Dr. Kristie Holmes

Dr. Kristie Holmes

UN Women

About Me

Kristie Holmes, PhD, LCSW, specializes in topics related to global health, gender and media, as well as technology’s impact on relationships. She has spent the past seven years working on projects related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and human rights with Zero Mothers Die and the Millennia 2025 Foundation. She is active in creating plans of action to attain the 2030 Global Goals. She has a passion for helping other women find their voice, and has acted as moderator at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as well as participated as a panelist at the Women Leaders Forum (United Nations General Assembly).

Currently, she serves on the board of United Nations Women U.S. National Committee with a focus on the He for She Initiative and works with Give an Hour, which donates clinical time to veterans in need of services who are often on a waiting list.

In addition, she is on the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health team, and deployed with Hurricane Harvey in 2017. She recently survived a postpartum SCAD attack followed by cardiogenic shock (a rare, “young women’s heart attack”) and has become even more focused on women’s health, policy and advocacy. Holmes ran for Congress in 2014 in California’s District 33.

We greatly underuse our power as social workers on the macro level. With nearly one million of us in the U.S. alone, we should be shaping policy not only on the state level, but also on the national and global level. – Dr. Kristie Holmes

Classroom education tied with field experience is a critical aspect of a MSW student’s experience. I have been able to personally impact hundreds of students learning as they have entered the field. With the advent of social media as a communication and tracking tool, it has been a joy to watch students transform into colleagues and advocates now using this platform to organize. Harnessing technology for social good, closing the health gap, creating social responses to a changing environment and achieving equal opportunity and justice are the Social Work Grand Challenges most of my work focuses on.

Recently, I had the opportunity to partner with a fellow faculty member in a disaster mental health deployment with the Red Cross. We coordinated online as well as through existing alumni networks to increase our impact, reaching 16,000 social workers. Shortly following that post, the system was unable to take further applications without a pause to process. The actual deployment brought an entirely new lens with which to view disaster aid, health disparity, crisis response, and a throwback to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

During the 2016 election, I was proud to partner with a politically active youth “influencer” (5 million + “followers”). While teens under the age of 18 may not be able to vote, they can motivate adults to show up to the polls. A single post resulted in a virtual phone bank of 326 participants that “got out the vote” for an entire state in a single day. This gives an eye to future research.

With nearly one million social workers in the U.S., partnered with influencers, our impact on policy positions will be measurable. Through my leadership position at the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Research and Social Work Day on the Hill, we have forged lasting relationships with members of the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus), the social work caucus and foster care caucus. Spending time in D.C. is a powerful way for social workers to see their future post MSW, and how their current skills apply to governmental impact in ways we can see on the micro level.

My time in the classroom has brought full circle what I do in the public sphere. My work with United Nations Women US National Committee (an elected position) has infused my teaching of courses like Global Violence Against Women and Global Development. I was approached in 2015 by Columbia University Press to write a book that included innovation in practice. I’ve decided to move forward, incorporating some of my more recent personal and professional experiences that will give new depth and perspective to my writing.

I’ve enjoyed bridging the silos of the United Nations and social work through exploration exercises with students that look at the Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Social Work Grand Challenges. I look forward to the day when I’m on campus at the UN and no one says, “You’re a social worker?”

Finally, I’ve been passionate about leading in gender equality, with a healthcare focus. Not only is equity important around the world to contribute to increased national productivity and GDP, but for the good of peacemaking, health and decision making at the highest level. In the United States we have a lack of female representation in the public sphere. As we move to reflect Canada, whose cabinet has reached equity, we must also account for lessons in retention. Getting women to stay in office is problematic. To achieve the Grand Challenge of equal opportunity and justice, we must do a simple count but also investigate qualitative contributors to barriers in retention.

As both my professional and teaching history demonstrates, I work across the micro, mezzo and macro fields of practice, bringing a public policy perspective from the and global level of practice, integrating issues such as disaster aid response and leadership of youth and women to the classroom.

To ready more about Kristie, visit her UN site here.

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