Honoring Preventions African American Heroes
- Published on February 12, 2015
During Black History month it is appropriate to recognize outstanding colleagues in the field of prevention. Of the many African-American prevention professionals, this short piece will single out four individuals with whom the author has had the pleasure and privilege to work over an extended period, two each at the national and state levels. These individuals are commendable role models for youth and for prevention professionals alike. They and their accomplishments are to be celebrated this month and throughout the year. In this article we pay tribute to the contributions of Albert Gay and VC League of Indiana, and Dr. Lewis E. Gallant and Luisa del Carmen Pollard.
(Albert at a recent training event, with IPRC colleagues Kathleen Anderson, Mallori DeSalle, and Jasynda Radanovich)
For as long as most of our staff can remember, Albert Gay has been working with the IPRC staff on prevention programming projects. A native of Gary, Indiana, Albert holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hampton University, 1993. His prevention expertise and service have been manifest in leadership and training roles across the state.
Albert’s resume includes positions as Program Director, Geminus Corporation; Prevention Coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana; Program Director for Afternoons R.O.C.K. in Indiana; and CTC Project Coordinator at Geminus Corporation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Gary Neighborhood Services (GNS, www.garyneighsrvc.org) and works with Community Organizations for Families and Youth. Albert was selected for specialized training to serve as a facilitator for the original Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training (SAPST) and again for its more recent evolution, the Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST). He is currently a lead facilitator for the SAPST course and for Mental Health First Aid trainings. His talents as a trainer are well known and respected across the state and beyond. He was also among a select few chosen to represent Indiana at an up-coming community conversation with the Surgeon General. Albert is a very busy man.
Albert’s quick smile, engaging wit, patience, humility, depth of knowledge and breadth of experience in the fields of prevention, youth work and community action make him an outstanding figure in the history of prevention in Indiana in the 20th century and continuing into the 21st. Albert has provided mentorship to thousands of youth and is an outstanding role model for youth and for prevention professionals alike. Thank you, Albert.
V.C. League (1947-2005)
Later this year will mark ten years since the passing of VC League (Vincentè Conrad League, “VC”). A native of Indianapolis, VC League was a community leader, grant-writer, and teacher who consulted with over 2,500 organizations across the U.S. and internationally. As a grant-writing consultant VC League helped bring critical grant awards to the State of Indiana and to cities and regions beyond Indiana and the US borders.
Though he died young at 58, his dedication to the cause of prevention and his accomplishments make him a role model for all and particularly for Black youth and for persons who suffer from chronic illness or disability. Remembering him and his slight limp as he walked the halls of the Creative Arts Building during his frequent visits to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center to teach grant-writing and sustainability courses, I was always struck by how the loss of a leg to complications from diabetes didn’t ever seem to slow him down.
A founding member of the American Association of Grant Professionals and member of its board of directors, he taught thousands in Indiana through The Grantsmanship Center, conducting more than 200 five-day program and proposal writing trainings. Hundreds of Indiana prevention professionals received grant-writing training and mentoring from him at the IPRC. He was especially active in Indiana, Illinois and California through Vincentè & Associates. Testimony to his enduring influence is his status today as Chairperson Emeritus of Board of Directors of The Prevention Partnership, Inc., located on the west side of Chicago, offering services in the Chicago area, Indiana, California and other states. He had no children but impacted a multitude of youth, whose lives are better because of him. [To read more, see “Loss and Legend: VC League’s Passing (2005)] Thanks, VC.
Lewis E. Gallant, Ph.D.
As a member of the National RADAR Network Steering Committee for over a decade, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lewis E. Gallant, then a consultant to CSAP, whose passion, wisdom, and determination to persist in efforts to create change impressed me deeply. Lewis held many positions in the field of prevention throughout his career. He was a Director of the Office of Substance Abuse Services in the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services, for the State of Virginia for most of the decade of the 1990s and as the Association’s President from 1999-2000. From 2000 to 2009 Lewis served as Executive Director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD). His earlier career in substance abuse prevention was in the context of the U.S. military, where he was a member of the Army’s Forensic Toxicology Drug Testing Laboratory Inspection Team, directed all substance abuse training at the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, and was a founding member and co-chair of the Army’s substance abuse counselor clinical certification program. In other positions he served as a Human Services Manager and Administrator in the U.S. Army Medical Department. In addition, he held joint academic appointments within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and the Child Psychiatry Fellowship at Eisenhower Army Regional Medical Center. What a fantastic role model for youth and for professionals alike! Thank you, Lewis.
Luisa del Carmen Pollard
Lewis’s strong and steady, quiet and gentle leadership style contrasts sharply with that of Luisa del Carmen, who is more aptly described as an exuberant “mover and shaker.” Of mixed racial and Puerto Rican heritage, Luisa contributed enormously to the history of substance abuse prevention through her creative vision, persistent determination to realize her vision, her exceptional skills in the areas of social marketing, health communication and collaboration. She was able to move mountains to achieve a goal. Drawing on the model of the Substance Abuse and Library Information Specialists (SALIS) organization, Luisa envisioned a network of substance abuse professionals from each of the 50 states, tribes, US territories and other nations, coming together at national/international conferences to discuss their needs, what is working and not working in prevention, and to share resources and synergistic energy. Luisa advocated for and amassed support from SAMHSA’s to create CSAP’s RADAR (Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources) Network in the late 1980sand later to create the CAPTs (Centers for the Application of Prevention Technology) in the early 2000s. She called them her babies, and she fought for them and promoted them like a mother for her child. If Lewis is contagiously calm, Luisa is contagiously energetic.
In addition to her work with the RADAR Network and Centers for the Application of Prevention Technology (CAPTs), Luisa was also a leader at CSAP for Hispanic Initiatives. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Luisa contributed to CSAP’s conceptualization and development through publication of three major CSAP public education campaigns: Vida en La Comunidad para Todos, SOY UNICA/ SOY LATINA, and Hablemos en Confianza.
Luisa’s creativity, passion and productivity influenced the course of prevention’s history over several decades through the RADAR Network, the Centers for the Application of Prevention Technology, and the Hispanic Initiatives. Today though retired from federal service, Luisa continues her work in prevention in a private consulting firm in Leland, NC. Another role model for youth and prevention professionals alike! Thank you, Luisa.