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About Mari Ann Graham, MSW, PhD, LISW

Mari Ann Graham, MSW, PhD, LISW, joined the St. Catherine University faculty fall 2019 as MSW Program Director and as tenured associate professor. She completed a PhD in Social Welfare from Case Western in 1999, her MSW from the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) in 1983 and her BSW also from UNO in 1979. She also served as MSW Program Director for 6 years and as Interim Chief Diversity Officer while on faculty of the joint program with the University of St. Thomas for 25 years. She taught MSW practice, policy and research courses as well as courses in the DSW Program she helped develop and launch, summer of 2014. Prior to 1993, she taught full-time at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and part-time at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Iowa/Eastern Iowa Community College District. Graham’s post-MSW practice experience includes being a social worker/advocate and supervisor for an accredited family services agency for six years, allocations director for the United Way of the Quad Cities Area, and an EAP counselor for a large hospital. Her practice experience, knowledge of the community and our social work program, focus on the ethics, and commitments to diversity and spirituality in the social work curriculum make her a good fit for leading our MSW Program this fall.

Mari Ann Graham has been an active and engaged scholar during her 25+ years as a social work educator in the Twin Cities area alone. She has a clear preference for applied and integrative forms of scholarship as evidenced by her most recent publication, “Integral Ethics for Social Workers,” (Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics (2017), and by the wealth of workshops and presentations she has done at local, regional and national levels.  She enjoys the dynamic interplay of presentations because they allow her to use visual media, and other art forms to engage her audiences in self-reflection, and to push her with regard to the subject matter at hand—diversity and inclusion, ethics, spirituality and social work practice, to name just a few.

Most recently, for example, she presented a national webinar for NACSW, “Binding up our nation’s wounds: Developing an ethic of inclusion” (2018) in which she presented her own ethical model as a way of helping educators and practitioners recognize and deal with their blind spots and sore spots. Graham also integrated content on religion/spirituality, building on the interdisciplinary work of the Arbinger Institute, and engaging participants via visual media and other art forms.  An earlier scholarly work, demonstrates her affinity for the use of literature as another teaching art form: “Using literature groups to teach diversity.”  This publication was recently updated and selected for inclusion in a compilation of Key Papers on Social Work with Groups in Education,and is currently in press by Whiting and Birch. 

She is also a collaborative scholar and educator as her recent work with Donna Hauer (“What we need from each other: A conversation about race,” 2017) and her earlier work with Carol Geisler (“Beyond quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods: An integrative model for teaching research,” 2009) demonstrates.  Earlier published scholarship includes “Justice in teaching:  Teaching as groupwork,” “Naming the spiritual: The hidden dimension of helping,” and “Empowering social work faculty: Alternative paradigms for teaching and learning.” The latter publication, published prior to her dissertation research (“Design and development of a constructivist teaching innovation,” 1999) is currently used as a pivotal reading in a doctoral social work course that she developed and taught.


Present MSW Program Director, Associate Professor, St. Catherine University Social Work Department

Curriculum Vitae


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Professional Service and Affiliations

2020 - Present Member, HLC Work Group (Criterion IV)
2020 - Present Member, Katie Compass Work Group
1996 - Present Member, Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups
1995 - Present Member, Previously Board of Director, Society for Spirituality and Social Work
1994 - Present Member & Chair of Nominations Committee, National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter
1990 - Present Member, Council on Social Work Education
Present Member, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Faculty/Staff Group
Present Member, Global Partners for Transforming Social Work Education (GPTSW), Vermont Group
Present Member, Henrietta Schmoll School of Health Leadership Team
Present Member, Inclusive Excellence Committee and Subcommittee on Education
Present Chair, MSW Admissions Committee
Present Chair, MSW Program Committee
Present Member, Myser Steering Committee
Present Member, National Association for Christian Social Workers
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  • Spiritual Dimension of Social Work Practice


2000 LISW, Minnesota Board of Social Work
1999 PhD, Case Western Reserve University ‐ Mandel School of Social Sciences
1983 MSW, University of Nebraska at Omaha
1979 BSW, University of Nebraska at Omaha