The Family Guidance Center is currently led by Executive Director Dr. Walter White, but, as he’s the first to point out, the Center’s crucial work relies on a dedicated team of caring professionals.
Are you from Montgomery? I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. My parents immigrated to the United States from Newfoundland, Canada, in the 1940s. Also, I spent some of my formative years in New Jersey. I received my bachelor’s degree from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I received my master’s in social work from Louisiana State University, and then received my doctorate in counseling from Auburn University. My wife, Vivian, and I moved to Montgomery for the opportunity to assume the position of Executive Director of the Family Guidance Center.
When was the Family Guidance Center started and when did you start working with the Center? Family Guidance Center was founded in 1959, and I started working with the Center in 1988. Over the years, our organization has greatly expanded and has become the Family Guidance Center of Alabama with offices in Montgomery, Dothan, Birmingham, Hayneville, Wetumpka, Tallassee, Millbrook, Prattville, Clanton, Jemison, Calera, Columbiana, Selma, Tuscaloosa, Talladega and Opelika.
What is the mission of the Family Guidance Center and what are its primary services? To strengthen and support families through partnering with families, organizations and communities and through the provision of an accessible comprehensive system of coordinated programs and services designed to enable people of all ages in Alabama to envision and achieve their goals. Our primary services are focused on early childhood education, Head Start/early Head Start services, therapeutic counseling services, parenting and marital relationship services and job-training services. All of them help to strengthen and support families and enhance their abilities to set and to achieve goals in the educational, child development, parenting, employment and relationship areas. An additional area of focus has been our lengthy history of recognizing the importance of families through our annual Families of the Year Awards in the Montgomery/Dothan and Birmingham areas.
What are your primary responsibilities as Executive Director? My responsibilities include directing and supporting the quality, focused delivery of services within all of our program and service areas. This focus includes close work with the Board of Directors and the implementation of strategic planning, fiscal oversight, marketing, program outcome measurement, staff development and funding development.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? I am most proud of the amazing work that our staff of nearly 300 dedicated professionals does each day to bring needed services to every county in Alabama and the wonderful way that those services are provided within such caring relationships. We say that everything we do as an organization is done within a caring relationship. It is very rewarding to be a part of such a caring and knowledgeable team that makes a difference in so many important ways.
HONORS & MILESTONES
Walter has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers Alabama Chapter and also garnered the Social Worker of the Year Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Montgomery Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The Family Guidance Center of Alabama hit a milestone in 2019, celebrating 60 years of service. Thanks to the organization’s successful delivery of services to more than 40,000 families each year, it has been asked to bring its services to all of Alabama’s 67 counties. Additionally, the Center was recently awarded the federal contract for the Head Start Program in Autauga, Elmore, Chilton and Shelby counties.