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Alumni briefs: Spencer, MSW ’17; Bilazarian, MSW ’78; Pettus-Davis, Ph.D. ’11; Garland, Ph.D. ’09; Hart, MSW ’13; Suclupe, MSW ’02; Bearden, MSW ’14; Cagle, MSW ’98; Tuset, MSW ’15

Nora Spencer, MSW ’17, is returning to the UNC School of Social Work in a new capacity. The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Lab, part of the Jordan Institute for Families, is excited to have Spencer join the lab as she launches her social venture, Hope Renovations. As a student, Spencer helped pilot the social innovation consulting services offered by the SIE Lab. She is now developing her own social enterprise focused on providing workforce training for women. Hope Renovations will offer women the opportunity to learn construction skills while renovating houses for the aging. Spencer will continue her startup work at the SIE Lab, benefiting from the entrepreneurship resources offered through the School of Social Work and from across the UNC campus. Spencer hopes her social enterprise can serve as a model for current students and faculty who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures with a social impact.

Robin Bilazarian, MSW ’78, is an expert in the emotional freedom techniques, also called tapping. EFT incorporates gentle, relaxing, self-applied acupressure while talking about upsets and trauma to desensitize the hyperarousal instantly. Bilazarian, who has published a book on the technique and on standard stress management, now trains therapists across the country via universities and Pesi Continuing Education. Last year, she trained 185 therapists in four states. In 2018, she will present at NASW-NJ, University of Maryland, Rutgers and for Pesi, and she is expected to train therapists in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. More on her work.

Carrie Pettus-Davis, Ph.D. ’11, an assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and a leading expert in criminal justice and in the decarceration of America’s prisons and jails, will join Florida State University’s social work faculty in the summer of 2018. At Washington University, she is the founder and director of center-based initiatives focused on criminal justice innovations. She also co-leads the Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge network — one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work identified by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. At FSU, Pettus-Davis, will lead a new research initiative focused on the re-entry of incarcerated persons into communities. The research initiative, funded by a $1 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, will include a randomized controlled trial involving more than 1,000 participants in a mix of urban and rural communities in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. Pettus-Davis developed the research model in collaboration with other researchers, practitioners and formerly incarcerated colleagues.  

Eric Garland, Ph.D. ’09, was recently featured in the NPR public radio Utah broadcast, ” ‘All pain is in the brain.’ Can opioid use be avoided?” Garland is the director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development and the associate dean for research at the University of Utah College of Social Work.

Charrise Hart,  MSW ‘ 13, was recently featured in “Heart of the Matter,” in WILMA magazine, which highlights southeastern North Carolina’s most successful women. Hart currently serves as executive director of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear.

Roger F. Suclupe, MSW ’02, was recently named MSW part-time program coordinator for UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work. In addition, Suclupe had a manuscript accepted for publication to the Journal of Teaching in Social Work and was recently invited to present at the Latino Social Workers Organization Conference in March in Seattle, Wash. Suclupe will speak on teaching social work students to experience the concept of learning for advocacy through community engagement.

Sara Caitlin Bearden, MSW ’14, is a research project manager with the UNC School of Medicine.

Bobby Cagle, MSW ’98, is now serving as the director of the Division of Children and Family Services for Los Angeles County, Calif. Cagle joined the department after having served as the director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services for the last several years.

Monique Tuset, MSW ’15, is leading a 9-week financial class beginning in March at The Cov Church International in Durham, N.C. Developed by businessman, author and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey, the class teaches participants how to manage their money and build wealth. Tuset is coordinator of student affairs at the UNC School of Social Work.