Margaret F. Henderson Wins Office of the Provost’s 2023 Engaged Scholarship Award

UNC School of Government faculty member Margaret Henderson received the esteemed 2023 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged research at the 2023 UNC Public Service Awards, held by the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS).

Presented by Provost Christopher Clemens, Henderson accepted the award on April 11 at the Carolina Club, joining two other Provost Award winners. University Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and CCPS Director Lynn Blanchard also presented five Robert E. Bryan Awards and one Ned Brooks Award for Public Service. Read more about the Public Service Award winners.

In bestowing the honor, the Public Service Awards Committee celebrated Henderson for “devoting her career to leveraging her scholarship to support prevention efforts to reduce harms related to sexual assault, domestic violence and elder abuse, providing resources to government and non-profit organizations.”

The Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award was established in 2000 by Provost Dick Richardson to recognize extraordinary public service among UNC-Chapel Hill faculty. The Office grants awards for excellence three categories: engaged teaching, research, and partnership.

Throughout her decades in public service, Henderson has cemented herself as a leading actor in the statewide campaign to protect vulnerable North Carolinians.

Her prolific scholarship on the topic reaches far and wide, appearing in Popular Government, ICMA's IQ Report and PM Magazine, American Review of Public Administration, PA Times, and the FBI Law Enforcement Journal. Beyond published scholarly works, Henderson provides foundational resources for local governments. These include sheets with basic facts about sex and labor trafficking, blog posts about recognizing trafficking indicators, and discussion guides for trafficking prevention strategies.

As director of the Public Intersection Project, she leads cross-sector partnerships between governments, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations to facilitate a unified and interdisciplinary strategy to combat trafficking. She has lent her expertise on the matter to countless organizations with likeminded pursuits—the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission, NC Stop Human Trafficking, and the University’s Project No Rest among them.

In recognizing Henderson, the committee heralded her extensive written record and work to coordinate these partnerships as “instrumental in strengthening the state’s capacity to stem trafficking and prevent exploitation of its residents.”

Henderson’s colleagues, friends, and supporters gathered to celebrate her achievement. Among them was Dean Aimee Wall, a peer and witness to Henderson’s drive to end abuse of at-risk communities.

The two served together in 2019 alongside faculty member Meredith Smith to found the School’s Adult Protection Network (APN), a virtual resource designed to connect, inform, and support teams across the state in combatting abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Read more about their joint work to create the resource.

Wall expressed pride in her colleague, praising Henderson’s ability to connect theory with practice in ending the abuse of North Carolinians.

“Margaret is a true public servant,” she said. “She is passionate, compassionate, and interdisciplinary professional who uses her gifts and knowledge to make genuine connections across differences and craft practical approaches to tackling some of society’s most challenging issues.”


Margaret Henderson joined the School of Government in 1999. Her current work primarily includes facilitating public meetings and assisting local governments to address human trafficking and elder abuse. She has instructed in the School’s Master of Public Administration program for twenty years and, prior to joining the School, served as the executive director of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.