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Alumni briefs

Bobby Cagle, MSW ’98, was selected for the tenth class of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Families Fellowship. The class includes 16 leaders from 13 states. These men and women — accomplished leaders from the public, nonprofit and academic sectors — will use the 16-month Fellowship to work within their agencies, organizations and communities toward specific, measurable improvements for children and families. Cagle has served as the director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services since 2014, appointed by Governor Nathan Deal. He is also a member of the UNC School of Social Work’s Board of Advisors.

Mathieu Despard, MSW ’94, Ph.D. ’15, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, was named a faculty associate with the Center for Social Development at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently conducting research on the outcomes of a large scale tax-time savings experiment and on the promise of employer-based financial wellness programs in partnership with the Center for Social Development. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, he was a faculty member at the UNC School of Social Work.

Despard was also named a faculty associate with the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion, School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas. Along with colleague Terri Friedline at University of Kansas, he received a $240,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation for Mapping Financial Opportunity, a project in partnership with New America to examine the spatial distribution of different types of financial services in the U.S., and the relationship between financial services and household financial well-being. With Friedline, Despard had a related opinion piece picked up by The Atlantic, “Life in a Banking Desert.” 

Alice Williamson Jones, MSW ’09, human services supervisor with Wake County Human Services, was named the supervisor of a newly formed bilingual Spanish language blended unit with Wake County Child Welfare.

Nina Mackta, MSW ’90, is a graduate of our MSW distance education program. She attended while living in Boone N.C, with her two young children, where she commuted long distances over three years to earn her MSW. Since then she has worked in the field in various positions. For the past 16 years she has been a school social worker and director of an in-school mentoring program for at risk youths ages 5 to 18 called “The Strategic Support Mentoring Program.” The program has won statewide and national awards for being a progressive intervention showing positive outcomes. She has lived in Rhode Island for the past 20 years, but says she misses North Carolina.

Lindsay Penny Prizer, MSW ’10, Ph.D., has earned her doctoral degree from the University of Georgia. The title of her dissertation is,”Understanding Need and Examining Barriers and Facilitators to Integrating Palliative Care for Parkinson’s Disease: A Mixed Methods Study.” Prizer has been employed as the clinical social worker for Emory’s new outpatient palliative care program for the past year while finishing her degree. She is also a part-time instructor, teaching “Death, Dying and Loss,” at Georgia State University.

Anna Scheyett, MSW ’89, Ph.D., a dean at the University of South Carolina, was named dean of the University of Georgia School of Social Work. Scheyett, who has led the USC College of Social Work since 2011, will assume her new role at UGA on July 1. Prior to joining the University of South Carolina, she was a faculty member of the UNC School of Social Work.

Laura Wenzel, MSW ’14, had a letter published in the North Carolina Medical Journal, “Beyond Climate ChangeWhy Medical Institutions Should Divest From Fossil Fuels.” Wenzel is the manager of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, a group of health professionals who educate their patients and other practitioners about the connection between poor air quality and disease. MAHA members also advocate for stronger policies that will restore clean and healthy air to North Carolina.

Rankin Whittington, MSW ’77, is a graduate of the Management and Planning Track that the School of Social Work offered. His first job after graduation was as director of the Anson County Department of Social Services. After 12 years there, he moved to Lenoir where he was the assistant director of the DSS. In 1993, he founded HomeCare Management Corporation, in Lenoir, N.C. In 2015, HomeCare was acquired by Community Based Care, LLC (CBC). HomeCare operates independently with its current management team as a wholly owned subsidiary of CBC. Whittington, the founder and former president of HomeCare, has retired from the company and will continue to operate his LLC, leasing commercial office space in North Carolina.