Dr. Valandra has a joint appointment with the African and African American Studies Program and the School of Social Work. She has published articles in several refereed journals including Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, Oxford University Press-Encyclopedia of Social Work Online, and a chapter on intergenerational parenting in Mothers, Mothering and Sex Work. Recently she received an invitation from Oxford Research Encyclopedia in Social Work to contribute an article on incest survivors in recognition of her expertise in the field. Valandra’s research and published work centers the voices of African American women and families marginalized and traumatized through systems of poverty, prostitution, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Her research agenda emphasizes the strengths and protective factors developed within intergenerational parenting and family networks which mitigate risks and promote resilience, healing, and recovery. Valandra’s research and practice standpoints include, critical race, feminist, multi-systems life cycle, intersectional, and social justice frameworks.
Dr. Valandra’s most recent research focuses on understanding the needs of African American families experiencing domestic violence in Northwest Arkansas communities and child welfare and literacy in the Little Rock School District in Arkansas. Her research is funded through individual, interdisciplinary, and community-based grants from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the University of Arkansas’ Bernice Jones Endowed Chair and Provosts’ Collaborative Research grants. She has presented her research at several international and national conferences and serves as an invited reviewer for several refereed national journals.
Dr. Valandra received the University of Arkansas’ Diversity Award for her contributions to promote and support diversity among students, faculty, and communities served by the university. She has been awarded the Fulbright College’s Connor Endowed Faculty Fellowship in support of the career advancement of faculty who provide the highest quality teaching, research, and service to the college. In 2012, Valandra was awarded as the first recipient of the “Best Doctoral Student Article Award” by the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota and nominated for the Scholarly Excellence, Equity, and Diversity Award.
Valandra prioritizes the mentoring and engagement of students in research, scholarly presentations and publishing whenever possible. She has 14 years experience teaching and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. In 2009 - 2010, students at St. Catherine University nominated her for the Faculty Teaching-Advising Award and in 2006; she received an Excellence Award from the department of social work for her teaching and service at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
A native of Omaha, NE with maternal roots in Arkansas, Valandra earned a BS in business administration and MBA in business finance from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a MSW in social work from the University of Minnesota.
PhD in Social Work from the University of Minnesota