The swan metaphor is an important one for me. It symbolizes grace in the midst of chaos.
Years ago, as a SWAT Operator, I referenced this symbol often and it’s stayed with me throughout the years as my career and life have transitioned multiple times. The swan swims with one leg paddling furiously while the other is tucked up tightly against its body. Just beneath the surface it struggles to stay the course, all the while the swan appears to move with grace and ease. I believe we are all in this space from time to time. Capable of navigating throughout the world and achieving beautiful things, while just beneath the surface it can feel like something quite the opposite.
Dr. McLeod has spent over two decades working to reduce violence, particularly that directed at people and communities with diminished capacities for self-protection. In addition to being an Associate Professor of Social Work he holds affiliate faculty status with the OU Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the OU Center for Social Justice. He is the Associate Director of Research at the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and Director of the OU Ruth Knee Institute for Transformative Scholarship.
A former police detective who transitioned to become a forensic social worker, David has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in programs of social work, criminal justice, and preparing future faculty. His research is focused on the intersections of criminal behavior, gender, and trauma, as well as post-traumatic growth and trauma as an origin for purpose. Some of David’s current professional activities include investigations of forensic psychopathology and differential criminal behavior development, female sexual offending, female incarceration, child sexual abuse, forensic social work, intra-professional and multidisciplinary collaboration, domestic and relational violence, positive youth development, connections between trauma survivorship and positive identity development, artificial intelligence, and higher education.
In his State and National community service work, David is the Vice President of the non-profit incubator CASMEO, the Treasurer of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work, Co-Chair of the Oklahoma Children of Incarcerated Parents Advisory Committee to the Legislature, and serves in numerous other areas as well. He has multiple funded research projects underway and his most recent publications include works on neuroscience, female sexual offending, trauma, domestic violence, and social work education, among other topics. He has won numerous teaching, service, and research honors and is a four-time recipient of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work “Professor of the Year” award.
“I’ve spent decades trying to figure out how to reduce violence, and I think we are closer now than we have ever been. This website just scratches the surface of a few things I’ve found along the way.”
David Axlyn McLeod, PhD
University of Oklahoma
Associate Director of Research & Associate Professor | Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work
Director | Ruth Knee Institute for Transformative Scholarship