Luis H. Zayas is the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy. Zayas was dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work from 2012 to 2022. He also holds an appointment as professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Dell Medical School of The University of Texas at Austin.
Zayas has held several national leadership roles, as president of the Society for Social Work and Research (2020-2022), president of the St. Louis Group for Excellence in Social Work Education and Research (served two terms 2016-2018; 2018-2020); member of the board of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (elected as Fellow in 2012), and member-at-large of the executive committee of the National Association of Deans and Directors of schools and programs in social work. Zayas was identified in a 2019 report (Journal of Social Service Research ) as one of the most influential contemporary social work scholars.
A native of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Zayas received his BA from Manhattan College in economics and liberal arts. He received an MS in social work and MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees in developmental psychology from Columbia University. He began his social work career in New York City as a clinician in social service agencies, general and pediatric rehabilitation hospitals, and mental health and primary care clinics in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Zayas went on to teach at Columbia University, and Fordham University. He held a faculty appointment in family medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Just prior to joining UT Austin, Zayas was the inaugural Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. He has lectured to university audiences in Chile, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Zayas remains an active practitioner today through his evaluations of immigrant children and families facing deportation, and refugee and asylum-seeking mothers and children held in immigration detention centers.
Zayas is the author of three books: Latinas Attempting Suicide: When Cultures, Families, and Daughters Collide (Oxford, 2011), which is based on his decades of clinical and research experience with Hispanic families and children. Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans (Oxford, 2015), a book about the plight of U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants who live under the constant threat of deportation or have been deported. Forgotten Citizens received the 2016 Book Award Honorable Mention by the Society for Social Work and Research and was runner up for the 2016 Hamilton Book Award. His forthcoming book, Through Iceboxes and Kennels: How Immigration Detention Harms Children and Families (Oxford), is based on his clinical work and research with children who have been held in immigration detention centers.
Immigrant children and families; immigration detention and deportation; suicide attempts among young Latinos; child and adolescent mental health; family functioning; advocacy for asylum-seeking immigrant children and parents, and mixed-status families.
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- Pace of suicides among young Latinas is a growing concern
- Psychosocial wellbeing and service needs of post-deportation U.S. citizen-children in Mexico (2021)
- thinkEast Health (2020)
- Why adolescent Latinas attempt suicide more than other females (2020)
- Undocumented, unaccompanied, and citizen: Charting research directions for children of immigration (2016)
- Integrated Behavioral Health MSSW Scholars Program for Underserved Populations (2016)
- IAUPR Puerto Rico (2014)
- Exploring the effects of parental deportation on U.S. citizen-children (2014)