinding, Intake and Training at Episcopal Social Services in Manhattan.
Mary Anne Fanning-Lauria is the Program Manager of the Post BA Certificate in Adolescent Advocacy Grant, in the Robert D. McCormick Center for Child Advocacy and Policy. She received a Master’s degree in Child Advocacy and Policy from Montclair State University.
Nancy Coba, clinical specialist, received a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. Her clinical interests are in the area of Latino mental health and child abuse/neglect. She teaches courses including Child Abuse and Neglect, Cultural Competencies in Child Advocacy, and Practicum in Child Advocacy. In past and current clinical work, Dr.Coba has conducted psychological and mental health evaluations (in English and Spanish) of children, adolescents and families and also worked with underserved, inner-city, low-income children, adolescents and families in outpatient settings, as well as in school settings.
Dr. Matthew J. Cuellar is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy. He earned his doctorate in Social Work from the University of Tennessee with a Minor in Statistics from the Haslam School of Business. He earned a Master in Social Work from The University of Alabama. Dr. Cuellar has served as PI, Co-PI, and Evaluator on externally funded research projects totaling approximately $3M dollars. Dr. Cuellar’s current research focuses on school safety and barriers to academic achievement among adolescents, particularly those adolescents in inner-city school districts. He is extremely passionate about his research and working with children, and has active programs of research in several local school districts in the State of New jersey. Dr. Cuellar has extensive experience working with students in higher education and currently teaches research methods and children and justice in our CHAD program.
Lesley Dixon, clinical specialist and MSW Field Director, received an MSW from Boston University. Her areas of interest include children, youth and families, youth transitioning from foster care, and grit/resiliency. She teaches courses including professional seminar in social work and helping and engagement skills. She also directs field education for the Master of Social Work program. Ms. Dixon is a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 20 years experience including direct practice, supervisory and management experience. She holds certifications in clinical supervision, complex trauma and seminar in field instruction.
Brad Forenza, assistant professor, received a PhD in Social Work from Rutgers University. His research foci pertains to positive youth development, primary prevention and civic engagement. He regularly teaches courses on aspects of American social welfare. His academic career is accentuated by direct social work practice at youth and family development agencies, program evaluation for clients in the human services, and public policy analysis at the state and federal levels.
Peter Herbst, Instructional Specialist has been a professional social worker since 1977 and is a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He has served as program director of a New York City community Center (1977-1980), assistant director for community relations for a New Jersey network of social service agencies (1980-1986), regional director for a national religious organization (1986-1989), executive director of a county-wide child abuse prevention agency (1989-2011) and, currently, a family therapist in private practice, trainer and columnist. He has been an adjunct professor at MSU since 2007. He writes a monthly column for the Jersey Journal, Parenting with Pete.
Nicole E. Lytle, assistant professor, received a PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Toledo. Her research interests are in the area of forensic developmental psychology and include examining interview procedures used with children. Dr. Lytle is currently working on a National Science Foundation funded project examining the usefulness of remote interviewing with children. She teaches courses on child development, forensic interviewing, and forensic psychology.
Nydia Monagas, clinical specialist, received a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. She teaches courses including: Seminar in Child Advocacy, Introduction to Child Advocacy, Child Abuse and Neglect, and she supervises the practicum experience. In addition to more than 15 years working in the arena of child advocacy, she is also the Chapter Coordinator of the New Jersey Children’s Alliance, which provides training, support and technical assistance to children’s advocacy centers and multidisciplinary teams in New Jersey to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response to child abuse and neglect.
Beth Sapiro, LCSW, PhD completed her PhD in Social Work at Rutgers-New Brunswick in May 2018. After earning her Master’s of Social Work from New York University, she worked as a clinical social worker in school-based and community mental health programs in New York City for six years, providing individual, family and group therapy to adolescents and their families. Dr. Sapiro’s research centers on the intersection of trauma, marginalization, and healing in adolescent and young adult interpersonal relationships. At Montclair State University, she teaches Social Work Practice courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Svetlana Shpiegel, associate professor and MSW Director, received her PhD from the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. Dr. Shpiegel developed the Minor in Social work and spearheaded the development of the MSW program which launched in Fall 2018. Her research interests include adolescents emancipating from foster care, child abuse and neglect, resilience among vulnerable populations and international social work. She teaches courses including Child Abuse and Neglect, Research and Evaluation, Public Child Welfare, and Introduction to Social Work. Her recent publications have appeared in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, and Children and Youth Services Review. Dr. Shpiegel has presented at numerous national and international conferences, including Society for Social Work and Research, Society for Research on Adolescence, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference and Society for Research on Child Development. She is currently involved in a number of research projects examining the health and well-being of adolescents emancipating from foster care.
Lucy Takagi, clinical specialist, received a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. She teaches courses including Abuse and Neglect, Current Social Issues, Practicum and Seminar in Public Child Welfare. Dr. Takagi is a trained forensic evaluator and has worked clinically with inner-city, ethnically, financially and culturally diverse populations and with adult and child victims of sexual abuse.
Wendy Zeitlin, assistant professor, received a PhD in social welfare from Yeshiva University. Her research interests include: organizational research, child well-being, cultural competence and research methods. She teaches courses in research methods, child abuse and neglect, and current social issues in child advocacy. Dr. Zeitlin is a co-author of two books on research methods and program evaluations, published by Oxford University Press. She is the lead author on a textbook to be published in early 2018 on statistical analysis in the behavioral and social sciences, also to be published by Oxford. Dr. Zeitlin also co-authored A Toolkit for Modifying Evidence-Based Practices to Increase Cultural Competence with funding from The Nathan Kline Institute and New York State’s Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene.