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John McMahon retires after 30 years of state service

John McMahon, a writer, editor, and facilitator dedicated to strengthening child welfare agencies and improving outcomes for families, children, and communities, retired from UNC’s Family and Children’s Resource Program (FCRP) in December 2022, after three decades of service.

A clinical associate professor at UNC School of Social Work, McMahon spent his career helping groups and individuals enhance their skills and achieve positive change in North Carolina and beyond.

“FCRP will not be the same without John; he has been a consistent, reliable and important voice during his 30 years with the program,” said Laura Phipps, FCRP program coordinator. “The whole team looks to him as someone who demonstrates integrity, kindness and quality in all the things he does. He has been a leader in creating a standard of work that all of us strive to meet.”

McMahon, who joined FCRP in 1993, spent much of his tenure focused on translating current research evidence and best clinical practice into skill-building learning experiences for helping professionals, foster and adoptive parents, and kinship caregivers. For more than 27 years, McMahon partnered with the North Carolina Division of Social Services to write, edit, and publish Children’s Services Practice Notes and Fostering Perspectives, nationally-recognized publications for child welfare professionals and resource parents.

He also helped to develop and deliver dozens of classroom and online courses and webinars on child protective services, foster care and permanency, resource family recruitment and retention, visitation, trauma-informed practice, and other topics.

From the early days of his career, McMahon actively sought to reform and improve child welfare systems. His work in this area included providing technical assistance and consultation to help the state fulfill requirements for several federal program improvement plans. McMahon also led the creation of, which offers free, easily accessible, high-quality support and training for all of North Carolina’s foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers.

Members of the School’s Awards Committee, who recently nominated McMahon for several honors, agreed that his work has impacted countless parents, social workers and agency leaders.

“He is admired and appreciated not only by his colleagues at FCRP but also by national, state, and local partners,” the awards committee noted. “He is unfailingly kind, helpful, and reliable, and as such, he epitomizes the spirit of engagement and service of our public university.”