Winter 2022
Faculty News

Alumni News and Notes

Pitt School of Social Work grads do amazing things!

It’s easier than ever to submit your own Class Note for publication consideration! 


The papers of University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Professor Emeritus Edward W. Sites (MSW ’64), dating from 1958 to 2019, are now open for researchers through the University Library System. This collection of papers is a great resource for anyone interested in the history of Pitt Social Work or social work activities in Western Pennsylvania.


Civil rights activist and Marshall University social work professor Phillip W. Carter Jr. (MSW ’70) was honored by the City of Huntington, West Virginia, which designated 9th Street between 4th and 5th avenues as Phil Carter Plaza.

Russell Curry (MSW ’72) received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from Region 4 of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Curry was recognized for his work as a member of the board of directors of A Caring Place Child Advocacy Center in Wintersville, Ohio.

Pitt Social Work Professor Emeritus Hidenori Yamatani (MSW ’73, PhD ’76) released a new book about his life and family. “This memoir focuses on the impact of the life lessons my grandfather taught me in post-WWII Japan,” writes Yamatani. “Working toward Harmony: A Memoir: My Japanese Grandfather’s Words of Understanding for Finding My Way in the USA” can be found on Amazon.


James A. Chavis (MSW ’89) was named head of school of LIFE Male STEAM Academy in Wilkins Township, Pennsylvania.


Michael Beary (MSW ’93) was appointed by Ireland’s minister for health to the board of Tallaght University Hospital, located in Dublin.

Fred W. Brown Jr. (MSW ’98), president and CEO of The Forbes Funds, was ranked 13th on the 2022 Nonprofit Pennsylvania Power 100 list by City & State Pennsylvania. Established in 1982, The Forbes Funds support more than 530 human service and community-based nonprofits in Western Pennsylvania.

Kate A. Garvey (MSW ’91) was recognized as one of the American Public Human Services Association’s Outstanding Local Members at the 2022 National Health and Human Services Summit. Garvey is director of the Department of Community and Human Services in Alexandria, Virginia. She also serves on the School of Social Work’s Board of Visitors.

Then Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf recognized 11 women, including Terry Miller (BASW ’90, MSW ’92), as 2022’s Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania, highlighting their extraordinary achievements and contributions to the commonwealth.

Margaret Smith (PhD ’99), a faculty member in the social work department at Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro since 2004, was honored in March 2022 during the university’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Awards reception.

The Pitt Alumni Association presented Joy Starzl (MSW ’97) with the 2022 Bill Baierl Distinguished Alumni Service Award. This award recognizes volunteer service to the University that has had a significant impact on advancing the University’s mission. Starzl serves on the School of Social Work’s Board of Visitors and created the Joy Starzl Scholarship Fund at Pitt Social Work, which offers financial support to students working toward a Master of Social Work degree.


Parris J. Baker (PhD ’07), an associate professor at Gannon University, was named a scholar-in-residence at the Jefferson Educational Society in Erie, Pennsylvania. Baker also became a regular contributing writer for the society with his new biweekly series, “Truth in Love.”

Charles Small (BASW ’06, MSW ’07), who rose through the ranks of sports administration at Pitt after four seasons on the basketball team, was named director of athletics at Valparaiso University in Indiana.


Lauren Bishop (MSW ’11, PhD ’15), associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, received the 2022 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research.

Rikell Ford (MSW ’17), Johnnie
Geathers (MSW ’13), and Jessica Gurley (BASW ’10, MSW ’12) were honored by the New Pittsburgh Courier at the 2022 FAB 40 Awards.

Cordelia Nemitz (MSW ’18) received the May 2022 Clinical Excellence Award from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. She is the first social worker to receive this award.

Mark L. Ruffalo Jr. (MSW ’12) was named codirector of the psychotherapy track for the University of Central Florida’s psychiatry residency program. He serves as an instructor of psychiatry at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and as an adjunct instructor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Kathryn Vargas (MSW ’10) was named the City of Pittsburgh’s director of parks and recreation. Vargas is responsible for overseeing and providing safe and exceptional parks, facilities, and programs through effective leadership, collaboration, and innovative thinking.


Michael Dubinski (MSW ’21) was nominated by his classmates at Marquette University Law School to receive the Ralph J. Huiras Law School Citizen Award and accompanying full-tuition scholarship for his second year of law school.

Anette Nance (MSW ’20) was selected as one of 48 emerging leaders for Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.’s 2022-23 Leadership Development Initiative cohort, an eight-month program for high-potential young professionals. This creative and innovative leadership training program has served as a model for several other programs across the country.

Congratulations to TANYA ASHBY (MSW '85), ALIYA DURHAM (MSW ’02), KIERA MALLETT (MSW ’15), ANETTE NANCE (MSW ’20), TIERRA THORNE (MSW ’19), and KIMBERLY WASHINGTON (MSW ’99) on being named 2023 SWAG (Social Worker Appreciation of Greatness) Award recipients and MOLLY ALLWEIN (MSW ’11) on receiving the 2023 SWAG Changemaker Award. Created by SHARISE NANCE (MSW ’06) in 2019, the annual SWAG Awards recognize “social workers in the Greater Pittsburgh area who exemplify servant leadership through their commitment to promoting advocacy, social justice, generational healing and building stronger communities