Growing up in Louisa, Dr. Lisa Shannon, associate professor of social work at Morehead State University, is familiar with the lack of resources and the poverty that oftentimes comes with growing up in Eastern Kentucky.  

Now, with a proficiency in grant writing, a passion for teaching and a purposeful mentality, she’s found a few ways to do something about it. 

She initially wanted to be a psychologist and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2000. When working on her senior honors thesis, she was presented with an opportunity to work as a research assistant for the first-ever Kentucky Drug Court Evaluation conducted by the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research at UK. As part of this project, she was able to travel around the state and interview those involved with and affected by the program itself. With the guidance of UK professor Dr. T.K. Logan, she enrolled in the university’s Master’s in Social Work program (earning that degree in 2003) and earned a Ph.D. in Social Work from UK in 2007. 

Upon earning a doctorate degree, Shannon took a Research Title Series faculty position at the UK Department of Behavioral Science/Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Related to her past work experience and collaborative relationships, she began writing grants with the hopes of gaining federal funding to enhance services for Kentucky’s Drug Courts.  

“I always thought the drug court program was just an amazing program because it gave individuals with substance abuse issues who have been involved in the criminal justice system the chance to get treatment instead of going to prison,” Shannon said. “Those experiences (interviewing program participants) really impacted me. So, when the opportunity came try to get more funding for the program, it was something I felt really strongly about.” 

In collaboration with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Shannon has written more than 31 grants to enhance funding for Kentucky Drug Courts and other specialty courts (e.g., Veterans Treatment Courts, Mental Health Courts, DUI Courts) during her time at both UK and MSU. Over the past 10 years, Shannon’s grant writing has helped the AOC to receive approximately $10 million in federal funding.  

“I think out of all the grants we have written, there’s only been a handful that haven’t been funded,” she said. “We’ve been very, very successful.” 

Despite her success in grant writing, Shannon says she also wants to utilize her education and her skill set to benefit the Commonwealth in a different way. 

“While I enjoyed (grant writing and research), I also wanted to do something else. That’s how I ended up applying to Morehead State,” she said.  

In 2010, Shannon initially was hired as tenure-track assistant professor. She teaches social work courses primarily at MSU Prestonsburg, just over 40 miles away from her hometown.  

She continues to collaboratively write grants with the AOC toward the goal of acquiring additional funding for Kentucky Drug Courts and other specialty courts while also serving as the secretary on the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Board of Directors Executive Committee. 

Shannon has found an additional purpose in the classroom as she hopes to thoroughly prepare the next generation of social workers to go out and make an impact in an area that has a special place in her heart. 

“Being from Eastern Kentucky originally, I wanted to help educate and serve the area I grew up in,” she said. “I get the opportunity to educate students from an area where I know resources are slim and educational opportunities are highly important.” 

Dr. Lisa Shannon can be reached at or at 606-783-2638. 

For more information about social work programs at Morehead State, visit, email or call 606-783-2656.