Dr. Bonnie Young Laing

Associate Professor

Department of Health and Human Service Professions


Bonnie Young Laing holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, an MSW with a concentration in community health and mental health from West Virginia University and a doctorate in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Dr. Laing's teaching philosophy is student centered and empowerment/strengths based.  This means she aims to help students to uncover, expand and deploy their capacity to master course content and then apply that learning to real world situations.


Dr. Laing's scholarship is focused on community practice with particular attention to social and economic justice.  She has published work in the areas of community organizing, labor/community coalitions, community development in African American communities and culturally competent macro practice.  


Dr. Laing has nine years of teaching experience and has more than 20 years of experience in macro community practice, much of which has been with the Hill District Consensus Group. She is a native of Pittsburgh's Hill District and has family roots in Brownsville, PA.  In 2010, Dr. Laing won an Inaugural Champion of Change Award from the Three Rivers Community Foundation for her work in Economic Justice.   She is the proud wife of Justin Laing and mother of Kufere, Etana and Adeyemi. 

Selected Presentations and Publications

  • Community Development: The Journal of the Community Development Society 2009
    A Critique of Rothman's and Other Standard Community Organizing Models: Toward Developing a Culturally Proficient Community Organizing Framework. This article critiques Rothman's community organizing analysis framework on the basis of (a) inattention to culture as a central dynamic shaping community organizing and (b) the exclusion of organizing models endemic to African, Latin, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) communities. Other standard community organizing models are similarly analyzed and a framework for considering culturally-centered community organizing models is presented. Volume 40, Issue 1 , p. 20 - 36. 
  • Community Development in the Steel City: Democracy, Justice and Power in Pittsburgh 2012
    Organizing for Economic Justice: A Model. p. 52-60. Book chapter co-written, with Carl Redwood, Jr.  MSW. Book edited by Emeulu Akwugo (Ed). Oxford University Press: Edinburgh.
  • Ensuring Successful Partnerships in Economic Justice, Labor and Community Practice      2010
    Book chapter in Organizing Community and Labor Coalitions for Community Benefits Agreements in African American Communities:.  Louise Simmons, Scott Harding (Eds). Routledge: London
  • Urban Affairs Association Conference, Pittsburgh, PA 2012
    Presented as part of a panel discussion on anti-displacement strategies created for Pittsburgh's Hill District. Explored how this historic African-American neighborhood is harnessing its development potential to sustain and benefit long-time residents.
  • 42nd Conference of the National Association of Black Social Workers, Philadelphia, PA 2010
    Presented a paper exploring strategies for organizing community-labor coalitions to secure community benefits agreements in African American communities.
  • Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting 2008
    Conducted a poster presentation on a paper entitled Making Rothman's Community Organizing Framework Culturally Competent: Lessons from African American Organizing
  • Bachelor's Degree, psychology: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
  • MSW, concentration in community health and mental health: West Virginia University
  • Doctorate in Social Work: Virginia Commonwealth University

Email: laing@pennwest.edu

Phone: 724-938-4639

Office: Azorsky Hall Room 205A