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Faculty

Edwina Uehara

Professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work
PhD, University of Chicago

Dr. Edwina Satsuki Uehara is professor and the inaugural holder of the Ballmer Endowed Deanship in Social Work, University of Washington School of Social Work. She holds a BA in Spanish, summa cum laude, from Eastern Washington University; an MSW from the University of Michigan; and a PhD from The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Prior to her deanship, Dr. Uehara served as the School of Social Work’s associate dean for Educational Initiatives from 1998-2002 and acting dean in 2001-2002.

Dr. Uehara’s scholarly interests center on understanding the interplay of social structures and the cultural construction of health, illness and healing. Her federally funded research has examined the social networks, mental health, health-seeking and service use patterns of Asian-American and African-American community members. Her current work explores the moral, political and service implications of the trauma narratives created by Cambodian-American survivors of the Killing Fields.

In collaboration with colleagues at the UW Trauma Center and the Department of Psychiatry, she is also engaged in projects that apply innovative qualitative methods to understand the post-trauma mental health of severely physically injured adults, particularly those from economically disadvantaged, immigrant and refugee populations. Dr. Uehara’s work has been published in a range of journals in social work and related fields and disciplines, including American Journal of Sociology; Journal of Health and Social Behavior; Archives of General Psychiatry; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology; American Journal of Community Psychology; Social Science and Medicine; Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry; Social Work; Gerontology; and Mental Retardation.  

Recipient of the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award (1996), the School of Social Work’s Student’s Choice Teaching Award for Classroom Excellence (1994), and the Edith Abbott Award for Scholarly and Career Excellence from the School of Social Service Administration, Dr. Uehara teaches in the master’s and doctoral programs, specializing in administration, community practice, and advanced research methods. As associate dean, she worked closely with the faculty in designing the School’s current MSW curriculum.

Dr. Uehara’s practice career began in the early 1970s in Eastern Washington, where she worked as a community development specialist in rural school districts serving American Indian, Mexican-American and African-American students and families. Moving to Chicago, Illinois, after obtaining her master’s degree, she practiced in the areas of community development, mental health program development, and community-based advocacy research. 

She served as assistant director and executive director of the Taylor Institute, predecessor to the prestigious Center for Impact Research based in Chicago. While at Taylor Institute, Dr. Uehara and colleagues were awarded grants and contracts from local, state and national agencies to study the impact of various public policy and service practices. The findings from Taylor Institute’s 1986 statewide assessment of nursing home residents, conducted by Dr. Uehara and colleagues, were cited by the congressional subcommittee sponsoring the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. 

Dr. Uehara has provided consultation to a variety of national, state and local organizations, including the King County Cross-Cultural Mental Health Alliance (Seattle, Washington); the Community Mental Health Council (Chicago, Illinois); the South Carolina Department of Social Services; and the National Research Center on Asian American Mental Health (University of California, Los Angeles/Davis).

Professional Interests:

  • Impact of high-violence urban environments on mental health
  • Services to low-income and minority families with chronically mentally ill members
  • Financing and organization of mental health services
  • Social networks and social support