Dr. Leon's research, training and clinical work focuses on child
health and mental health with an emphasis on Infant Mental Health.
She is passionate about improving the health and mental health
well-being of very young children and their families. Her passion
for this population is reflected in her teaching, community
training, research and community service. Since 2000, her research
grants/contracts have totaled over $3,190,443. Dr.
Leon's scholarly work includes over 23 articles, co-author of one
book, and national and international presentations. She is Chair of
the NASW Child Welfare Specialty Practice Section, and is a member
of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social Service Research
and a Consulting Editor for Families in Society. She developed a
guidebook, Babies & toddlers in a new country: A developmental
guide for parents new to the United States for immigrant and
refugee families served by Catholic Charities. In 2010, she
received the University of Central Florida Women Making
History: The Faculty Women Prominence Project award.
For the past 37 years Dr. Leon has specialized in working
with children and families in diverse agency settings and roles.
She has worked as a clinician, has held numerous administrative
jobs, served as Executive Director of Psychiatry at Winter
ParkMemorialHospital, has been in private practice, served as a
program evaluator and program consultant. She also serves as a
qualified supervisor for state licensure for both Mental Health
Counselors and Clinical Social Workers. She is currently a
Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Florida where
she has taught mostly clinical, children's courses and research
courses for the past 20 and years. Dr. Leon also served as
the Vice Chair for the university's Institutional Review Board
which reviews and approves all research studies at UCF.
Dr. Leon's primary areas of training, clinical and
research interests are Infant and child Mental Health and
documentation in social work and the human services. Her other
professional and research interests include: Latino children and
families, child development, and community based family services.
For seven years she developed and received funding for a successful
university-community collaborative project that provided community
based mental health services to children and families. As part of
that grant funding, she developed an assessment tool (the CALF) for
assessing areas of life functioning in various client systems. An
article on the CALF was published in Child & Family Social
Work. She has also published in the areas of child mental health,
family systems theory, assessment tools, challenges of Latina
mothers, the impact of migration, clinical documentation and
Ph.D., Social Work, New York University
pediatric health and mental health
infant mental health
chronic illness in children and parental stress
Latino children and families
The health care informatics master's program at UCF really helped me connect with the industry, meet people at conferences and sit for the most-desired certification exams."
— Michael Neimann, M.S. in health care informatics ('14)
My internship with the District 9 Medical Examiner’s Office was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I gained an excellent understanding of the medical examiner’s office and the criminal justice field in general."
— Adam Stubley, B.S. in criminal justice, criminal profiling certificate ('11)
UCF provides its physical therapy students with an excellent education and prepares them to work in the most challenging of settings."
— Jamie Dyson, Rehabilitation Supervisor, Orlando Regional Medical Center
UCF's program provided me the opportunity to expedite my student experience while attaining practical experience working within local health systems."
— Daniel Barr, V.P. at National Children's Hospital; M.S. in health sciences, health services administration track ('04)
My master's education helped me see the big picture of the nonprofit industry. UCF showed me how to see the different fundraising tools within the Central Florida area."
— Krysti Griffith, Executive Director of Growth from Grief; Master of Nonprofit Management ('12)
The course opened my eyes to grant writing ... I learned a great deal and you [Barbara Howell] are truly an excellent instructor."
— Deborah Reith, Master of Public Administration student who secured a $10,000 federal grant through a course project; B.S. in criminal justice ('86)
The skills I learned during my time at UCF are what made my transition to law school so seamless."
— Jacqueline Iaquinta, Touro Law Center student; B.S. in legal studies ('10)
As an inaugural graduate of the M.R.A. program at UCF, I can attest to the outstanding curriculum developed for research administrators. "
— April Heyward, Post Award Services Coordinator, University of South Carolina; Master of Research Administration ('13)
It was at UCF that I first learned many of the skills that I’ve since honed, including mapping with GIS software - an ability I found invaluable to my search for internships, graduate-level coursework, and employment."
— Richard "Ben" Hagen, Research and Communications Associate, New Economy Project, New York City; B.S. in public administration ('10)
I am excited to be able to give back to the program that invested so much in me. It is truly and honor and a privilege."
— Carlos Gual, Instructor of Athletic Training; B.S. in athletic training ('09)
The faculty advisor [at my medical school] was amazed that I had the opportunity to truly participate in the full spectrum of research as an undergraduate. "
— Chase Cavayero, medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicince, B.S. in health sciences - pre-clinical ('13),