New growth in the Center for Lifelong Learning, Outreach, and Education (CLOE) will extend benefit across Colorado

Associate Professor Paula Yuma is passionate about using education, outreach, and partnership to support skill-building within the human service workforce that will enhance the health and wellbeing of Colorado residents and communities.

CSU’s School of Social Work has a new leader at the helm of its Center for Lifelong Learning, Outreach, and Education (CLOE). Paula Yuma took on the role beginning last summer, excited for the opportunity to apply her research knowledge and skills to a new challenge.

After completing her Master’s in Rural Public Health at Texas A&M University, Yuma began her career with a focus on pediatric injury prevention. After 10 years in the field working on community-based prevention initiatives, policy advocacy, and research at Level I Trauma Centers, Yuma earned a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Texas and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

colorado state university school of social work associate professor paula yuma
Paula Yuma, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, Outreach, and Education (CLOE) in Colorado State University’s School of Social Work

Yuma joined the faculty of Colorado State University’s School of Social Work in 2015, and has focused her research on mitigating health disparities by addressing the impacts environmental, economic, and social characteristics of communities have on the health and well-being of individuals. Her nearly 20-year career focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to advancing health equity, bringing social work’s ethics and values to mezzo- and macro-level approaches to both prevention work and research endeavors.

CLOE aims to provide equity in outreach education

As director of CLOE, Yuma will support the center’s original purpose of offering research-based professional development opportunities for helping professionals throughout the state of Colorado, with an eye toward expanding access to the educational experiences CSU has to offer.

“The mission of CLOE is closely tied with our School’s desire to remove barriers to knowledge and personal growth,” said Yuma. “It will be a priority for CLOE in the next year to gather data and guidance from our stakeholders across the State, and to align our strategic direction and offerings with their professional development needs.”

Graduate certificate programs currently offered by CLOE in school social work, nonprofit administration, mediation, human-animal bond, and advanced clinical behavioral health provide degreed human service professionals with focused and cost-effective training to develop specialized skills for their careers.

But Yuma also sees new ways that CLOE can expand to provide access to knowledge that will make a difference for all Coloradoans.

“I think there is a huge opportunity to expand skill development for lay community leaders, health promoters, clinicians, and social service providers across the State,” Yuma said. “Individuals who are out there doing incredible and important work in our communities, but perhaps haven’t yet been able to access the benefits of higher education to hone their skills and advance their careers.”

Partnerships to extend CLOE’s impact and benefit

Yuma wants to enhance CLOE in ways that only a social worker could imagine. She’s partnering with existing resources within the School of Social Work, including graduate research assistant Chelsea Frantz, the team of CLOE instructors, and the leaders of the School’s academic and field programs.

Eager to include interdisciplinary perspectives in her vision for CLOE, Yuma has also been working closely with colleagues across CSU and the state to create development opportunities and foster conversations.

“We have so many excellent partners who can lend us guidance and expertise, including our administration, instructors, and field team within the School of Social Work; the incredible network of CSU’s Office of Extension and Engagement; and our thousands of Alumni, who are out in every Colorado community doing innovative and essential work right now,” said Yuma.

“Together, we can provide additional offerings that are in line with social work values,” Yuma said, “and bring our faculty’s cutting-edge research and clinical experience out of the University and into communities across the State.”

“We can begin expanding into trainings that address some of our state’s biggest challenges,” added Yuma, “such as dismantling racism and oppression in our communities and institutions, providing trauma-informed care, advancing mental and behavioral health, preventing child maltreatment, expanding the role of social work in healthcare, suicide prevention, and building civic engagement and community resilience.”

Focus on health and wellbeing for all Coloradoans

Yuma is looking forward to drawing on her experiences educating students and working with health and social service providers to create engaging educational opportunities that span human service disciplines and address some of Colorado’s most pressing concerns.

She wants all health and human service providers to feel a sense of opportunity that will help them continue to make a difference in their careers.

“For years, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside students in the classroom to engage with the evidence-informed practice process we teach in our research methods courses,” Yuma said, “and conducting various research studies on the role community-level risk and protective factors play in the health and well-being of individuals.”

“Now, as the director of CLOE, I’m excited to apply my research knowledge and skills in a new way,” said Yuma, “to assess the needs of Colorado’s human service workforce, align those needs with the varied and interdisciplinary areas of expertise we have in our department, and then to design and evaluate training opportunities that utilize evidence-informed strategies to advance practice, and ultimately, improve health and well-being for Coloradoans.”

About the School of Social Work

Since the first baccalaureate social work major was first offered in 1968, Colorado State University’s School of Social Work has made a continuous effort to develop and maintain a program that is responsive to the standards of the social work profession, to the needs of human services agencies and clients in the state, and to the land-grant mission and goals of CSU. The school’s mission is to provide exemplary education, applied research, and transformative outreach to advance social, environmental, and economic justice; promote equity and equality; alleviate oppression; and enhance human health and well-being across local and global community systems.

The School of Social Work is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.