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New faculty join UNC School of Social Work in July

Three new assistant professors, one post-doc student and two new clinical assistant professors will join UNC School of Social Work’s faculty next month.

This year’s faculty search attracted an impressive pool of 150 applicants, the largest number of faculty applicants in the School’s history. The newly appointed School colleagues bring “an unparalleled passion for teaching and a commitment to student development, support, and mentoring,” praised Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson.

“Moreover, their pedagogical approaches where they synergistically connect their research into teaching and learning is an aspect of their backgrounds that I am especially looking forward to seeing them replicate in our curriculum,” she added. “These new faculty further strengthen an already world-class faculty and staff.”

New assistant professors/post-doc

Orrin Ware, assistant professor. Ware, who earned his MSW and Ph.D. from the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland, also holds an MPH from the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. Currently a post-doctoral fellow at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Ware is also a licensed clinical social worker with more than a decade of experience providing direct services to at-risk populations, including people living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS or substance use disorders. His research interests include issues of distress, HIV/AIDS, sexual risk behavior, substance use/misuse, and treatment retention. His teaching interests include health behavior, public health social work, research methodology, sexual health, social determinants of health, substance use/misuse.

Ankur Srivastava, assistant professor. Srivastava, who earned his Ph.D. from University of Southern California, also holds master’s degrees in philosophy and social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India. Srivastava currently serves as an assistant professor at Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science at Kentucky’s University of Louisville. Srivastava has an active domestic and international research agenda focused on reducing health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons (LGBTQ*). His research is informed by nearly a decade of community-based work with nonprofits in India and the United States. Srivastava’s research is invested in examining multiple minority identities and their associated experiences of stress from a developmental framework. His scholarship is heavily influenced by intersectionality, critical race, and minority stress theories, underscoring the nuances and diversity of experiences among LGBTQ* persons negotiating multiple minority identities. His teaching interests include research methods, statistics, human development theory, and LGBTQ issues.

Rebecca Rebbe, assistant professor. Rebbe holds a Ph.D. in social welfare from University of Washington, MSW from Boston College, and master’s in education from Harvard University. She currently serves as an assistant professor of social work at the University of Southern California. Rebbe’s research interest examines community responses to child maltreatment through systems, laws, and policies. She has training in demographic methods and specializes in using population-based linked administrative datasets. Her research is informed by seven years of post-MSW practice working with families involved with the child welfare system, in both the public and private sectors.

Millicent Robinson, post-doctoral student. Robinson is currently a doctoral candidate and the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of California Los Angles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health. Before pursuing her Ph.D. at UCLA, she completed both her MPH/MSW at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2017. Robinson’s program of research focuses on investigating the life course biopsychosocial mechanisms that distinguish physical and mental health risk among Black women by addressing three key issues: culturally relevant coping; interconnections between physical and mental health; and ethnic heterogeneity among Black women. Robinson will work closely with assistant professor Rachel Goode, who will serve as her primary mentor. Robinson will contribute her expertise to help advance Goode’s current projects on treating binge eating, obesity and type 2 diabetes among African American women.

New clinical instructors

Jessica Lambert Ward, clinical assistant professor. Ward earned her MSW with a concentration in community management and policy practice (CMPP) from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 and brings to the School a rich background with program development and management, particularly at the intersection of marginalized identities. She has more than a decade of experience working with and on behalf of students in university leadership positions across the UNC campus. She currently serves as the director of The Carolina Collaborative for Resilience, which focuses on supporting students as they cope with challenges related to identity, race, belonging, and resilience. Ward’s work on intergenerational resilience and historical trauma in the Lumbee community has been recognized by The New York Times.

Ben Balderas, clinical assistant professor. Balderas earned his MSW with a CMPP concentration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004 and has more than 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector as a program manager and executive director. He currently serves as the assistant director of admissions, recruitment, and financial aid in UNC School of Social Work. Additionally, he has served as adjunct faculty within the School and within the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Balderas has deep community ties and sits on multiple boards of directors in the Triangle area.