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Dr. Lisa de Saxe Zerden

Associate Dean | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MSW. Zerden was born in South Africa and has conducted social work practice and research in her home country, Puerto Rico, and across the United States. She is the senior associate dean for MSW education at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill School of Social Work. In this role Zerden manages the day-to-day functions of the MSW program, which includes 300 graduate students annually and more than 50 faculty members.  Zerden received her PhD in sociology and social work from Boston University and her MSW from the University of California at Los Angeles. She received her BA in sociology and human services and eastern religion from the George Washington University. Zerden joined the School of Social Work at UNC in 2010.
Zerden’s research and scholarship have focused on drug use and risk behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. More recently her work has emphasized the preventive components of behavioral health through integrated models of care.  Over the past 4 years Zerden has been the principal investigator for projects awarded more than $3.6 million dollars in federal funding plus various internal university awards. She has been the lead collaborator on several interprofessional efforts that have promoted the social work profession across UNC, in North Carolina, and in national venues.
Zerden’s work on interprofessional collaboration has made her a leading scholar on the social work workforce in integrated care and on interprofessional team-based care. She has helped bolster the profession’s role in interprofessional education, professional advocacy, and by contributing to the literature on social work education. To date, Zerden has written 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and six technical reports and/or invited chapters and has presented her work nationally and internationally. Zerden’s co-authors represent a diverse set of colleagues from social work; across disciplines including nursing, public health, and medicine; and the MSW and PhD students for whom she has provided mentorship.
Zerden has taught almost every course across the generalist MSW curriculum, including specialized courses in the community management and policy practice (macro) specialization at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2014, faculty members gave her the Excellence in MSW Teaching Award based on her contributions to student learning and her impact on the MSW program.  In 2017, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work awarded her the inaugural John A. Tate Early Career Scholar for Children in Need Junior Professorship. 
Zerden currently serves as the vice president on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, the Political Action Committee for NASW-NC, and co-leads the Associate Dean’s Group through CSWE.

Award: Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award