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Marilyn Flynn - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Marilyn Flynn Marilyn Flynn

Professor | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Transformational leader in higher education, strategic planning, mental health and school social work






Marilyn Flynn and Skip Rizzo: Treating Post Traumatic Stress with Virtual Reality Flynn, Marilyn - Oral History Interview - CSWA What Matters to Me & Why: Marilyn Flynn



MARILYN L. FLYNN is a transformational leader whose career has spanned appointments in higher education; consulting on strategic planning for county governments and nonprofit organizations; practice in mental health and school social work; and membership on numerous boards at the local, national and international levels.

She was appointed dean of social work at the University of Southern California in 1997, only the second woman to hold this position in the school’s nearly 100-year history.

Flynn created the first military social work specialization in a major civilian research university, introduced ground-breaking changes in field education for the more than 3,000 students now enrolled at USC and started the first career services program for social workers focused on non-traditional occupational settings. She also greatly expanded the Hamovitch Center for Science in the Human Services and established the nationally respected Flynn Prize for Social Work Research. In 2012, she received the International Sarnat Award for Public Advancement of Social Work, an award conferred by the National Association of Social Workers in Washington, D.C. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the USC Provost’s Prize for Educational Innovation. Flynn also received from President Obama the National Award for Community and Volunteer Service.

She helped found the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, where she is currently serving on the Grand Challenges Executive Planning Committee, and was the first president of the St. Louis Group, representing most U.S. schools of social work in major research institutions. Flynn is also faculty member of the New York Academy of Medicine Leadership Training Program and organizer of the Islandwood Roundtables, designed to advance science in the social work profession, doctoral education and the professoriate.

As president of the board of directors for the national Network for Social Work Management over the past five years, she organized, funded and implemented the 2008 Institute on Management Training, and expanded regional membership of the organization to include new chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles and New Jersey. Flynn is also recent past president of the board for the Los Angeles Center for Nonprofit Management and past president of the board for the Fisher Art Museum in Los Angeles.

Education (3)

University of Illinois at Urbana: PhD

University of Illinois at Urbana: MSW

Roosevelt University: BA

Areas of Expertise (6)

Public Finance Mental Health Social Work Education Social Work Strategic Planning Social Policy

Industry Expertise (4)

Social Services Research Education/Learning Mental Health Care

Accomplishments (5)

Community Angel Award, Drew Child Development Corporation (professional)


Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (professional)


President’s Volunteer Service Award, Corporation for National and Community Service (professional)


Provost’s Prize for Innovation in Educational Practice, University of Southern California (professional)


International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award, National Association of Social Workers Foundation (professional)



Media Appearances (3)

USC mental health clinic’s opening celebrates vision for veterans

USC News  online


Marilyn L. Flynn, dean of the school of social work at USC, said what made the clinic so unique was also what would set it apart as a premier resource in the region.

“The clinic includes an especially wide and powerful collaboration between nurse practitioners, psychiatry and the community as partners. Often the community is left off that list. In Los Angeles, that’s essential,” said Flynn of the partnership between the school and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

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LA County social workers, supervisors to stand trial in death of Gabriel Fernandez, 8

Los Angeles Daily News  online


Marilyn Flynn, dean at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, called the charges against the social workers unusual and said they could be the first of their kind.

“Society really hasn’t previously held social workers in child welfare directly responsible for the outcomes of their work in the abuse of a child,” Flynn said. “The responsibility for children doesn’t belong in just one agency, but everyone. In this particular case, the sheriff’s office was called to this home twice. There were no actions taken. The idea that anybody is released from responsibility is a mistake. We all share in the burden and responsibility.”

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What legal responsibilities should social workers bear in protecting their clients?

89.3 KPCC  radio


A judge will soon decide if four LA County social workers will stand trial in the 2013 death of an 8-year-old boy.

The caseworkers are accused of ignoring the severity of the boy's injuries, and the case is being watched by child services employees across the country, fearing that it might have a chilling effect on bringing people to the field.


Marilyn Flynn, dean and professor at the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work

Garrett Therolf, former LA Times reporter who broke the Gabriel Fernandez story; reporter for the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and Common sense news; he tweets @gtherolf

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Articles & Publications (2)

Guest Editorial: Unique Challenges of War in Iraq and Afghanistan Journal of Social Work Education

Marilyn Flynn & Anthony Hassan


The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which formally began more than 7 years ago, differ in significant respects from previous confrontations. the number and types of injuries, the frequency of deployments, the nature of our military force, the consequences for family life and children, and the conduct of the war itself have combined to create a crisis for our society.

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Grand Challenges for Social Work Journal for the Society for Social Work & Research

Marilyn Flynn et al.


This invited article introduces the concept of grand challenges—ambitious yet achievable goals for society that mobilize the profession, capture the public’s imagination, and require innovation and breakthroughs in science and practice to achieve (Kalil, 2012). We call for broad and deep participation of social work scientists and practitioners in the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative, which will be coordinated by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

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