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Verbiest named as Jordan Institute director

Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, John A. Tate Early Career Scholar for Children in Need, has been appointed as director of the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work.

The Jordan Institute for Families provides services that address issues including child welfare, developmental disabilities, substance use disorders, trauma and mental health. The Institute consults on policy development, conducts applied research, offers training and builds networks to strengthen families across North Carolina, with an emphasis on social justice. UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Michael Jordan and his family founded the Institute in 1996.

“Dr. Verbiest is perfectly suited to lead the Jordan Institute,” noted Gary Bowen, dean of the School of Social Work. “She has a passion for the field of social work, particularly in bridging research, evidence-based practice and data into policy and programs.

“She has demonstrated her capacity for strategic planning throughout her career, and her scholarship is well-aligned with the work of the Jordan Institute,” he added.

Verbiest is a nationally-known researcher with expertise in preconception health, postpartum wellness, infant mortality reduction and health equity issues. She just completed editing a book about moving maternal and child health life course theory into action, scheduled for publication in early 2018 by the American Public Health Association Press.

Since 2004, Verbiest has served as executive director of the Center for Maternal & Infant Health (CMIH) in the UNC School of Medicine. She will continue to direct CMIH. She also serves as senior consultant to the Centers for Disease Control for the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative, a public-private partnership of more than 100 agencies nationally. She co-chairs the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force Perinatal Health Committee and, in that role, helped bring more than 120 partners together to develop the state’s perinatal health strategic plan.

Verbiest earned her Master of Social Work, Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a 2005 Fellow of the William C. Friday Fellowship on Human Relations and serves on the board of advisors for that organization. She joined the faculty of the School of Social Work in 2015 as a clinical associate professor.
For more information about the Jordan Institute for Families, visit