Coming Together: New Social Work faculty member uses social work, law and public health expertise to eliminate health inequities

Interprofessional collaborations are at the heart of Heather Walter-McCabe’s career. Hired as part of the University’s call for researchers focused on the social and behavioral determinants of health, Walter-McCabe has joined Wayne State University as an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Social Work and Law School with research focused on the intersection of social work, law and public health.

Heather Walter-McCabeWhile she has worked in medical social work, much of Walter-McCabe’s research and teaching concentrates in the policy and larger macro arena. Her research translates complex legal issues and social work research findings across multiple professions to make the information accessible for use by practitioners and advocates in improving population health.

Joining Wayne State as a joint appointment with the schools of social work and law was part of my excitement at coming to Wayne State. I believe in interprofessional collaboration and look forward to finding ways to partner with people in social work, law, public health, medicine and others to enhance all of our work in eliminating health inequities. - Heather Walter-McCade

After earning a Master of Social Work from Indiana University in 1996, Walter-McCabe began her career as a social worker at a high acuity pediatric tertiary care hospital in the Midwest working with families whose children had significant medical needs. Walter-McCabe went on to obtain her Juris Doctorate from Indiana University in 2003 and then directed a public health research program examining the impact of firearm violence in Indiana. She later served as the Executive Director of the William H. and Christine H. Hall Center for Law and Health at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law before joining the faculty at the Indiana University School of Social Work.

Walter-McCabe’s commitment to partnering with communities in the co-creation of knowledge that embraces the role of community and strengthens the capacity of communities to address future challenges aligns perfectly with the School’s commitment to community capacity building and advancing social justice in Detroit. “The School’s commitment to community engagement, macro level advocacy, and policy work are a great fit for the work I do in public health law and policy with an emphasis on health equity,” stated Walter-McCabe. In early 2020, Walter-McCabe began leading research that examines how law and policy impact LGBTQ health equity and well-being. “Detroit is an amazing city and I look forward to becoming involved with Detroit community organizations, especially those in the LGBTQ community, so that my structural and policy level work aligns with community needs,” noted Walter-McCabe.

Most recently, Walter-McCabe has expanded her research portfolio to include articles and a podcast exploring the role of social workers in the community with the disruptive impact of COVID-19. Her articles in The International Journal of Community and Social Development and Social Work in Public Health explore how all social workers can, and she argues should, be engaged at all levels from micro to macro, to promote systems change.

COVID-19 has affected every American, however not nearly to the same extent. System change is vital to alleviate health inequities, which have been long standing issues, but have been brought to forefront of the American consciousness by this pandemic. I appreciate joining a community of social workers committed to empowering social change in Detroit and beyond. - Heather Walter-McCade

Learn more about Walter-McCabe’s research and publications which work to advance the Social Work Grand Challenge of closing the health gap via ORCiD and her faculty profile.   

Back to listing