Skip to main content

Four new assistant professors join the School

David Ansong is a Ph.D. candidate from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, and also received his MSW there in 2008. He received his B.A. in Social Work with Sociology from the University of Ghana in 2004. His research interests include educational and economic disparities, youth asset development, community development, and geographic information systems (GIS). He has worked on several projects with the UNC School of Social Work’s Dr. Gina Chowa since 2007. Currently, they are conducting research on: “A randomized experiment to assess the impact of Youth Savings Accounts on educational outcomes in Ghana, First post-intervention data collection for the YouthSave Project,” and “Assisting with formative and market research concerning the design of an economic empowerment project for youth living in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.” Ansong can be reached at

Cynthia Fraga Rizo is a Ph.D. candidate at the UNC School of Social Work, and the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Award. She received an MSW in 2007 and a B.A. in Psychology in 2005, both from Florida International University. Her research interests include intimate partner violence (particularly among Latina survivors), child exposure to intimate partner violence, trauma, coping, social work with the Latino community, cultural competency, intervention development, and community-based research. Since 2008, Rizo has worked with the UNC School of Social Work’s Dr. Rebecca Macy on the evaluation of a domestic violence prevention intervention program called MOVE, “Mothers Overcoming Violence through Education and Empowerment.” In 2010-11, she also worked with Dr. Betsy Bledsoe-Mansori on a project funded by NIH and NIMH to adapt and evaluate the feasibility of an intervention to address depressive symptoms in a community sample of low-income, low-English proficiency mothers. Rizo can be reached at

Paul Lanier received his Ph.D. from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis in 2013, and an MSW from the UNC School of Social Work in 2008. He received his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2003. Lanier’s research interests include child maltreatment prevention, parenting interventions, strengthening families, maternal and child health, evidence-based practice, program evaluation, implementation science, and policy development. He can be reached at

Melissa Lippold received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies in 2012 from Pennsylvania State University. She received a Master of Arts in Social Work and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration; and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research focuses on the role of parent-child relationships in the development of risky behavior and the promotion of adolescent health. She is also interested in the design and implementation of preventive interventions. Lippold has a website, and can be reached at