Social Services

Faculty and Staff


Louise Stern, Chair and Professor

BSW, Ryerson University; MSW and PhD, University of British Columbia

  • Nanaimo Campus, Bld 180, Room 536
  • Phone: 250-740-6268 | Fax: 250-740-6466
  • Email:

Louise has been practicing geriatric based social work for the past 20 years and has worked in community, hospital, and long-term care settings.  She received her BSW (1994) from Ryerson, and an MSW (2001) and PhD  (2012) from UBC. The focus of her practice and research has been on dementia care; inter-professional care as it relates to aging and healthcare; intercultural care and the development of cultural education in health care settings; and exploring the diversity of aging Canadians.  She has taught at the University of British Columbia in the School of Social Work and the College of Health Disciplines and Thompson Rivers University ,  School of Social Work and Human Services.

Carmen Lavoie, Professor

MSW, Carleton University; PhD, McGill University

Carmen Lavoie

Carmen joined VIU’s Social Work Department full-time in 2014. Carmen has worked and volunteered in various capacities related to social work for over 20 years. She has experience in the field of addictions, HIV, mental health, disabilities, individual and group counselling, violence against women, social policy and community practice. Her work in B.C. includes two years as Anti-racism Program Advisor for the B.C. government and one year as an Educator with the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office. Carmen’s PhD dissertation focused on community practice in low-income, diverse neighbourhoods. Carmen has taught undergraduate and graduate social work courses at McGill University and VIU.

Jeanette Schmid, ProfessorJeanette Schmid

Med (School Counseling), University of Witwatersrand (ZA); PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University

Jeanette Schmid is a seasoned social work researcher, consultant, practitioner, and educator with a strong interdisciplinary focus. Her qualifications include a social work doctorate, a master in education (School Counseling) and diplomas in Remedial Education and Public Policy, Development and Administration. She also was a registered psycho-oncology counsellor and is trained in mediation and restorative practices. Jeanette’s engagement has been directed by a passion for social justice and community capacity building and her academic interrogation occurs through a critical lens. She has lived and worked in South Africa, Switzerland, the United States of America and Canada and has a nuanced appreciation of global North-South dynamics in the social services arena. She is a skilled researcher and has an extensive publication record. She has made a significant contribution to the conceptualization of child welfare by extending developmental social welfare into the child welfare field and promotes an integrated, indigenized approach to dealing with vulnerable children and families. Jeanette’s research interests further include social policy, organizational development and social service workforce issues. Jeanette has served diverse and marginalized populations, working across race, class, gender, religious, (dis)ability and national backgrounds. She is an effective leader, having taken on managerial and board roles. Finally, Jeanette is an experienced instructor, mentor, supervisor and trainer, having taught both in community and academic contexts across Certificate/Diploma, Bachelors and Master levels and across disciplines, including social work, criminology, and community support/educational assistant programs.

Fiona Meyer Cook

Fiona Meyer Cook, Professor

BFA, Concordia University; BSW and MSW McGill University; PhD (C), Carleton University

Fiona joined the faculty full time in 2017. Her recent research and policy work has focused on residential schools, Indigenous women and alternatives to incarceration; culturally relevant, gender based HIV prevention in child welfare; labour’s role in advancing the TRC’s Calls to Action; and trade, democracy, and human rights in the Americas.  She has over 15 years of experience in crisis intervention, gender violence, mental health, youth group work, HIV, and Two-Spirit /LGBTQ counseling and community organizing.  Fiona spent four years in Peru with organizations working to eradicate poverty; and represented EGALE Canada at the United Nations World Conference against Racism, lobbying for the inclusion of gender identity as a protected and multiple ground of discrimination.  Her ongoing doctoral research is on decolonization, green social work, and Indigenous food sovereignty.  Fiona is of Anishinaabe, Scottish and underground railroad descent, and is an adopted member of a Willow Cree family from Beardy’s & Okemasis, Saskatchewan. Fiona has taught graduate and undergraduate social work courses at Carleton University and supervised social work fieldwork students at McGill University.

Kathy Smith, Sessional Instructor

MSW, Dalhousie University; RSW

Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith is a lifelong learner who realized at a very early age that her calling was in community social work and social justice work. Volunteer involvement began in the early 90's with the Crossroad Crisis centre in the Comox Valley, and this training lead to a series of volunteer and paid positions with women's resources, BCACL, adult literacy programs, municipal substance use awareness raising, community mental health clubhouse models, BC Schizophrenia Society and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Kathy completed her BSW with distinction in 2005 from UVic, and in 2012 completed her MSW degree via distance education through Dalhousie University. While in school, Kathy worked in various capacities with both public sector and non-profit agencies, working with adults with multiple barriers to services and housing. In 2012, she began teaching with VIU in professional development programs for community mental health, and more recently, within the BSW and SSER programs. As well, Kathy has delivered courses for both UVic and Dalhousie in their BSW programs.

Robert Mahikwa, Sessional Instructor

BSW and MSW (Indigenous Social Work), University of VictoriaRobert Mahikwa

Robert identifies as Anishinaabe-Algonquin (wolf clan), and he has worked with Indigenous communities and populations in British Columbia and Ontario since 2005. As an Instructor, Robert interweaves Indigenous pedagogy and ceremonies within a student-centered, strengths-oriented, and solutions-focused learning environment. Robert teaches Social Work, and Indigenous Studies courses at Vancouver Island University, the University of Victoria, and Camsoun College. His areas of expertise include Indigenous Social Work theory and practice, Indigenous Pedagogy, Indigenous Mentorship, Life Skills Coaching, and Indigenous Research Methodologies.

In the field, Robert has experience working as a counsellor, case manager, family support worker, youth crisis worker, outreach worker, careers counsellor, youth leadership and life skills coach, and youth transitional housing worker. Robert is also a VIU Indigenous Education Navigator within the Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement, and was recently nominated for the 2020 National Emerging Voices in Indigenous Scholarship and Research Award, from the University of Saskatchewan.

Robert currently sits on the Research Ethics Board at VIU, and he is open to requests from Graduate thesis students regarding committee and/or advisory opportunities.

Holly Bradley

Holly Bradley, Practicum Placement Coordinator

BSW, McGill University; MSW, University of British Columbia; RSW

  • Nanaimo Campus, Bldg 180, Room 533
  • Phone: 250-740-6271 | Fax: 250-740-6466
  • Email:

Holly Bradley joined VIU’s Faculty of Health and Human Services in 2009 and in addition to her Practicum Coordinator role for the BSW, Social Services diploma and Education Assistant and Community Support programs, Holly supported students as a counsellor through Student Affairs and taught counselling skills courses through the Professional Development and Training department. As a registered Social Worker with 30 years of experience Holly’s practice has focused on counselling, mental health and trauma recovery, health care, home and community support, youth protection, and rehabilitation support within the disability sector. Holly received her MSW from the University of British Columbia with a minor in Women’s Studies in 1997 and her BSW in 1987 from McGill University. Her MSW focus examined women’s healing from sexual abuse through yoga, and her BSW focused on the use of somatic and self-awareness strategies to heal patterns of disordered eating and body image. Holly maintains a private practice offering health and wellness presentations and facilitation in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

Social Work Program Assistant

  • Nanaimo Campus, Bldg 180, Room 542
  • Phone: 250-740-6447 | Fax: 250-740-6466
  • Email: