Michele Hanna

Michele D. Hanna

Associate Professor

What I do

We have the potential to learn something new every day if we are willing to open ourselves to the world around us - we learn new facts, we learn different perspectives, we learn about each other, and, most importantly, we learn about ourselves. As a result, we grow, we change and we have impact.


child welfare, Foster Care, Adoption, culturally responsive practice, Racial & Ethinic Disproportionality & Disparities, higher education, race and ethnicity, Racial (in)justice, social justice

Professional Biography

Associate Professor Michele Hanna joined the faculty at GSSW in 2005. Dr. Hanna is the coordinator of the Child Welfare concentration. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for CLIMB@DU and CLIMB-OWEP, behavioral health workforce five-year training grants funded by HRSA that provide stipends to students interested in pursuing career in Integrated Behavioral Health and or OUD/SUD treatment or recovery services. Both programs seek to expand the healthcare workforce in Colorado and the Four Corners region, focusing primarily on medically underserved communities.

Dr. Hanna teaches courses in the MSW curriculum including Critical Race Theory Praxis & Social Work, Cultural & Linguistic Competency in Integrated Behavioral Health, Disproportionality & Disparities Across Systems, Power, Privilege & Oppression; and the Qualitative Research Sequence in the doctoral program.

Prior to pursuing her PhD at The University of Texas at Austin, her professional experience included working as an adoption birth parent counselor, a child protective service worker, child welfare adoption specialist, child welfare supervisor and program field representative for a statewide special needs adoption program.

Dr. Hanna's research focuses on child welfare, foster care and adoption, and issues related to racial disproportionality and disparities. From 2008-2014, she served as the evaluator for Denver's Village: Wrapping Families with Community Support. This City and County of Denver project was funded by the US Children's Bureau as part of the Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System grant cluster.


  • Ph.D., Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin, 2005
  • MSW, University of Oklahoma, 1999
  • BSW, Social Work, Catawba College, 1982

Professional Affiliations

  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)

Media Sources

Key Projects

  • Denver's Village: Wrapping Families with Community Support

Featured Publications

Hanna, M. D., Boyce, E. R., & Mulligan, D. (2017). When love is not enough: Parenting an adopted child with mental illness. Families in Society, 98(3).
Mixon Mitchell, D. A., & Hanna, M. D. (2017). Race matters: Child protection and the communication process. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work.
Hanna, M. D., Tokarski, K., Matera, D. R., & Fong, R. (2011). Happily ever after? The journey from foster care to adoption. Adoption Quarterly, 14(2), 107-131.
Hanna, M. D., & McRoy, R. G. (2011). Innovative practice approaches to matching in adoption. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 5(1), 107-131.


Hanna, M. D., Yang, J. L., & Fong, R. (2016). In whose best interest? Examining counter narratives of race embedded in adoption policy. . The Ninth Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference. Montclair NJ: St. John's University.
Hanna, M. D., Tokarski, K., Matera, D., & Fong, R. (2010). Happily ever after? The journey from foster care to adoptio. The Many Faces of Adoption in Today’s World. Third International Conference on Adoption Research (ICAR3). Leiden, the Netherlands.
Hanna, M. D., Boyce, E. R., & Mulligan, D. (2013). Residential Treatment and Adoption: The Adoptive Parent Perspective. 2013 International Conference on Adoption Research: ICAR4. Bilbao Spain.
Hanna, M. D., & Potter, C. (2012). MOR to less. Courts catalyzing change benchcard training. Colorado History Center: Denver, CO.
Hanna, M. D. (2011). Privilege monopoly: An innovative teaching tool. Pedagogy of Privilege: Transformational Education, Learning, Research, & Practice . Denver, CO.


  • Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate School of Social Work
  • Kay M. Stevenson Faculty Citizenship Award, Graduate School of Social Work