Social Work Department Faculty


Dr. Sarah Whittaker

Professor of Social Work


Sarah has a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Counselor Education. She also received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from West Virginia University in 1978 and a Master of Social Work from West Virginia University in 1995.

Prior to joining the faculty of Concord University, Sarah had twenty-one years of experience in social work practice in the area of child welfare services, including but not limited to, child protective services, foster care services, adoption services, and family preservation services. She was the Director of Community Based Services for a private nonprofit child welfare agency for seven years.


Dr. Bonnie Dorsey

Professor of Social Work


Bonnie received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Concord College in 1976, her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988, and her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2004. She became a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers in 1990. In 1992, she received certification as a Qualified Clinical Social Worker and in 1994, earned a NASW Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. She is licensed as an independent clinical social worker (LICSW) in the state of West Virginia.

Dr. Dorsey has direct service and supervisory experience in the mental health and health care delivery systems and in aging services. She has over seven years experience directing the Social Service/Program Management Department for a physical rehabilitation hospital, has worked as a Social Services Coordinator for a program providing services to older citizens in Mercer County and several surrounding counties, and delivered social services for several home health agencies. Before joining the Concord University faculty, she was in private practice providing counseling services to individuals, families, and groups. She also provided contractual social work services with several agencies in the area, including an out-patient physical rehabilitation clinic, dialysis units, employee assistance programs, and home health agencies.


Dr. Ellen Darden

Professor of Social Work


Ellen received her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, an MSSW from the University of Texas at Arlington with areas of specialization in Mental Health and Families and Children, and her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Baylor University in Texas.

Dr. Darden's areas of interest and specialization include systems work, organizational work such as change, needs assessment, strategic planning, process issues and evaluations, family therapy, children adolescence, developmental disabilities, illiteracy, social work, domestic violence, etc. Dr. Darden has a wide range of profession experience including: direct clinical practice, working with organizations, corporations and agencies on macro issues; and teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Her clinical experience includes; family therapy, inpatient psychiatric work with adolescents; working with people with developmental disabilities and their families; working in an Employee Assistance Program; community mental health, and other areas. Some of her corporate and organizational experience includes working for Mercedes-Benz USA and providing consulting for such companies as AT&T, Blue Cross - Blue Shield, and the Bureau of Children and Families for the State of West Virginia.


Dr. Joan Pendergast

Assistant Professor of Social Work and Field Coordinator


Dr. Pendergast received her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of South Carolina in 2007. Her dissertation addressed the relationship between the middle school social environment and academic achievement.

After completing the Masters of Social Work at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, Dr. Pendergast worked in community mental health, school based counseling, and emergency room social work in Columbia before entering USC's doctoral program. Dr. Pendergast gained extensive teaching experience while a graduate student.

Dr. John David Smith

Director of Social Work and Professor  of Social Work


Dr. Smith earned a Master of Social Work from West Virginia University and a Master of Psychology from West Virginia College of Graduate studies. He has also earned a Juris Doctor degree and a postdoctoral (LLM) from Depaul. He has achieved Diplomate status for clinical practice as granted by both NASW and American Board of Examiner in Clinical Social Work. Dr.Smith serves on numerous community Boards and has presented his research at state and national meetings. His professional experience has combined clinical, administrative and teaching. He successfully administered multimillion dollar budgets, leading large departments and satisfying regulatory and accrediting bodies. Concurrently with practice Dr. Smith taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.