Jan  Froehlich Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Jan Froehlich

Associate Professor
University of New England

Jan and June have been partners in transforming racial and cultural lines in health and social care for over 20 years. They know it is possible to transform the lines that divide and separate humans by learning the skills of listening, loving, and lifting spirits when you can. Listening both within and across racial lines is essential in addressing inequities and injustice related to racial and cultural oppression that limit progress in achieving health and wellbeing for all people.


As partners in writing Transforming Racial and Cultural Lines in Health and Social Care: Listening, Loving and Lifting Spirits When You Can, Jan and June share their interwoven biographies.

About June
From an early age, June recognized human resilience amid human suffering. Her mother was an immigrant Japanese woman who embodied her ancestral Samurai spirit when she left Japan in the wake of the suffering inflicted by the atomic bombs. Her father embodied the strength and dignity instilled by his tribal kin - African ancestors who survived their enslavement and indigenous fore-bearers who survived genocide.  She became skilled in seeing the light in others and herself and ultimately was drawn to a community of like-hearted social workers committed to uplifting the human spirit while lessening human suffering.

Years later, as a social worker in a predominantly white organization, in an overwhelmingly white state, she struggled to find the depth of authentic human connection and the synergistic life force with others that she needed to thrive. She had begun to notice increasing anger, bone-numbing exhaustion, and a deafening hopelessness building within her. Without a community of spirited and collaborative allies, she suffered. She  found an unexpected ally in Jan, a white occupational therapist. As June shared stories of pain honed from experiences of isolation, racism, and rejection,  Jan listened with love, compassion, and hopefulness.  Missing was the denial, guilt, shame, helplessness, or shock that I was familiar with when sharing those types of experiences with white people. In ever-increasing collaborative exchanges, June and Jan both transformed.  June found with Jan a most powerful partner for life - a co-conspirator committed to transforming pain and suffering into healing and flourishing.

About Jan
As a young white female of Irish, German and Scottish heritage, Jan was inspired by the kindness, generosity, and humor in my mixed Catholic/Protestant white family and friends. Yet  she also saw harshness, pain, disconnection, and the pull to addictions. Racism, sexism, and classism also reared their ugly heads and left her indignant. She felt particularly pained by racism and felt lost about how to interrupt it. Catholicism connected her with an awareness of the pain and suffering in the global human family and offered her hope and community in the fight for a better world for all people.  Fortunately, when she discovered occupational therapy, her chosen profession became an additional vehicle for social change. Joining with occupational therapists and other health professionals to fight for better lives for all people, particularly for people with disabilities, people with mental health labels, and for all oppressed people, became a richly rewarding journey and deeply meaningful occupation.  

On this journey, she  found building open, honest, and loving friendships with people from all backgrounds, but particularly with Black and Indigenous people,  profoundly changed her life. They corrected her when she  made mistakes, teased her about her whiteness, held out that she and other white people were good, and that they needed much healing from the damage of racism. Over time, they opened up about the hurts of multiple oppressions in their lives. When she met June, Jan felt an immediate kinship between them. June was as determined as she was to take action to end racism and all forms of oppression in the world and to place connection and enjoyment at the center of that work.

Jan and June’s Journey of Transforming Racial and Cultural Lines
Over time, Jan and June shared about the painful experiences of oppression in their lives. Racial and cultural divisions between them dissolved into tears and laughter as they listened, loved, and lifted spirits with each other. They became committed to sharing this process with other health and social care practitioners. Out of their relationship, they gave birth to their book,  Transforming Racial and Cultural Lines in Health and Social Care: Listening, Loving, and Listening Spirits When You Can.

More About June
June received her B.S.W  and her M.S.W in Social Work from the University of Kansas.  Her expertise is in clinical social work with an emphasis on cultural diversity.  An activist, June brings a social justice perspective to her work.  Believing deeply that the personal is political and the spiritual is at the core of the personal, June incorporates an understanding of the nature of oppression, emotional healing, interpersonal dialogue, and group processing, in a spiritually grounded approach. June is known for her efforts to expand the boundaries of systems thinking to address issues of social justice, anti-Black racism, and equity including issues of culture and race. Her ongoing theoretical and practice work pushes the boundaries of the dominant world of psychotherapy to consider white privilege and internalized racism as a major influence within the therapeutic process.

More About Jan
Jan received her B.S. in Physical Education (Pre-Physical Therapy) and Psychology from the University of New Hampshire and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Boston University.   As an occupational therapist, she worked primarily in the mental health field. In this work, she became increasingly aware of the profound influence of trauma on the mental health and wellbeing of her clients. Ongoing classes on the art of listening and peer counseling  informed her of the widespread nature of both trauma and oppression in the lives of all humans - including herself.  As an occupational therapy practitioner, she blended artful and compassionate listening with the transformative power of occupation to promote recovery, growth and healing. Positive outcomes in clinical practice combined with successful adjunct teaching experiences sparked Jan to pursue a full-time academic position at the University of New England where she has been teaching since 1989. In her role as associate professor of occupational therapy, Jan is continually Inspired by colleagues and clients of color to expand her understanding of the impact of trauma and oppression (particularly racism, sexism, mental health, and disability oppression) on health, wellness, and engagement in occupation. She infuses her teaching and scholarship with theory about the art of listening, the nature of oppression, and  the process of  healing and recovery.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Jan's scholarship addresses feminism, women’s mental health, the complex occupation of motherhood, racially and culturally effective communication in health care and interprofessional practice.

Personal Interests

    Jan’s interests include teaching the art of listening and peer support to parents and young people in the racial and climate justice movements. She also enjoys spending time walking, playing games, and laughing with her husband Michael, her daughter Marlena, and many other friends and family members. She loves hiking, gardening, cooking, preparing and eating Japanese hot pots, exploring her Irish, Scottish, German and Catholic heritage, and caring for her pet rabbits.


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Transforming Cultural & Racial Lines - Froehlich - 1st Edition book cover


Health and Interprofessional Practice

Evaluation of a communication survey and interprofesional education curriculum for undergraduate health professional students

Published: Jan 01, 2016 by Health and Interprofessional Practice
Authors: Froehlich, J., Pardue, K., Dunbar, D.S.
Subjects: Health and Social Care, Communication Studies

Using the Froehlich Communication Survey, perceived communication abilities in undergraduate health profession students were evaluated before and after engagement in an established communication curriculum or a curriculum using listening partnerships. Improved perceptions of communication abilities were noted after engagement with both curriculums, but an increase in perceptions of the ability to listen with compassion was noted only in students who practiced using listening partnerships.

Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation

Daily routines of breastfeeding mothers

Published: Jul 01, 2015 by Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Authors: Froehlich, J., Donovan, A., Ravlin, E., Fortier, A., North, J.
Subjects: Family Studies, Gender & Sexuality, Health and Social Care

This study explored the daily routines and supports experienced by 11 primiparous breastfeeding mothers through surveys conducted at 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, and 10-12 weeks postpartum. None of the mothers had a daily routine at 2-3 weeks; 5 out of 9 mothers described a 'hint of a routine' at 6-8 weeks and 6 out of 7 mothers described an 'emerging routine' at 10-12 weeks. Despite wanting more support and better preparation, most mothers succeeded with exclusive breastfeeding for the 12-week period.

Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation

The significant work of parenting

Published: Jul 01, 2015 by Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Authors: Froehlich, J. & Morgan, P. (Eds.)
Subjects: Family Studies, Health and Social Care

This special issue of WORK seeks to ensure that the joys and challenges of parenting are no longer secret. Parenting is the most important work happening in the world, yet it is often unrecognized work. Parents receive minimal training, no compensation, few breaks, and little validation for their work. This special issue of WORK reveals parenting as complex work that deserves ongoing exploration and advocates for the reconstruction of social policy to better support parents.

Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior

Influencing university students’ knowledge and attitudes toward breastfeeding

Published: Feb 13, 2013 by Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior
Authors: Froehlich, J., Boivin, M., Rice, D., McGraw, K., Munson, E., Walter, K.C., & Bloch, M.K.S. (2013).
Subjects: Family Studies, Gender & Sexuality, Health and Social Care

316 University students completed a pre-survey on attitudes toward breastfeeding. After spending 3-4 minutes reading a fact sheet on the benefits of breastfeeding and recommendations extracted from the 2005 AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, post surveys were completed immediately and at 1 month follow-up. A significant change in knowledge and attitudes toward breastfeeding was noted immediately after the brief intervention and maintained at one month.

 Occupational Therapy in Health Care

The aware communicator: dialogues on diversity.

Published: Aug 03, 2009 by Occupational Therapy in Health Care
Authors: Froehlich, J. & Nesbit, S.
Subjects: Health and Social Care, Communication Studies

Developing cultural competence has taken on increased importance in occupational therapy curriculums. Cultural competency prepares occupational therapy students for emerging practice. This article describes a communication seminar that emphasizes dialogues on diversity as a method for developing cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and active listening skills.

American Journal of Occupational Therapy

Women's mental health: Implications for occupational therapy

Published: Jan 01, 1993 by American Journal of Occupational Therapy
Authors: Nahmias, R. & Froehlich, J.
Subjects: Gender & Sexuality, Health and Social Care

This article describes issues of sexism in the mental health profession. Theoretical bias in psychiatry and the sociopolitical status of women are both linked to the inappropriate mental health treatment of women. A relational model of women’s psychological development is offered as an alternative theoretical perspective for understanding the mental health needs of women. Ways to integrate this perspective in occupational therapy practice are included.

American Journal of Occupational Therapy

Nationally Speaking- Feminism: An inclusive perspective.

Published: Nov 01, 1992 by American Journal of Occupational Therapy
Authors: Hamlin, R.B., Loukas, K.M., Froehlich, J. MacRae, N.
Subjects: Gender & Sexuality, Health and Social Care

As guest editors to a special issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy devoted to feminism in occupational therapy, the authors describe an inclusive model of feminism that includes personal empowerment and social justice for all.