Kate McClernon Chaffin

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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University of Tennessee, Knoxville


After graduating with her MSW from the University of Tennessee, College of Social Work, Professor Chaffin joined the Davidson County Mental Health Court as the Clinical Director. The purpose of this court is to assist criminal defendants living with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness, Addictions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Intellectual Disabilities in successfully navigate the court system while at the same time supporting these individuals in their day to day lives. She also served as a child therapist for children and adolescents diagnosed with autism, anxiety, and depression.

In 2008, Professor Chaffin joined the College of Social Work to develop the Online MSSW program. This online program is nationally ranked, and she is recognized as a leader in online education. She serves as director of the Online MSSW program. An individualized approach to students is a considerable part of Professor Chaffin's success and is a great part of her leadership philosophy. Her current course load includes Social Welfare Policy and Practice, Leadership in Social Service Agencies, and Teaching Methods in Social Work. Her research interest lies within best practices in online teaching and feminist pedagogy, and she is a faculty advisor for the Vanderbilt University Interprofessional Learning Program. She is the recipient of three Social Justice Innovation and Initiative Grants focusing on racism and sexism. She is a graduate of the Nancy A. Humphrey's Campaign School, and she is a leader within CSWE's Role of Women in Social Work Council. She is also a graduate of the Program Directors Leadership Academy through the Council on Social Work Education. Currently, she is a DSW student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lastly, Professor Chaffin believes strongly in the NASW Code of Ethics and the need for inclusive and thoughtful policies which support individuals, groups, and communities. Equity and Inclusion is a platform that she holds dear and is something that she strives for daily in both her professional and personal life. Professor Chaffin believes that Black Lives Matter and acknowledges current racial injustice and systematic Racism in our country. As a social worker, she is committed to listening, learning, and working tirelessly to be anti-racist. She stands in solidarity with her BIMPoC colleagues, BIMPoC students, and BIMPoC alumni.