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Dr Zerden

Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MSW, is the Senior Associate Dean for MSW Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) School of Social Work and an Associate Professor. Dr. Zerden received her PhD in sociology and social work from Boston University School of Social Work and her MSW from UCLA.

Dr. Zerden is the principal investigator for UNC-PrimeCare and UNC-PrimeCare-OUD. The goal of UNC-PrimeCare is to expand the role of social workers as behavioral health providers in integrated primary care settings. PrimeCare-OUD focuses on preparing social workers to work in the field of substance use, specifically those dealing with opioid use.

Dr. Zerden is also a research fellow with the Carolina Health Workforce Research Center at the UNC-CH Sheps Center for Health Research where she has been helping to define the multi-faceted role of social work in addressing the social determinants of health and improving population health outcomes. Her research interests remain consistently focused on health disparities in drug use and treatment, overdose prevention, harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, and the role of social workers in health care. Dr. Zerden also represents the School of Social Work as the Director for Interprofessional Education and Practice.

To date, Dr. Zerden has authored 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts, more than a half-dozen book chapters, and presented her work at state, national, and international conferences.

Dr. Zerden has won numerous teaching awards since joining the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010 including “Most Inspirational,” “Most Outstanding,” and “Most Supportive” faculty member. In 2018, she was awarded the Council on Social Work Education’s Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award at their annual fall program meeting.

Contact: lzerden at

Dana Griffin, PhD

Dr. Dana Griffin has experience as a school counselor and marriage and family counselor. A Virginia native, Dr. Griffin came to Chapel Hill in 2007 to work at Carolina. Dr. Griffin cites her upbringing (being raised by a single mother in rural Virginia, and considered low-income), and the disparate treatment she received in schools, as the motivation for the work she does with schools, families, and communities. Dr. Griffin believes that if given the opportunities and right support, historically marginalized students have the capability to be just as academically successful as other students.

Dr. Griffin researches parent involvement and school-family-community partnerships. She believes that collaboration can be better achieved when school stakeholders are multiculturally competent, aware of their biases and preconceived beliefs, and understand the different complexities of families and parenting. To this end, she also researches inequity issues in education. She believes that school counselors should be leaders in bridging the gap between historically marginalized families, schools, and communities in order to build stronger relationships, collaborations, and increased effectiveness when working with culturally diverse students and their families.

Contact: dcgriffi at

Judy Schmidt, EdD, CRC, LPCA

Dr. Judy Schmidt is an Assistant Professor for the Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill. She serves as the Clinical Coordinator for the division, managing clinical training sites and placements of students during clinical rotations. She is also an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with UNC Hospital. Dr. Schmidt is the Rehabilitation Counselor for the Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation unit specializing in care for stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and severe trauma.

She serves as the Director of Interprofessional Education and Practice for the UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences and has coordinated IPE activities with UNC health affairs schools for the past five years. Dr. Schmidt works closely with the schools to implement and maintain interprofessional education opportunities for students and faculty.

Dr. Schmidt earned a BS in Psychology from Meredith College, a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from UNC at Chapel Hill, and Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction for higher education from Argosy University, American School of Psychology, in Washington, D.C. She is a nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in North Carolina, and a nationally Certified Clinical Trauma Professional.

Contact: Judy_Schmidt at

Meryl Kanfer

Meryl Kanfer, MSW, LCSW, is the Project Coordinator for UNC-PrimeCare. Ms. Kanfer received her BS in Education from the University of Delaware, and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She is licensed clinical social worker in North Carolina, and maintains a part-time private practice in Durham, NC.

Prior to joining the UNC-PrimeCare team in 2015, she was a clinical instructor and therapist at several outpatient mental health and primary care clinics in the Duke Health System. Ms. Kanfer is involved in all aspects of the UNC-PrimeCare project, including not only teaching the integrated behavioral health care course for MSW and PMHNP students but also planning and coordinating UNC-PrimeCare workshops and seminars. In addition, Ms. Kanfer provides clinical supervision to some UNC-PrimeCare students, and works closely with the School of Social Work Field Office in identifying integrated care field placement and internship sites. Ms. Kanfer is also a trained Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Contact: mkanfer at

Cheryl L. Woods Giscombé

Cheryl L. Woods Giscombé is the LeVine Family Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Quality of Life, Health Promotion and Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. Dr. Giscombe is also an adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Medicine and the Director of the Interprofessional Leadership Institute for Behavioral Health Equity.  She is a health psychologist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She received her BA in psychology from North Carolina Central University, and her BSN from Stony Brook University in New York. She earned MA and PhD degrees in social and health psychology from Stony Brook University and a MSN from the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist program at UNC-CH. Her research focuses on stress management to improve health among diverse populations, with specific emphasis on the health and well-being of African American women. She also started a mental health practice at a nurse managed community health agency for underserved populations. Dr. Giscombe developed the groundbreaking Superwoman Schema conceptual framework and survey to conduct international research on stress and health in African American women. Dr. Giscombé also has an interest in the potential for integrative approaches (such as mindfulness-based stress reduction) to reduce mental health-related disparities among African Americans. She has published widely and presented broadly to national and international audiences. She is co-author on the groundbreaking report on Stress and Health Disparities, published by the American Psychological Association

Dr. Giscombe is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, North Carolina Central University, Stony Brook University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and she has received numerous national awards, including recognition as a “Leader in the Field” by the American Psychological Association and the Jeanette Chamberlain Psychiatric Nursing Award recipient from the International Society of Psychiatric Nurses. She also serves as a Faculty Scholar for the Harvard Macy Institute at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Giscombe has published widely and presented broadly to national and international audiences. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

One of Dr. Giscombé’s greatest joys is mentoring the next generation of health care professionals and health researchers who will develop innovative strategies to provide equitable services for all.

More information about Dr. Giscombe can be found here:

Contact: cherylw at

Rebecca B. Brigham, MSW

Rebecca B. Brigham, MSW, is the Assistant Dean of Field Education at the UNC-CH School of Social Work. She began in this position in 2003 and during her tenure has conducted research and planned programs especially for students from marginalized and intersecting identities. Ms. Brigham is a previous past chairperson and member of the Council on Social Work Education’s, Council on Field Education. She is also a member of the North Carolina Field Education Consortium. Prior to coming to the School, Ms. Brigham managed child welfare programs at the North Carolina Division of Social Services.

Contact: brigham at

Jamie Burgess-Flowers, MSW, LCSW

Jamie Burgess-Flowers, MSW, LCSW is a Clinical Assistant Professor with a dual faculty appointment at the UNC-CH School of Social Work and the UNC-CH Adams School of Dentistry. She is a graduate of the UNC MSW program, where she was a UNC-PrimeCare scholar. Jamie’s professional social work experience has been in the healthcare field, promoting Behavioral Health Integration in positions ranging from project management to direct clinical practice. As the inaugural Social Work Care Coordinator at the Adams School of Dentistry, Jamie works on an interprofessional team providing direct patient care in the Student Dental Clinics, addressing barriers to care to improve patient treatment outcomes and quality of care. Jamie is also a Field Instructor for UNC-Primecare students who complete their field placement at the Adams School of Dentistry.

Contact: jlburge2 at

Denisé Dews

Denisé Dews, MSW, is a clinical assistant professor and assistant director of field education with UNC-CH School of Social Work. Denisé started her social work career in public child welfare before transitioning to healthcare where she specialized in critical care and end of life decision making across the life span. She joined the UNC university system in 2004 and has been with UNC-CH since 2007. As an early proponent of integrated care, Denisé is delighted to be a member of the PrimeCare team.

Contact: ddews at

Theresa PalmerM. Theresa Palmer, LCSW, LMFT, AAMFT-Approved Supervisor, is a clinical assistant professor and the Coordinator for Field Education in the Winston-Salem MSW Distance Education Program of the UNC School of Social Work. She began teaching in the MSW program as an adjunct instructor in 2007, and transitioned to a full-time faculty member in 2010. Ms. Palmer recruits new UNC-PrimeCare field placements sites, coordinates student matches with integrated care sites, and serves as advising field faculty for students accepted into the UNC-PrimeCare program in Western North Carolina.

Contact: palmermt at

Steven Day

Steven Day, MCP, is a research associate professor at the UNC-CH School of Social Work, whose work emphasizes program evaluation and intervention research. He received a master’s degree in urban studies and city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has consulted with foundations, advocacy groups, government agencies, and service providers about measuring the effectiveness of programs to improve the lives of children. He is co-author of the book Intervention Research: Developing Social Programs (Oxford University Press).

Mr. Day has a special interest in developing children’s social skills to promote friendship and reduce bullying. He has been a part of the Making Choices program, creating an intervention program of social skills lessons for children in elementary school. He is an advocate for arts-based programs for children and adolescents, and has been an evaluation consultant to many arts programs, including the Youth Arts program, a delinquency prevention research project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Justice. Through this work, he found that children thrive when given the opportunity to learn music, theater, dance, writing, performance, and studio arts.

Contact: shday at

Erica Desiderio, MSWErica Desiderio, MSW, received her MSW from Syracuse University and joined the UNC School of Social Work in August 2016 after relocating to North Carolina from New York. Erica, often working behind the scenes, provides key administrative functions and support to both the Behavioral Health Springboard and  UNC-PrimeCare programs at the School.

Contact: edeside at

Rich Stewart

Rich Stewart is a multimedia graphic designer at the UNC School of Social Work, who joined the School in February 2013. Over his career, he has created eye-catching graphics and websites for a wide range of companies, including Edy’s Ice Cream, Intel, and ESPN. In addition to assisting with the UNC PrimeCare program, he works with the Communications and Development Departments, Behavioral Health Springboard, and the Computing and Information Technology Unit of the School of Social Work.

Contact: rich.stewart at