Gail Kennedy started with Extension in 1996 as an educator in the Sullivan County Extension office, where she worked until she retired as a youth and family resiliency field specialist on June 11, 2021. She has focused her work on building the resiliency of vulnerable families in New Hampshire – and especially in Sullivan County. In her words, “I think I am most proud of my work on behalf of vulnerable, marginalized, underserved audiences. That is a thread that has always been prominent in work that I have gravitated to and put much energy and creativity into.”
Kennedy’s work has ranged from setting up a 4-H mentoring program for at-risk youth to creating online money management classes for helping people with limited incomes purchase vehicles. Some of the work she is most proud of occurred with the Sullivan County Department of Corrections (DOC) where she worked extensively with inmates and their families on money management and facilitated 4-H family support programing. As part of her work with the DOC she brought a diverse group of educators and providers together to look more closely at the unique challenges and stressors facing the children of incarcerated parents and developed strategies that could be employed to increase support for this vulnerable audience.
Kennedy will be missed by her teammates like Kendra Lewis, a state specialist who leads Extension’s Youth and Family resiliency work. “Gail has been a great team member – enthusiastic, ready to jump in and very supportive!” said Lewis.
Youth and Family Program Team Leader Michael Young said, “Gail will be greatly missed – not only for the knowledge and expertise she brought regarding resiliency, parenting, money management and mentoring – but also for the poise, connection and quality she brought to her work. She was a professional who knew how to get the job done while being incredibly enjoyable to work with.”
Kennedy was the consummate community partner, appreciated by all of the communities that she served. Earlier in her career, Homeless Programs for Southwestern Community Services (SCS) honored her work with their Partner’s Recognition Award for her contribution in assisting their case managers in developing life skills and a plan for stable employment and housing. SCS staff commented, “Gail has a way to capture her audience through professionalism and enthusiasm.”
Recent feedback about Gail’s work from some of her partners reflect her humble professionalism as well as her incredible impact: “I would volunteer to work with Gail on just about anything. She is always there when I need her; she is dependable, fun and much better at what she does then she knows – which is building resiliency in others” and “Gail always follows through and her dedication to the people she serves is evident.”