Michael Wolf-Branigin, MSW, PhD, PStat®
Michael Wolf-Branigin, MSW, Ph.D., PStat® is a Professor of Social Work at George Mason University. His research focuses on complex adaptive systems and their application to social work practice specifically with disabilities and behavioral health populations. These applications include developing new program evaluation methods, investigating the built environment using spatial analytic methods, and facilitating the discipline to move toward a complex systems orientation. He received his BA in psychology and sociology from Western Michigan University's Honors College, received a graduate diploma in economics from Stockholms Universitet, completed his MSW in social program evaluation from the University of Michigan, and earned his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in research and evaluation.
For more than two decades Dr. Wolf-Branigin worked in the addictions and disabilities fields. He served to facilitate the deinstitutionalization of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities prior to working in planning, administrative, quality improvement, contracts management, and evaluative capacities relating to behavioral health services. Dr. Wolf-Branigin has consulted for governmental and non-governmental organizations in the United States and abroad. For 18 years, he served as an accreditation surveyor with CARF International. He is an Accredited Professional Statistician through the American Statistical Association, has a book published titled Using Complexity Theory in Research and Program Evaluation (Oxford University Press), has written over 50 peer-reviewed articles, and currently reviews and serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals.
- Center for Social Complexity – George Mason University, 2017 - present
- Learning Environment Group, 2012 – present
- Sustainability Studies Academic Council, 2016 - present
- Arts Facility Planning Committee 2015
- Departmental Risk Assessment Committee, 2010 – 2013
- Faculty Senate, 2007 - 2010
- Academic Policies Standing Committee, 2007-2009
- Faculty Matters Standing Committee, 2009 – 2010
- Disability/Rehabilitation Research Group, 2010 - present
- Mason-INOVA Life Sciences Research Collaboration Fund, Reviewer, 2009
- Center for Social Science Research, Faculty Associate, 2004 - 2008
- Department of Nutrition Reappointment Evaluation Committee, Chair 2016
- Statistics/Methods Task Force, 2014 - present
- Strategic Communications and Marketing Committee, Chair, 2014 - present
- Promotion, Tenure and Reappointment Committee, 2012 – 2014
- BAS in Technology and Innovation Task Force, 2012
- Faculty Council, 2006 – 2008
- Research Advisory Council, 2007 - present
- Health Services Research Symposium Planning Committee, 2007
- Department of Social Work
- Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2009 – 2013
- Admissions Committee, 2003 - present
- Doctoral Program Planning Committee, 2005 – present (chair 2009 - 2010)
- Enochs Technical Assistance Program Advisory Board, 2010 – present
- MSW Program & Curriculum Committee, 2012 - present
- Faculty Search Committee- Chair, 2004 - 2009
- Program Assessment Committee - Chair, 2003 – 2007; 2010 - present
- MSW Thesis Committees (served on 78 committees since 2004)
- Council Member, The Salvation Army National Capital Area Command, Program Services Committee, Washington, DC. 2011 – present
- Volunteer. Statistics Without Borders, New Projects Committee, 2012 – present
- Volunteer, The Arc of the US. Wings for Autism Program, 2014- 2015
- Advisory Council Member, The Salvation Army Harbor Light, Washington, DC, 2002 - 2011.
- Chair: Strategic Planning and Quality Performance Improvement Committees
- Field Standards Reviewer, CARF International
- Behavioral Health Standards Manual 2003, 2005, 2009
- Employment and Community Services Manual, 2009, 2011
- Opioid Treatment Programs Manual, 2007
- Member, Leadership Consortium to End Homelessness, Arlington, VA, 2008 - 2009
- Board Member, Washington, DC Mental Health Association, 2005 – 2006
- Mental Health Association in Michigan Managed Care Medicaid Work Group, Lansing, MI. Member, 1994 - 2001
- Livingston County Michigan Juvenile Drug Court Planning Initiative (evaluator), 2001
- Housing for Exceptional Persons, Detroit, MI. Board Member, 1988-1996
- Wayne State University College of Education Faculty Search Committee, 1995
- Michigan Alcohol and Addictions Association, Southfield, MI. Board Member, 1991-1996
- City of Detroit Elections Commission, Detroit, MI. Voter Registrar. 1986 - 1989
- Michigan Association of Program Directors for Substance Abuse, Southfield, MI. Board Member, 1980 -1988
- Boys Club of Greater Monroe, Monroe, MI. Founding Board Member, 1980 -1982
- Kalamazoo County Juvenile Court, Kalamazoo, MI. Voluntary Probation Officer, 1774 -1975
- Kalamazoo Training Center, Kalamazoo, MI. Applied Behavior Analyst Intern, 1975
PhD, Evaluation and Research, Wayne State University (1999)
MSW, Social Program Evaluation, University of Michigan (1979)
Graduate Certificate Diploma, Economics and Social Welfare, Stockholms Universitet, Stockholm, Sweden, International Graduate School (1978)
BA, Sociology and Behavioral Psychology (Minor: Social Work),, Western Michigan University (1976)
Intellectual/developmental disabilities and addictions
Applications of complex systems theory in social service delivery
Allahyari, T. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2018). Quality of life of adults with Down syndrome in Virginia. Journal of Down Syndrome & Chromosome Abnormalities, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.4172/2472-1115.1000128
Inoue, M., Wolf-Branigin, M. & Wolf-Branigin, K. (2017). Dissemination of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder information by health professionals. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 17(3), 275-290. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1533256X.2016.1243124
Kennedy, W. G., Ihara, E. S., Tompkins, C. J., Inoue, M., & Wolf-Branigin, M. E. (2015). Computation modeling of caregiver stress. Journal of Policy and Complex Systems, 2(1), 31-44. https://www.joomag.com/magazine/journal-on-policy-complex-systems-computational-modeling-of-caregiver-stress/0154872001458576506?short
Pycroft, A. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2015). Integrating complexity theory and social work practice: A commentary on Fish and Hardy. Nordic Social Work Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/2156857X.2015.1123459
Ihara, E. S., Kennedy, W. G., Tompkins, C. J., & Wolf-Branigin, M. E. (2015). Long-term dementia care: Modeling the decision process. Proceedings of the 24th Annual Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation Conference (BRiMS), 59-62.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2013) Physical disabilities. Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195389678/obo-9780195389678-0190.xml?rskey=zrCmW4&result=105&q=
Wolf-Branigin, M., LeRoy, B., Kwok, J., & Leung, S. K. Ng, H. S., So, C., Luk, R., & Wolf-Branigin, K. (2013). Comparing travel training innovations in the United States and Hong Kong. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 12(4), 295-308. https://doi.org/10.1080/1536710X.2013.834785
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2012). Introduction to complexity theory: A new research paradigm for social work. Journal of Social Service Research, 38(5), 580-581. https://doi.org/10.1080/01488376.2012.723977
Wolf-Branigin, K. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2012). The price of specialized transportation: Does government policy decrease cost and increase community participation? TRANSED. Washington, DC: U.S. Transportation Research Board.
Wolf-Branigin, M. & Wolf-Branigin, K. (2012). Modeling a travel training typology for increasing access within livable communities. TRANSED. Washington, DC: U.S. Transportation Research Board.
Ihara, E. S., Wolf-Branigin, M. & White, P. (2012). Quality of life and life skill baseline measures of urban adolescents with disabilities. Social Work in Public Health, 27(7), 658-670. https://doi.org/10.1080/19371910903269596
Wolf-Branigin, K., Wolf-Branigin, M., Culver, J.D. & Welch, K. (2012). Can travel training services save public transportation agencies money? TR News, January-February (278), 36-38.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2011). Reflecting on power and control within a normalization initiative. The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 11(2), 31-44.
Israel, N. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2011). Nonlinearity in human service evaluation: A primer on agent based modeling. Social Work Research, 35(1), 20-24.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Garza, S., & Smith, M. (2010). Reducing demand for human trafficking: A non-linear approach for developing capacity. Social Work and Christianity: An International Journal, 37(4), 424-436.
Rome, S.H., Hoechstetter, S. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2010). Pushing the envelope: Empowering clients for political action. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3-4), 201-219. https://doi.org/10.1080/15588742.2010.487236
Wolf-Branigin, K. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2010). A travel training cost benefit model for people with disabilities, public transportation agencies and communities. TRANSED. Washington, DC: U.S. Transportation Research Board.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Suh, J., Muir, S., Ihara, E. S. (2009). Applying census data for small area estimation in community and social service planning. Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 8(1), 253-259.
Wolf- Branigin, M. (2009). New media and social networks: Considerations from clients in addictions treatment. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 27(4), 339 – 345. https://doi.org/10.1080/15228830903329864
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2009). The emergence of formalized Salvation Army addictions treatment. Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 28(3), 327-337. https://doi.org/10.1080/15426430903070251
Greenfield, L. & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2009). Mental health indicator interaction in predicting substance abuse treatment outcomes in Nevada. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 35(5), 350-357. https://doi.org/10.1080/00952990903108223
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2009). Applying complexity and emergence in social work education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 28(2), 115-127. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615470802028090
Wolf-Branigin, M. & Wolf-Branigin, K. (2008). The emerging field of travel training services: A systems perspective. Journal of Public Transportation, 11(3), 105-119.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Jensen, K., & Smith, M. (2008). Preparing for the emerging issue of human trafficking. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 6(1), 132-136. https://doi.org/10.1080/15362940802119393
Greenfield, L., Wolf-Branigin, M., & Karageorge, K. (2008). Medicaid funding and adolescent interim substance use treatment outcomes. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions. 8(4), 423-439. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332560802346940
Wolf-Branigin, M., Ihara, E. S., Shuman, E., & White, P. (2008) Parental engagement in developing life skills of adolescents with disabilities. The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 8(3), 41-48.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2007). Supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disability: Will our emerging leaders build on President Kennedy’s legacy? Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly Mental Retardation), 45(6), 412-414.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Schuyler, V., & White, P. (2007). Improving quality of life and career readiness of adolescents with disabilities: Experiences from the Adolescent Employment Readiness Center. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(3), 324-333. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731506295623
Wolf-Branigin, M., Wolf-Branigin, K., & Israel, N. (2007). The complexity of attracting and retaining direct support professionals. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 6(4), 15-30. doi: 10.1300/J198v06n04_02.
Wolf-Branigin, M., & Duke, J. (2007). Spiritual involvement as a predictor to completing a Salvation Army substance abuse treatment program. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(2), 239-245. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731506294373
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2007). Disability and abuse in relation to substance abuse: A descriptive analysis. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 7(3), 65-74. https://doi.org/10.1300/J198v06n03_04
LeRoy, B., Wolf-Branigin, M., Wolf-Branigin, K., Israel, N., & Kulik, N. (2007). Challenges to the systematic adoption of person-centered planning. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 3(1), 16-25.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2006). Self-organization in housing choices of persons with disabilities. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13(4), 25-35. https://doi.org/10.1300/J137v13n04_02
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2006). Supporting and preparing future decision-makers with the needed tools. Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 5(2), 538-541.
Finigan, M., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2006) Effects of substance abuse central intake on treatment and criminal justice costs. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 6(4), 115-129. https://doi.org/10.1300/J160v06n04_07
Davis, M., Tompkins, C., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2006). Using image manipulation skills to teach community problem solving skills. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 20(4), 6-9.
Wolf-Branigin, M., & LeRoy, B. (2004). Designing accessible managed care services for people with physical disabilities: Consumer suggestions within an emergent design process. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 3(3), 3-16. https://doi.org/10.1300/J198v03n03_02
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2002). Applying spatial randomness to community inclusion. Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 1(1), 110 - 113.
Wolf-Branigin, M., LeRoy, B., & Miller, J. (2001). Physical inclusion of people with developmental disabilities: An evaluation of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 106(4), 368-375.
Wolf-Branigin, M., LeRoy, B. (2000). Managed care access issues for people with severe physical disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 44(3-4), 520.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Daeschlein, M., Cardinal, B., & Twiss, M. (2000). Differing priorities of counselors and customers to a consumer choice model in rehabilitation. Journal of Rehabilitation, 66(1), 18-22.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2000). Measuring community inclusion with spatial analysis. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 44(3-4), 520.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (1996). Preliminary issues in the implementation of managed care, Journal of Rehabilitation and Recovery, 4(2), 12-17.
Posch, M., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (1994). Qualitative analysis of self-determination among residents of a long-term substance abuse treatment program, Journal of Rehabilitation and Recovery, 2(4), 33-38.
Wolf-Branigin, M., & Sawilowsky, S. (1994), Perceived importance of self-determination factors by consumers in substance abuse treatment. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 284-286.
Wolf-Branigin, M., Kennedy, W., Ihara, E., & Tompkins, C. (2018). Chapter on "Applying Complexity Science to Social Programme Evaluation" In E. Mitleton-Kelly, A. Paraskevas, & C. Day (Eds) The handbook of research methods in complexity science and application. London: Edward Elgar.
Wolf-Branigin, M. & Hirtz, K. (2017). Chapter on "The background and roles of The Salvation Army in providing social and faith-based services" In B. R. Crisp (Ed) Routledge handbook of religion, spirituality and social work (pp. 157-163). London: Rutledge.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2014). Chapter on "Disability Services." In L. H. Cousins (Ed.) Encyclopedia of human services and diversity. Los Angeles: Sage.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2014). Chapter on "Complexity and the Emergence of Social Work and Criminal Justice Programmes." In A. Pycroft & C. Bartollas (Eds.) Applying complexity theory: Whole systems approaches in criminal justice and social work (pp 79-96). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
Wolf-Branigin, M. & Campbell, S. (2008). Image manipulation project, Appendix # 5.2. In J. A. Regan, &. P. P. Freddolino (Eds.). Integrating technology into the social work curriculum (pp 41-43). Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press.
Wolf-Branigin, M. (2013). Using complexity theory in research and program evaluation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wolf-Branigin, M. Guest editor (2012). Special mini-issue on complexity theory in social work. Journal of Social Service Research, 38(5), 579-636.
Feun, L., Harrison, S., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2001). Collaborative action research in Michigan: A guide for implementation within the State Improvement Grant. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Education.
Principal Investigator (PI)
Virginia Department of Social Services (beginning 2017). Child Welfare Stipend Program. Principal Investigator. Supervise development, implementation, and maintenance of project. Richmond, VA. Approximately $212,000 annually (over 5 years).
Fairfax County, Virginia (2015-2017). Toward Improving Clinical Supervision Fairfax County’s Department of Family Services. PI, quantitative design and statistical analyses. Fairfax, VA. $27,000.
Arc of the United States (2014-2016). Evaluation Planning of Information Dissemination Related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder by Health and Human Service Professionals: Phase II. Co-PI. Design of evaluation and monitoring systems. Washington, DC. $9,000.
Arc of the United States (2014-2015). Data Analysis of Information Dissemination Related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder by Health and Human Service Professionals: Phase I. Co-PI and Statistical Consultant. Washington, DC. $5,250.
Liberty’s Promise (2010 - 2012). Strengthening ‘Small World’ Networks: Outcomes Resulting from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ 21st Century Librarian Funding. Principal Investigator (PI). Evaluated outcomes, conducted statistical and social network analyses. Alexandria, VA. $5,002.
Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (2010 - 2011). System of Care Planning Services for Accreditation Phase I. PI. Directed CARF accreditation planning, data collection, analysis, and implementation efforts for organization providing services to persons with disabilities. Abu Dhabi UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. $6,500.
The Salvation Army Harbor Light – Washington, DC. (2008 - 2009). Transitional Research, Systems Evaluation, and Improvement Planning Services. PI. Applied complexity model for social program evaluation and accreditation preparedness. Washington, DC. $7,815.
George Mason University – Summer Funding (2008). Applying Social Networking to People Abusing Substances: A Preliminary Study. PI. Conducted egocentric network analyses and pilot study to identify access and barriers to Web 2.0 for persons with substance abuse problems. Fairfax, VA. $3,500.
The Salvation Army National Headquarters (2006). Evaluating Expanded Capacity for Human Anti-Trafficking Services. PI. Evaluation of The Salvation Army’s Human Trafficking Capacity Development - Office for Victims of Crime. Coordinated, performed statistical analysis, and conducted mixed-model evaluation. Alexandria, VA. $3,500.
The Salvation Army National Capitol Division (2005). Evaluative and Accreditation Planning Services to The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, PI Coordinated and prepared services for accreditation. Washington DC. $10,000.
Social Security Administration/Children’s National Medical Center (2002-2006). Evaluating the Impact of Pre-employment Services on Adolescents Receiving Supplemental Security Income. Evaluated and performed statistical analysis for multi-year US Social Security Administration funded demonstration project concerning employment readiness and future use of Supplemental Security Income for adolescents with physical disabilities. Washington, DC (w/P. White) Cooperative Agreement # 12-D-70351-3-04. $29,000.
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (2005). Evidence-based Practice and Program Evaluation Web Support. PI. Developed website materials on program evaluation, continuous quality improvement, and evidence-based practice. Fairfax, VA. $11,500.
Technology Across the Curriculum, George Mason University Social Work Department (2004-2007). Infusing IT in BSW Curriculum. Co- PI. Developed information technology enhanced assignments for BSW students in core classes. Software packages included EndNote, MS Office Suite, MS Access, MS Visio, ArcView, WinZip, N-Vivo, Photoshop Elements and SPSS. Fairfax, VA. $17,500.
Richard J. Barber Fund for Interdisciplinary Research, Wayne State University Law School (2001). A Multi-County Study of the Conduct of Judges and Attorneys Leading to Guardianship, Detroit, MI (w/ D. Moss). Conceptualized instrumentation, data analysis, report writing, and grant development. $20,000.
Berrien Mental Health Authority (2001). Advancing Berrien County Expertise in Person-centered Planning Processes, Co-PI. Benton Harbor, MI, (w/ K. Wolf-Branigin). $18,000.
Access Alliance of Michigan (2000). Needs Assessment & Advancing Self-Determination, Co-PI. Bay City, MI (w/ K. Wolf-Branigin). $23,600.
Livingston Family Services, Inc. (2000-2001). Family Intervention Services Data Analysis, PI. Brighton, MI. $1,300.
College of Urban, Labor, and Metropolitan Affairs/Wayne State University (1999). Spatial Analysis Study, PI. Designed and implemented protocols for determining dispersion of housing locations for persons with disabilities. Detroit, MI. $8,000
Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency (1999). Equal Justice Training Project & Evaluation, Detroit, MI. $2,800.
Michigan Department of Social Services, Medical Services Administration, (1992 – 1995). Medicaid Behavioral Health Care Delivery Demonstration Grant, PI. Supervised the project’s initiatives, evaluation activities, and developed formative and summative reports. Lansing, MI. $972,000.
Other Research and Evaluation Project Work
SAMHSA, US Department of Health and Human Services. S-BIRT (2015-2018). Data Analysis Coordinator/Statistician for Training to Engage, Assess, and Motivate for Substance Use Prevention (TEAMS-UP) within the GMU Departments of Nursing, Social Work, and Psychology.
Online Statistics and Methods Network. University of Michigan School of Social Work, Ann Arbor, MI. 2012, Advisory Member. Funded by the Curtis Center (UM) and the Society for Social Work and Research.
Promoting Mental Health Protective Factors for Ecuadorian Children and Adolescents. International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership. Quito, ECUADOR, 2009 – 2010, Evaluation Consultant. Designed evaluation methods for SAMHSA supported demonstration projects.
Kurdish Human Rights Watch, 2005, Trainer. Provided technical assistance to KURDISH governmental and NGO social service administrators on planning and evaluation.
National Evaluation Data Services. US Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA-CSAT, 2001 – 2003, Team leader and other roles. Developed multi-audience exportable/web-based evaluations. Conducted secondary data analyses with state databases, wrote reports, supervised grantees, and designed methodologies.
Database Decision-making and Capacity Building, Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education / Early Intervention Services, Detroit, MI, 2001, Evaluator. Reviewed grant applications, developed and conducted training, and provide technical assistance.
Michigan’s State Improvement Grant, Michigan Department of Education, Detroit, MI, 1999 –2001, Hub 1 Research Director. Implemented multi-layer evaluation of a statewide federally funded initiative. Responsibilities included large database data analysis, research design, action research methods, and supervision of evaluation staff.
Supporting the Transition of Medicaid Beneficiaries to Managed Care, Robert Wood Johnson/Michigan Public Health Institute Managed Care Project, Detroit, MI, 1999 – 2001, Evaluator. Developed instruments, sampling methods, data collection, design of qualitative and quantitative evaluative strategies, and data analysis in this community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) project.
Self-determination Technical Assistance and Planning for Access Alliance of Michigan, 2000 –2001, PI. Conducted needs and service delivery assessments, training, and technical assistance on self-determination principles.
BRIDGES – Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, National Science Foundation, 1997 – 1998, Detroit, MI, Evaluator. Managed databases, conducted data analysis, and developed research design.
Honors & Awards
Faculty Study Leave, Spring 2013, Provost’s Office, George Mason University
Journal of Social Work Education: Best Reviewer, 2010, Council on Social Work Education
Volunteer of the Year, 2007, The Salvation Army Harbor Light (SAHL), Washington, DC
Outstanding Service Award, 2006, SAHL, Washington, DC
Long-term Service - Field Instruction, 2002, University of Michigan, School of Social Work
Outstanding Performer, 2001, CARF International
Erdős Number of 5 (Felzenbaum, A. G., Hochberg, Y., Blair, R. C., Sawilowsky, S.), The Erdős Number Project
Outstanding Leadership Award, 1999, The Salvation Army, Detroit, MI
Award of Recognition, 1988, Detroit City Council