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Yolanda Chávez Padilla, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and professor of social work and women’s studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Padilla is a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and currently serves as vice president of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Padilla was born in Adrian, Michigan and grew up on the US-Mexico border, in Brownsville, Texas. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Master of Science in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. After obtaining her master’s degree in social work with a specialization in administration and planning, she practiced social work in various organizations providing services to low-income families, including the Community Action Agency located in South Texas, Caritas of Austin, and the Austin Community Nursery Schools (now the Mainspring Schools). She returned to the Midwest to pursue a joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology at The University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan, she was a Social Science Research Council Fellow in Research on the Urban Underclass and trained in the Research and Training Program on Poverty and Public Policy, specializing in demographic research on Latino poverty.

Padilla’s research has primarily focused on contributing to knowledge that can advance our understanding of poverty and that will inform the development of effective social welfare policy. Within the broader area of poverty, she investigates racial and ethnic disparities in health and well-being in the United States, particularly among Latino populations. Her research examines the consequences of poverty for Latino children and families with a focus on health and development in early childhood, the social and economic conditions of Latino children and families living on the US-Mexico border region, and factors associated with socioeconomic disadvantage among Latinos, including immigration. Padilla is a research affiliate of the National Poverty Center located at the University of Michigan and prior to that was an affiliate of the Joint Center for Poverty Research, University of Chicago/Northwestern University. She has also worked with the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), a nationwide research organization based at the University of Notre Dame that brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to conduct policy-relevant research on Latinos. Padilla is one of the network scholars in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national study of children and families in poverty in the post-welfare reform era based at the Center for Child Wellbeing, Princeton University.

Padilla has received over $1.5 million in funding for her research from various sources that include the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) as well as from state and private foundation sources. In 2002, she received the Outstanding Research Award from the Society for Social Work and Research for a study on factors influencing the earnings potential of Mexican immigrants. Her publication record includes numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, two journal special issues, and one edited book.

Her areas of teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels are social problems and social welfare policy analysis, social welfare programs, social work practice with communities and organizations, and introduction to social work practice. She developed two new courses that have been incorporated into the school’s curriculum, one providing specialized training in poverty policy analysis and another on policy and practice issues in social work with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations. In 2000, she was the recipient of the Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence Award by The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

Padilla’s social work practice specializations are in community and policy practice, with a particular interest in issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender populations. She recently produced a compilation of case studies of community-based strategies for gay rights organizing currently being implemented in local communities, which was published in her edited volume, Gay and Lesbian Rights Organizing: Community-Based Strategies (Haworth Press 2004). Her psychosocial analysis of practice guidelines, titled “Psychosocial Support for Families of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People” (coauthored with Cohen and Aravena), is included in the new book, Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression in Social Work Practice (Columbia University Press, 2006). Padilla has been actively involved in community service on issues of concern to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities at the national, state, and local levels through membership in the Council on Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression of the Council on Social Work Education and the Committee on Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Issues of the National Association of Social Workers/Texas, and the boards of directors of the Austin Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays/Austin.

Padilla and her husband, Juan, have two sons.

Professional Interests

Population studies focusing on racial and ethnic disparities in health and well-being with an emphasis on Mexican American children and families, poverty, immigration, and applications to social welfare policy development. Areas of practice specialization: policy analysis and community practice.