Information For

Meet our Faculty

Gigi Nordquist, PhD, MSW
Director of MSW Program

Dr. Nordquist earned her Master’s in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach, and her Doctorate in Social Welfare from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Her practice experience includes working with chronically mentally ill clients, and social work administration.  She has taught and been an administrator in the California State University system since the mid-1990’s, and has worked at CSU Long Beach; CSU Fullerton; CSU Bakersfield; and CSU East Bay.  Dr. Nordquist’s research interests include disparities in health care services, bioethics, and mental health.

Madeline Y. Lee, PhD, MSSW
Assistant Professor

Dr. Lee earned her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, and her Ph.D. from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a National Institute of Mental Health Pre-Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Fellow. Inspired by her practice experiences, Dr. Lee’s broad research interest is in improving services for vulnerable children and families involved in the intersection of the mental health, child welfare, and special education systems. 

Jacky Thomas, PhD, LCSW, MSW
Assistant Professor

Dr. Thomas received both her MSW and PhD from the University of Kentucky.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has over 25 years of clinical practice experience in community mental health, hospital, residential care, employee assistance, and private practice settings.  For the past 7 years, Dr. Thomas has been a full-time faculty member at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University.  Her research interests focus on professional wellness and resilience, empathy, and the application of mindfulness practice in social work education and social work practice.

Jeannine E. Guarino, LCSW
Director of Field Education

Ms. Guarino earned her Master's in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.  She holds a clinical social work license (LCSW), and possesses over 12 years practice experience working with a range of populations including severe and persistent mentally ill and dually diagnosed individuals, homeless adults, children, and families, and at-risk youth and adolescents. Her administrative social work experience includes non-profit social service management, grant writing, and oversight and administration of federal, state and local contracts.

Lisa Cole-Jones, MSW, JD

Ms. Cole-Jones earned her MSW degree from San Diego State University, jointly with her JD from California Western School of Law. She currently co-teaches MSW 525: Law and Ethics in Social Work. She has legal experience in juvenile dependency and LPS conservatorships, as well as three years post-master's social work experience in non-profit administration and fundraising.

Joseph Costello, LCSW

Mr. Costello earned his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California.  He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Hawaii.  He has experience as a substance abuse counselor and in a teen care program; and is currently the team leader of the San Marcos Veterans Center.

Mr. Costello has been employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs since June 1994.  His military career includes 8 years of active duty with the United States Navy. After 9/11, Mr. Costello returned to military service and became an Army reserve paratrooper.  He was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Leando Galaz, MSW, PPS

Mr. Galaz earned his MSW degree from San Diego State University, his administrative credential in educational leadership from Cal State University San Marcos, and his B.S. in psychology from UC San Diego.  He is a credentialed school counselor, and has spent the majority of his career working as a secondary school counselor with a focus on students’ academic and personal/social needs.  He started his career in social work working directly with people with developmental disabilities, both as a behavior therapist and a case manager.  Mr. Galaz specializes in community change, and has specifically worked on closing the achievement gap in education through changing community culture.  

Michelle Jensen, MSW, JD

Ms. Jensen earned her MSW degree from San Diego State University, jointly with her JD from California Western School of Law. She currently co-teaches MSW 525: Law and Ethics in Social Work. Ms. Jensen has several years’ post-master’s social work experience in the field of adoptions, and working with families undergoing separation and divorce.

Randy Kasper, LCSW BCD

Ms. Kasper earned her MSW from the University of Houston.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over two decades of post-master's social work experience in hospital-based programs addressing addiction and family issues, domestic violence, and employee assistance in Houston, New York, and California.  Ms. Kasper is an adjunct professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills' Graduate School of Social Work, and at Alliant International University's California School of Forensic Studies.  A frequent public speaker, Ms. Kasper travels nationwide to address issues of mental health and treatment options; and currently sits on the Boards of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, Imagery International, and Making Right Choices (an online training program to prevent sexual misconduct).  She remains active in clinical social work by maintaining a private practice and supervising new clinicians.

Nick Mortaloni, LCSW

Mr. Mortaloni earned his MSW at the University of Southern California. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 7 years of post-master's social work experience in various settings with diverse populations.  Mr. Mortaloni specializes in working with at-risk children and families impacted by trauma such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, poverty, and community violence.  Mr. Mortaloni teaches Social Welfare Policy and Generalist Practice III (Organizations and Communities).  He has previous teaching experience in Human Services, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Therapy.