Part-time Faculty Spotlight: Lori Paris, MSSW, LCSW

Lori Paris, grew up in New Albany, IN, then moved to North Carolina where she finished her Bachelor’s in Psychology and obtained a Master’s in Human Lori ParisResources Development.  She returned to New Albany twenty years ago and took a job in a nursing home where she recognized her passion for working with older adults.  Paris said she “noticed the power of social work.  Powerful work with helping the older adults and family cope with end-of-life, finding placement, advocating on so many levels.  I was also inspired by the power of making change within an organization as a social worker as well as branching out into the community.” She enrolled in Kent School and obtained her MSSW in 2007 with a specialization in gerontology.  Then worked as a liaison in a psychiatric practice for many years while working toward licensure and became a therapist full-time.  She is a licensed clinical social worker in IN and KY and a licensed clinical addictions counselor.

Paris has been working for the Department of Veterans Affairs for eight years as the Medical Foster Home Program Coordinator and Veteran Community Partnership Coordinator for the Louisville facility.  She is also serving her second year as the Chair of the Professional Development Committee for social workers in VA nationwide, and works as a therapist part-time at Associates in Counseling and Psychotherapy with all ages.  She specializes in trauma and has been certified in EMDR for four years and is now a trainer for EMDR Consulting. Paris serves as the President of the KIPDA Region Mental Health and Aging Coalition, which she has been involved in since grad school (her practicum placed her there.) Lori also provides supervision to other social workers pursuing licensure and consultation for clinicians becoming certified in EMDR.

Lori has been an instructor at Kent for seven years and is teaching courses in Advanced Research Practice, Psychopathology and Social Work Practice I this semester.  She has discovered many aspects of teaching that she enjoys and says “from the moment I walk into the classroom (or connect with the students virtually), I feel so inspired.  I really enjoy the conversations in class (they bring just as much real-world experience as I do) and empowering them to solve problems while guiding them along the way.  The “ah-ha” moments inspire me. When they grasp an understanding of a topic or have a new insight, it can be inspiring for the entire classroom.”  In the past Lori has also taught Social Gerontology and also enjoyed teaching that class as it took her back to original social work roots in gerontology.

Paris brings her professional experience into the classroom to teach students through using stories, examples from her work experience, taking students on field trips and bringing guest speakers into the classroom.  “I have involved the students on grants I am working on.  The students in my gerontology class last year participated in role play videos for education modules that were disseminated throughout the country.  I try to think about experiences they can be involved in, so it can help them professionally develop.  I also tell a lot of stories of experiences on a micro and macro level since I am working with individuals and a lot of macro work.”

Like many others, adjusting to the changes of COVID-19 have been a challenge.  Paris said “the challenges inspire me and gives an opportunity to have more communication with the students and other faculty since we are all trying to navigate this together.”  As an alumni of Kent, Paris says she is amazed by the history of Kent and how it has grown and evolved over the years.  “It is exciting to see everyone working together through difficult times.  It is exciting to see how Kent is so involved with the community and wants to make a difference on so many levels.  Even as an adjunct instructor, I feel so involved with Kent because everyone makes you feel like you are part of a big family.  I am so proud to say I am a part of Kent and I am excited to see where Kent is headed in the future!”

The Kent instructor has research interests in Neurocognitive Disorders and trauma, and Trauma-informed care with older adults. She is interested in this topic, because she has seen the impact of trauma in her work with Veterans who are older adults with Neurocognitive Disorders being re-traumatized by traumatic experiences in their past.  She is also currently working on several projects in the community. 1) Mental Health and Aging Coalition, grant from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create education videos and modules on trauma-informed care with older adults.  2) Vice-President of the state Mental Health and Aging Coalition documentary on the experiences of older adults and service providers during COVID-19, and 3) VA and the Veteran Community Partnership program video on diversity and inclusion that will be disseminated in VA and to community partners throughout the country.

Paris enjoys spending her free time traveling, at the pool, and with family and friends.  She said “I am fascinated with London phone booths and bought myself a real one from London a few years ago and it is in my back yard.  It is my favorite possession.” Some of her past-time activities and hobbies include attending sporting events, exercising, aerial yoga, trapeze and watching basketball, “Go Cards!”

Lori has had many mentors and people who inspire her daily.  “My family inspired me to do the work I do, the Veterans I serve inspire me with the sacrifices they made for our country, and everyone at the Kent School (from faculty interactions to the students) are an inspiration.” She attributes the “wonderful people” in her life both personally and professionally as keeping her motivated and inspired to be the best social worker and person she can be.