Faculty & Staff

Michael LaSala, Ph.D., LCSW, Director of the DSW Program

Michael C. LaSala, PhD, LCSW is associate professor at the School of Social Work at Rutgers University and has been a practicing psychotherapist and teacher/trainer for 30 years. His research and clinical specialties are the couple and family relationships of gay men and lesbians.  Dr. LaSala’s book entitled: Coming out, coming home: Helping families adjust to a gay or lesbian child (Columbia University Press) describes the findings and practice implications of a National Institute of Mental Health

funded qualitative study of 65 gay and lesbian youth and their families.  Other examples of Dr. LaSala’s work can be found in 30 journal articles and his blog for Psychology Today (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gay-and-lesbian-well-being). Dr. LaSala is a much sought after speaker on gay and lesbian couple and family issues and has recently presented workshops, keynotes, and plenaries in Sweden, Canada, Finland, Estonia, Italy, and throughout the U.S.. Further information on Dr. LaSala’s work can be found on his website, drmichaellasala.com

Edward Alessi, Ph.D., LCSW

Dr. Alessi’s research aims to improve understanding of stress and trauma among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations and enhance clinical practice with LGBT and other marginalized populations. His research has been published in journals such as Psychological Trauma, Child Abuse & Neglect, Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy Research, and The Journal of Sex Research. Dr. Alessi’s most recent study explored trauma and resilience in LGBT individuals who obtained refugee/asylee status in the United States or Canada due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. He served as guest editor for the Clinical Social Work Journal’s first special issue on Clinical Practice with LGBTQ Populations. Dr. Alessi has also been recognized by Rutgers students for his teaching. He received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award four years in a row (2013-16) and the Innovative and Creative Teaching Award in 2012. A clinical social worker since 2001, he has worked primarily in outpatient mental health and has been an independent practitioner since 2004.

Beth Angell, Ph.D., MSW

Beth Angell is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and a Core Faculty member at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers. Dr. Angell conducts research on mental health services for people with serious mental illnesses, particularly on issues of engagement in and adherence to treatment. Her past and current studies in this area have examined how legal and informal strategies are used to promote treatment adherence, as well as the role of the consumer-provider relationship and consumer self-determination in that process. In other completed work, she has conducted studies related to police interactions, stigma, and social networks in relation to people with serious mental illness.

Current projects include: an evaluation of New Jersey’s Involuntary Outpatient Commitment law; two studies which examine the process of reentry for former prisoners with serious mental illness and evaluate the use of evidence-based practices on the reentry process, using mixed methods; a conversation analytic study of client-provider communication about medication management; and an evaluation study which examines the impact of the closure of a state psychiatric hospital in New Jersey on the lives of those discharged to the community. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment, NARSAD, Chicago Community Trust, and the State of New Jersey; and has been published in a variety of journals including Psychiatric Services, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Social Service Review, and Social Science and Medicine. In the School of Social Work she offers clinical MSW courses and teaches in both the PhD and DSW programs.

Carol Cassidy, DSW Multi-Media Project Instructor

Carol Cassidy is an educator and independent multimedia producer focused on human rights. She has worked in war zones, refugee camps and areas of extreme poverty including Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Gaza, Uganda, Bolivia, and Peru. Carol has worked with PBS, BBC, CNN, the United Nations, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and others. Her honors include recognition and support from the American Film Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Carol is the author of GIRLS IN AMERICA, a book of interviews based on her documentary film series focused on adolescent girls. She is one of five sisters from a working-class Philadelphia home.

Miriam Jaffe, Ph.D., DSW Writing Program Instructor

Miriam Jaffe-FogerMiriam Jaffe is a developer of and Instructor in the Writing Program for the DSW at Rutgers University. She previously was Assistant Director of the Writing Program at Rutgers University, and ran the Plangere Writing Center, serving struggling populations of readers and writers at the undergraduate and graduate level through course design and evaluation. She holds a PhD in 20th Century American Literature based in Cultural Theory and Ethnic Studies and a dual certification in Composition. She focuses on issues of life-writing and autoethnography in literature, and her composition pedagogy concentrates on issues of close-reading, connective thinking, and analysis that makes use of textual evidence and various theoretical frameworks. In 2008, Rutgers recognized her with the Outstanding Teacher Award.


Judith L.M. McCoyd, Ph.D., LCSW

Judith L. M. McCoyd (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College- GSSWSR, 2003; MSSW, Columbia University- GSSW, 1985) is an associate professor at Rutgers University’s School of Social Work. Her research lies at the intersection of perinatal health care, medical technologies, decision-making and bereavement. Specifically, Dr. McCoyd explores the decisions to use prenatal diagnostic technologies, the experience of high risk pregnancy, whether to continue a pregnancy affected by fetal anomalies, and the emotional responses to these events. Funding for the varied research projects came from the American Assn. of University Women, the Lois and Samuel Silberman Faculty Fund Grant and Rutgers University Research Council Grants.

Dr. McCoyd’s research provides direct analysis, yet is also used to develop theory about social work practice, decision making and normative culture, and perinatal health care. She is a licensed clinical social worker (PA) who maintains a small clinical practice and serves in leadership roles with the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers. She teaches in the Masters, Ph.D and DSW programs.