Jeanine Harper Maruca shines brightly as 2019 alumni star

When it comes to advocating for children in the Richmond community, VCU School of Social Work alumna Jeanine Harper Maruca‘s commitment and accomplishments are out of this world.

And now, fittingly – and officially – she’s a star. A VCU 2019 Alumni Star, that is. Maruca was one of 17 alumni to be honored Nov. 7 with the biennial award.

For the past 20 years, Maruca (B.S.W.’86/SW; M.S.W.’93/SW) has served as executive director of Greater Richmond (Virginia) SCAN, which addresses child abuse and neglect. She is credited with expanding SCAN’s footprint in service and partnerships, including the Child Advocacy Centers, one of the notable initiatives she has spearheaded. The centers are safe, stable, child-friendly facilities that provide comprehensive services, including forensic interviews, mental health therapy and family advocacy, to more than 1,000 children and 600 adults recovering from trauma and abuse last year.

“Jeanine’s dedication, creativity, persistence, accomplishments and energy set an unbelievably high standard for VCU School of Social Work graduates, and I could not be more thrilled that she was chosen as the 2019 Alumni Star,” says Beth Angell, dean of the School of Social Work.

Maruca created the Greater Richmond Trauma-Informed Community Network, which includes 400 members and 160 agencies and seeks to expand its impact by improving trauma-informed policies throughout the state. She has also worked with local government, partnering with Richmond City Public Schools to provide trauma-informed care and answering Mayor Dwight Jones’ call in 2014 to serve as an “executive on loan” to Child Protective Services to assist staff and stabilize service delivery.

Maruca has served or is serving no fewer than eight community agencies or organizations as a board member, task force participant or volunteer. Her honors are numerous:

  • Leadership Metro Richmond, Class of 2002
  • Virginia NASW’s Social Worker of the Year, 2007
  • Achievement Award, Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2008
  • Groundbreaker Award, Better Housing Coalition, 2011
  • Carol S. Fox Making Kids Count Award, Voices for Virginia’s Children, 20016
  • YWCA’s Outstanding Women Awards, 2018

“My role as a social worker is to help uncover their strengths and uplift” the people she serves, Maruca says.

Among those nominating Maruca for the honor were emeriti faculty from the School of Social Work, colleagues who served with her as board members, a medical doctor from VCU Health, a colleague from SCAN and a former supervisee from SCAN who is now a social work professor.

Among the tributes to Maruca from the letters of nomination:

  • “In every facet of the Child Advocacy Center’s operation, Jeanine and those under her tutelage always put the child’s needs ahead of any personal or organizational agenda.”
  • “Jeanine senses with mission-centered purity when to be a listening peer, when to make a judgment call, when to increase support, when to respectfully disagree, when to act, when to defer, when to be the ‘heavy,’ even when to stand down.”
  • “Jeanine has become recognized as one of the preeminent leaders in the not-for-profit world in Richmond.”
  • “Jeanine is a healer, a connector and, above all, a doer.”
  • “It is through her humility and tireless work to protect the children of Richmond that Jeanine’s star shines brightest.”

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