Social Work Professor Annelise Mennicke Wins National Leadership Award

Monday, August 31, 2015

Social Work professor Annelise Mennicke has earned a leadership and service award from a respected national organization in the field.

Dr. Mennicke is the recipient of the 2015 student award for leadership and service from the Group of the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE).

Mennicke, who started at UNC Charlotte this fall, received the award for her work as a graduate student at Florida State University. Her efforts there focused on sexual violence prevention, and she was instrumental in bringing the Green Dot violence prevention program to FSU’s campus. That university is planning a formal launch of the program in 2016.

“I could not be more proud that FSU is moving in such a positive direction and that I had something to do with it,” Mennicke said.

The GADE leadership award is presented to a doctoral student who has shown significant leadership in service; Mennicke will be honored and receive a cash reward at a conference in October.  “This award reflects a commitment to bring visibility to our greatest resource, our students, who provide us with professional purpose and continuously offer us new ways to think and grow,” GADE notes on its website.

Mennicke’s motivation to advocate for sexual violence prevention arose from her work in the field, interacting with the people affected. She was volunteer victim’s advocate for a rape crisis center in Florida, where she said she saw people whose lives had been “dramatically altered.”

“Unfortunately, these experiences happen at alarmingly high rates among the college population, but with the array of programs and services, this seemed like an unnecessary part of the college experience,” she said.

In an area of advocacy that can sometime be emotionally challenging, a faculty advisor helped Dr. Mennicke develop a strong personal philosophy on the value of her work.

“A great mentor of mine, Karen Oehme, instilled in me the belief that if the work you do changes just one life, you have made a difference in this world. I started working in sexual violence prevention at FSU knowing that while I would never eliminate sexual assaults among students, I could possibly reduce it, even if just by one,” she said.

The projects Mennicke participated in as a doctoral student laid the foundation for the research trajectory she will pursue at UNC Charlotte. “I am passionate about developing ways to reduce the number of people who are harmed by violence,” she said.

Interim social work department chair Vivian Lord said Mennicke is a solid addition to the team. “She brings strong applied research tools and teaching experience. Her research interest in interpersonal violence prevention and intervention dovetails superbly with Dr. Shanti Kulkarni's research in the same area.”

When she was considering where to build a career, Mennicke found that UNC Charlotte stood out.

“I valued that the university served such a large number of first generation college students who come from diverse backgrounds. This aligns with the values of the social work profession, and our classrooms are enhanced by it,” she said.

“As the North Carolina’s urban research university, I also appreciated the balance between teaching and research. I wanted to be somewhere that I would find support for my research agenda, but also emphasized quality instruction.”

Over the course of her first year, Mennicke will focus on developing networks on campus and in the region. She said she hopes a deeper understanding of how domestic violence and sexual assault affects the area will help her work with the community to build innovative prevention approaches.

by: Wills Citty