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Alumni Update: November 2011

Yolanda Meade Byrd, MSW ’96, of Salisbury, was inducted into Livingstone College’s 2011 Hall of Fame on Oct. 20.

The Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.) Alumni Association presented a Distinguished Alumni Award on Oct. 14 to Jeffrey A. Cotter, MSW ’90. Cotter received a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from ODU in 1985, and is a psychiatric social worker specializing in trauma recovery and HIV/AIDS case management. Founder and president of Rainbow World Fund (RWF), he practices in San Francisco.

Cotter has worked in the HIV/AIDS and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) civil rights fields since 1987. In 2000, he founded RWF to promote worldwide humanitarian aid to the LGBT community and to provide a platform and a united voice for LGBT compassion and concern. RWF has evolved into an active national organization and is the world’s first and only LGBT-based humanitarian aid organization. Cotter’s rationale for organizing LGBT-funded relief around the world is based on what he calls the solidarity model, and the group’s fundraising encourages donors to specify the projects they wish to support, including global HIV/AIDS, water development, landmine eradication, hunger, education, orphans and disaster relief.

Patricia Forbes, MSW ’98, is featured in a Nov. 7 article, “Tricia Forbes makes the serious work of SIMS fun.”

M. Carlean Gilbert, MSW ’78, a former assistant professor at UNC and now an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago, was selected by the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care to receive the 2011 Hyman Weiner Award for outstanding qualities as a teacher, scholar and advocate in the area of health care. Gilbert is the editor of “The Clinical Supervisor: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice.”

Michelle Johnson, MSW ’98, was elected on Nov. 8 to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

Marilyn Lundin, MSW ’08, has received the President’s Award from the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Lundin is president of NAMI Johnston County, and she is intensive in-home lead for N.C. MENTOR in Goldsboro, which provides care for at-risk youth, adults and children with developmental disabilities and other complex needs. The President’s Award goes to an individual who has persevered in his or her battle against mental illness and made a positive difference in the lives of others.

Kara Richards-Baker, MSW ’92, was named the 2011 Mitigation Award Winner by the Fair Trial Initiative, who honored her at an event on Oct. 27. Preparing for the sentencing phase of a capital trial requires specialized skills and experience, and mitigation investigation has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a critical element to fair and competent legal representation.  The Board of Directors of FTI created this award to recognize those mitigation specialists who have helped set the standard for professionalism, teamwork, and client advocacy. Richards-Baker is the inaugural recipient of this honor.

Karen Smith Rotabi, Ph.D. ’05, was given the James Q. Miller Clinical Services Award by the Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The award is named in honor of Dr. Miller, who was a leader in neurology and a University of Virginia faculty member. The James Q. Miller Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at UVA School of Medicine is recognized to be one of the best locations for MS care in the region, and is committed to treating the whole person, including a highly collaborative relationship with the MS Society. Her contributions to the MS Society include:

  • Facilitating relationship enhancement programs for the organization dating back to 2007;
  • Over 100 couples have participated in the events for which Rotabi served as facilitator; and
  • The curriculum that was developed by the MS Society has been adapted, with permission, for the MISSION: Healthy Relationships program.

Rotabi is an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work, and a member of the UNC School of Social Work’s Alumni Council.

Darlene Steele, MSW ’94, was named director of quality and compliance for Hospice of Davidson County. Her expertise is in quality improvement strategies specific to health care administration, and she brings years of experience in clinical documentation and managed care to Hospice of Davidson County. Prior to joining the Hospice staff, Steele served as the quality assurance, service excellence and risk coordinator for Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services in Winston-Salem.

Sarah Verbiest, MSW/MPH ’95, had an op-ed published Nov. 7 in the Raleigh News & Observer, “Building on progress in infant survival.” Verbiest chairs the Child Fatality Task Force’s Perinatal Health Committee.