MSW ’14, MPP ’14 Graduate
Improving Health Care in Colorado
The connections between the University of Denver (DU) and the local community continue to prove beneficial to Matt Pfeifer, who graduated with dual degrees in 2014. He earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in family systems practice from the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
“I have friends and classmates from DU who continue to work as clinicians and policy professionals. It feels good to know that there are a bunch of altruistic DU graduates working to make my city, state, country and world a better place,” Pfeifer says.
Pfeifer works as a program specialist for the State of Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. The role involves managing one of the regional contracts for Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid system. He also facilitates and participates in policy initiatives to improve the program and health care statewide.
Before that, Pfeifer was a bilingual child and family therapist at a community mental health center.
“Now I apply the perspective I gained as a therapist by focusing on policy work that relates to behavioral health and complex youth,” Pfeifer says.
The transition from working on a clinical level to a policy level was always part of Pfeifer’s plan.
“My previous work at a community mental health center made me conclude that clinical perspective is a vital component of good behavioral health policy. Unfortunately, that perspective is sometimes missing or neglected,” Pfeifer says. “Spending time in both the public policy and social work programs helped increase my comfort in both professional settings. My experience at DU gave me the skills to be an effective professional in vastly different settings and the ability to translate my clinical experience into effective policy.”
The highlight of his GSSW experience was the instruction. Pfeifer says his professors exposed him to a solid foundation of skills that he applied during his internships and in his first job after graduation.
“My policy background helps me feel comfortable wearing a jacket and tie while discussing issues in a problem-focused conversation. My social work background means I’m fine crawling around on the floor with a young child to model ways to manage the anxiety that comes with processing trauma,” Pfeifer says.