I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at UNC Greensboro, a Faculty Director and Visiting Scholar with the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill, and member of the Academic Research Council of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I conduct research on consumer economics, financial wellbeing, and economic mobility with a focus on low- and moderate-income households, and on the capacity of nonprofit organizations serving these households.

I’ve taught graduate courses in social work for 16 years (nonprofit management and leadership, financial social work, community practice, and social policy) and business (financial inclusion and social innovation) and am teaching in both the joint MSW and PhD social work programs of UNC Greensboro and N.C. A & T State University where I also advise PhD students.

Previously, I was a faculty member with the Schools of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill (2006-2015) and University of Michigan (2015-2017). Before joining academia, I practiced for 16 years, mostly in management and community practice positions with nonprofit organizations serving lower-income people. 

Currently, with colleagues at Wash U, I’m doing research on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on US households and on small businesses, universal basic income, the Additional Child Tax Credit, employer benefits and conditions of work affecting low- and moderate-income employees, and behavioral experiments to promote financial health with the Common Cents Lab at Duke University. I’m also conducting research on a range of other topics such as student debt, the Earned Income Tax Credit, precarious employment, financial inclusion, 401k hardship withdrawals during COVID-19, medical debt and charity care programs, and the U.S. nonprofit safety net. Recently, we completed research (“Fintech as a Solution for Employee Financial Health”) on digital platforms to promote financial health in the workplace in partnership with the Financial Health Network.

Click here for my c.v. and follow me on Twitter @DespardMat and on Research Gate.