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Michelle Guarino

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Work

1911 Bldg NA


Michelle Guarino earned a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Masters of Social Work from New York University. Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked with gang affiliated / high-risk youth and families since 1996. Michelle began her career as the Youth Intervention Counselor for the New Hanover County / Wilmington City Gang Task Force; a first of its kind position employing a civilian within a law enforcement entity to intervene with gangs, gang members and families. Michelle has received Gang Counseling Techniques training from the National Gang Crime Research, as well as, Primary Gang Specialist Certification. Michelle has trained local and national agencies such as ROCIC Gang Conference, NC Governor’s Crime Commission, National Gang Crime Research Center Gang Conference, Project Safe Neighborhoods, NC Parks and Recreation, NC Association of Substance Abuse Counselors, Youth Development Centers, The North Carolina University system, Department of Juvenile Justice and various state and federal law enforcement agencies. Michelle’s area of specialization is forensic profiling, trauma, crisis intervention, criminality and attachment.

Michelle has worked as an outpatient therapist specializing in children and youth with a focus on adjudicated youth and gang affiliated youth. Michelle serves as the Director of Program Development for The North Carolina Gang Investigators Association and assisted the association in implementing Gang Free NC. Michelle has served on the Governor’s Gang Task Force as the Chair for the Gang Intervention Sub-Committee. Past recognitions include; Recipient of The Carolyn and Richter Moore Citizen Award 2012, New Hanover County Human Relations Woman of the Year 2000, for Program Development and Service provided to at-risk and gang affiliated youth, Recipient of the Walter Lawson NOBLE award and The Governor’s Crime Commission “Excellence in Juvenile Crime Prevention” award, as well as, recipient of the “Cape Fear Peace Prize” for contributions made to at-risk and gang affiliated youth. Michelle was previously employed as a civilian Division Commander with Chapel Hill Police Department. She supervised the Crisis Unit, School Resource Officers, Community Services Unit, Youth Services and served as the Crisis Negotiation Team Supervisor.  Michelle was a long time Adjunct Professor for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington School of Social Work , serving in that role for 12 years. Michelle presently serves as a School Safety Social Work Consultant for the NC Center for Safer Schools and continues to put the children of North Carolina at the forefront of her work. Michelle currently holds the position of MSW Field Coordinator with the School of Social Work at North Carolina State University.

Teaching and Research Interests

Teaching Philosophy

I believe strongly in learning from experienced social workers, open dialogue and visual example. My classroom consists of a myriad of teaching techniques such as lecture, PowerPoint presentation, videos, role-play and discussion.  I believe in providing a realistic view into the world of social work to ensure true preparedness and confidence to expect situations and intervene effectively and appropriately.

Research Interests

Gangs – Awareness, Mentalilty, Effective Prevention, Intervention, Diversion and Re-entry

Forensic Social Work

Early childhood attachment and adolescent delinquency


Systems and environmental effects on mental health and decision making

Psychopathology as it relates homicidal and suicidal tendencies

Extension and Community Engagement

Director of Program Development and Executive Board Member – Gang Free NC

NC Center for Safer School Executive Member

NC Center for Safer Schools Gang Prevention and Intervention Sub-Committee Chair

Crisis Intervention Training for Youth – Project Director / Committee Chair


Best Practices Manual: The Wilmington Youth Violence Intervention Program, co-author

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Lower Cape Fear Gang Task Force Assessment

“A Second’s Chance”-Gang Violence Task Force Prevention Program ; American Surgeon Journal.