Dr. Cheryl Waites Spellman is a Professor at UNC Charlotte School of Social Work, the former Dean of the Wayne State University, School of Social Work and was an assistant professor, then tenured associate professor at NC State.

She is a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar and a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of American – the largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. Her research areas include healthy aging, long distance caregiving, intergenerational relationships, and culturally appropriate and responsive practice. She has also studied promising practices for enhancing gerontological social work education and training. Her expertise is in the areas of designing and evaluating practice applications and translational or applied research. Her book, Social Work Practice with African American Families: An Intergenerational Perspective, provides an approach for understanding multi-generational families. Dr. Waites Spellman, and colleagues, currently have a book under contract with Springer Publishing titled Gerontological Social Work and the Grand Challenges: Focusing on Policy and Practice. Dr. Waites Spellman has numerous publications in refereed journals, and has written several book chapters, teaching/training books and technical reports. Dr. Waites Spellman has also presented her research at numerous international, national and regional conferences.


  • EdD, Counselor Education, North Carolina State University
  • MSW, Fordham University, School of Social Services
  • BA, Sociology, Hunter College, CUNY
  • Fellow, Institute on Aging and Social Work Research, St. Scholastica College and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health


  • Social Work Research
  • Reflection and Synthesis

Research Interests/Areas of Expertise

  • Healthy aging
  • Long distance caregiving
  • Culturally appropriate and responsive practice
  • Qualitative research methods

Awards & Honors

  • Fellow of the Gerontological Society of American, 2017 – present
  • Received the Outstanding Dean in Aging Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education Leadership Award, Social Work Leadership Institute of the New York Academy of Medicine, October 2010
  • Received a NC State University Outstanding Teaching Award, 2005-2006 and
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, 2005-2006

Community Involvement

  • Appointed to the Council on Social Work Education, Commission on Membership and
    Professional Development, 2017- present
  • WSU Mayor’s Summit on Health Equity in Detroit – Conference Planning Committee, 2015-2016

Selected Publications

  • Sanders, S., Kolomer, S. Waites-Spellman, C., & Rizzo, V. (under contract). Gerontological Social Work and the Grand Challenges: Focusing on Policy and Practice. Under Contract with Springer Publishing.
  • Vakalahi, H.F.O., Countee-Gilliam, C., McPhatter, A., Washington, E.M., & Waites, C. (2017). Women of color pipeline to academic leadership.  Advancing Women in Leadership.
  • Waites, C. and Onolemhemhen, D. (2014). Perceptions of healthy aging among African-American and Ethiopian elders. Ageing International. 39, 4, 369-384.
  • Waites, C., Kaiser, A., Martin, F., (2014). Health promotion for African American elders: Church is the likely place. In Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi, Ph.D. & Gaynell M. Simpson, Ph.D. & Nancy Giunta, Ph.D. (Eds), The Collective Spirit of Aging Across Cultures. Springer Science and Business Media publisher.
  • Martin, F, Waites, C., Pratt Hopp, F., Agius., E & Sobeck, J., (2013). Enhancing aging services through evidence-based health promotion: A training for service providers. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work. 10, 5, 482-93.
  • Waites, C. (2013). Examining the Perceptions, Preferences, and Practices that Influence Healthy Aging for African American Older Adults: An Ecological Perspective. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 32, 7, 851-871.
  • Waites, C. (2009). Building on Strengths: Intergenerational Practice with African American Families. Social Work. 54, 3, 278-287.
  • Waites, C. (Ed) (2008). Social Work Practice with African American families: An intergenerational perspective. New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.
  • Waites, C., & Bearon, L. (2007). Cross-professional partnerships: Innovation in continuing education for social workers and extension educators. Educational Gerontology, 33, 10, 833-853.
  • Waites, C. (2007). Grandparents communicating with grandchildren: Fostering intergenerational understanding. Journal of Health and Social Policy,22, ¾, 149-165.
  • Waites, C., & Lee, E. O. (2007). Strengthening aging content in the baccalaureate social work curricula: What students have to say? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 48, 1/2.
  • Lee, E., & Waites, C. (2006). Infusing aging content across the curriculum: Innovations in Baccalaureate social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 42, 1, 49-66.
  • Chavis-McCullough, A. M., & Waites, C. (2004). Using genograms with African American families: Identifying culturally linked strengths for assessment and action. Journal of Family Social Work, 8, 2, 1-19.
  • Waites, C., Macgowan, M., Pennell, J., Carlton- LaNey, I., & Weil, M. (2004). Increasing the cultural responsiveness of family group conferencing: Advancing child welfare practice. Social Work, 49, 2, 291-300.
  • Waites, C., & Carlton-LaNey, I. (1999). Returning to rural roots: African American return migrant’s use of senior centers. In I. Carlton-LaNey, R. Edwards & N. Reid (Eds.) Preserving and strengthening small towns and rural communities. (pp.236-248). Washington, DC: NASW Press.