Mary Tabb Foley
Mary Tabb Foley

Mary Tabb Foley was nominated by a Student Athlete on the Women’s Lacrosse team as a UConn Faculty/Staff MVP, recognized during the Mental Health Awareness game, highlighting the positive connection and impact our faculty/student relationship had on her time at UConn.

Caroline Mavridis and Sue Pappas conduct FDC Leaders course

Caroline Mavridis
Caroline Mavridis

From Mar. 25-Mar. 27, National Family Development Credential trainers Caroline Mavridis and Sue Pappas (with support from Claire Forest, Director, and Amy Knight, Program Coordinator) conducted a three-day “Empowerment Skills for Leaders” Instructor Institute. A small but highly engaged group of seven leaders representing family service agencies from Missouri, Oklahoma, Florida, and New York received their certification to lead the 30-hour “Family Development Credential for Leaders” course. “FDC for Leaders” is the companion curriculum to the 90-hour FDC course for frontline human service workers and involves concepts and skills for empowerment-based staff supervision and support.

Brian Chapman, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, April 2024

Brian ChapmanBrian began working at UConn (at the Hartford Campus) in 1994 while a graduate student at Columbia University. In those early days, he taught in the pre-collegiate Student Support Services Program and worked in academic and student affairs. Brian learned about many aspects of the University through his work at nearly all UConn Campuses including UConn Health. According to Brian, “UConn has been and continues to be an integral part of my career; I have worked on all campuses except the Law School.” One of Brian’s longest and most rewarding experiences was as founding Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn. He built the program and brought in $1.6 million to the University. The institute attracted over 800 students (ages 50-98) and offered well over 100 courses and special programs annually during the 10 years he led the Institute. The program also provided work and internship experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and alumni.

Brian currently serves as HDFS Regional Campus Coordinator. He works collaboratively with HDFS and all regional campus administrations to develop academic schedules, staff courses, and support faculty on each campus.

Brian has taught in HDFS for nearly fifteen years, at the UConn Hartford, Stamford, Storrs, Torrington, and Waterbury campuses. He has developed two online HDFS courses in collaboration with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. While Brian’s academic focus is Gerontology, he is committed to lifespan education and strongly supports Early Childhood Education as a national priority. Brian is passionate about quality-of-life issues for women, minoritized populations, and sexual and gender minorities.

“Community engagement is in many ways the hallmark of my career at UConn,” Brian states. He served on many boards in Waterbury for ten years in areas related to community improvement including arts and culture, economic development, children and families, education, hunger, and other needs. Brian is the recipient of the 2009 Provost’s Award, Excellence in Outreach & Public Engagement, and the 2015 Waterbury Neighborhood Council. Brian served as the Director of Outreach, UConn Waterbury and a member of the Public Engagement Forum for ten years.

Brian has presented publicly and published on topics of aging, intergenerational programming, and student development. He led aspects of a summer medical research program for high school students at UConn Health. Brian co-edited a serial publication on dual/concurrent enrollment and conducted a national study on minority faculty recruitment. Currently, Brian is a proud co-PI of the recently completed study, “Drag Expression and how it interfaces with Dragism, Coping, Resilience, and Generativity.” Brian is particularly excited about the number of graduate and undergraduate students who have served as research assistants on this study and some recent interdisciplinary initiatives that have emerged from this work. He credits colleagues Alaina Brenick and Laura Donorfio for their mentorship in the project.

Brian enjoys spending time in NYC cabaret clubs, as he likes the intimacy of the venues and the “American Songbook” genre of music. He also spends time on the outer reaches of Cape Cod. Brian is interested in nutrition and completed a certificate in Plant-based Nutrition through eCornell.

Kevin Ferreira van Leer, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, March 2024

Kevin Ferriera Van LeerKevin Ferreira van Leer is a community and developmental psychologist who joined the HDFS faculty as an assistant professor in August 2023. His research examines the social and cultural contexts that promote positive development and liberation for Latine immigrants and their families, with an emphasis on educational contexts. He largely utilizes community-engaged research, collaborating directly with immigrant communities to develop research projects around their concerns and build their capacity to conduct research themselves. This work is shared with scholarly communities in academic journals and conferences, with immigrant communities themselves through photos, infographics and popular education materials, and with policy makers through briefs.

Kevin grew up in New Jersey in Portuguese and Colombian families. He attended United World College Costa Rica, a two-year residential international high school program that aims to make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. He then received his undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Wagner College, where he first became interested in the role that universities can play in their local communities as anchor institutions. He worked in community-based organizations addressing issues of educational access for and alongside immigrant communities in New York. These experiences illustrated the roles that institutions of higher education and research can play in advancing community wellbeing, which pushed him to apply to graduate school. He completed his Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology with a certificate in Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College. He then joined the Child and Adolescent Development faculty at California State University, Sacramento where he was for five years before joining UConn HDFS.  Kevin was a National Research Center for Hispanic Children and Families’ Research Scholar and is a contributor to several Hispanic Center projects.

Kevin’s current research includes examining how Latine undergraduates understand student success and perceive “servingness” at a Hispanic Serving Institution (see the Using Our Voices HSI project), as well as investigating how structural factors – such as variation in social policy exclusions for immigrants and the assets of immigrant communities – are associated with the wellbeing of immigrant families in the U.S (see the Elevating Equity project). These community-engaged research projects blend qualitative and quantitative methods in order to center the experiences of communities at the forefront of research. As he settles into Connecticut, he is exploring potential collaborations with local Latine immigrant communities to co-investigate how their interactions with social policies and/or educational institutions facilitate wellbeing and liberation. He currently teaches courses on diverse families and issues of diversity at the undergraduate and graduate level. Within the classroom, Kevin aims to co-construct knowledge and co-examine assumptions in the field while preparing students to critically examine their contexts in hopes of positively transforming them. A scholar-activist, Kevin has been sought out for supporting educational institutions in addressing the ways that policy and practice create, and perpetuate, inequity for people of color through extra- and inter- institutional efforts. For instance, he recently served as a member of the United World College Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Group, a committee of the UWC International Board, the governing body of the 18 schools on four continents with over 60,000 alumni from over 150 countries, as well as the Supporting Equitable Educator Development Advisory Committee for EDUCARE. Alongside his role as a faculty member at UConn, he is an Executive Board member of United World College Costa Rica.

Outside of work, Kevin enjoys traveling, reading, cycling and coffee. Kevin just celebrated his son’s first birthday. Alongside his husband, he enjoys seeing the world through a toddler’s eyes.

Rebecca Puhl featured in articles about Obesity and Weight Bias

Rebecca PuhlProefessor Rebecca Puhl was featured in Psychology Today in an article, Bullying Within the Home Hurts Children With Obesity, https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/children-at-the-table/202401/bullying-within-the-home-hurts-children-with-obesity. She was also featured in a Society for Human Resources Management article on Confronting Weight Bias: https://www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/all-things-work/confronting-weight-bias,  and in Medscape for an article on Confronting Weight Bias in the Clinic: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/998416.

Rebecca Puhl featured in UConn Today, and Nutrition Insight

Rebecca PuhlProfessor Rebecca Puhl was featured in UConn Today describing a new educational website she developed to educate healthcare professionals about weight stigma and strategies to improve supportive patient care. https://today.uconn.edu/2024/02/rudd-center-launches-supportive-obesity-care-website/

Rebecca was also featured in Nutrition Insight in an article, WeightWatchers flags “food noise” as roadblock to healthy weight: https://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/weightwatchers-flags-food-noise-as-roadblock-to-healthy-weight.html