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SSW honors outstanding alumni for 2019

Each year at graduation, the UNC School of Social Work presents the Distinguished Alumni Award to recognize alumni who have achieved distinction in the social work field, who embody social work values and who carry our mission of service into the world. Alumni can be nominated by peers, faculty members, staff, fellow alumni or students and are chosen by a committee.

This year, five social work professionals were selected to receive the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. The honorees are: Susanna Stepp Birdsong (Raleigh); Noel Sebastian Bost, Ph.D. (Greensboro); Jessica Nakell Burroughs (Durham); Mia Ives-Rublee (Washington, D.C.); and Marcia Lynn White (Raleigh).

Susanna Birdsong is senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. She has been a leader in the “Raise the Age” effort in North Carolina to ensure that 16- and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies cannot be charged as adults and sent to adult jails.

Birdsong earned her Master of Social Work degree from UNC in 2008. She also holds a law degree from American University.

Noel Bost is executive director of Amethyst Consulting and Treatment Solutions, the Greensboro-based psychotherapy practice that he founded in 2006. He has an extensive career as a psychotherapist and as a researcher. In addition, Bost has taught at the University of Chicago, Dominican University and UNC-Greensboro.

Bost earned his Master of Social Work degree from UNC in 1996. He also holds a doctoral degree in social work from the University of Chicago.

Jessica Burroughs has served in a variety of health-related nonprofit initiatives, including El Centro Hispano, NC Partnership for Children/Smart Start, Moms Rising, Shape NC, Rural Forward NC, and Duke University’s National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

Burroughs earned dual degrees from UNC in 1998, completing her Master of Social Work and her Master of Public Health degrees simultaneously. She also served in the Peace Corps, where she was a community health worker in Nicaragua.

Mia Ives-Rublee is a former confidential assistant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and recently launched her own business as a political consultant and professional speaker. Born with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), she is an advocate for persons with disabilities. Two years ago, she led the Disability Caucus of the National Women’s March in Washington, D.C., helping to coordinate accessibility services for more than 41,000 participants. She and her fellow March organizers were recognized by Glamour Magazine in its 2017 Women of the Year Awards.

Ives-Rublee earned her Master of Social Work degree from UNC in 2009.

Marci White served as administrator of the Willie M review panel (on behalf of children with aggressive behavior and serious mental health, behavioral or developmental needs) throughout the 1980s and served as section chief for this program into the 1990s. As a result of her work, North Carolina developed the first community-based mental health services for children, including in-home services, school-based services and therapeutic foster care.

White earned her Master of Social Work degree from UNC in 1978.

The School also honored Deloris Jordan with the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Champion Award, in recognition of her extraordinary volunteer work with the School of Social Work and in communities across the globe.

Dean Gary Bowen presented the awards during the School’s commencement ceremony at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Saturday, May 11.