Driving one of the nation's leading non-profits to advance the policies and practices that prepare children for success
Vitale Family Scholarship
"My scholarship enabled me to fulfill my aspiration of integrating my multidisciplinary background to help young children and their families through meaningful policies and programs. Your gift has made a big impact on my life, and I truly appreciate it."
Rose Gallagher had been a partner in a large law firm, handling complex public finance transactional matters for public and private sector clients, before she decided to pursue a degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA). To some, such a career switch might seem improbable, but for Gallagher it was a natural progression.
It was her work as a volunteer with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) that sparked Gallagher's interest in social services. The experience, she recalls, was transformative. Working with CVLS, Gallagher provided pro bono legal services as a guardian ad litem for children. Using her legal skills, she advocated for the child's best interests, navigating the complexities of the legal system to produce the best outcomes for the child and the entire family support system.
Doing this pro bono work was very rewarding, but Gallagher wanted to do more for families—beyond providing legal counsel. "I began to see the value and importance of family support—including preventive and community-oriented services for families. I also realized that my own knowledge and experience was limited. I needed to broaden my understanding to better assist families."
Choosing SSA to develop a deeper skill set, says Gallagher, was an excellent choice. "My course work, professors, and classmates gave me a new perspective. And I felt intellectually stimulated and challenged every day," she says. As she pursued a concentration in social administration, Gallagher gained a new perspective about policymaking, including the importance of using research evidence to inform practice and policymaking to best advance social well-being.
In her second year field placement at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Gallagher worked with the Ounce's Illinois Policy Team which advances policies and practices that prepare children for success in school and beyond. Gallagher analyzed federal, state, and local public policies, programs, and legislative issues that impact young children and their families in the areas of early childhood, family support, early intervention, health, and social-emotional development. Thanks to her legal writing skills, she also had the chance to research, write, and develop executive summaries, advocacy alerts, data analysis, fact sheets, and policy briefs.
"I enhanced my experience and understanding of relevant issues, worked with a leading organization, and used my multidisciplinary background to analyze and address issues. So, these were all meaningful steps toward my career goals," she says.