Social Work


Doris D. Dodson

Doris Dodson

Doris is the Field Director and an assistant professor of social work who teaches both on-campus and in the Adult Degree Program at Mary Baldwin. Doris obtained her BSW from Longwood University and her MSW with a specialization in mental health from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Prior to joining the faculty at Mary Baldwin, Doris worked in the social work field for more than twenty-eight years. She has expertise in the areas of child welfare (in particular, foster care and adoption) and domestic violence. She has also worked in the areas of community mental health, refugee unaccompanied minors’ programs, as a state and federal reviewer of child welfare practice, as a trainer and as field instructor. Most recently, Doris worked for the City of Charlottesville’s Department of Social Services as a foster care and adoption supervisor; and she has taught online for Portland State University in their post-graduate certificate program in foster and adoptive family therapy for the last eight years.

At Mary Baldwin, Doris coordinates the Field Practicum experience and works continuously to develop new and meaningful field placements for the program and to prepare BSW students for their entry into the field. She was recently one of two recipients of the Spencer Center’s High Impact Innovation fund which allowed her to participate in a service learning trip with students to Cherident, Haiti where she and the students collected data for a community needs assessment that she and Dr. Kai Kennedy, Director of Clinical Education in Physical Therapy used as part of their research into student learning opportunities. Doris serves on the Board of Directors at the Augusta Regional Free Clinic and has served as speaker on adoption-related issues in the Charlottesville/Albemarle areas.  She is an avid animal lover and often visits the local shelter with her oldest son to help socialize the newcomers. She is involved in both the Staunton/Augusta as well as the Charlottesville/Albemarle communities.

Doris enjoys home projects, creating and repurposing found items and gifting friends and family with her creations. Doris is a very proud mom of two handsome and talented teenage boys: Shaun and Collin. She enjoys spending time with her boys and their three dogs: Taylor, Lexi and Cyrus and one cat: Taz.

Gauri Rai

Gauri Rai

Dr. Rai is an associate professor of social work and has been a faculty member of Mary Baldwin College since 2004. He has a BA and MAS from Kashi Vidyapith University, Varansai, India, an MSW from St. Louis University, a PhD in Social Work from Rutgers University, and an LISW (licensed independent social worker) from Ohio Licensing Board of Counselors and Social Workers.

He is the recipient of a graduate fellowship from St. Louis City hospitals and clinics, a doctoral fellowship from National Institute of Mental Health, and a training grant in Small System Management to MSW students for three years. His social work practice experience includes service to military families, American Red Cross; long term illness committee, medical social work, child welfare, and mental health.

Dr. Rai’s research interests include the pattern of growth and development in community organizations and institutions, impact of parenting on personality development of pre-adolescent and adolescent children, alcoholism in women, program evaluation of mental health agencies, bureaucratic inflexibility in public child welfare system, and international social welfare education in the United States. Currently, he is working on a research project titled “Organizational determinants of resident satisfaction in long term care facilities.” His recent professional presentations include: Resident satisfaction in long term care facilities (in the conference of Southern Gerontological Society, Greensboro, North Carolina) and Burnout among a staff of long term care facilities (in the conference of Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, California.) Dr. Rai has published in Social Service Review, Administration in Social Work, and International Social Work.

Dr. Rai is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, and the International Federation of Social Workers and Inter-University Consortium for International Development. He has  served as a board member of United Way of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Virginia. He is a proud father of five daughters.

Mary Clay Thomas


Mary Clay Thomas is the social work program director and an associate professor of social work at Mary Baldwin. She relocated to Staunton, Va in 2008 after spending twelve years studying, practicing and teaching social work in Burlington, Vermont. A graduate of Saint Timothy’s School, an all female high school in Stevenson, Maryland, she went on to earn her BA from the University of Montana in English and Psychology and an MSW from the University of Vermont where she was a recipient of the Vermont Title-IVE Child Welfare Scholarship.

Before coming to Mary Baldwin, Mary Clay taught social work courses, supervised field work, and advised the social work club at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She practiced as a child protection social worker, school social worker, and worked with community programs supporting the independence of elders while in Vermont.

At Mary Baldwin, Mary Clay serves as the faculty adviser to the Social Work Club and oversees the international social work field placement in Honduras. She is an active community member, recently serving as Board Chair, at the United Way of Greater Augusta. She is the mother of two girls and is an avid runner, hiker, gardener and loves travelling to new places.

Contributing Faculty

Elizabeth Anderson

Beverly ChestnuttBev Chestnutt

Bev Chestnutt, a licensed clinical social worker, has spent over 35 years focusing her work on individual, group, family and multi-family therapeutic services for youth of all ages and their families in public and private settings. She has led women’s retreats for churches on topics such as positive self-esteem, dealing with criticism, finding your joy, and recognizing your strengths. She spends her free time with her children and grandchildren, gardening, singing in the choir, and hiking national parks with her husband.

Linda Dressler

May Guenin

May GueninMay Guenin is an adjunct faculty member teaching in the Adult Degree Program. She earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and an MSW from Case Western Reserve University.

Ms. Guenin’s practice experience includes social services, inpatient psychiatric care, directing a day treatment program, directing an out-patient clinic, private practice and being a field instructor in social work. She has experience with children, adolescents and adults. She has been teaching sociology and social work in ADP since 1998.

Currently Ms. Guenin teaches Aging, Human Behavior and the Social Environment I and II, Social Work Practice I and II, and field instruction.

Ms. Guenin has three children, two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and two cats. She is interested in other cultures and often has foreign graduate students from the University of Virginia living in her home.

Kim Higgins

Kim Higgins

Kim has been an adjunct professor at Mary Baldwin College since 2009. Kim earned her BSW from James Madison University followed by her MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kim moved to Staunton from Tidewater Virginia in 1998, working for the Valley Community Services Board and then the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind.

Since 2002 she has worked as the Admissions Coordinator at People Places, a private non-profit therapeutic foster care agency. She is also the Assistant Director of Ride With Pride, a therapeutic horsemanship program serving youth and adults with physical, mental and emotional needs. Photography, reading, and travel are some of Kim’s many interests.

Chris Jenkins, social work adjunct

Kathy McCleaf, associate professor of Health and Studies of Gender and Sexuality

Dianna Parrish, social work adjunct

Carla Renner, social work adjunct


Carla has experience in child welfare including adolescent residential and group home settings. She has provided family therapy, intensive in-home services, and served as a program manager and clinical supervisor. She has facilitated court ordered groups on parenting, anger management and batterer intervention. She earned her MSW from VCU and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She provides outpatient services in community mental health to adults experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues.