Laurie Cook Heffron, PhD, LMSW, is an Associate Professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. She has interest and expertise in the areas of forced migration, domestic and sexual violence, and human trafficking, and her research explores the experiences of, and relationships between, violence against women and migration.

As former Associate Director for Research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA), she has contributed to multiple research projects since 2001, including a program evaluation for services to victims of human trafficking, a statewide domestic violence prevalence study, program evaluation of Texas’ Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, and a national pilot program to develop professional and organizational resiliency among child welfare workers. Laurie also worked with IDVSA in completing a study of resettlement experiences among Congolese refugee women and a statewide evaluation on human trafficking and existing laws and social services in collaboration with community organizations and governmental agencies. 

Laurie has both direct social work practice and research experience with a variety of immigrant communities, including refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylees. Previously, she served as program coordinator for Green Leaf Refugee Services, providing intensive health and emotional health case management services to refugees, victims of trafficking, asylees, and other immigrants in Central Texas. Currently, she provides assessments and serves as an expert witness in immigration cases of women and children seeking T visas, U visas, and asylum based on domestic violence. 

Laurie earned a master's and a doctoral degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University. She has studied in Santiago, Chile, and in Quito, Ecuador, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa. 

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, St. Edward's University, 2021 - present

Director of Social Work Program, St. Edward's University, 2019 - present

Assistant Professor, St. Edward's University, 2016 - 2021

Social Work Field Education Director, St. Edward's University, 2016 - 2019

Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin, 2015-2016

Post-Doctoral Fellow in Immigration & Violence against Women, University of Texas at Austin, 2015-2016

Associate Director for Research, Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, University of Texas at Austin, 2010-2015

Year Started

Languages Spoken

English and Spanish (and rusty French and Hausa)


PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 2015

MSW, University of Texas at Austin, 2002

BS in Linguistics, Georgetown University, 1996

Publications & Articles



Wachter, K., Cook Heffron, L., Dalpe, J., Donahue, K. (2021). “We weren’t ready”: Provider perspectives on addressing intimate partner violence among refugees and immigrants in the United States. Journal of Family Violence.

Wachter, K., Cook Heffron, L. & Dalpe, J. (2020). “Where is the women’s center here?”: The role of information in refugee women’s help seeking for intimate partner violence in a resettlement context. Violence against Women.

Wieling, E., Trejo A., Patterson, J., Weingarten, K., Falicov, C., Hernández, A., Cook Heffron, L.,Faulkner, M. & Parra-Cardona, J.R. (2020). Standing and Responding in Solidarity with Disenfranchised Immigrant Families in the United States: An Ongoing Call for Action. Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy, 46(4), 561-576.

Wood, L.,Clark, D., Cook Heffron, L., & Voth Schrag, R. (2020). Voluntary,Survivor-Centered Advocacy in Domestic Violence Agencies. Advances in Social Work20(1).

Cook Heffron, L. (2020). Gender, Violence, and Trauma in Immigration Detention in the United States. Oxford Bibliographies New York: Oxford University Press.

Hurtado, G., Cook Heffron, L. & Serrata, J. (2020). Behavioral Health Service Delivery with Immigrants. In Benuto, L., Gonzalez, F. & Singer, J. (Eds.) Handbook of Cultural Factors in Behavioral Health. New York, NY: Springer.

Torres, M., Nsonwu, M., Cook Heffron, L., & Busch-Armendariz, N. (2020). In Dalla, R. & Sabella, D. (Ed.s) Unique Contributions of Social Work in Combatting Human Trafficking. In International Handbook of Human Trafficking: A Multi-disciplinary and Applied Approach. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wachter, K., Dalpe, J., & Cook Heffron, L. (2019). Conceptualizations of Domestic Violence-related Needs among Women Who Resettled to the U.S. as Refugees. Social Work Research.

Wachter, K., Cook Heffron, L., & Dalpe, J. (2019). “Back home you just go talk to the family”: The role of family among women who seek help for intimate partner violence pre- and post-resettlement to the United States. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Cook Heffron, L., Serrata, J. V., & Hurtado, G. (2019). Latina Immigrant Women & Children’s Well-Being & Access to Services After Detention. National Latin@ Network.

Cook Heffron, L. (2019). "Salía de uno y me metí en otro:” Exploring the migration-violence nexus among Central American women. Violence against Women, 25(6), 677-702.

Crea, T., Cook Heffron, L., LaBrenz, C., & Ros Pilarz, A. (2018). How do Immigrant Children and Families Experience Immigrant Detention? Center on Immigration and Child Welfare. 

Sulley, C., Wood, L., Cook Heffron, L., Westbrook, L., Levy, N., Donde, S., & Busch-Armendariz, N.B. (2018). At least they’re workin’ on my case? Victim notification in sexual assault “cold” cases. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 

Marcos, A., Hernández, A. V., Gonzalez, D., & Cook Heffron, L. (2019). Traversing Violence. In Shepard, R. & Lerman Ginzburg, S. (Eds.) Gender, Health, and Society in Contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean, 177.

Cook Heffron, L. (2018). Sex Trafficking among Immigrant Women in the U.S.: Exploring social work response within a landscape of violence against immigrant women. In Nichols, A., Edmond, T. & Heil, E. (Eds.) Social Work Practice with Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

Nsonwu, M. B., Cook Heffron, L., Welch-Brewer, C., & Busch-Armendariz, N.B. (2018). Supporting sex-trafficking survivors through a collaborative single-point-of-contact model: Mezzo and micro considerations. In Nichols, A., Edmond, T. & Heil, E. (Eds.) Social Work Practice with Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

Fong, R., Cook Heffron, L., Wachter, K. (2017). Transnational Practice: Responding to Violence against Immigrant and Refugee Women. In Lundy, M. & Hilado, A. (Eds.) Models for Practice with Immigrants and Refugees: Collaboration, Cultural Awareness, and Integrative Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers, Inc.

Zayas, L., Brabeck, Cook Heffron, L., Dreby, J., Calzada, E., Parra-Cardona, J., Dettlaff, A., Heidbrink, L., Perreira, K., & Yoshikawa, H. (2017). Charting Directions for Research on Undocumented and Unaccompanied Immigrant Children and Citizen Children. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 39(4), 412-435.

Wood, L., Cook Heffron, L., Voyles, M.E., & Kulkarni, S. (2017). Playing by the rules: Agency policy and procedure in service experience of IPV survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 

Zayas, L. & Cook Heffron, L. (2016). Disrupting Young Lives: How Detention and Deportation Affect US-Born Children of Immigrants. Children, Youth & Family News, American Psychological Association.

Cook Heffron, L. (2016). Assessing Lethality to Support Asylum Claims Based on Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence Report, 21(6), 91-94.

Cook Heffron, L., Snyder, S., Wachter, K., Nsonwu, M., & Busch-Armendariz, N. (2016). “Something is missing here:” Weaving feminist theories into social work practice with refugees. In S. Wendt & N. Moulding (Eds.) Contemporary Feminisms in Social Work Practice. Routledge.

Department Group

School Group

School of Behavioral and Social Sciences