Social work faculty

Valerie M. Stokes, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Social Work
Department Chair

Ph.D., University of South Dakota
M.S.W., University of Nebraska at Omaha
B.A., Northwestern College

VPH 311 E


Dr. Stokes joined Northwestern’s social work department after serving as executive director of The Bridge, a transitional housing agency in Orange City. She previously spent seven years as a therapist at Northwestern, including four as co-director of student counseling services. She also has worked as a program supervisor at the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and as a social worker at the Crittenton Center in Sioux City. A licensed independent social worker and licensed master social worker, Stokes holds a doctorate in human development and educational psychology.


  • Developmental Psychology: Adulthood

    Developmental Psychology: Adulthood

    (4 credits) This course explores psychological issues and theories in normal adult development, with emphasis on cognitive, social and personality functioning from young adulthood to old age.
  • Qualitative Research

    Qualitative Research

    (3 credits) The course prepares students to engage in qualitative inquiry and research designs, including narrative research, phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, participatory action research, focus groups, and ethnography. Comparative analysis of approaches, paradigmatic controversies, and mixed model designs are discussed. The course reviews strategies of inquiry, sampling methods, data collection, and analysis. Prerequisites: SWK210 and PSY215.
  • Diverse Populations and Social Justice

    Diverse Populations and Social Justice

    (4 credits) Examines theoretical foundations for understanding dynamics of social inequity, privilege, and oppression; focus on diversity and on populations at risk due to racism, sexism and classism; self-assessment of students' racial and cultural heritage as it shapes their attitudes and biases toward different cultural and racial groups; emphasis on helping students become culturally competent social workers who are grounded in their faith and who identify with the profession's respect for diversity and commitment to social and economic justice. Open to non-majors. Prerequisites: PSY111, SWK231, SOC101, or permission of instructor.
  • Social Policy and Social Work Advocacy

    Social Policy and Social Work Advocacy

    (3 credits) Examines social policy development and the political process, with special attention to the poor and disadvantaged. This course will assist students in acquiring skills to see the inadequacies, gaps and inequities in social policies in the past and present and help them develop critical thinking and advocacy skills, plus a commitment to change.
  • Group Theory and Practice

    Group Theory and Practice

    (3 credits) Develops a framework for how people groups form, group development formation, group leadership skills, theoretical approaches to group work, and ethical considerations in group work, including diversity issues. Students will be involved in an interactive group lab and service-learning group project. Prerequisite: SWK370. Open only to Social Work majors.
  • Community Theory and Practice

    Community Theory and Practice

    (4 credits) Examines generalist Social Work practice theories and skills with organizations and communities. Students will develop competencies related to larger system practice, such as networking, community needs assessment, organizational theory and dynamics, larger system planned change processes, program evaluation, social action, community planning, grant writing, and supervision. Prerequisite: SWK370. Open only to Social work majors.
  • Direct Helping Skills

    Direct Helping Skills

    (2 credits) This course is designed to help students develop basic interviewing skills and techniques in the area of social work. This course will provide foundational skills in interviewing so that students can work effectively with individuals, families and groups from all diverse populations. Different techniques of interviewing and theoretical principles of interviewing will be investigated. Students will increase their practical skills through the use of an interactive learning environment and through intensive use of video feedback and role playing. Prerequisite: SWK140.
  • Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

    (2 credits) A seminar designed to expose Honors Program students to significant issues by means of interdisciplinary study of selected topics chose on a year-to-year basis. Prerequisite: membership in the Honors Program or special permission from Honors Program directors.

Publications and presentations

  • Reisetter, M, Schweinle, A, & Stokes, V. (2008, approved with revisions to The Qualitative Report). Elements of Engagement for Successful Learning.
  • Stokes, V., & Schweinle, A. (2007). Sleep and academic functioning. Growth: The Journal of the Association for Christians in Student Development, 7, 27-37.
  • Almond-Reiser, T.M., & Stokes, V. (2007). Texting is changing the social environment of adolescent females. Paper presented at annual meeting of the Mid-West Educational Research Association. October 2007. St. Louis MO.
  • Stokes, V. (2009, July). Community Needs Assessments on Immigration: Issues in a Small Rural Community. Presentation at 34th Annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, Duluth, MN.
  • Stokes, V. (2009, April). One Rural Community’s Needs Assessment on Immigration. Presentation at Iowa Chapter National Association of Social Workers, Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Stokes, V. (2008, March). Domestic Violence and Education: How witnessing trauma influences learning process. Invited presentation for Family Crisis Center’s Empowering in Unity workshop, Sioux Center, Iowa.
  • Stokes, V. (2008, February). Domestic violence: prevalence, dynamics, patterns, and power issues. Invited guest lecturer for Northwestern College psychology students, Orange City, Iowa.
  • Stokes, V. (2008, January). A Nurse’s guide to domestic violence: How to ask the right questions and recognize abuse from examination cues. Invited guest lecturer for Northweste

Professional involvements and accomplishments

  • Consultant, Family Crisis Center, fall 2009–present
  • Social Work Promotions Committee, Iowa Chapter, National Association Social Workers, fall 2009–present
  • Tri-County Domestic Violence Coalition, February 2008–present
  • Quantitative Statistics Teaching and Research Assistant, University of South Dakota, 2006-07
  • Iowa Coalition on Homelessness, June 2007–present
  • The Bridge, Orange City, Iowa, volunteer grant writer, March 2007
  • State of Iowa Suicide Prevention Task Force, 2002–06
  • Board member, Community Health Partners, Orange City, 2000-04
  • Healthy 2010 Coalition, Sioux County, IA, 2001–02
  • CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), 3rd Judicial District, IA, 1998-99
  • CSADV (Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence), 1995-96
  • Opportunities Unlimited, Sioux City, Iowa, 1994–95
  • Domestic Violence Aid Center, Sioux Center, Iowa, 1990–91
  • Children’s Haven International, Reynosa, Mexico, service project volunteer, March 1990
  • Salvation Army, Sioux City, Iowa, 1987 and 1988


  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Association of Christians in Social Work
  • Christian Association of Psychology Studies
    NASW IA - Rural Northwest Iowa Branch co-coordinator, 2007-2008
    NASW IA - Social Work
  • Promotion/Membership Committee, 2008-2010 
    NASW IA  - Clinical Supervision Task Force,
  • 2010
    NASW IA - Vice President, 2011- 2013, returning again as VP 2014 for three-year term.
    Board member for CASA (Center for Assistance,
  • Service, and Advocacy) of NW Iowa.


  • 2008 NAMI-Iowa recipient of the Heros in the Fight award.