Professor Jennifer M. Safford has been awarded the 2020 Katharine F. Erskine Award for exemplary work in education. She will accept the award at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts′ 26th annual Tribute to Women event on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Safford, who teaches courses in Clark’s Certificate in Youth Work Practice program in the International Development, Community, and Environment Department, is director of operations and outreach for the Collaborative for Youth and Community Justice, a women-led, Worcester-based organization that partners with Clark to promote social justice through research. She is a project manager for Clark’s Local Action Research Partnership grant from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security, as well as community resource liaison for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. She sits on the planning team of the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (WYVPI), and is co-convener of its Youth Resource Network and the Community Outreach and Engagement workgroup.
“I consider myself lucky because I truly love what I do,” Safford says. “As a Black woman, I often get to get be the first Black professor that my college students have ever had. The ability to have your presence be a first in their life is both an amazing opportunity and a heavy responsibility.”
A professional trainer and consultant, Safford has worked with nonprofit organizations, schools, and youth-serving agencies across Massachusetts since 2001. Since 2003, Safford has managed Worcester’s Youth Worker Training Institute, which provides training and support to youth work professionals in Worcester County. She earned her bachelor’s in sociology from Worcester State University and a master’s in education from Cambridge College.
The Katharine F. Erskine Award recognizes women who have demonstrated leadership and reached exemplary levels of achievement in their professions and communities. According to the YWCA, “This year’s awardees showcase the progress the agency has made toward eliminating racism and empowering women, and renew its commitment to the city to be a leader in racial and gender equity. They have opened doors for young women and people of color and have broken down barriers for future generations of female leaders. They have affected real change in their communities and inspire others to follow suit.”
Erskine Awards are given in several categories, including arts and culture; business and law; community, social service, and government; education; and health, science, and technology. The awards are named for former YWCA President Katherine F. Erskine, who devoted more than 80 years of her life to furthering the mission of the YWCA Central Massachusetts.