Advisory board

Dr.Leyla Ismayilova is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Professor Ismayilova specializes in the development and adaptation of family-based interventions to improve child well- being in the international context and has been involved in international research projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and the former Soviet Union. Her research agenda focuses on developing culturally congruent interventions to improve mental health functioning and reduce risk behaviors (sexual risk behaviors and substance use) among at-risk children and youth. Ismayilova received her PhD and Master’s in social work from the Columbia University School of Social Work, with a concentration in advanced clinical practice, and was among the first Open Society Institute/Soros Foundation fellows from the former Soviet Union at Columbia. She also has MS and BS degrees in psychology from Baku State University, Azerbaijan. She was the founder and director of the Center for Psychological Counseling in Azerbaijan, which was the first mental health clinic in the country that provided counseling services to adults, children, and families with various emotional and behavioral problems. Her work experience also includes clinical practice at substance abuse and child and family mental health clinics in New York City.

Dr. Leticia Villarreal Sosa is an associate professor at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Social Work and visiting professor and director of social work at the Universidad Estatal de Milagro in Ecuador. She earned her Ph.D. at The University of Chicago, SSA. Her dissertation research focused on Mexican Origin students, social identity, and their academic trajectories. She has 14 years of practice experience as a school social worker in a variety settings including urban, suburban, high school, elementary, and alternative education. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, holds a School Social Work Professional Educator License, and a Certificate in Addictions Counseling. She continues to do research and publish in the area of school social work, immigrant adaptation, international social work, adult education, and school equity. She is the Editor in Chief of the International School Social Work Journal and serves on the Editorial Board of Children & Schools. In addition, she serves as a board member of the School Social Work Association of America. Currently she is working on several international projects focused on the development of social work and social work education in Azerbaijan, Ecuador, and Kenya. In Ecuador, she is directing the development and implementation of the first Master’s degree program in the country. In the area of school social work, she has published articles related to interdisciplinary collaboration, models of school social work practice, gang violence and trauma. Most recently, she has published a new book, School Social Work: National Perspectives on Practice in Schools that promotes school social work aligned with the national practice model developed by SSWAA and a special focus on an intersectional approach to diversity. She is also the co-chair of The Committee on International School Social Work Collaborations, leading a group of international professionals and academics in promoting school social work education, training, and standards globally. Locally, she has led various community based research projects related to the development of the Taller de Jose accompaniment model, a project documenting the efforts of a suburban school district to promote equity, a project to understand the needs of the Irish diaspora in Chicago, and an ongoing project focused on the evaluation of an adult education high school using a participatory approach to education. Her current book projects focus on the needs of Latino students in the schools, and an oral history focused on Mexican and Puerto Rican older adult women active in politics and organizing in Chicago since the 1960’s.

Sevinj Asgarova is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social work at University of British Columbia, and holds a MSW Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, USA. She comes with extensive academic and research experience exploring social and health issues in partnership with Community Living British Columbia (CLBC), Providence Health Care and Justice Institute of British Columbia, as well as University of Western Sydney, Australia. Her current doctoral thesis explores prenatal testing practice, particularly, mothers’ experiences of continuing with a pregnancy after prenatally receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome. The study has the potential to provide professionals (healthcare providers, social workers) with greater resources to adapt their actions and identify appropriate interventions in order to address their unique needs, which will in turn contribute to parents’ process of adaptation. Her research interest in children with intellectual disabilities and their families reflects her professional practice experience. As a practitioner, Sevinj has worked in advancing the inclusion of individual with intellectual disabilities, particularly around issues of child protection, de- institutionalization and inclusive education. This kind of work is also reflected in work around children’s rights and child welfare in the United States. Currently she is involved in research projects at the Centre for Health Education Scholarship (CHES) in Faculty of Medicine, UBC in the field of medical education.