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The Walden Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change Program

The principal investigators who are awarded a Research and Applications for Social Change Grant automatically become Walden University Social Change Fellows.

  • Walden University Social Change Fellows are among the most committed and knowledgeable agents for social change.
  • They are scholars, administrators, authors, artists, nurses, social workers, teachers, engineers, lawyers, historians, scientists and community leaders, ready to share their knowledge and skills for the greater global good. They continue to learn and grow as they give.

Learn more about the Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change Grant.

2018 Social Change Grant Recipients & Social Change Fellows

Opening Doors: Prejudice and Inclusion



Dr. Paul Englesberg, Core Faculty in the Riley College of Education & Leadership

Dr. Nina Spadaro, Core Faculty in the School of Counseling






This project explores the historical legacy and the contemporary manifestations of ethnic and racial intolerance, and misunderstanding of the “other”, in a community in northwest Washington State.

Through a series of events at various sites for college and community, the project will seek to raise the awareness of both the historical and contemporary manifestations of prejudice and to contribute to an environment of understanding and compassion.

A culminating e-book will feature the history, personal experiences, and voices from the community, as told through video, images, artistic expression.


Nina Spadaro, Ed.D. is a Core Faculty for the Masters in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Dr. Spadaro currently resides in Bellingham, Washington where she is a partner in a clinical and consulting practice, Impact Education & Therapy, LLC.  A seasoned teacher and presenter she utilizes a multi-sensory approach to create dynamic impact in her presentations.  She is an admirer of Dr.  Alfred Adler’s approach, which promotes the development of social interest, exemplified by his model of community Family Education Centers which provided free group family therapy. In her creative fashion she offers Adlerian-style Kung-fu classes for families.




  Mr. Rives Thornton, M.S., Walden University alumnus from the School of Counseling

  Ms. Andrea Beilner, M.S. Student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program



Disclosure and Stigma in Online Environment: Perceptions of students with disabilities and staff who work in disability units in higher education.​



Dr. Susana Verdinelli, Core Faculty in the School of Psychology

Ms. Carolyn M. Roney, Sr. Director of Disability Services, Walden University




The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the decision-making process of disability disclosure and to explore the experiences of stigmatization among adult learners with disabilities enrolled in online programs. Additionally, it will explore how staff who work in the office of disability in higher education institutions perceive students’ disclosure and stigma in this learning format.

Understanding how students’ perception of stigma interacts with disability disclosure in online programs may help academic institutions better meet these students’ needs, improve the quality of their academic experiences, and increase their retention and degree completion rate.



Susana Verdinelli, Psy.D., is a core faculty in the academic psychology doctoral programs at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University. Susana has a Doctor in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University, a Master’s degree in School Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the State University of New York, Buffalo. She joined Walden University as core faculty in 2010. Her research interests include disability studies, resiliency, qualitative methodology, psychological well-being, Latino psychology, and bilingual counseling. She has clinical experience at various community service agencies working with families, couples and children. She obtained the Faculty for Research Initiative Grant to conduct a study exploring students with disabilities reasons for enrolling in online programs. She teaches Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis, and various methodology courses.


Carolyn Roney has worked in the field of higher education and disability for over 30 years.  She has been Sr. Director of Disability Services at Walden University for 13 years.   She held the same role for 12 years at a local state university and continues to work as adjunct faculty in their Disability Studies program.   Ms. Roney has worked as a sign language interpreter in a college setting and has held various rehabilitation support roles at agencies in the Twin Cities area.  Her Master’s degree is in Higher Education Administration from the University of Minnesota.  






Post-GED Student Perceptions of College Preparation and Postsecondary Success

Ms. Andrea Helaine, Doctoral Candidate in the EdD Program, Riley College of Education & Leadership

This project seeks to improve our understanding with respect to how General Equivalency Development (GED) programs may influence student participation and success in postsecondary education.  The project’s qualitative phenomenological design has been chosen to examine the experiences and perceptions of post-GED students regarding their preparation for, and participation in, postsecondary education.


Andrea Helaine holds a Bachelor’s of Philosophy in Theology from Ave Maria College, an MFA in Creative Writing from National University, and is a Doctoral Candidate in the Higher Education Leadership program at Walden University. In 2016-2017, Andrea was chosen for an Education and Public Policy fellowship through UC Denver and proposed a workforce mandate in AEFLA funded GED programs. Andrea is a board member of the Colorado Adult Education Professional Association (CAEPA) and is a member of the Governor’s Education Leadership Council. Andrea began teaching adult education students at Colorado Mountain College and has remained committed to working with HSE/ABE students at Emily Griffith Technical College in Denver since 2014. She is passionate about creating equity in college and workforce outcomes for adult education students.

2017 Social Change Grant Recipients & Social Change Fellows

Dr. Aimee FerraroSocio-Ecological Factors Impacting Zika Virus Transmission in Lima, Peru

Dr. Aimee Ferraro (Walden College of Health Sciences)​

The purpose of this qualitative study is to better understand the unique socio-ecological factors that influence individual-level Zika virus prevention practices of residents in four shantytown communities in Lima, Peru.

Study participants will leave with increased knowledge of feasible prevention methods they can implement in their homes to reduce the risk of Zika virus transmission. Findings will also be shared with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and Peruvian Ministry of Health to inform future Zika virus risk communication efforts and prevention programs targeting shantytown communities in Peru, ultimately helping to reduce the burden of Zika in Latin America.

Aimee Ferraro is an ethnographer, epidemiologist, and core faculty member in Walden University’s School of Health Sciences. She holds a dual B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Johns Hopkins University, an M.P.H. in Epidemiology from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Health and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Colorado at Denver. Her interest in infectious and vector-borne diseases began during her tenure as a CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She is currently conducting research on Zika virus knowledge, attitudes, and practices in Peru, where she has lived since 2008.

Read more about Dr. Ferraro and her work here.


Wounded Healers: HIV + Community Health Workers as Agents of Social Change

Dr. Richard Jiminez, Principle Investigator (Walden College of Health Sciences)

Ms. Phronie Jackson, Co-Investigator (Walden College of Health Sciences)

Dr. Faith Foreman, Co-Investigator (Walden College of Health Sciences)

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of HIV-positive community health workers who serve HIV-positive clients in the Washington, DC, to better understand why HIV-positive health workers choose to work with HIV-positive people; and to explore if the relationship between HIV positive Community Health Care Workers (HIV + CHW)  and their clients is synergistic, in that the work is therapeutic for both worker and client, and that it may help to empower the HIV + CHW as an effective provider of health services and agent of social change.

The potential positive social change impact of this study is that understanding why HIV + CHW choose to work with HIV positive persons and how they provide those services may help to strengthen the HIV/AIDS workforce through the development of effective CHW recruitment, training, and sustainability programs.


Dr. Richard JimenezDr. Richard Jiminez

Dr. Richard Jimenez is currently a full-time core faculty member in Walden’s College of Health Sciences where he teaches graduate students in Public Health, and supervises Ph.D. dissertation and Dr.PH doctoral study research. Dr. Jimenez received his Doctorate in Public Health degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health. Dr. Jimenez has over 28 years’ experience in Public Health practice, teaching and research, including work as a Public Health Advisor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, and as Senior Research Scientist and Director of Patient Safety Research at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. His research interests include program evaluation, infectious diseases, health disparities and the public health impact of medical errors and patient safety.

Read More about Dr. Jimenez and his work here.

We'd like to congratulate Walden's Richard Jimenez, Social Change Fellow and Core faculty member, for his 2017-2018 David A. Wilson Award in Teaching and Excellence, as recognized by Laureate Education!

Richard's work, "Lived Experiences, Perceptions and Expectations of Asian and Latino/a Online Doctoral Students" is the basis for this award. Visit here to see all the winners.


Dr. Phronie Jackson

Dr. Phronie Jackson is currently a part-time adjunct faculty member at the University of the District of Columbia, where she teaches undergraduate students in Public Health and Psychology and serves as the evaluator for the University’s MSI/CBO SAMSHA grant. Dr. Jackson received her Doctorate in Public Health degree from Walden University in November 2016. Dr. Jackson has over 10 years’ experience in Public Health practice including, developing and implementing public health interventions, working as a Community Health Outreach Manager at the largest hospital system in Washington, DC, and as a Program Coordinator for a 5 year national HIV/AIDS Prevention grant foundered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. Her research interests include health equity, program evaluation, health disparities, and the public health impact of gentrification on underserved community populations.


Dr. Faith Foreman

Dr. Faith Foreman has served as a Contributing Faculty Member in the Walden University College of Health Sciences for more than 10 years as a doctoral research supervisor and scholar. Faith is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Public Health and Texas Southern University. She also has a license to practice nursing in the State of Texas. Dr. Foreman is a seasoned public health practitioner and academician. An expert in public and community health promotion, evaluation and planning, Faith has lead the design, implementation and evaluation of numerous health interventions at the local, state and federal level. She has managed staff in public and not-for-profit health centers, as well as lead multi-disciplinary teams in conducting large scale community assessments and interventions.


Chinonso NnoromHealth System Determinants of Access to Maternal Health Medicines: An Analysis of WHO Low-and-Middle-Income Country Profiles

Dr. Chinonso Nnorom (Walden School of Health Sciences)

The purpose of this study is to explore the potential strength of association between health system building blocks and access to three life-saving maternal health medicines in low and middle-income countries.

Findings from this study will highlight the complexities that underlie making essential medicines for maternal health available and accessible in low and middle-income countries. Depending on the analytic results, priorities for policy-making will be offered, and the study could help reduce the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes.

Dr. Nnorom is a wife, mum, and full time doctoral candidate at the department of public health in Walden University. Dr. Nnorom holds an MPH degree from Nigeria’s prestigious University of Ibadan, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. She has spent the last 10 years working with Ministries of Health, International Agencies, and community organizations to facilitate institutional reforms and strengthen health systems in Africa.  Dr. Nnorom recently served as a Senior researcher and consultant to the United Nations where she engaged successfully with regional, national, and international stakeholders to promote community engagement and design strategic frameworks and policies that helped shape, coordinate and improve effectiveness of HIV/AIDS, Maternal Health (MH) and Reproductive Health(RH) Interventions.

Read more about Dr. Nnorom and her study here.