Meet Our Alumni

Doctoral graduates of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work excel in their careers and are renown as leaders in many fields of social work practice in the United States and throughout the world (see a map in pdf). Meet some of them:


kim-benderKimberly Bender (Ph.D. ’08) is a professor of social work in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. Her area of expertise is development and adaptation of interventions to prevent adolescent problem behavior. A majority of her work has narrowed in on psychosocial interventions for homeless youth. She has conducted a five-state multi-site research project with homeless youth through shelter, drop-in, and transitional housing services to better understand risk and protective factors in this population. She has published extensively in the areas of substance use, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and broader mental health concerns experienced by homeless youth.

Bender currently serves as principal investigator on a NIDA-funded three-year randomized trial of a mindfulness-based cognitive intervention to prevent victimization and substance among shelter youth. She earned the university-wide Distinguished Scholar Award in 2015, and in 2014 she was designated Public Good Faculty of the Year in acknowledgement of outstanding commitment to the public good through community-engaged research.

Bender teaches courses in mental health intervention with youth and research method. She has been recognized with several student-nominated awards, including the Excellence in Mentoring Doctoral Students Award in 2013 and 2015, and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2010.


michaelmccarthyLt Col Michael McCarthy (Ph.D. ’11) commands the third largest mental health flight in the United States Air Force at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK. He leads 87 Airmen and manages a $2,000,000 operating budget. He oversees mental health care, domestic violence response and prevention, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment, traumatic brain injury care and population health initiatives to enhance the psychological wellbeing of 159,000 beneficiaries.

Lt Col McCarthy is an internationally recognized authority on suicide prevention. His research focus emphasizes a population health approach to preventing suicide. His current projects include the first joint-service study on the efficacy of Social Norms campaigns to reduce alcohol misuse among military members. He is also examining the impact of embedding behavioral health providers with operational military units to enhance resilience and prevent negative emotional and behavioral outcomes.



stephen-tripodiStephen Tripodi (Ph.D. ’07), is doctoral program director and associate professor at the Florida State University College of Social Work. Throughout his academic career, Tripodi has been fervently working on understanding the influence of victimization and trauma on the lives of incarcerated individuals, along with implementing and evaluating correctional-based interventions. Specifically, over the past six years Tripodi and his research team have studied the influence of childhood victimization on mental health and substance use problems, and ultimately recidivism, for women released from prison in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Tripodi and colleagues recently completed a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a trauma-focused gender-responsive intervention (Seeking Safety) on depression and PTSD symptoms for incarcerated women in Troy, North Carolina. Tripodi has won numerous teaching awards, including Professor of the Year, University Undergraduate Teaching Award, and Social Work Educator of the Year, NASW-FL.