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Agents of Change: Meet Social Work Scholar Dr. Yolanda Padilla

Dr. Padilla

Dr. Padilla Dr. Yolanda Padilla, professor of social work, focuses her research on social and economic justice, particularly among Mexican Americans and LGBT communities. Last June she was appointed as the inaugural director of the Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice within the Council of Social Work Education. We caught up with Padilla to learn more about her research and how she seeks to enhance social work education for the next generation of practitioners.

A vision for change…“The opportunity to lead the Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice is a culmination of my past work, going back to my first paper in my first year of college. I have always been very concerned with the significance of discourse on issues of social and economic justice because that discourse has very real consequences. It is the root of a worldview and of a vision for change. How we define a problem defines the types of solutions we will entertain.”

New developments…In her new leadership role, Padilla is spearheading the center’s efforts in advancing social work education for professional practice that promotes individual, family and community well-being within the context of social justice.  “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to direct this center. Thanks to the generosity of UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, I will be able to dedicate 50 percent of my time to developing the center.”

A new era, a new commitment… “The timing for the center could not be better. The United States is experiencing a re-awakening to issues of social justice and diversity – issues that have always been at the forefront of social work education.”

Educating future agents of change…“My interest when writing about social and economic justice is always around social work practice and what it means for social work education. I realize that as a scholar I am directing myself to other social work educators and scholars, and that we in turn influence future practitioners.”

Visit this website for more details about Dr. Padilla’s work at the Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice.