Background and expertise

Dr. Charlesworth worked in the child and family services field in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area prior to joining Nazareth in 2003. Beginning in 2010, together with her Nazareth social work colleagues, she helped organize Project Homeless Connect in Rochester, which brought together volunteers to partner with the government, non-profits, and the private sector to provide a one-stop shop of health and human services. She’s also worked with a local group to develop a strategy for providing identification to individuals who have lost all forms of ID, often in the course of homelessness. The effort has produced affordable ID services delivered at the Monroe County library,  in partnership with several Monroe County agencies. 

A longtime textbook author and editor, Dr. Charlesworth recently co-edited the latest editions of Dimensions of Human Behavior to be released in 2024 by Sage Publications. During this work and other research projects, she has invited students to collaborate as co-authors and research assistants. 

My academic passion

I love learning about new research and theory regarding human development and behavior, and considering how this dynamic knowledge shapes working with people and social systems.

Courses I teach

My favorite course to teach, at the moment, is called Theory and Human Development. Students from various majors take this course, and I really enjoy how engaged they become with the course content. This class builds self-awareness, an understanding of human resilience, and the relevance of both to working with others. My full course listing:

  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Theory and Human Behavior
  • Theory and Human Development
  • Research Methods
  • Secondary Trauma and Self-Care
  • Evaluation

The social work of changemaking

Our program and the profession of social work is a match for anyone dedicated to making change. All of our students start out taking our Introduction to Social Work class, which integrates trips into the community and interaction with local social workers. Through these conversations, students meet local changemakers and come to understand the profession’s commitment to social change and justice. As students progress in their major, they begin to pursue the important field work of internships directly linked to their social work practice classes. This relationship with community partners is reciprocal in that our students share their skills in internship settings while they learn from the local changemakers who lead organizations. 

Learning by doing

Although lectures and academic reading play a critical role in learning, I believe most of us learn through collaboration and application, including opportunities to listen and to share our ideas with others. I give students space to voice and reflect on their personal thoughts as they learn. We often first review relevant material, then engage in applied activities and group discussion.  

Enduring connections

I am grateful for the privilege of being a part of the incredible journey of so many students, many of whom have overcome significant challenges to reach their goals. So many of them contact me later on in graduate school or down the road in their careers to share milestones and accomplishments. It’s always satisfying to know how they are doing or to hear something they learned in our major really stuck and was relevant to them.

Leanne Charlesworth, Cory Cummings, and social work students

Professors Leanne Charlesworth (at left) and Cory Cummings (right)  presented recently on "Connections and Compassion in Caregiving" at the Caregiver and Family Resource Fair held at St. Ann's Community, supported by social work students Sylvia Brennan, Emma Maskell, Samantha Catholdi, Zoe Perry, and Hannea Milliman.


  • Research Counters Stereotypes: Dr. Charlesworth supervised two students' rigorous analysis of homelessness in the Rochester area
  • Exposed: Hidden Victims of Homelessness: Dr. Charlesworth created a PhotoVoice project that supplied 13 homeless and formerly homeless volunteers with digital cameras and an opportunity to share their stories.

Fun fact

I love live music and regularly take road trips, chasing an opportunity to hear a band I love or see an artist I just discovered.

"Grateful for the impact"

"From the moment I entered her class as the only Black male student, Dr. Charlesworth began making her imprint in my life. Her genuine inclusiveness helped me to feel immense acceptance, not only in the educational environment, but in my career as a social worker. To this day, Dr. Charlesworth continues to help support and provide opportunities to advance my career and I will forever be humbly grateful for the impact she has on me as a person."

- Chad McDonald '17, LCSW, who owns Motivated 4 Change Mental Health and Counseling Services, works with Hillside Family of Agencies, and serves as a social worker at the Strong Memorial Hospital Emergency Department in Rochester

"Dr. Charlesworth listened deeply both as my instructor in many classes and as my program advisor. Through her centered feedback, I could always locate my strengths in more profound ways. I am taking intentional steps in my career because I have a solid handle on my abilities that surpasses anything I could have ever dreamed of."

- Serena Viktor '20, '21G, who is now self-employed as a spiritual healer, guide, spiritual teacher, and Shamanic medicine woman at Makhosi Gogo

Her best advice

Be open to new experiences, exposure to diversity, and self-reflection.

Leanne Charlesworth and colleagues at a social work education conference

Charlesworth and colleagues at the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Annual Program Meeting 2023, where the theme was It's Time to Act: Defining and Reckoning With Anti-Racist Social Work Education.