Nancy Fitzsimons, Professor
Dr. Fitzsimons earned her MSW and PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Jane Addams College of Social Work and her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Mankato State University. Her area of concentration in the MSW program was practice with children and families, with an emphasis on developmental disabilities. The focus of Dr. Fitzsimons’ doctoral work was developmental disabilities, with an emphasis on disability policy and services, and on preparation of social workers for practice with people with disabilities.
Dr. Fitzsimons joined the faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2001. She served as the inaugural MSW program director for 7 years (2005 – 2012). Through her leadership, the MSW program was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education in October 2010. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in social welfare history, services and policy; social work policy practice, task groups, macro social work practice; and social work practice with people with disabilities and their families. During her 15 year tenure at MSU, Mankato Dr. Fitzsimons has led the Department’s involvement in Social Work Day at the Capitol 10 times, earning the NASW-MN Advocacy Award five times.
Prior to obtaining her current position she worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago for 8 years as a research fellow, project director, and lastly as a research assistant professor. Her work at the Institute included directing a 5-year longitudinal study on the closure of a state-operated developmental center. She later directed the Abuse and People with Disability Prevention Initiative. The Prevention Initiative included two federally funded community collaboration and training grants. One of the curriculum development and training grants targeted law enforcement and the other targeted people with disabilities, crime victim advocates, and disability service providers. Prior to working at UIC, she worked for 7 years as a social worker in a variety of settings supporting people with disabilities, including home-based child and family intervention, residential, case coordination, and an alternative school.
Dr. Fitzsimons’ scholarship interest and focus is on interpersonal and institutional violence and abuse and human rights violations perpetrated against people with disabilities. She has authored law enforcement, direct support professional, and other related curricula; journal articles, and most notably the book Combating Violence and Abuse of People with Disabilities. She conducts an array of trainings, workshops, presentations, and keynotes on the problem of interpersonal and institutional violence and abuse perpetrated against people with disabilities at the local, state, national and international levels. She trained as a certified sexual assault advocate and is certified as a Green Dot instructor. She consulted with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the prevention, detection, response and monitoring of sexual violence in their state and community facilities. In 2013 she was a recipient of the Arc of Greater Twin Cities Change Maker Award for her disability abuse prevention work. She is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation.
Through her community-engagement work, Dr. Fitzsimons’ conducted research on the well-being of children and youth in the greater Mankato area and was a leader with Mankato Area Healthy Youth. She recently completed a 6-year term on the Board of Directors for a non-profit agency that provides residential support to people with developmental disabilities, serving the last year as the Board president. In July of 2015 she was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton as the Region 9 representative to the Minnesota State Council on Disability.