Alumni Award of Excellence for 2001
For her tireless advocacy on behalf of Oregon’s children, '80, M.S. ’89 Brook MacNamara received the 2001 Alumni Award of Excellence.
Created in 1984, the award is the highest honor that Western Oregon University bestows upon an alumnus. The Alumni Association grants the award to those alumni who serve as shining examples of the quality of the university’s preparation for the post-graduate world.
For MacNamara, the award is evidence that her work with and for children is recognized and important in the fields of education and child welfare. In 1993, she founded In Harmony, an organization dedicated to quality, comprehensive preventive services for children. In Harmony has grown from a vision of creating a safe haven for children awaiting adoptive homes to an intergenerational neighborhood being built in Corvallis. The program is well on its way to becoming a national model.
In the years prior to creating In Harmony, MacNamara used her Western Oregon experiences as a school district behavior management consultant, special education director, and classroom teacher “to better understand the child welfare system and how foster children were being served across the nation,” she said. “Teaching and administrating in a variety of settings allowed me to witness first hand the devastation many children experience when they lack a community of support and a family to call their own.”
With a bachelor’s degree in education from WOU, she returned and completed her master’s in special education in 1989. “My emphasis was in emotional disturbance. I was interested in children struggling (and children) in treatment facilities,” she explained. “I was always striving to further my education and experience so that I could better serve children.”
As she describes her organization and dedication, MacNamara can draw parallels between her work now and her education of more than 20 years ago. “Western provided a community of support for young and idealistic students where we were each intellectually nurtured and encouraged to reach our potential. Western gave us the skills and experiences to follow our dreams with confidence.”
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