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Honored Alums

The Alums of UT College of Social Work Give Back to Their Communities

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Our alumni are important for many reasons, but most notably, they are links to both our past as well as our future. The alums featured here are just a few of the many graduates who are working in the field of social work and carrying out the mission of the college.

Leaders in Social Work Receive Awards at Annual Gala

At the annual gala celebration of the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, Dean Karen Sowers presented a number of awards to individuals and agencies whose lives and work represent the very things that provide motivation and encouragement to the college.

Martin DeRitaMartin DeRita - Outstanding Alumnus

Each year, we present an award to one of our graduates whose work and values reflect the mission and vision of the College of Social Work.

This year, our Outstanding Alumnus Award was presented to Martin DeRita. He served as a marriage & family therapist in Maitland, Florida (FL) at Orlando Psychiatric Center for over 32 years. Martin has additionally received the Mental Health Association's Ruth P. Brudney Memorial Award for his contributions to the care and treatment of children and adults with mental illness.

He currently serves on the UT College of Social Work Board of Visitors

Martin’s commitment to the university and service to the community make us proud to count him as one of our alumni.


Joyce GreathouseJoyce Greathouse - Distinguished Service Award

The Alumni Distinguished Service award is presented to graduates of the UT College of Social Work in recognition of distinguished service to the Social Work profession.

Joyce Greathouse's social work career spans 41 years of dedicated service to children in her home state of Alabama. Starting as a caseworker with the Children’s Aid Society in Birmingham, she later became Executive Director, a position she held for 20 years. Her outstanding work was recognized by the National Association of Social Workers’ Alabama Chapter with their Lifetime Achievement Award and their Distinguished Service Award. She has served on the Governor’s Commission on Child Welfare Services and was co-founder of the Pediatric AIDS Network.  In 2003, she was inducted into the University of Alabama School of Social Work Hall of Fame. Joyce is a graduate of our Nashville program, and we are proud to call her our alumna. 

Betty GlasscockBetty Glasscock - Distinguished Service Award

Betty Glasscock is also an Alabama native who spent her career as a social worker at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, teaching in the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health. Later, she was Associate Dean of Student Affairs at UAB and retired as Associate Professor Emeritus. Betty played a leadership role in advocating for licensure of Social Workers in Alabama.

She received the NASW Social Worker of the Year Award. Betty was also inducted into the University of Alabama School of Social Work Hall of Fame.  

She is a graduate of our Nashville program, and we are proud to claim her as our alumna.


Light the Way AwardPam Wolf, CEO of Harmony Family Center

The Light the Way Award is presented by the UT College of Social Work to the community agency or organization that best exemplifies the values and advances the mission of social work. This year, the award goes to the Harmony Family Center.

Founded in 1996 by College of Social Work alumna Pam Wolf, Harmony has grown from an infant adoption agency to a nationally recognized non-profit and the only agency in the United States providing statewide adoption preparation and post adoption services.

Among its many services to children at risk, Harmony has become a leader in providing trauma-focused therapies for children. This vision and determination truly lights the way to a better Knoxville.


Mary E. Walker Honored at Dedication of Student Commons

Mary E. Walker The Mary E. Walker Student Commons at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work was dedicated on November 20, 2015. Mary Walker was surprised to find a room full of family and friends as well as supporters of the college when she came for a short tour of the newly renovated Henson Hall, home of the college.

Mary was honored for her long and distinguished career in child advocacy. A graduate of both the UT College of Social Work and the College of Law, she served as General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children�s Services, an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Tennessee, and Senior Referee for the Davidson County Juvenile Court. More recently, she has served as vice-president of programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. She retired from that post in May of this year.

The college thanks Mary Walker for her service to the state as well as Margaret Dye and the many contributors who made the naming of this commons area possible. Margaret Dye organized the effort to establish this tribute.

Three UT CSW Alums are Honored by NASW: Dorothy Dobbins, Donita Denton, and Renee Brown

Two alums of the UT College of Social Work were honored by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Work during this year's Social Work Month. Dorothy Dobbins received the Social Worker Lifetime Achievement Dr. Dorothy Dobbins, Donita Denton, and Renee Brown Award and Donita Denton received the Social Work of the Year Award. One alum was honored by the West Tennessee Branch of The National Association of Social Workers. Renee Brown is the winner of the West Branch 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Dorothy Dobbins is an Associate Vice President for Cultural Diversity in the Division of Health Sciences and a Professor in the Department of Social Work at East Tennessee State University. Dobbins received her MSSW at the UT College of Social Work in Knoxville.

Dr. Dobbins stated, "I consider my time and training at UTK to be one of the best experiences in my life. The treasured NASW, TN Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award is a testament to how committed the faculty and staff in the School of Social Work are to their mission: to educate and train persons for professional practice and for leadership roles in the social services and in the social work profession. My mentors and teachers there were strong building blocks in allowing me such an honor."

Donita L. Denton began her social work career following graduation from the MSSW program at the University of Tennessee. Her long career as a social worker in the field of mental health has truly earned for her the award of Tennessee's NASW Social Worker of the Year.

Donita Denton commented on her experience as a student at the College of Social Work. "I was so blessed to have had the experience I had at UTCSW and truly feel it provided me the firm foundation of my professional career.?

Renee Brown, LCSW, BCD, CFAE, Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Memphis VA Medical Center, is the winner of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from West Tennessee Branch of The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) ? Tennessee Chapter. Ms. Brown received this award because she has repeatedly demonstrated outstanding achievements in social work, been recognized beyond the social work profession, given contributions of lasting impact, demonstrated outstanding creativity, met all criteria for Social Worker of the Year, and is a NASW member in good standing. Renee Brown is an alum of the UT College of Social Work and serves as a field instructor offering guidance and encouragement to students in field placements.

Karen Sowers, Dean of the College, is extremely proud that our alums are being recognized for excellence in their fields. "Dorothy Dobbins, Donita Denton, and Renee Brown represent Social Work at its very best. They are leaders and care providers of the highest order. Congratulations!"

Valerie Condit

Valerie Condit, earned her undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1999. A seasoned social worker, she was recently Valerie Condit in Ngaamba, Kenya in July 2012, with Kalembwani Primary School students.asked by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the state's Child Welfare Reform Council.

Upon naming the members of the Council in April, 2014, Governor Deal stated, “With this council now in place, it is our hope to uncover new approaches that will strengthen our child welfare system and ensure that Georgia’s children are given the best shot at a good life. These appointees have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of children, and I feel confident that together they will produce meaningful and thoughtful reform recommendations.” In the video below, Condit introduces herself at the first meeting of the Council.

During July of 2012, Condit traveled to Africa as part of a service mission. Here she is pictured in Ngaamba, Kenya , with Kalembwani Primary School students.

Bruce Marshall

Bruce Marshall graduated from the MSSW online program in 2011. He is on his sixth deployment in Southwest Asia. In his current role, he leads a team of chaplains and chaplain assistants who provide counseling, pastoral care, and worship for all the personnel on his base. Prior to this deployment, he developed a resiliency program for a clinical study addressing military suicide rates for the USAF Research Laboratory.Bruce Marshall

Marshall has also served as a licensed mental health clinician. He believes that his multifaceted career has helped him define his role as a social worker. "Each role has allowed [me] the wondrous privilege of walking alongside others on their life's path, listening to their stories, and hopefully helping them find balance, purpose, and healing in their lives," he says.

One of his most rewarding experiences has been working with young servicemen and servicewomen during times of tremendous stress. That work is one of the factors that drove him to pursue an MSSW. "My deepest aspiration is to continue taking care of these kids. They are our children. And, they have gone to the depths for us, whether we personally asked them to or not. They are strong and courageous and smart and resilient. And, some have wounds, seen and unseen," he says.

Marshall chose the college's MSSW program because it is highly regarded and well-rounded. He states, "I was pleased with the school's ranking in the U.S. News graduate school ratings. And, I needed fl exibility of schedule and location due to my full-time military commitment. The [online] education program provided me the opportunity to begin studies while completing my obligations to the U.S. Air Force."

After returning to the states, Marshall would like to work with student or veteran populations in a setting where he can use his skills. "Simply put, I want to help alleviate pain and suffering in those places where I can make a difference."

Pamela L. Wolf, LCSW

Pamela L. Wolf, LCSW, Founder and CEO of Harmony, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s degree from the University ofTennessee. Pam has focused her career on providing quality adoption services to children and families. In 1996, Harmony began as a vision for providing real assistance to children in state care. Inspired by the experience of adopting her own daughter, Wolf prepared the first of the cases served by Harmony at her kitchen table. Today, Harmony directly employs 36 workers and sub-contracts with 50 to 60 additional social service workers across Tennessee and with an operating budget of nearly 5 million dollars.

Each year Harmony assists over 1,000 children and youth, all of whom were formerly in Tennessee’s foster-care system. Wolf is motivated by the desire to keep kids and their families together. Kristi Kulesz, LMSW; Pam Wof, LCSW; and Elizabeth Carroll, BSSW, JDThe organization is proud to say that less than one percent of the children they work with go back into foster care. This stands in contrast to a national disruption rate of 15 percent and higher. Part of their success is attributable to an extensive adoption support and preservation program as well as an extensive system of creative interventions such as therapeutic family support camps, adventure-based learning initiatives, and equine-assisted psychotherapy.

One of the hallmarks of Harmony is the practice of collaborating with other non-profit agencies. Having recently purchased Montvale Camp, outside of Maryville, TN, the organization is hoping that the property will be utilized to benefit other populations beyond those served by Harmony, especially in relation to equine-psychotherapy, challenge/adventure courses, and natural elements such as hiking trails.

In addition to CEO Pamela Wolf, Harmony is staffed by a large number of graduates from the UT Knoxville College of Social Work as well as graduates from other UT programs.

Visit for more information about Harmony Adoptions and Harmony Family Center at Montvale.

Individuals in the picture to the left are: Kristi Kulesz, LMSW, Family Therapist and Clinical Supervisor with the Adoption Support & Preservation program, Pam Wolf, LCSW, CEO of Hamony, and Elizabeth Carroll, BSSW, JD, Chief Administrative Officer and legal counsel for Harmony. The Therapeutic Camp that will benefit children adopted from foster care, their adoptive families, and the community. In the slideshow you will see several of the Centers therapeutic animals including the horses, Moonpie and Rainey, the dog, Becca, and the goat, Otis.

James Kelly, President of Menlo College

James J. Kelly, President of Menlo College

Jim Kelly, PhD, who served as President of the National Association of Social Work from 2008 to 2011, received his MSSW from the University of Tennessee. Kelly is currently serving as President of Menlo College in Atherton, CA. Prior to Menlo he served as Interim Provost and Associate Vice President for Continuing and International Education at California State University, East Bay, and Dean of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles.

Teaching for seventeen years in the areas of gerontology, social work, and student orientation, Kelly was a Professor and the Director of the Department of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach. In addition to opening MSW programs at California State University, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and East Bay, he was a pioneer in distance education having used technology to help establish masters programs for California State University, Chico, Humboldt, Hayward, and Bakersfield.

"My heartfelt congratulations to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work on its 70th anniversary,” states Dr. Kelly. “The excellent work you do in educating social workers has a lasting and powerful impact on your students as they help the underserved throughout our nation. My education gave me the tools to step into a noble profession and continues to inspire me to advocate for social justice."

For more information about Dr. James Kelly, visit

Niya Butts

Niya Butts, head coach of the Arizona WildcatsNiya Butts, BS Social Work, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Though she has not gone on to formally practice social work, she gives back to her community every day and every season as head coach of the Arizona Wildcats. Niya Butts from Lady Vol daysWhile at UT, this energetic basketball player helped the Lady Vols advance to four straight NCAA tournaments, including back-to-backNCAA championship titles (1997 and 1998) and three SEC Champions (1998, 1999, 2000).

Pat Summitt, has stated, "Niya Butts is one of the bright young coaches in the women's collegiate game. I see this [appointment to the Wildcats] as a tremendous opportunity for her to take over the reins of her own program at Arizona and to compete in one of the nation's best conferences-the Pac 10. I see her taking the same qualities I saw in her as a player en route to two NCAA Championships-doing all the little things right-and applying them as a head coach at the University of Arizona."

For more information about Niya Butts visit

Across Tennessee, the United States and the world, graduates of the College of Social Work have led as compassionate professionals, helping the people that they meet and serve to lead healthier and happier lives.

Camille Stone

Camille Stone RobertsThe academic life of our College began in September of 1942, when the Nashville School of Social Work opened its doors with five full-time faculty and 40 students, 25 of whom were full-time. By 1944, the school had been accredited by the American Association of Schools of Social Work. In June of that year, two of those early students received Master of Science in Social Work degrees.

Camille S. Roberts was one of those first graduates of the Nashville School of Social Work. After graduation in 1944, she began her career as a healthcare social worker in the social services department at Vanderbilt Hospital prior to moving to Asheville in 1947.

During her life, Roberts had served on the boards of the Travelers Aid Society, the Family Council, the Governor's Council on Day Care (1969-1973), the Asheville Day Nursery, the Buncombe County Day Care Council and the YWCA. She was also a member of the Children's Welfare League. Roberts died on May 16, 2012.

Since the founding of our school, 7,989 individuals have graduated from campuses across the state of Tennessee including Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis. Now, there are even graduates of online programs.

Today’s graduates practice in many fields, using their training and skills to meet the needs of individuals and supporting social service organizations across Tennessee and the nation. Here are just a handful of the individuals who have graduated from the program and what they do each day.


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