Alumna Margaret M. Kennedy featured on Mandel School's "Change Leaders" podcast

Change Leaders Podcast: Margaret Kennedy YouTube cover photo

Margaret M. Kennedy, LISW-S, RSW (MSSA, ’78), was the special guest on a recent episode of the Mandel School's podcast, Change Leaders. As a leader in social work, she lives by these words from Confucius: “To see what is right and not do it is want of courage, or of principle.”

From the start, Kennedy knew she would always be a social work leader and she is forever grateful to the Mandel School for making her career possible. She is proud to have been a social worker for more than 40 years in two countries: the United States (Virginia, Ohio, Texas and California) and Canada (Newfoundland/Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Ontario). She has held social work licenses/registrations and has been a member of the social work associations in most of these jurisdictions.

Upon receiving a BA from James Madison University, Kennedy worked in child protection and community mental health in rural Virginia. Knowing she wanted more advanced skills she applied to the Mandel School where the faculty and staff opened up a world of possibilities for leadership in a profession aligned with her values.

Seeking challenges, she accepted a range of opportunities throughout her career. Highlights of her work in the U.S. include:

  • City of Cleveland Heights: human resources and management training
  • Center for Community Solutions and Community Council of Greater Dallas: research and program development
  • Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. management consultation with local councils to empower girls through leadership development

Kennedy was also fortunate to be recruited to the Mandel School to lead a county- and state-wide training program for public social services staff, and to teach in the master’s program.

In Canada, she held various senior leadership positions in government health and social services in the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI). Most notably, she was the first provincial director of mental health and addiction services with the ministerial appointment of director of the PEI Mental Health Act.

She retired in 2015, but her retirement was put on hold in 2019 when she was recruited to be the interim associate director for addiction and mental health services in Ontario (Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington) to lead the agency’s transformation.

Kennedy has demonstrated her commitment to life-long learning for both herself and up-and-coming professionals. She taught social work courses at three universities and provided field education supervision, where she valued seeing growth in students preparing for their own careers.

Volunteering has also been an important adjunct to her career in supporting the profession and the people it serves. Kennedy has been on a number of boards of directors including president of the PEI Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), the PEI Family Violence Prevention Services, and the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council. She recently completed her term as board chair of Kingston Interval House, an agency helping women and children who experience intimate partner violence. She also served on committees for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Ohio Chapter and Veterans Affairs Canada.

Kennedy has been formally recognized throughout her career as the recipient of several awards, including the Mandel School's Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Student Association Recognition Award, Hall of Achievement, and Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award. She has also received the CASW Distinguished Service Award.

While she appreciates the recognition that comes with being featured in this podcast, she is even more thankful for the privilege of being a social work leader.

Listen to the episode