Dr Valandra

Dr Valandra

Associate Professor & AAST Program Director, BA, MBA, MSW, PhD

(ARSC)-Arts & Sciences

(SCSW)-School of Social Work

Phone: 479-575-3525

Fax: 479-575-7510

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Dr. Valandra is an associate professor in the School of Social Work with a joint appointment in the African and African American studies program in Fulbright College at the University of Arkansas. She also serves as the Director of African and African American Studies. Her research interests include public child welfare policy and practice, gender-based violence prevention, and culturally responsive research and social work practice and policy. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.B.A. from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. As a child welfare scholar at the University of Minnesota, she also completed a MSW and PhD in Social Work with a focus in child abuse, gender-based intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking of women and children of African American heritage.

Dr. Valandra’s post-MSW experience includes work in child protection, serving as an area training manager for the IV-E Child Welfare Training System in Minnesota, and social service work with families experiencing the intersections of poverty, intimate partner violence, homelessness, and incarceration. Her work experience informs her research and teaching. She teaches courses in research methods, advance practice with adults, social work with African Americans, and has created teaching modules on culturally responsive practice with African American families experiencing incarceration and working with children and families experiencing incarceration.  Dr. Valandra’s research agenda emphasizes the strengths and protective factors developed within intergenerational parenting and family networks that mitigate risks and promote resilience and recovery. Her research and practice standpoints include, critical race, feminist, multi-systems life course, intersectional, Afrocentric and social justice frameworks.

Dr. Valandra has acquired over $168,000 in funding over the past five years from the Arkansas Workforce, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bernice Jones Endowed Chair at the University of Arkansas. She has presented her research at over 30 international, national, and regional conferences and served as an invited reviewer for 10 international and national peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Valandra has published articles in several peer-reviewed journals including Journal of the Society for Social Work and ResearchAdvances in Social Work, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, Oxford University Press – Encyclopedia of Social Work Online and a chapter in Mothers, Mothering and Sex Work. She has also published a chapter on Afrocentric Intergenerational Assessment and Recovery from Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Social Work Practice with Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation - Columbia University Press and article on African American Men’s Perspectives of Intra-racial, heterosexual intimate partner violence using a multi-systems life course framework in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Dr. Valandra serves as a mentor for the Honors College First Generation Mentoring Program and the LGBTQ+ Mentoring Program on campus. She is a founding member Let’s Talk Northwest Arkansas, a program providing outreach and education on domestic violence and sexual assault affecting the lives of African Americans in Northwest Arkansas. She also serves on the board of the Northwest Arkansas Center for Sexual Assault and as the wellness-advisor and diversity consultant for Just Communities of Arkansas. She has a passion for social and economic justice and equity and values diversity and inclusion for all people.


African American Family Intergenerational Reslience and Risks

Intimate Partner Violence

Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Child Welfare Practice and Policy

Child Sexual Abuse

Community-based Participatory Research

Social Work Practice and Policy

African American Families

Public Child Welfare Involved Families

Work with Families Experiencing Incarceration

Culturally Responsive Research Methods


Advanced Practice Using the MSLC Perspective 

Advanced Practice with Adults Using the MSLC Perspective

Research and Technology I

African American Perspectives of Trauma, Loss, and Recovery

Social Work Practice with African American Families

The African American Experience

PhD in Social Work from the University of Minnesota

MSW from the University of Minnesota

MBA from the University of Nebraska-Omaha

BS in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha


Barrett, T., Olivo, R., Valandra, Christy, K., (2019). Theoretical Application to Understand Food Insecurity among College Students: A Multi-Systems Life Course Perspective. Journal of Sociology Study.

Valandra, Higgins, B.M, Murphy-Erby, Y., & Brown, L. (2019). An Exploratory Study of African American Men’s Perspectives of Intra-racial, Heterosexual Intimate Partner Violence using a Multi-systems Life Course Framework. Journal of the Society for Social Work Research.10(1), 69-95.

Valandra, Thomas, J. Christy, K. Tatlow, C. Neal, K. (2018). Assessment of a State Funded TANF IDA Initiative: A Case Study. Jounal of Social Service Research, doi:10.1080/01488376.2018.1480554

Valandra & McIntrye, J. (2017). Incest Survivors. Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.1190

Christy, K., Valandra (2017). A Multi-Systems Life Course Perspective of Economic Abuse. Advances in Social Work

Valandra, Murphy-Erby, Y., Higgins, M. & Brown, L. (2016). African American Perspectives and Experiences of Domestic Violence in a Rural Community. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. ePub. doi:10.1177/0886260516669542

Higgins, B.M., & Valandra. (2016). White Guys in Trucks: Symbols of Violence and Weapons of Racial Injustice. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping.

Gibson, P. & Valandra (2014). Grandparents. Encyclopedia of Social Work. Retrieved from  http://socialwork.oxfordre.com/

Valandra, (Summer 2012). Reflexivity and Professional Use of Self in Research: A Doctoral Students Journey. Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, 6, (4) 204-220.

Valandra, (Summer 2007). Reclaiming Their Lives and Breaking Free: An Afrocentric Approach to Recovery from Prostitution. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 22, (2), 195-208.

Valandra, (Spring 2005). Hearing the Voices of African American Children Healing from Sexual Abuse. NASW-Specialty Practice Sections - Child Welfare Section Connection. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers

Book Chapters

Valandra (April 2018). Afrocentric Intergenerational Assessment and Recovery from Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Social Work Practice with Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Columbia University Press. Invited.

Valandra. (2015). Protective and Proactive Mothering: Prostituted African American Mothers use of Intergenerational Family Networks.  In Bromwich, R.J., & DeJong, M.M (Eds.) Mothering, Mothers, and Sex Work. (pp. 213- 233). Ontario: Demeter Press

Social Work Educator

Child Protection Social Worker

IV-E Child Welfare Area Training Manager

Financial Manager


Robert C. and Sandra O’Connor Endowed Faculty Fellowship

Diversity Award

Best Doctoral Student Article