faculty profile

Tonya Elkins   MSSW, LAPSW

Director, MIHOW Program
Instructor in Clinical Nursing


Tonya Elkins is the director of the MIHOW program, a peer to peer home visiting program where mothers help improve health outcomes in their communities through guidance and support of other mothers. As part of her MIHOW work, she facilitates a weekly group with pregnant women and young mothers in substance abuse recovery. She has worked with the MIHOW program since 2003, training community health workers, writing curriculum, and coordinating program evaluation and research. Her past social work experience includes community organizing, case work with Hispanic families, resettlement work with immigrant and refugee families, and emergency assistance. She has been trained by the State of TN Department of Health as an ACEs trainer and has completed the SAMSHA training on Trauma Informed Care.


  • MSSW, University of Tennessee, College of Social Work
  • BS, Belmont University


  • Certified Lactation Counselor - ALPP (Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice), License ALPP-238195, 2015-Present
  • Infant Mental Health Mentor - Research/Faculty, Association of Infant Mental Health in TN (IMH-E)

Current Research/Scholarly Interests

  • Community Health Workers
  • Early childhood home visiting programs

Academic Interests

  • Community and Population Health


Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency (ANE-NPR) Program. Human Resources & Services Administration, 2019-2023 (Role: Health Education Coordinator).

Representative Publications


Lutenbacher, M., Elkins, T., & Dietrich, M. S. (2022). Using Community Health Workers to Improve Health Outcomes in a Sample of Hispanic Women and Their Infants: Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Hispanic Health Care International. https://doi.org/10.1177/15404153221107680

Lutenbacher, M., Elkins, T., Dietrich, M.S. et al. The Efficacy of Using Peer Mentors to Improve Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Hispanic Families: Findings from a Randomized Clinical Trial. Maternal Child Health J 22, 92?104 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-018-2532-z