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Meet Us Monday: Joan Pennell, PhD, MSW

Joan Pennell
Joan Pennell

For today’s Meet Us Monday we are excited to highlight the work of our own Dr. Joan Pennell. Dr. Pennell is the Founding Director of the Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFACE) & Professor Emerita of Social Work at North Carolina State University. She became the Director of CFACE in 2008 and served in this position until her retirement in 2018.

Dr. Pennell’s forthcoming book entitled A Restorative Approach to Family Violence: Feminist Kin-Making is now available for pre-order and will begin shipping in early July. This book takes a closer look at a successful demonstration of a family-and-culturally-based model to stop severe family violence via the family group decision making model. This model was applied to three diverse Canadian communities — Inuit, rural, and urban. All three showed reductions in family violence and reset the narrative from discounting to valuing their families and culture. Those same results were later found in North Carolina as well.

Dr. Pennell shared with us that her motivation for writing on this topic was seeking to stop family violence, child maltreatment, and overall violence. She feels that utilizing group decision making to respond to racial, cultural, and familial injustice will aid in making the world more just for all. One thing that really stood out to Dr. Pennell during her studies was not only witnessing families grow in their abilities to make decisions as a team, but they also began resetting their family narrative and seeing potential within themselves. Not only were these families shaping others’ views of them, but they were also reshaping their own concepts of themselves.

Outside of her work within the Social Work field, Dr. Pennell can be found reading, gardening, visiting arboretums, cooking with her sons, or listening to music with her husband. We are so grateful to have Dr. Pennell and her expertise associated with the Center, and we look forward to the release of her new book this summer. To pre-order A Restorative Approach to Family Violence: Feminist Kin-Making, please visit: