Getting a great education was the only option for Elaine A. Wilson, having grown up in Lexington, Kentucky, and being raised by three strong females. She filled her first year at the University of Kentucky with general education and the sciences, having initially wanting to be a medical technologist. But then one course, Societies Around the World, changed her focus and the trajectory of her life forever. As a result, she changed majors to sociology to learn about different people in the world and how they lived. After a year of studying sociology, took a more practical step to study social work and learn to work WITH people and to meet their needs. This desire led to a bachelor’s degree in social work with an emphasis in community organization. Next, Elaine pursued a master’s degree in social work also with an emphasis in community organization from Case Western Reserve University where she learned to help people even further and more interpersonally. The desire to help people led to her first job with IFCO (Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization) in New York City, followed by work in the mental health and drug addiction field in the Detroit, Michigan area.
Next, Elaine began working with people with developmental disabilities and their families in a Kentucky residential training facility. She started working in admissions and placements followed by supervising other social workers. Afterward, she moved to supervise all levels of staff including program monitors, teachers, and therapists of all kinds. Finally, she was promoted to associate facility director and eventually to the facility director position. These top two positions required a license as a nursing home administration which she also obtained.
Following her work with people with developmental disabilities, Elaine had a desire for a career change which led to an opportunity in professional development coordination at the local community college. At the college, there was an opening to also work in cultural diversity and thus another career change. This rewarding job led to studying the diversity field to earning a certification as a diversity professional. She pursued this certification while also pursuing a doctorate in social work. Both pursuits assist with her current position as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Somerset Community College and benefit both the college and the community.
Elaine continues to work with communities in need which led to interest in the study of the social impact of gentrification in minority and poor neighborhoods. Community organizers, along with community people, are the key to success with this project. Serving on numerous city, state, and national boards of directors, often in a leadership position, taught her how to work with people from all walks of life. She has been recognized and awarded by several localities to include the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Somerset government, which helped round out a lifelong opportunity of helping people.