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Deborah A. Willis

PhD Student. Social Work/Sociology Graduate - 2005

Deborah A. Willis

Deborah Willis has over 30 years in the human service field both as a practitioner and as an evaluator. Early in her career she delivered prevention services to children and families in New York, and taught in Queens and the South Bronx. Her post-MSW experience as a research associate at the Center for the Study of Youth Policy focused on providing support to state juvenile justice systems forced by the courts to reform. As a doctoral student, she was a Civitas Fellow at the Family Assessment Clinic working with children and adults who were sexually abused, and an evaluator of child welfare services. She has a MS Ed from Northern Illinois University, an MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and a PhD in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Willis joined the Guidance Center as the director of the Center for Excellence in September 2003, where she served as the liaison between university researchers and the Guidance Center and directed evaluation and training for the agency. She has taught research and evaluation and policy courses to MSW students at EMU and U-M for the past 10 years. Dr. Willis currently serves as the director of programs at the Guidance Center and continues to oversee the agency’s evaluation projects.

Dissertation Title

A model for measuring implementation of new programs into old systems: A child welfare case study.


Year Degree   School
2005 PhD University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1989 MSW University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1981 MS Ed Northern Illinois University
1971 BA Central Michigan University


Year Description
2000 Willis, D., & Richards-Schuster, K. (2000, March). Community based research: A balancing act In multiple parts. Presented at the University of Michigan Sociology Graduate Student Conference.
1999 Willis, D. (1999, September). Perspective 21!: Key evaluation results. Presented at the community conference, Closing the Child Protection Gap: Reunion and Renewal, L.V. Eberhard Center, Grand Rapids, MI.
1999 Willis, D. (1999, September). The system review team: Key evaluation results. Presented at the community conference, Closing the Child Protection Gap: Reunion and Renewal, L.V. Eberhard Center, Grand Rapids, MI.
1999 Willis, D., Jackson, W. L., & Crampton, D. (1999, May). Ensuring continuous improvement in child welfare reform through participatory evaluation. Workshop presented at the Michigan Evaluation Association Conference, East Lansing, MI.
1999 Willis, D., & Crampton, D. (1999, March). The elusive nature of risk: One community's effort to reduce child maltreatment. Paper presented at the Council for Social Work Education Annual Program meeting, San Francisco, CA.
1994 Willis, D. (1994, June). Understanding, preventing & reducing violence in youth. Presented at the Detroit Area Coalition on Prevention of Violence in Schools.
1994 Willis, D. (1994, June). Youth violence. Presented at the Summer Symposium, University of Michigan, School of Social Work.
1991 Willis, D. (1991, November). Litigation as an instrument for change in juvenile detention. Presented at The American Society of Criminology.
1987 Willis, D. (1987, May). Staff interview techniques and the hiring process. Presented at the Tri-State Camping Conference.
1986 Willis, D. (1986, May). Staff development and training. Presented at the Tri-State Camping Conference.
1985 Willis, D. (1985). Behavior management techniques. Presented at the American Camping Association National Conference, Atlanta, GA.

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