Wayne State University

Aim Higher


Cheryl Waites

Photo for Cheryl Waites
Dean and Professor
(313) 577-4400 (Phone)

Cheryl Waites, professor and Dean, joined the School of Social Work in August 2007. Dr. Waites is a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar Cohort VII. Her research areas include healthy aging, health promotion, intergenerational relationships, and culturally appropriate and responsive practice. She has also studied promising practices for enhancing gerontological social work education and training.

Click here to view Curriculum Vitae

Degrees and Certifications
  • Ed.D., Counselor Education, North Carolina State University
  • M.S.W., Fordham University, School of Social Services
  • B.A., Sociology, Hunter College
  • Fellow, Institute on Aging and Social Work Research, St. Scholastica College and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
Teaching Interests
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Aging/gerontology
  • Social justice
  • Social work practice: Group work and practice with African American families
Areas of Expertise


  • Healthy aging and health promotion
  • Intergenerational relationships and intergenerational practice
  • Culturally appropriate and responsive practice
  • Social work education
  • Gerontological social work education and training
  • African American families


  • Qualitative research methods
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Focus groups
Research Project

Determining Strategies and Interventions for Health Promotion with African American Elders

African American elders disproportionately experience the ill effects of chronic illnesses and health disparities. With the growing number of aging African Americans, it is vital that health professionals and researchers identify culturally compatible health promotion strategies and interventions. Generally we understand a great deal about the relationship between individual behavior and healthy aging. But much less is known about the impact of the environment and context on the aging process especially among African Americans. Using a social ecological framework, this study examines the environment and the geographic accessibility of parks, walking trails, health-supporting services, senior centers, aggregate meal programs, transportation resources and other aging services in Raleigh and Zebulon, North Carolina, and the east side and west side of Detroit, as well as Southfield, Michigan. The study also examines the values, attitudes and traditions regarding healthy aging and health promotion of the elders who live in these communities. A community-based participatory research approach was used to guide the study. Geographic information system (GIS) analysis, focus groups and surveys were conducted and the data is being analyzed. The results obtained from this study will inform the development of strategies and interventions that promote healthy aging for African American older adults and enhance health promotion environments.

Health Promotion Activities in African American Churches in the Detroit Area

As part of a longterm goal to identify strategies to enhance community infrastructure in order to enhance or maintain health, this proposed study explores the health promotion resources in predominantly African American churches in the Detroit metropolitan area. The study seeks to examine how the faith community is involved in health promotion activities for elders and their commitment to eliminating health disparities and promoting healthy aging. A qualitative, social constructionist approach will be utilized, and will consist of a content analysis of health-promotion activities and programs in the Detroit metropolitan area and interviews with church leaders. A list of churches has been prepared using the following inclusion criteria: (1) Geography: east side & west side (2) Historic, fairly new & relatively new, (3) Congregation/church size: Large, medium & small, (4) Denomination.

Detroit Area Agency on Aging 2009 Service Provider Enhancement Project

Co-Principle Investigator. To address multiple provider challenges, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) is investing in a process with WSU that seeks to engage the provider network in assessment, capacity building, and other forms of technical assistance that can yield greater benefits when coordinated within a comprehensive plan of change for the infusion of evidence-based practices and programs. Grant year 2009 - 2010.

Social Work Practice with African American Families - An Intergenerational Perspective

Be more effective by understanding African American families from an intergenerational perspective. Social workers looking to provide competent practice with African American families may be more effective by using a new strengths-based approach from an intergenerational perspective. Social Work Practice with African American Families presents a comprehensive look at this new approach to view, assess, and provide services to multigenerational families and communities. It closely examines this useful innovative framework which encourages opportunities for action to create solutions for survival and change. The approach dynamically considers the changing demographics in American society, key issues, and the various challenges pertinent to the African American community.

For further details on other research, see Center for Social Work Research: http://research.socialwork.wayne.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=245&Itemid=96

Office Location
5447 Woodward Avenue, Rm 277