Faculty and Staff
Patrice Penney, MSW, LCSW
|Title:||Clinical Assistant Professor
|College of Social Work|
Trauma-informed school social work
Professor Patrice Penney joined the faculty of the College of Social Work in 2015 as a clinical assistant professor. Her practice, teaching, and scholarly interests are in the areas of relational practice, child and family resilience and mental health, family therapy, trauma-informed practice, and innovations for children at risk in the U.S. and internationally. She was awarded Educator of the Year by graduating Master of Social Work students in 2018 and 2020, and a 2019 Two Thumbs Up award, which recognizes faculty and staff who have made a significant difference in a student’s experience.
Penney has over 30 years’ experience as a clinical social worker and clinical supervisor, and two decades of teaching. In 1986, she established and served as the first director of the Outreach Community Center in the Chicago area. Developing a range of community-based programs, Penney focused her energies on directing community mental health that served low-income children, families, and adults. She also created a strong clinical internship program, trained and supervised more than 70 master’s level interns, and served as the director of clinical training.
Penney moved to Nairobi, Kenya in 2003 to join Africa International University, where she developed and taught counseling and psychology programs at the graduate and undergraduate level. In 2014, Penney launched the Initiative for Children at Risk Africa, an international non-profit organization. ICARA’s mission is to provide caregiver training (currently in nine countries), develop trauma counseling resources for children, and engage in research and advocacy. To date, more than 1,400 African caregivers, social workers, teachers, administrators, police, and government officials have been trained, reaching several hundred thousand children. Penney also self-published, “Nurturing Hearts: Understanding and Meeting the Psychosocial Needs of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children,” for use across Africa. She is currently involved in a multi-year research project in Kenya. College of Social Work students have assisted in curriculum development and research related to OVCs and traveled and trained with Penney in Africa.
Penney has presented at the local, state, and national level regarding trauma-informed and relational practices. She published an article with Associate Professor Naomi Farber in 2020 on relational teaching that appeared in Journal of Teaching in Social Work. Penney works with Resilient Richland, a coalition to develop trauma-informed care across agencies and communities in Richland County (South Carolina) and has developed a trauma-sensitive school social work program in Augusta, Georgia.