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Meet Social Work Faculty

Directors and Faculty

Kevin Borders, Ph.D., MSSW, M.Div

Interim Chair
Associate Professor

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Dr. Borders earned his MSSW and Ph.D. from the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work, and his M.Div. from a local seminary. His areas of interest are in advocacy with older adults, community and organizational practice, program evaluation, and effective teaching. When not teaching or working with students, Kevin works with local agencies on program evaluation, and has served on local organizational boards.

Glynita Bell, Ph.D., LCSW, CCTP

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Bell earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychological Science from Ball State University, a Master of Science in Social Work from The Kent School at the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Dr. Bell holds the professional license of LCSW in multiple states and is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Dr. Bell’s research interests are school based behavior interventions, racial disparities in educational setting and in mental health access to care. Dr. Bell is co-chair for The Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, president of a nonprofit mentoring program and provides clinical supervision to social workers. Dr. Bell founded Heart 2 Heart Wellness Center in 2012 to provide quality mental health therapy with a holistic approach offering yoga, meditation, and medical services. Heart 2 Heart was created to reduce the stigma surrounding mental wellness and to promote the value of self-care.

Leslie Cairo, III, Ed.D., MSSW

Director of Graduate Studies
Assistant Professor

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Leslie Cairo is a graduate of the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work and has worked for nearly two decades in the field. His primary teaching interests are in the areas of social justice; research; direct social work practice; administrative practice; and policy and program development, implementation and evaluation. Leslie has an extensive background in social service and educational research and has worked at the Child and Family Services Agency, the U.S. Department of Education and the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children. He has also worked as a researcher at the Appalachian Educational Laboratory and at Eastern Kentucky University. Leslie is interested in working with and on behalf of individuals from economically and developmentally challenged backgrounds and with those who have the greatest needs.

Stacy Deck, Ph.D., MSSW

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor

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Dr. Deck earned her MSSW and PhD from the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work, and has a BS in Education. Her research and practice experience have focused primarily on poverty, financial empowerment, housing, and homelessness. In the classroom, she is passionate about fostering student engagement and creating service-learning opportunities. Stacy serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Housing Coalition as well as the Louisville Asset Building Coalition, and she is a former Chair of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for the Homeless. She is a founding board member for the Emerging Workforce Initiative and serves on Advisory Committees for Bank On Louisville and Wellspring. Stacy also works as a consultant with local non-profit organizations providing training and program evaluation services.

Kimberly Frierson (she/her), DSW, CYC-P 

Assistant Professor

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Kim Frierson earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Kentucky, her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, and a Doctor of Social Work from Tulane University and is a certified Child and Youth Care practitioner with over 15 years of experience in youth services. In addition to her experience working in runaway and homeless youth services on the local, state, and national level, Dr. Frierson has provided training, facilitation and education to students, practitioners and administrators across the country. Her passion lies in “helping helpers”, a role she filled at National Safe Place Network for eight years. Additionally, Dr. Frierson’s recent work seeks to address white supremacy in social work education and nonprofit organizations. Kim’s primary areas of interest include macro practice in social work education, critical race theory, anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice, reproductive health, training and implementation, and runaway and homeless youth.

Tony Helm, MSSW

Director of Online Field Education
PCWCP Site Coordinator
Assistant Professor

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Professor Helm earned his MSSW from the University of Louisville, Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science. His areas of interest include child welfare, LGBTQIA+, diversity and inclusion, and effective teaching. Professor Helm currently serves on the Diversity Consciousness Action Group (DCAG) and on local organizational boards. When not working, Tony enjoys activities that provide adrenaline rushes: roller coasters, zip lining, tree top excursions, and skydiving!

Cathy Lester, MSSW

Director of Campus Field Education
Assistant Professor

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Professor Lester earned a BA in Biology from Transylvania University and her MSSW from the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work. Her areas of interest are field education, child welfare workforce issues and family support for families with children diagnosed with hearing loss. Professor Lester is a recent retiree from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services after 28 years, 20 years in Child Protective Services and 8 years as the state coordinator for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program. She serves as the site coordinator and instructor for the Public Child Welfare Certification Program and is the Director of Field Education for the BSSW and MSW programs.

Christopher Jones, EdD, MSSW

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Christopher A. Jones is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. He earned an Associate of Science in Business (2004), a Bachelor of Science (2006), and a Master of Science in Management (2008) from Indiana Wesleyan University. He also earned the Doctor of Education in Leadership (2018) and completed his Master of Social Work (2022) from Spalding University. The Library of Congress holds his published dissertation on the topic of students maintaining high attendance rates throughout grades K-12. He has also co-authored multiple scholarly publications dealing with health and social issues.

In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. Jones is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and a John Maxwell Team Certified Teacher, Speaker, and Coach. Further, Dr. Jones is a staunch supporter of the YMCA and serves as an advisory board member. He is highly committed to leadership in the community and has devoted his time, talents, and treasures to nonprofit organizations such as Volunteers of America Mid-States and the Black Community Development Corporation.

As an educator, Dr. Jones is committed to the decolonization of social work education so students may acquire a keen understanding of the interconnectedness of diverse institutions and systems. He has also long recognized a dire need for social workers to focus on mental health as well as social and emotional learning. After discovering that trauma is often never-ending, he developed a passion for working with students who have experienced trauma. Dr. Jones believes every student needs an advocate who will actively listen and understand them.

Dr. Jones is a man of faith who aims to be a conduit for change each day, endeavoring to motivate, educate, and eradicate barriers.

Nikki Jones, DSW, LCSW, LMFT

DSW Program Director
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Jones (she/her/they) teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. She earned a Doctor of Social Work from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, master’s degrees from the University Louisville (MS in Social Work with a specialization in couple and family therapy) and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (public administration), and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (political science, Africana studies). Her scholarship focuses on social determinants of health and culturally aware practices, including sleep disparity among non-majority groups, historical trauma and reparations for African American descendants, and the LGBTQ+ community. She is licensed as a clinical social work and marriage and family therapist. She has provided direct services to couples and families in private practice and behavioral health settings.

Lindsay Littrell, PhD Candidate, MSW, BSW

Assistant Professor

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Prof. Littrell earned their MSW from Boston University and is wrapping up their PhD at the University of Kentucky. Their transnational feminist research focuses on the work of solidarity building, supporting the well-being of frontlines direct action activists, and pedagogies and practices that strengthen and sustain social movements. Lindsay is a 2018 curriculum fellowship recipient from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). One of their articles for ICNC, "How Can Civil Resistance/Social Work Integration Enhance Social Change," was selected as one of ten editors' picks for the ICNC Minds of the Movement Blog as one of '20 Key Civil Resistance Stories to Refocus for “20-20” Vision in New Decade.' Lindsay’s transdisciplinary work has been featured at multiple National Women's Studies Association annual conferences, at the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry, and at the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting. Lindsay’s in-progress dissertation is titled “Bridging Liberatory Self-Sacrifice and Liberated Well-Being: A Duoethnographic Exploration with Social Movement Leaders.” Prof. Littrell is thrilled to be a part of the team building out the Online MSW for the Spalding School of Social Work, and is currently designing curriculum aimed at equipping future social workers to practice at every level toward collective liberation.

Sheba Phillips, DSW, LCSW

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Phillips earned her DSW from the University of Southern California and her MSW from Valdosta State University. Her area of interest is women’s issues, teen advocacy, trauma-informed services, widening access to mental health care for marginalized communities, and innovative online teaching practices. She is a licensed clinical social worker. She is nationally certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Play Therapy trained. She is the owner of Hedera Counseling Center, LLC., and is an active member of several community organizations in her local area.

Janelle Rae, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Rae earned her MSW and Ed.D. in leadership from Spalding University, and her BA in leadership studies from the University of Richmond. Her areas of interest include racial literacy, transformational and inclusive leadership, emerging adulthood, courageous conversation, and housing and wage insecurity. When not teaching or working with students, Dr. Rae serves on the boards of Pandora Productions and The Big Table.