A 42-year History of Working and Volunteering in Non-profit Agencies
Gail C. Champlin, MSW ’68
Gail Champlin is an Adjunct Professor and Executive in Residence at Saint Joseph College Department of Social Work and Latino Community Practice and is also an Adjunct Faculty Advisor at the University Of Connecticut School Of Social Work. At Saint Joseph College, Gail teaches courses, assists with student advising and provides administrative services for the Department. As an Adjunct Faculty Advisor at the UConn School of Social Work, she advises MSW graduate students in the field work and academic components of their program assisting students in maximizing learning opportunities in class and field.
Gail was the recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in recognition of her 42 -year history of working and volunteering in non-profit agencies.
Other Current and Past Leadership Positions:
For 14 years, Gail was the Associate Executive Director of the Hartford Region YWCA where she supervised all the branches throughout the Hartford region. For 27 years, she was the Executive Director of the Center for Professional Development at the University of Hartford. The Center is a quasi-agency within the University that serves the public through career counseling, job training and continuing education.
Gail has also been a member of the National Association for Social Workers for 42 years and served in many capacities including Chapter president, National board member, National PACE board member, and founder and chair of the board of the National Center for Social Policy and Practice. She served on many local boards such as Capital Workforce Partners, the Child Care Collaborative, and ACTNOW!.
What inspired you to become a social worker?
When I graduated from college at 22 years of age, I wanted to “help people” so I went on to graduate school and completed my Masters in Social Work. In the sixties, there were not that many professions open to women and social work was one where I knew it would meet my desires to work with people. I also had majored in sociology and psychology in college and social work was a natural next step. Besides this, the civil rights movement was in full swing and I had been very involved as an undergraduate student. The values of the social work profession were a match to my personal values and I discovered that I could continue to be involved as a graduate student.
How has your education at the UConn SSW prepared you for your career? Was there one person or learning experience that had an impact on you?
UConn School of Social Work taught me to take risks, get involved and be a leader. As a group work major there were only 10 of us and we became the group that planned the activities and got the other students involved. We held school wide meetings, planned marches, and met many people. All this activity prepared me for the many leadership roles I assumed as a professional social worker.
As a student I had the opportunity to study in both locations, the old Scarborough Street house and the new building that we occupied in September 1967. We had close contacts with our professors and I had the joy of learning from Norm Goroff, Bob Green, Harley Trecker, Ella Dye, and many others.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment as a leader?
The most rewarding was being able to raise money and create programs that have made a difference in peoples’ lives….the first Sexual Assault Crisis Service in Connecticut, a summer youth program for Latino girls, a displaced homemaker program that lasted for 24 years, the Entrepreneurial Center, and others.
Another rewarding aspect of my career has been working with my mentors and supervisors, who supported me, gave me freedom, trusted me to make decisions and allowed me to be creative. Without that support and trust, I would not have been as successful and productive. In the last 25 years, it has been rewarding to be able to mentor and supervise others to give them the same support that I had.