The following people (listed alphabetically) were involved in the development of the Relational-Cultural Theory - Ecological Track curriculum.
Dorothy Graff, Ph.D., MSW
worked in New York for over 10 years as a licensed clinical social worker with individuals, couples, families, and groups whose ages ranged from young children to seniors. She received her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Texas in Austin and has taught in social work programs both in Texas and Minnesota for over 16 years. While at The College of St. Scholastica, she taught in their BSW program and collaborated in designing and teaching in their new clinical MSW program. She has presented her research at international, national, and local conferences and has been published in a variety of professional journals. She co-edited the RCT-based book, Transforming community: Stories of connection through the lens of Relational-Cultural theory in 2018, and edited The Transforming Community Connection newsletter in 2018 through 2019. In 2020, she collaborated with Connie Gunderson, Ph.D. to transform her refugee research into an online course, Transforming community: Refugee resettlement in Germany.
Connie Gunderson, Ph.D., LISW
is an associate professor at The College of St. Scholastica. Having completed her undergraduate studies at The College of St. Scholastica, she worked in Germany until 2012. She completed her MSW in clinical social work practice at the Alice Salomon Hochschule in Berlin, Germany and received her Ph.D. in Intercultural Education from the University of Bremen in Bremen, Germany. Her areas of scholarship include Relational-Cultural theory, human trafficking, and international refugee resettlement. She is committed to the wellbeing of all life. She spends her free time caring for the beaver, Nature’s eco-engineer and a keystone species, through education plus supporting ethical and ecologically responsive land and water management. Dr. Gunderson has written, edited, and published numerous books and articles grounded in Relational-Cultural theory to address social issues including trauma and addiction, human trafficking, refugee resettlement, diversity, and caring for our ecological wellbeing.
Mary A. Hernandez
maintains a private psychotherapy practice and has worked in the areas of violence against women, newcomer/immigrants, and employee assistance programs. For several years, Mary managed a multi-site national counseling service for youth (5 – 25 years), and a department that provided crisis and counseling services to abused immigrant women and their children. She teaches undergraduate Psychology courses and simultaneously works within the wealth management sector where she serves as the Green Team Leader for her department and participates in the Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) Working Group.
Mary connects with Nature every day and believes that sustainability is a lifestyle. In her ancestral hometown in the Philippines (land of the Higaonon tribe from which she descends), she introduced the first e-tricycle as local public transport. With her daughter, she started an online sustainable products business—recently branching out to showcase traditional Indigenous textiles as well as chocolates that directly support Philippine farmers.
Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is one of the four founding scholars who created Relational-Cultural theory which posits that we grow through and toward relationships throughout the lifespan. Relational-Cultural theory marked a change from a psychology of separation to a psychology of connection. As Jean Baker Miller (1976) noted: This changes everything. Dr. Jordan has written extensively about the power of connection including the essential primer on RCT, Relational-Culture therapy, published by the American Psychology Association. Dr. Jordan has written over 50 original reports, several books including Women’s growth in Connection, The power of connection, The complexity of connection, Creating connection. She is the recipient of the Massachusetts Psychological Association Career Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Psychology as a science and as a profession. In 2002, she received a special award from the Feminist Therapy Institute in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development of feminist psychology. Dr. Jordan received the 2010 Distinguished Psychologist Award from the Division of Psychotherapy of the American Psychological Association that is given to one psychologist in the United States and Canada each year in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and significant lifetime contributions to the field of psychotherapy. Dr. Jordan is dedicated to advancing the cause of growth in connection and furthering our understanding of relationships built on the basis of mutual benefit. Mutual empathy contributes to social justice and informs our relationship with Nature. At our best, we are aware of and care about our impact on one another.
Jane Larson, MSW, LICSW, LCSW
is a clinical and school social worker licensed to practice in Wisconsin and Minnesota. As the lead social worker at Superior High School, she is developing mental health and AODA programs for students. Prior to this, Jane managed a twelve county runaway/homeless youth program (ages 12-24) and coordinated their substance abuse prevention services. In Minnesota she has provided therapeutic services to children from birth to five years of age. Jane helped develop the first Tribal AmeriCorps program in Wisconsin and co-authored the Co-Occurring Disorders Toolkit for Native Americans. Additionally, she assisted in the revision and refinement of a bullying prevention curriculum adopted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Her work with students and clients is grounded in Relational-Cultural theory. As an adjunct professor in the MSW program at The College of St. Scholastica, Jane has taught in the Direct Practice and Groups courses, plus mentored students for five years. She also co-authored a paper on RCT-based student mentoring published in 2018.
Leah Prussia, DSW, LICSW
is a self-described “tree hugging dirt worshiper.” She uniquely blends teachings from Anishinaabe Elders, Nature, Somatic Experiencing, and Relational-Cultural theory to address the bio/psycho/social and spiritual aspects of individuals, groups, and communities. Her background includes knowledge and practice in mental health services, substance use, trauma, and program administration. Leah is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the State of Minnesota and sole proprietor of Natural Connections LLC. She is a full-time associate professor in the Master’s in Social Work Program at the College of St. Scholastica. Leah presently serves on the Commission for Diversity, Social, and Economic Justice and the Environmental Justice Committee for the Council of Social Work Education. She also serves on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Planning Council and the Wildwoods Board in Duluth, Minnesota.