Dr. Despard’s research focuses on the financial security of lower-income families and the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations that serve these families. Currently, Mat is conducting research on the outcomes of a large scale tax-time savings experiment and on employer-based financial wellness programs in partnership with colleagues at the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. Mat is also working on research concerning summer youth employment, the relationship between access to and use of financial services and household financial outcomes with the University of Kansas Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI), and the capacity and financial health of nonprofit and non-governmental organizations.
Prior to joining the School of Social Work in the fall of 2015 as an Assistant Professor, Mat was Clinical Associate Professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work, where he also received his PhD and MSW degrees. At UNC, Mat taught management, community practice, and social policy courses, coordinated the Nonprofit Leadership Certificate program, and served as adjunct instructor at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Before joining UNC, Mat worked for 12 years post-MSW in nonprofit organizations and applied research settings focusing on asset development, early childhood development, HIV care, and access to health care among low-income persons and communities.