Assistant Professor of Social Work;
Director of Social Work Program;
on faculty since 2008
As an educator, I look for ways to create a safe space where students can share their differences and similarities in the context of the subject matter, while in turn helping students to learn from one another.
Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein, assistant professor of social work, states, "They realize that the diversity they experience in the classroom is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what they’ll experience once they enter the social work field.”
And Bretzlaff-Holstein would know. Before concentrating her career on education, she spent six years working in the field of social work in a variety of areas. She mentored children and youth from numerous backgrounds at a home for troubled youth. She worked with Latino immigrants in ESL programs and with the homeless in a community ministry. She served in a short-term guardianship program and has helped to develop and coordinate numerous community and ministry programs for mentoring youth. In addition, she cultivated collaborative partnerships between churches and faith-based organizations who wished to work with their communities from a Christian community development approach.
All of these positions were approached with the mindset of being a change agent for society and for the kingdom of Christ. Much of Bretzlaff-Holstein’s experience is a combination of direct social work practice, program development, and community development. Although much of her past work experience has been in the child welfare realm and church social work, Bretzlaff-Holstein has a strong passion for creating social change in communities negatively affected by broken food systems. She also has an interest in how the welfare of people and the welfare of animals are connected in various helping and service related contexts. These areas of interest are often expressed in her interactions and activities with students both in and outside of the classroom.
“My field of practice is now in education—preparing our future social workers to be change agents, which I believe to be an important responsibility,” said Bretzlaff-Holstein. “My social work education, past experiences with diversity, and the ethical standard I must adhere to—to be culturally competent—play key roles in the formation and development of my teaching, scholarship, and service.”
DSW, St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas School of Social Work, St. Paul, MN, anticipated completion 2017
M.S.W., Baylor University School of Social Work, Waco, Texas, 2006
B.S., Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Illinois, 2002
Courses and Publications/Research
- Introduction to Social Work
- Social Welfare Institutions
- Social Work Values and Ethics
- Generalist Practice with Individuals
- Generalist Practice with Groups and Families
- Community Social Action Policy
- Field Education – supervise students in field placement
Papers Published and/or Presented
Cultivating Student Professional Development, Co-presented at The Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Annual Conference, Kansas City, MO, March 2015.
Good Health for All: Closing the Food Gap, Co-presented at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, Annual Conference, Annapolis, MD, November 2014.
Social Work, the Food Movement, and Food Justice. Presented at Union University School of Social Work, Annual Conference, Jackson, TN, April 2014.
Social Work, the Food Movement, and Food Justice. Presented at North American Association of Christians in Social Work, Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, October 2013.
Grow One Another: A Church Bridging the Food Gap. Co-presented at Christian Community Development Annual Confernece, New Orleans, LA, 2013.
Food Citizenship and Our Local Communities. Co-presented at Christian Community Development Annual Confernece, Minneapolis, MN, 2012.
Effective Citizenship through AmeriCorps Training. Conducted training at two day AmeriCorps Volunteers Training. Chicago, IL 2009
Roseland Christian Ministries Strong Towers Staff and Guests Retreat. Co-facilitated a workshop for staff and a workshop for shelter guests at Camp Minnatoka, Mokena, IL, 2009.
“Social Service Provision in Congregations: Part 2 Leadership and Affiliation with Other Agenices.” Baylor University School of Social Work Capstone Colloqium, Waco, Texas. 2006.
“The Changing Role of Religiously-Affiliated Child and Family Serving Agencies.” National Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW) Hand-in-Hand Conference, Dallas, Texas. 2005. Annual Conference of the Religious Research Association, Rochester, New York. 2005.
“Family Literacy Ministry: An Emerging Model Ilustrated by LEAF.” Conference for International and Literacy Ministry, Waco, Texas. 2005.
Awards and Memberships
Honors & Awards
NASW-IL 2013 Social Worker of the Year
Professional Memberships & Associations
- National Association of Social Workers – Member 2013-Present
- North American Association of Christians in Social Work – Member 2013-Present