Institute for Families in Society

IFS Affiliate and Associate Faculty

Nathaniel Bell, PhD

(PhD, Geography, Simon Fraser University)
Nathaniel Bell is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing. He is also affiliated with the Department of Surgery and the Arnold School of Public Health. He received his doctorate in Geography from Simon Fraser University in 2010. Prior to joining the University of South Carolina, he was a Canadian Institutes for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia and the research manager for Trauma Services at Vancouver General Hospital.

Professor Bell’s research advances existing knowledge of anticipated and unanticipated effects of health care reform on the US population. Whether a proponent or a critic of many of the reforms occurring in parallel or as a direct result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most scientists and stakeholders agree that a new era in health care in the US has begun. But how should successes of these policies be measured? Using linked administrative datasets, Professor Bell and his colleagues are designing studies to make inferences about the effects of health care policy reform when experimentation is not feasible. Fundamental to these studies is an underlying focus on social and environmental determinants that drive variations in outcomes achieved, such as the reduction of preventable mortality as a result of improved access to integrative primary care; the proportion of hospital readmissions that could be avoided had patients had access to outpatient health care services; the effect of patient socioeconomic status on pay-for-performance risk adjustment; as well as variation in health care outcomes relative to need, geography, and scope of practice restrictions.


Deborah L. Billings, PhD

(PhD, Sociology, University of Michigan)
Deborah L. Billings, PhD, worked as Senior Research and Evaluation Associate with Ipas, collaborating with health systems as well as youth, women’s, and feminist organizations throughout Africa and Latin America to improve sexual and reproductive health services. She served as Assistant Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina before becoming Director of a statewide contraceptive access initiative known as Choose Well. She now works as an independent consultant with local, national, and global agencies, focused on issues including immigration and refugee policies as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights, with an emphasis on preventing violence against women. Dr. Billings has led the process evaluation of scaling-up CenteringPregnancy in South Carolina and served as the co-Chair of the South Carolina State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH) for four years. Over the past decade, she as worked as a consultant to various global organizations including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Oak Foundation, UN Women, and UNFPA as well as to national initiatives on sexual and reproductive health with the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico. In addition to her Affiliate faculty role at the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina, she is a Senior Advisor to Group Care Global, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil


Teri Browne, PhD

(PhD, University of Chicago; MSW, The State University of New York at Buffalo)
Teri Browne, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work and an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families and Society. Her major area of interest is related to patients and families of patients with chronic illness and the related psychosocial barriers to outcomes, particularly disparities. Specifically her work has focused on nephrology social work.

Her recent research has been with social networks and pathways to transplant parity for black hemodialysis patients. Her recent teaching assignments include masters work in foundations of social work practice with individuals and families, social work practice with organizations, communities, and health practices, and doctoral work in the intellectual and historical foundations of social welfare and social work. In 2010, she received the College of Social Work Faculty Spirit Award.

Dr. Browne is a member of the Society for Social Work and Research, the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, the Council of Nephrology Social Workers and the American Society of Nephrology. She has numerous research publications and book chapters and disseminates her work through both professional conferences and community service.


Kathleen Hayes, PhD

(PhD, Experimental Psychology and Child Development, University of New Mexico)
Dr. Kathleen Hayes is Associate Director of the Institute for Families in Society. She comes to the Institute following a career in state government that has included serving as the State Director of the Department of Social Services and Chief of Staff at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Dr. Hayes has a lifelong and passionate interest in promoting quality program services for vulnerable children and families. Her own research interests have included work on adoption of special needs children; child abuse/neglect, foster care and delinquency; and child welfare reform. One of her current interests is promoting evidence-based models of family engagement that lead to improved protection of children—and which in turn safely reduce the number of children who must come into the state's foster care program. She also has had extensive experience with working with foundations and federal competitive grant programs.


Brett Macgargle

(MPA, University of South Carolina)
Brett Macgargle has worked for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for 21 years in various capacities serving children and families. Currently, as Senior Deputy Director for the Division of Planning and Programs, he is responsible for managing research and statistics, program development, evaluation, volunteer services, chaplaincy, grants development, total quality management, and agency wide strategic planning. In this role he also serves as Senior Deputy to the agency Director providing agency wide management and support.

From 1987 to 1995, Mr. Macgargle served as State Director of Victim Services for the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPS). From 1983 to 1987, he served as a Probation/Parole Officer with SCDPPS, having come into probation and parole from a career as a state constable and police officer at the University of South Carolina.

Mr. Macgargle has an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in Public Administration and has served as college instructor and adjunct faculty in the Criminal Justice Department of Midlands Technical College and Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.

Brett has contributed numerous literary publications to the victim service profession and is a national consultant in the field of victim services and juvenile justice services. Brett served as the President of the State’s Victim Assistance Network for 8 years.


Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT

(PhD, Family Relations & Human Development, and MSc, Capacity Building and Extension, University of Guelph, Canada)
Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT, is an interdisciplinary clinical faculty member in the College of Social Work, and is an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Institute for Families in Society, the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and the Research Consortium on Children and Families. Dr. Mitchell earned a Fellow in Thanatology credential from the Association for Death Education and Counseling and an Academic Associate in Logotherapy credential from the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Dr. Mitchell's research focuses on life transitions, trauma, grief and loss, ambiguity, and youth empowerment. For six years, Dr. Mitchell served as the state director for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) data collection for youth transitioning out of foster care in South Carolina. She developed a nationally recognized methodology that has helped South Carolina and other states approach youth with sensitivity, establish meaningful relationships with them, and ensure that they’re being heard.

Dr. Mitchell teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on grief and loss, and is regularly invited to present at state, national, and international conferences to discuss the lived experience of children and youth in foster care. Her specific expertise involves consulting with children, youth, and invested parties in the child welfare system to inform policy and practice and to develop resources and curricula that serve children and youth in foster care. Dr. Mitchell's recent publications include, The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care, from Oxford University Press (2016), and Living in an Inspired World: Voices and Visions of Youth in Foster Care, from CWLA Press (2017). Her research has been published in journals such as Children and Youth Services Review, Child and Family Social Work, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, and Journal of Social Work.

Dr. Mitchell is a member of the Council on Social Work Education, Association for Death Education and Counseling, National Alliance for Grieving Children, Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, Society for Consciousness Studies, International Network on Personal Meaning, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Blueprint Implementation Guide Advisory Committee.


Melissa Swartz, PhD

(PhD, Counselor Education & Supervision, University of South Carolina and MS Clinical Psychology, Francis Marion University)
Melissa Swartz, PhD, is the co-founder and Executive Director of Firm Foundations Counseling & Wellness, a private mental health practice that specializes in treating children, adolescents, and their families. As executive director, Dr. Swartz’s role involves quality assurance for clinical services, staff training and supervision, as well as research and development. Dr. Swartz received her Bachelor’s in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Francis Marion, and a Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD) from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the State of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Supervisor (LPC/S).

Dr. Swartz’s clinical specialty areas include child and adolescent behavioral and emotional disorders, spiritual integration, family issues, as well as trauma. Dr. Swartz holds national certifications in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Triple P Positive Parenting Program, Managing and Adapting Practice (MAP), as well as Trauma Focused CBT.

Dr. Swartz is a published author on the topics of counselor advocacy and parental alliance. Her current research projects focus on the use of Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) with children, youth, and their families as well as the impact empirically based intervention training has on mental health provider self-efficacy.


Sarah J. Ball, Pharm.D

(Medical University of South Carolina)
Sarah Ball, PharmD is a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), with a focus on patient-centered care, patient safety, and educational outreach. She has had direct involvement with academic detailing for over twelve years, beginning with the development and implementation of the SCORxE Academic Service under the SC College of Pharmacy in 2007.

Current efforts include the integration of research and programmatic opportunities to identify interventions that change prescriber behavior to reduce the risk of opioid overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose. Dr. Ball is currently leading the MUSC team partnering with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for the provision of drug utilization review (DUR) services, which includes educational outreach to primary care providers and surgeons.

Dr. Ball has twenty plus years with a career focus on improving patient care through the application of technology and effective communication of clinical knowledge, information, and data-derived findings.