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Sara Schwartz - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Sara Schwartz Sara Schwartz

Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Work | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Dr. Schwartz blends methodologies from anthropology and social work to examine diverse social issues.


Sara Schwartz is a Clinical Assistant Professor teaching in both the MSW and DSW programs. Dr. Schwartz has expertise in community-based evaluation, qualitative research methods, community-based participatory research and non-profit management and leadership. She brings to her classroom a diverse set of experiences in public, private and academic settings. Sara serves on the Board of the Directors of the National AIDS Memorial, co-chairing the Storytelling Committee and serving on the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship Committee. Current research projects focus on community building in virtual social work education, documenting stories of communities impacted by HIV/AIDS and examining individuals over 50 years aging with hemophilia.

Education (4)

University of California, Berkeley: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Social Welfare 2009

Portland State University: Ph.D. 2007

Virginia Commonwealth University: MSW 2001

University of Colorado: B.A. 1995

Areas of Expertise (6)

Qualitative and Mixed Method Research

Philanthropy and Non-Profits

Barriers to early HIV diagnosis and treatment

Social Work


Social Work Research

Industry Expertise (5)


Social Services




Affiliations (2)

  • HIV Story Project
  • National AIDS Memorial


Research Articles & Publications (6)

Oregon patients with HIV infection who experience delayed diagnosis

Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV

Sara Laura Schwartz, Rebecca G. Block & Sean David Schafer

2014 This project sought to understand factors contributing to the delayed diagnosis of HIV in the state of Oregon, USA in order to increase timely testing and diagnosis. People unaware of their positive HIV status account for a disproportionate number of transmissions of HIV, making delayed diagnosis a profound public health concern. We interviewed a sample of 17 adults, diverse in age, reported risk behaviors and sexual orientation, who were identified as being diagnosed late, about their experiences with testing and diagnosis. We defined delayed diagnosis as a diagnosis of AIDS within 12 months of the first positive HIV test. We conducted thematic analysis using NVivo® software for data management. Three overarching themes emerged: risk perception, missed opportunities for diagnosis, routine testing and the role of the medical community. Definitions of these themes, corresponding sub-themes, and illustrious quotations provide an informative description of characteristics of late testers, factors contributing to delayed diagnosis, and potential points of intervention to increase regular and timely testing. We conclude that routine HIV screening as part of regular medical care might significantly reduce the number of delayed diagnoses and minimize the stigma of testing by normalizing it as part of routine medical care. Earlier diagnosis of HIV will result in better outcomes for individual patients and lower rates of HIV transmission by unknowing individuals.

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Building Managerial and Organizational Capacity in Nonprofit Human Service Organizations Through a Leadership Development Program

Administration in Social Work

Michael J. Austin , Kate Regan , Mark W. Samples , Sara L. Schwartz & Sarah Carnochan

2011 Highly skilled managers are needed to lead organizations and enable them to survive in changing times, especially in this era when members of the baby boom generation are retiring from senior positions. Most short-term in-service management training programs for practicing managers reflect the abbreviated versions of content found in either undergraduate or graduate degree programs in nonprofit management. Recognizing the limitations of these traditional approaches to training future senior managers, a group of directors of nonprofit human service agencies serving children and families collaborated with a university to develop and implement a training program for their middle and senior managers to enhance their managerial leadership capacities. The program design and evaluation differs from traditional professional development programs in terms of the: 1) extensive involvement of agency directors and program participants in the program design; 2) learning projects that address agreed-upon agency issues that focus on both managing and leading; 3) participant-centered learning with individualized coaching; and 4) outcome-focus with respect to identifying new conceptual frameworks for training. This case study of the training design, implementation and evaluation concludes with implications for effectively preparing future generations for leadership roles in nonprofit human service organizations.

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The Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement: A Pioneering Multi-Ethnic Human Service Organization (1971-2008)

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work

Ellen Joe , Sara L. Schwartz & Michael J. Austin

2011 The Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement is a nonprofit organization established in 1971 to defend the legal rights of African-Americans living in its community. Over the years, the agency diversified its services to include mental health and substance abuse treatment, violence prevention, youth programming, and HIV services. The organization has overcome multiple challenges during its 37-year history in relation to social, political, and economic changes that have influenced the way the organization has financed and delivered its services. The history of the organization presents a collaborative approach to community problem-solving and exemplifies the important role that external relationships play in relationship to nonprofit growth and survival.

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Jewish Family and Children's Services: A Pioneering Human Service Organization (1850-2008)

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work

Sara L. Schwartz & Michael J. Austin

2011 Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties is a pioneering nonprofit human service organization that has delivered services for 157 years. Over the course of its history, the organization has transformed itself from an all-volunteer agency delivering aid to immigrant families during the Gold Rush era to a $30 million nonprofit human service organization offering a full-range of services to adults, children, and families. The history of Jewish Family and Children's Services sheds light on the importance of strong leadership, strategic planning, external relationships, and strong donor support.

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Shelter Network: Serving Homeless Families and Individuals (1987-2007)

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work

Sara E. Kimberlin , Sara L. Schwartz & Michael J. Austin

2011 Shelter Network is a nonprofit organization that delivers a range of services that meet the needs of homeless families and individuals in order to help them achieve stable housing and self-sufficiency. The agency began as a grassroots community effort to respond to the growing problem of homelessness and its relationship with its external community continues to play an important role in its financing, growth, and development. Over its 20-year history, Shelter Network has overcome multiple challenges related to leadership, finance, and community support and has grown from a grassroots agency into an organization with a budget of $7 million.

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Redefining the Water Cooler: Relationship Building and Collaboration in Virtual Education

Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education

Jennifer Parga, Sara Schwartz, Stephanie George


ISSN: 1097-4911