WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY 2016
US Bureau Of Prisons & Philanthropist
Career Path: I began my career in retailing as a buyer of women’s clothing for a department store. However, after getting married, raising children and volunteering for various organizations, such as Planned Parenthood (where I was appointed Acting Director of the local chapter), I wanted to be of better service to populations in need and, therefore, at the age of 51 enrolled in the School of Social Work at Columbia University, where I obtained my MSW. I grew up in Bayside, Queens, and lived in a diverse neighborhood where many of my contemporaries didn’t have some of the opportunities that I had. I never forgot those young people with whom I grew up and they inspired me for the rest of my life. I am currently retired.
Challenges: As stated above, I returned to graduate school at the age of 51, the oldest one in the class. Returning to school, being surrounded by so many serious disciplined students, professors much younger than I was, all presented challenges for me. I worked hard, over-compensated and was embraced by my fellow students, and eventually became comfortable with my new student status.
Following graduate school, I worked in several jobs in the Corrections field at various institutions. At my first job, at a county jail, I was not received well by the corrections officers and faced serious resistence. They resented my helping offenders getting ready to leave incarceration, getting them jobs, counseling, health care, and so forth. It made the job very challenging. I overcame that challenge by providing social services to the officers and their families. The officers became allies and colleagues who often went beyond the call of duty providing services to the inmates themselves.
Accomplishments: I am very proud of the inmates and offenders that my staff and I helped during my years (1980 – 1992) as Deputy Director, United States Bureau of Prisons, Community Treatment Center in New York City and Director of Substance Abuse Services, Montefiore Medical Center, Rikers Island, NY.
I am particularly proud of being the co-founder of Friends of Island Academy (FOIA) with Norma Green, Rikers Island Academy, Principal. FOIA helps young people who have been discharged from Rikers Island to continue their education, find employment, get drug and family counseling and otherwise help them re-enter the community. Since 1993 thousands of young people have benefited from the services of FOIA. Friends has continued to grow and is now financially supported by City, State and Federal funding programs as well private donations.
Mentors: My father, Ralph Ostrove, who went to work every day until his death at the age of 82. He always encouraged me to work, even as a teenager. My work ethic, which has served me well, came from him.
TURNING POINT: When I obtained my Masters in Social Work from Columbia University in 1979 my life changed dramatically. I was able, at the age of 53, to begin an entirely new career.
GOALS: Although retired, I intend to continue to be involved both programmatically and financially in Friends of Island Academy and the Business Council of Lincoln Center of which I am a member. I also intend to continue to spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren. #