2018 Awardees

The School of Health and Human Sciences honored 13 alumni at the 2018-2019 Alumni Awards Luncheon held October 13, 2018.

Congratulations to all, and thank you to our wonderful HHS Alumni Association Board for their help organizing the event.


HHS Distinguished Alumni Award - Dr. Kathy Etz

The 2018 HHS Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is Dr. Kathy Etz. Dr. Etz completed her Master of Science in 1995 and her PhD in 1997 in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and following a one-year postdoctoral fellowship, joined the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where she has gone on to have a highly impressive career.

Her primary work is with the Native American Program, of which she has been the Director since 2016, while also serving as a Program Director for Epidemiological Research.

She also served as the Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs at the National Institutes of Health, working with senior NIH leadership to advise on American Indian and Alaska Native issues. In this role she established tribal consultation activities at the NIH, ensuring that tribal leaders have the opportunity to provide input on NIH policies and programs.

Dr. Etz has organized many symposia, meetings, and roundtable discussions on ways of preventing health disparities and reducing drug and alcohol use among American Indian/Alaska Native populations.

One of her most effective strategies has been to find ways in which to integrate indigenous knowledge and experience with more customary scientific approaches to reduce the barriers that have long existed between the more traditional epistemological frameworks used by American Indians and those used by non-Indian scholars.

She has considerably raised the profile of research with these communities.

Lifetime Legacy Award - Dr. Joanne Safrit

The 2018 HHS Lifetime Legacy Award recipient is Dr. Joanne Safrit. Dr. Safrit received her BS degree in Physical Education from the Women’s College (now UNCG) in 1957, and her Masters of Science and PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1962 and 1967, respectively.

She spent 20 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was named a Henry Bascom Distinguished Professor. Following her retirement from the UW, she accepted a position as Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Fitness at the American University in Washington, D.C.

Throughout her career, she published extensively, including textbooks and articles in research journals on quantitative measurement. Dr. Safrit has received numerous awards for her academic and research excellence and although she has been retired for some time she remains quite active in the field.

Dr. Safrit takes great delight in learning about current students’ work and encouraging them along their academic paths. Her desire to interact with and support students is evident in multiple ways here at UNCG. Dr. Safrit has been generous in many areas across UNCG, including the School of HHS, Athletics, Jackson Library, the Women’s Veterans Program, the Weatherspoon Museum, the Faculty First Program and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

She was a founding member of the School of HHS Alumni Board and has been active on the UNCG Alumni Board. She also participates as a mentor in the Guarantee Scholar Program, meeting regularly and providing wisdom and support along the way. Her desire to give of her time and talents extends to the support of faculty as well.

She has established an undergraduate scholarship, the Safrit Measurement Award, various one-time monetary gifts to support strategic faculty and student initiatives, and most recently made a one million dollar gift to establish the Safrit-Ennis Distinguished Professorship in Kinesiology.

HHS Public Service Award - Mr. Jeff Bacon

The 2018 HHS Public Service Award recipient is Mr. Jeff Bacon. Mr. Bacon is a 1998 graduate of the Department of Nutrition. Following graduation, Jeff combined his talents as a culinary trained chef, with his nutrition degree, to work in management within the restaurant industry but had a desire to create something that was unique and altruistic.

Specifically, he wanted to help a population who was significantly “underserved”, those who had served time in prison, jail, and those who had struggled with addiction, homelessness, and who were underemployed as a result.

In 2006, Jeff began to work with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina to create the Community Kitchen, a 13-week training program for teaching basic culinary and hospitality skills to underemployed persons. In 2008, the Community Kitchen was recognized by the American Culinary Education Federation with their Quality Program Award.

Mr. Bacon then expanded his idea into a full-scale catering operation using leftover fresh produce donated to Second Harvest to provide agency partners, including local soup kitchens, group homes and Kid’s Café, with cooked, chilled, ready to serve meals.

He further developed the catering operation to include a full-service restaurant, Providence, located in the Double Tree Hotel in Winston Salem. Providence Restaurant and Catering offers a 24-month paid hospitality residency to alumni of the Triad Community Kitchen Program. A second full-service restaurant is planned for downtown Winston Salem in the old BB&T building.

Mr. Bacon has made a tremendous impact on the community, and the lives of individuals needing a second chance.

Emerging Leader Award- Dr. Stephanie Parade

The HHS Emerging Leader for 2018 is Dr. Stephanie Parade. Dr. Parade is a double alumna from UNCG’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master’s of Science degree in 2007 and her PhD in 2010. She is currently an assoicate professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.

Dr. Parade is at the forefront of research efforts designed to understand how stress alters the developmental pathways of infants and children and she is dedicated to applying these findings to improve the quality of services delivered to at risk families.

Specifically, her research team is evaluating the efficacy of various home visiting programs designed to prevent child abuse and promote effective parenting and family outcomes in Rhode Island. This research may help us better understand which types and quantity of exposure to early adversity have lasting implications for well-being.

She demonstrates outstanding professional development and innovative approaches, and her record of external funding and publishing in top-tier journals speaks highly of her work.

HHS Pacesetter Awards

These awards honor outstanding alumni in the School who have attained local, state or regional recognition through their achievements in scholarship, leadership or service, during their career or through civic involvement. Each Department and Program selected a Pacesetter awardee to honor.

Mrs. Colette Edwards graduated from the Department Communication Science and Disorders. Mrs. Edwards received a Bachelors of Arts in Speech Pathology from UNCG in 1972. She also earned her Masters of Arts in Speech Pathology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

She spent many years working as an educator and speech pathologist. Before her recent retirement, Mrs. Edwards was also on the faculty of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders for several years, including service as the Director of Graduate Studies and as a clinical supervisor in the Speech and Hearing Center.

She has co-authored book chapters and articles for national publications on the topics of Reader’s Theatre, and clinical supervision in speech-language pathology.

Students have commented on Mrs. Edwards’ attention to detail, availability, and her approachability, and she has been recognized by the North Carolina Association of Supervisors in Speech-Pathology and Audiology with their highest award, Clinical Educator of the Year.

Ms. Denise Blanchfield graduated from the Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation. Ms. Blanchfield received a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Therapeutic Recreation in 2013 with a specialization in therapeutic recreation.

She currently works at Cone Health as a Recreation Therapist where she works with inpatient acute crisis stabilization for children and youth. She is also pursuing her Master’s of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in special education at Western Carolina University.

As her nominator wrote, “she has a driving passion to make a difference for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness”.

In the few short years since she graduated, Ms. Blanchfield has restructured Cone’s Recreation Therapy program to make it an effective treatment service for this population and aligning it to licensing guidelines and standards of practice.

She also designed and is implementing the use of a STEM intervention that has shown improvement in therapeutic outcomes of self-esteem, communication, problem solving, team building, coping skills, and anger and stress management in children with behavioral health issues. In addition, she has initiated other evidence-based interventions such as Animal Assisted Therapy, aromatherapy and leisure education.

Dr. Melvin Herring graduated from the Human Development and Family Studies s. Dr. Herring received a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at UNCG in 2013 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. He is also the Program Director for the Master’s of Social Work there.

Dr. Herring is widely recognized for his service engagement and public service, including his cultural competency trainings with police departments. This work involves working with police departments to address issues of inequality in policing, diversity, equity, and inclusion in police-community partnerships.

He demonstrates what is at the heart of the Pacesetter award - a commitment to serve and an emphasis on community and civic engagement.

Ms. Kim Berg graduated from the Department of Kinesiology. Ms. Berg is a double alumna of UNCG. She received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1989 and went on receive a master’s degree in 2000.

She has taught at Alamance Elementary for nearly 30 years and has plans to retire soon. Ms. Berg always took a holistic approach to education, focusing not only on the physical but also the cognitive and social components of health and wellness, and she collaborated with classroom teachers to ensure the movement curriculum matched with the overall curriculum.

Ms. Berg also served as a cooperating teacher for UNCG and other institutions, mentoring Physical Education student-teachers and demonstrating compassionate teaching and leadership.

She has shown her passion for healthy kids by partnering with Jump Rope for Heart and creating her own jump rope team, the Jazzy Jumpers.

Dr. Paula Sisk graduated from the Department of Nutrition. Dr. Sisk earned her PhD in Nutrition from UNCG in 2005. Since her graduation she has worked as a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Consultant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Her dissertation was the first published work to report measurements of stress and anxiety in women before and after receiving counseling on the benefits of human milk for their premature infants, and consequently, how much breast milk the mothers were able to provide their babies.

She challenged a traditional view prevalent among health care providers that women should not be encouraged to breast feed if that was not their original plan.

She has continued to do research while working as a clinical dietitian and has published several manuscripts in high-impact journals such as “Pediatrics: The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. Sisk has served as a faculty member of the North Carolina Lactation Educator Training Program for 25 years and has trained approximately 1,250 nutritionists and nurses in the state of NC in the area of breastfeeding premature infants. She also serves as a preceptor to UNCG students on their dietetic internships, as well as students from UNC Chapel Hill.

Her contribution to the field of pediatric nutrition has resulted in changes in care provided by health workers in neonatology. She is recognized in our state, and throughout the country, as a leading nutritionist and lactation consultant in neonatology.

Dr. Narayan Khadka graduated from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies. Dr. Khadka earned a Master’s of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from UNCG in 2010. He later earned a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University.

He specializes in the pathology of family and community trauma and breakdown from violent extremism and extremist identity ideology. He is currently working as the Senior Social Scientist and Subject Matter Expert at SOS International, serving US forces in Afghanistan.

Dr. Khadka’s prior experiences as a lawyer in his native country of Nepal prepared him well as a leader in his community, and he has, through a passion for conflict resolution, continued that leadership in the Triad area of North Carolina.. He has served as a Center for New North Carolinian Research Fellow and as an Americorps Community Liaison, impacting countless newly arrived residents of Greensboro.

He is the founding President of the Triad Nepalese Community Center and has helped organize countless cultural programs for Nepali, Bhutanese, and other newly arrived refugee communities.

He has also been a valuable asset and community partner collaborating with Dr. Jeremy Rinker of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, and Dr. Jigna Dharod of the Department of Nutrition, in their research with the Bhutanese community in the Triad

Ms. Quirina Vallejos graduated from the Department of Public Health Education. Ms. Vallejos earned her Master in Public Health in Community Health Education from UNCG in 2003. She is currently the Project Director for the Administrative Core Center for Regulatory Research on Tobacco Communication at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill.

She is a leading scholar and advocate for Farmworker health and Latino families in North Carolina and the nation. She is also the President of the North Carolina Farmworkers Project’s Board of Directors and has served for several years on the Farmworker Advocacy Network.

She is an outstanding example of a public health scholar-practitioner, working with communities to implement needed research and interventions.

Dr. Tiffany Washington graduated from the Department of Social Work. Dr. Washington is an alumna of the Joint Masters in Social Work Class of 2002. She went on to receive her PhD in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill, where she received awards for her research and teaching. She is now an Assistant Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary Study Abroad program in the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia.

Her research interests include designing and implementing culturally-targeted social and behavioral interventions to reduce the burden of health disparities and improve psychosocial outcomes in older chronic kidney disease patients.

She is the recipient of several research and training grants and has published 23 manuscripts on aging, minority health, and caregiving.

Dr. Washington is committed to serving the social work profession. She is faculty advisor to the UGA campus chapter of Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work, and serves on the editorial boards for both the Journal of Gerontological Social Work and the Journal of Nephrology Social Work.

Ms. Melanie Hardy graduated from the Genetic Counseling Program. Ms. Hardy received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from UNCG in 2011. She serves as the Assistant Director of Genetic Counseling Services and practices as a telehealth genetic counselor at the Emory University School of Medicine’s JScreen Program.

She is licensed to practice in 21 states and provides genetic counseling by phone or video for patients and providers on screening results and testing options, as well as impacts on family members.

She also supervises and trains genetic counselors, develops and maintains operating procedures for genetic counseling services, aids in marketing, education, and fundraising efforts, and collaborates in planning and executing research at JScreen.

Ms. Hardy serves as an adjunct faculty member at Emory University and she actively seeks opportunities to help others feel a sense of support and encouragement in the field of genetic counseling.

She volunteers with several community organizations and has been an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, from which she has received multiple awards.