Sarah Dow-Fleisner is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at UBCO

40 Under 40: Sarah Dow-Fleisner

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has launched its “40 Under Forty” for 2020

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has launched its “40 Under Forty” for 2020. The chamber is now calling for nominations.

This is the Kelowna chamber’s sixth year of searching for the city’s high achievers and bringing their stories to the public.

BDO Canada LLP will make up the independent panel of judges.

There will be a wrap-up celebration for recipients once the program has concluded.

Sarah’s research career began in 2007 as a clinical research coordinator in the Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Addiction Medicine where she worked with adolescents in outpatient addiction treatment and was part of a research project examining pathways to recovery for youth.

Sarah then began her graduate education at Tufts University, which included working with the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation study, a mixed methods research project focused on coping among at-risk young mothers. These experiences lead her to pursue her doctoral degree, which culminated in her dissertation examining resilience among children experiencing maternal depression.

Sarah is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at UBCO, where her research explores positive adaptation in the context of adversity and the interplay of risk and protective factors. In the Central Okanagan, she is working on a number of projects including co-leading a SSHRC Insight Grant with Dr. Susan Wells, that is focused on the organizational climate, approach to practice, and outcomes for youth involved with delegated Indigenous child welfare agencies. Additionally, Sarah is co-leading a CIHR grant that is partnering with a local school district to better understand how programs and polices can reduce vaping among youth. These projects are aimed at providing actionable evidence that can be used to improve efforts that support effective practice supporting youth.

Sarah currently co-leads a major SSHRC and CIHR grant, under which she provides mentorship to multiple undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to this, Sarah supervise/co-supervises three graduate students on various projects and is involved on two additional thesis committees. As an assistant professor, Sarah has had the privilege of teaching two MSW graduate courses at UBCO, where she led two cohorts of 30 students to better understand the importance of research and evidence-based practice. One student reported: “Prof Dow–Fleisner is an excellent teacher and a passionate researcher. Her high expectations were refreshing and motivating. I learned so much (by doing, rather than observing) in this course. This allowed me to generate work I can feel proud of, and to feel more confident in my ability to read and apply research to my future practice” As a leader in the classroom, Sarah’s goal is to provide a foundation from which students can take ownership of their learning and strive to become autonomous, life-long learners.

Sarah currently sits on the Canadian Underage Substance use Prevention (CUSP) Trial Local Advisory Group, a group which provides feedback for a CIHR funded study to prevent adolescent risk behaviours that can lead to drug and alcohol misuse. She also part of the UBCO Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families, which is a CFI funded centre that is dedicated to identifying the differential effectiveness of child welfare interventions for diverse Canadian populations and supporting the implementation of these services.

Finally, as part of the UBCO School of Social Work, Sarah volunteers for a number of community projects, including a yard revitalization for a local recovery center in Kelowna. Along with students, staff, and other faculty, they reach out to a local center and help to refinish a patio deck, plant new trees, and provide landscaping.

Sarah holds a PhD in Social Work from Boston College, a MA in child development with a focus in clinical developmental psychology from Tufts University, and a BSc in child development and a BA in psychology from Colby-Sawyer College.

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