Mary L. Ohmer Associate Professor



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Associate Professor Mary Ohmer received her Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work. Mary also received her MSW and MPIA from the University of Pittsburgh, and BSW from Gannon University in Erie, PA. Ohmer has over 25 years of experience in community organizing and development, working with residents and community, social service, corporate, government and philanthropic organizations to promote community change and sustainability. She has also worked internationally, presenting at conferences on sustainable development in Hong Kong, China and directing a study abroad program in Costa Rica which focused on health, social justice and sustainability. 

Research Interests

Ohmer conducts research and evaluation on a variety of community-based projects and initiatives. Her primary area of research is on civic engagement and participation and its effects on individuals and communities, and intervention research focused on facilitating community capacity to address substantive neighborhood problems. One of Ohmer’s major initiatives focused on facilitating neighborhood collective efficacy among youth and adult residents to prevent youth crime and violence in a low-income neighborhood in Atlanta, GA. Ohmer also partnered with a family service agency in Atlanta to develop and implement a community building initiative that engaged and built connections among new residents in an affordable housing development and existing residents and community organizations. She has also conducted program evaluation research on numerous community-based initiatives and programs sponsored by a variety of organizations, including the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and Families First in Atlanta.

Selected Funded Grants

Principal Investigator, Mary Ohmer.  Facilitating Collective Efficacy to Prevent Youth Violence: Using Consensus Organizing and Restorative Justice (Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA). Funder: FAHS-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, New York Community Trust.

Selected Awards

  • Emerging Scholar Award, Association for Community Organization and Social Administration
  • Interdisciplinary Fellowship for Community-based Evaluation, University of Pittsburgh

Selected Publications

Ohmer, M.L. (accepted for publication). Strategies for preventing youth violence:  Facilitating collective efficacy among youth and adults.  Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Ohmer, M.L., Teixeira, S., Booth, J., Zuberi, A., & Kolke, D. (accepted for publication).  Preventing violence in disadvantaged communities: Strategies for building collective efficacy and improving community health.  Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment (special issue).

Winter, C. & Ohmer, M.L. (2014).  Using the best of research and practice to create an outcomes measurement framework: A family service agency’s experience.  Families in Society: The journal of contemporary social services, 95(3). 

Ohmer, M.L., & Owens, J. (2013).  Using Photovoice to Empower Youth and Adults to Prevent Crime.  Journal of Community Practice, 21(4), 410-433.
Weil, M., Reisch, M., & Ohmer, M.L. (editors) (2013).  The Handbook of Community Practice, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Beck, E., Ohmer, M. L., & Warner, B.  (2012). Strategies for preventing neighborhood violence: Toward bringing collective efficacy practice into social work.  Journal of Community Practice, 20(3), 225-240.

Warner, B.D., Beck, E., & Ohmer, M.L. (2010). Linking informal social control and restorative justice: Moving social disorganization theory beyond community policing.  Contemporary Justice Review, 13(4), 355-369.

Ohmer, M. L., Warner, B., & Beck, E. (2010). Preventing violence in low-income communities: Facilitating residents’ ability to intervene in neighborhood problems.  Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, XXXVII(2), 159-179.

Ohmer, M. L. & DeMasi, K. (2009). Consensus organizing:  A community development workbook: A comprehensive guide to designing, implementing and evaluating community change initiatives.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Ohmer, M. L., Meadowcroft, P., Freed, K., & Lewis, E. (2009). Community gardening and community development:  Individual, social and community benefits of a community conservation program. Journal of Community Practice, 17(4), 377-399.

Ohmer, M. L. (2008). The relationship between citizen participation and organizational processes and outcomes and the benefits of citizen participation in neighborhood organizations. Journal of Social Service Research, 34(4), 41-60.

Ohmer, M. L. (2007).  Citizen participation in neighborhood organizations and its relationship to volunteers’ self- and collective efficacy and sense of community. Social Work Research, 31(2), 109-120.

Ohmer, M. L., & Korr, W. S. (2006).  The effectiveness of community practice interventions:  A review of the literature. Research on Social Work Practice, 16(2), 132-145.