Gilroy, Joan

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Gilroy, Joan

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Joan Gilroy is an activist, feminist and social worker whose career has straddled the community and the academy.

Born and raised in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, the second of five children, Joan Gilroy's early education took place in one- and two-room schoolhouses until she moved to Truro to complete high school. She received her BA from Dalhousie University in 1956, followed by an MSW in 1958 from the Maritime School of Social Work, which was then associated with the University of King's College. She returned to the school as a field instructor and director of admissions between periods of employment as a social worker in Nova Scotia and Montreal.

In 1969 she joined the faculty of the Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, and in 1990 was the first woman to be appointed director of the school, a position she held until her retirement in 1998. During her tenure she took two study leaves, earning an MA from the Institute of Criminology at the University of Toronto in 1974, and pursuing a PhD between 1980-1983 in the Department of Sociology in Education at OISE.

Gilroy’s teaching, research, professional activities and community work has focused on children, women, and feminist social work practice. She was a founding member for the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers, a founding member and chair of the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work Women’s Caucus, and chair of the Women’s Caucus of the International Association of Schools of Social Work.

Her contributions to social justice have been recognized by both her peers and the wider community: among other honours she has received YMCA’s Women’s Recognition (1993); the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers’ Freda Vickery Award (1997); Certificate of Commendation from Canada’s Governor General (1997); Dalhousie University’s A. Gordon Archibald Award (2002); and the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award (2005).

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