Dr. Sarah Verbiest

Sarah Verbiest, DrPH

UNC School of Social Work
Adjunct Faculty
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Adjunct Faculty
OB/GYN & Pediatrics Depts. UNC School of Medicine
Executive Director
Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health


Dr. Sarah Verbiest is a public health social worker who has spent the last 25 years working to improve the health of women and babies in North Carolina and across the country. She has taken on this challenge from many angles – as a program leader, strategic planner, educator, lobbyist, fundraiser, connector, systems-thinker, manager, researcher, educator, and partner. Dr. Verbiest is a professor in the UNC School of Social Work where she directs the Jordan Institute for Families. She is a co-founder of the 4th Trimester Project, a Co-PI for the Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center, a Co-PI of the Care for NICU Families Project and is an investigator on numerous research studies. She has served as director of the Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health for over 18 years. She has co-edited four books including the 4th Edition of the Maternal and Child Health textbook and the Practice Playbook on Maternal Health. She has her DrPH, MPH and MSW – all earned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sarah Verbiest in the Gillings News

Honors and Awards

William Lloyd Garrison Ally Award
2022, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc.

University Award for Diversity and Inclusion
2021, Intergroup Collaboration

William C. Friday Fellowship on Human Relations

Distinguished Professorship
(2017-2021), John A. Tate Early Career Scholars for Children in Need

Teaching Interests

Dr. Verbiest teaches the following courses:
     Health Equity and Policy, UNC School of Social Work
     Administration and Management, UNC School of Social Work

Research Activities

  • Women's Health
  • Preconception
  • Postpartum
  • Systems Change
  • Health Equity
  • Economic Supports for Families
  • Care Giving

Service Activities

Dr. Verbiest is an active member of the Wildacres Leadership Initiative, which is part of the William C. Friday Fellowship on Human Relations. She also serves on numerous committees at the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist. This past spring she saw her entire Girl Scout Troop graduate from high school after serving as their leader for 13 years.

Practice Activities

Leadership development, Women's health, Health equity, Coalition building, Social media and communications

Key Publications

Practical Playbook III: Working Together to Improve Maternal Health. Castrucci, B., Cilenti, D., Hernandez, N., Jackson, A., Michener, J.L., Verbiest, S. (Eds.)  (2024). Submitted to Oxford University Press: Oxford.

A Roadmap toward Equitable, Coordinated, Quality Reproductive Care for People with Chronic Conditions. Verbiest S., McClain, E., Hernandez, N (2022). Health Services Research, 57(6), 1379-1383.

Maternal and child health, 4th ed. Kirby, R., & Verbiest, S. (Eds.)  (2021). Jones & Bartlett Learning..

Reducing maternal mortality and morbidity through improved postpartum care for mothers of infants in intensive care units: an opportunity for change. Verbiest, S., Ferrari, R., McClain, E., Tucker, C., Charles, N, Stuebe, A.  (2020). Annals of Internal Medicine, 173(11).

Preconception health and care: A life course approach. Shawe, J., Steegers, E., & Verbiest, S. (Eds.) (2020). Springer Nature.

Moving life course theory into action: Making change happen. Verbiest, S. (Ed.) (2018). American Public Health Association Press.


  • DrPH, Public Health Leadership, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2008
  • MPH, Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1995
  • MSW, Community, Management and Policy Practice, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1995