Social Work Spotlight: Meet Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office Social Worker Nancy Keller MacKinnon

Nancy Keller-MacKinnonAfter serving as a part-time faculty member in the Wayne State School of Social Work since 2018, Nancy Keller-MacKinnon will be taking on a new role as one of two WSU social workers at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. In this role, Nancy will be working as the practicum instructor for MSW and BSW students placed at the Medical Examiner’s Office and will provide grief counseling for families when they come to the office to identify a loved one and follow up with the family during a difficult time in their lives. Nancy will also be a part of the Wayne County Child Death Review collaborating with community partners to discuss the cause of an infant or child’s death and develop ways we as a community can increase infant and child safety. Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree from Oakland University and an MSW from Eastern Michigan.

Why did you choose to work at WSU?

I was impressed with the sense of community in the urban setting in my prior position while working for the State of Michigan and developed several connections in various projects that connected well with my work in child welfare. Through those projects and connections including Wayne Together, my interest evolved into teaching part-time and when I retired from the state, I applied for additional positions. I love taking my passion about keeping families together and while ensuring children are safe into the classroom.

What is the thing you are most looking forward to in your new position?

I hope to meet families where they are. I aim to listen and be compassionate, hear their story, and provide them with resources in probably the most difficult time in their lives.

How did your education prepare you for what you are doing today?

My education and prior career have taught me that it is most important to be compassionate and to listen. Everyone has a story and needs a chance to share their story and to be connected with all available resources as they manage a challenging time.

Do you have any advice for students?

Social work is demanding yet fulfilling and it is so important to practice self-care and stay connected with people who care for you and can support you as it is easy to burn-out.  

Nancy Keller-MacKinnon and her husband at Disneyland
Nancy Keller-MacKinnon and her husband at California's Disneyland

How do you empower social change in your community?

I volunteer with the American Red Cross and Gift of Life Michigan. I am the proud recipient of organ donation (bi-lateral corneal transplants) and encourage others to consider that simple gift which has afforded me the gift of sight. I also volunteer with PanCan for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer awareness advocacy as I have family members affected by both types of cancers. I also try to volunteer with Kid’s TALK Children's Advocacy Center as I truly believe in the work, they do with the children of Wayne County to provide a safe place for children to talk about horrific crimes.

What is one thing others may not know about you?

Although I grew up in Flint Michigan, I head to LA every chance I get to connect with my family. I don’t know what I would do without FaceTime! I also enjoy walking to unwind after a stressful day and gardening as there is nothing like growing your flowers and veggies.

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