Social Work Spotlight: Wayne County Initiative Manager Nanci Hambrick

Nanci HambrookNanci Hambrick brings a unique analytical perspective to her role as manager of the Wayne County Jail Mental Health Initiative at the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ). Having spent over 20 years in finance prior to earning her MSW at Wayne State, Nanci loves problem-solving and the challenge of working with communities to build collaborative relationships and work towards common social justice goals. Nanci leads and coordinates all CBHJ grants and projects centered in Detroit and Wayne County to optimize communication and collaboration across partner agencies. In addition to her graduate degree, Nanci holds a Human Services Management Certificate and BS in Philosophy and Urban Studies.

Why did you choose to work at WSU?

I chose to work at WSU because of my experience in Professor Erin Comartin’s class. I jumped at the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant my final semester and then moved into a full-time position with the CBHJ.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love the community partners we work and my colleagues at the CBHJ. Relationships really matter to me!

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

The leadership track of the macro MSW I-CPL Program was great preparation for my current role. The research classes were also foundational to my interest in and understanding of data.

What's one of the biggest mistakes you made as a student?

Hmmm… my experience as a graduate student was really different than when I was in undergrad years before. As an undergrad I often did the bare minimum to get a good grade; in grad school, I was excited to learn and engage.  Returning to school years after graduating from college allowed me to maximize my graduate school experience.

How do you empower social change in your community?

One of the best things about my job is that it is focused on bringing about change in the community. Personally, I have been involved in social justice work and activism since college by volunteering, mentoring and participating in various social justice organizations. I also find that some of the most important change comes through building relationships and being open to tough conversations. 

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Be curious. Be open. Don’t just ask what- ask why. If you don’t like something, advocate for change. Practice the skills you are learning in school at school.

Do you have any advice for graduating students and alumni?

Commit to being a lifelong learner. Stay engaged and curious.

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