Dr. Joan Pennell became the founding director of the Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFFACE) in 2008, and served in this capacity until her retirement in 2018. She is currently a Professor Emerita of Social Work at North Carolina State University. Although retired, Dr. Pennell has maintained an active role with CFFACE through her research on promoting family engagement, community building, and restorative justice.
Dr. Pennell’s research focuses on ways to involve people throughout the community in order to improve the well-being of children and their families, and help Departments of Social Services in their work to do the same. She does this by connecting with groups both inside and outside the country. She is part of an international group currently studying family group decision making. This research contributes to the advancement of child and family team meetings, where children and their families are placed at the center of the decision-making process.
Dr. Pennell has always been very committed to peacemaking, and values respect of all people and cultures. Since retirement, her favorite conference to attend took place in Taiwan. She found Taiwan to be an incredibly hospitable and welcoming country. Dr. Pennell feels that all cultures learn from one another. She enjoyed learning more about Taiwan’s approaches to keeping families safe. She is very interested in conferences that focus on restorative justice, and will present this year at a national conference on restorative justice. Dr. Pennell currently is planning a book with a friend that is dedicated to family group decision making.
Not only does Dr. Pennell have more time for research, but she also has more free time for family and friends. She is very thankful for the many opportunities to travel. Dr. Pennell and her husband, Charley Pennell, recently spent time exploring several of the Hawaiian Islands—what a beautiful place! She also learned about how Native Hawaiian practices are incorporated into family group decision making on the islands.
Traveling is definitely one of Dr. Pennell’s passions, but one of her favorite things to do is enjoy Sunday afternoons at home with her sons. During this time they get together while cooking. Dr. Pennell enjoyed teaching her kids how to cook when they were younger, and now she is learning from them new, advanced recipes.
Dr. Pennell is warmly committed to supporting the Center for Family and Community Engagement as we move forward in our efforts. CFFACE is greatly appreciative of all Dr. Pennell has done for the Center since its inception, and we are excited to see where retirement takes Dr. Pennell next.
For more information on Dr. Joan Pennell, please visit her staff profile.