James Madison University

Alumna Excels in Public Service

By: Dina Manco
Posted: May 12, 2015

Since graduating in 1998, social work alumna Danielle Pack McCarthy has worked to facilitate change in the world. In honor of her efforts, she has received the R. Ann Myers Distinguished Social Work Alumni Award. She was nominated by fellow alum, Abby Plusen. Some of her many accomplishments include working with Brooklyn’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program, founding the non-profit organization Denniston International, and being elected trustee for the village of Nelsonville, NY.

PHOTO: Pack-McCarthy with students

Pack McCarthy began her post-JMU endeavors as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean nations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She worked as a school counselor and taught classes in Conflict Resolution and Environmental Education—the latter is a course she initiated that continues to this day. She achieved her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University in 2002.

In 2003, she founded Denniston International in honor of Denniston Thomas, a child she met while serving in the Corps. The non-profit helps 25 children attend school with monetary support for school fees and items such as uniforms, books, transportation, and meals.

“The organization also seeks to step in and step up when there is a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting addressed.” Pack McCarthy comments. “Recently we sent over 800 children’s toys and games to Ebola clinics in Sierra Leone and Liberia after witnessing news coverage of these children sitting in clinics just waiting to die or get better—with no form of distraction or enjoyment.”

PHOTO: Pack-McCarthy with students

She also works as an adjunct Social Work professor at Marist College. As Trustee in Nelsonville, Pack McCarthy is the first female on the village’s board. In her position, she plans their budget and works to create an inclusive, problem-solving community.

Being recognized by the JMU Social Work Department is a true honor for Pack McCarthy. She states the department was instrumental in her development through the real-world learning opportunities they offered her. “I was under the guidance of incredible professors at JMU and they expanded not just my knowledge base, but my view of the world,” she comments.

Pack McCarthy looks forward to continuing her work with Denniston International and possibly furthering her footprints in the political sphere.