Sean Joe is a nationally recognized authority on suicidal behavior among African Americans. His research focuses on Black adolescents’ mental health service use patterns, the role of religion in Black suicidal behavior, salivary biomarkers for suicidal behavior, and development of father-focused, family-based interventions to prevent urban African American adolescent males from engaging in multiple forms of self-destructive behaviors. Working within the Center for Social Development, Joe has launched the Race and Opportunity Lab, which examines race, opportunity, and social mobility in the St. Louis region, working to reduce inequality in adolescents’ transition into adulthood. Joe served on the board of the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA), the scientific advisory board of the National Organization of People of Color Against Suicide, and the editorial board of Advancing Suicide Prevention. He is the founder and director of the Emerging Scholars Interdisciplinary Network, a national interdisciplinary and multi-ethnic professional development network for early career social and behavior scientist. In recognition of the impact of his work, Joe has received the Edwin Shneidman Award from the American Association of Suicidology for outstanding contributions in research, as well as the Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research.
Mary M. McKay is Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Washington University in St. Louis. She joined the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis as dean in 2016, continuing the School’s legacy of creating vital knowledge, initiating social change, and preparing leaders to address social and health challenges both locally and globally. Dean McKay’s academic experience connects deeply to both social work and public health. She has received substantial federal funding for research focused on meeting the mental health and health prevention needs of youth and families impacted by poverty. She also has significant expertise in child mental health services and implementation research methods, as well as over 20 years of experience conducting HIV prevention and care-oriented studies, supported by the National Institutes of Health. She has authored more than 150 publications on mental and behavioral health, HIV/AIDS prevention and urban poverty, and more. Prior to joining the Brown School, Dean McKay was the McSilver Professor of Social Work and the inaugural director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. She previously served as the head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her prior academic appointments include Columbia University and University of Illinois at Chicago.
Fred Ssewamala leads innovative, interdisciplinary research that informs, develops and tests family-based economic empowerment and social protection interventions to improve life chances and long-term developmental impacts — including health, mental health and educational outcomes — for youth impacted by poverty and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). His research engages collaboratively with local institutions to ensure scale-up and sustainability. Prior to joining the Brown School, Ssewamala was a tenured professor at Columbia University, where he established the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD). ICHAD contributes to the reduction of poverty and improvement of health outcomes for youth and families in low-resource communities in SSA. Ssewamala is also the director of the SMART Africa Center, which is aimed at reducing gaps in child and adolescent mental health services and research in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. Ssewamala teaches International and Social Development, Global Health, Evaluation of Programs and Services, and Theory Formulation and Testing. His academic work has been published in the Lancet, American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Adolescent Health, Prevention Science, Social Services Review, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Ssewamala was recently selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.