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Outstanding Alumni 2012: Sandra Barnhill and Stephen Garber

Thursday, April 12, 2012 – Ann Claycombe

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The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to announce the winners of its 2012 Outstanding Alumni Awards: Sandra Barnhill and Stephen Garber.

Sandra Barnhill earned her B.S. in Political Science in 1981, and then went on to law school and began her career working as a defense attorney.  She heard from her female clients that they were worried – more than anything else - about their children, and decided to do something about it. She founded ForeverFamily, a nonprofit that supports children whose parents are incarcerated, in 1987. Today the organization serves families in Atlanta, Louisville, Ky., and Austin, Texas.

“GSU is where I really cut my teeth as an activist,” Barnhill said. “Through my involvement with co-founding the GSU college chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., and through working on the Missing and Murdered Children’s Campaing, I learned about fighting for the things you believe in and serving the community. It was at GSU that the purpose of the academy realy hit home for me – the education we receive should help us blend intellect and heart so that we can be of service in the world.”

“Sandra Barnhill is the epitome of service and leadership,” said Akinyele Umoja, chair of African American Studies, who nominated her. “She has used her talent and resources to improve the possibilities of families and communities that others had condemned to failure. She has also provided opportunities for dozens of GSU students and alumni to engage in community service and youth development.”

Stephen Garber, who is an Atlanta native, earned his M.A. and Ph.D in Psychology in 1972 and 1974 respectively. He served as the director of Child and Adolescent Services at South Central Fulton County Mental Health Center and the Southside Comprehensive Health Center before going into private practice. That practice, the Behavioral Institute of Atlanta, is one of the largest in the state. BIA’s 18 partners include Garber’s wife, Mary Ann, who also got a Ph.D. from GSU, in education.

“The GSU Psychology Department was one of the best programs in the country,” Garber said. “To have such a good program, and to have it in Atlanta – I made connections, I made friends, and I made it through in record time, partly because of the research opportunities in the city.”

Later in his career, Garber had a profound impact on Robin Morris, GSU’s Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and a Regents Professor of Psychology.

“I was junior at Emory back in the 1970’s and had a practicum with him and others at the Southside Health Center,” said Morris, who at the time was intending to be a medical doctor. “I have to say that experience with Steve was one of those events in my life that changed my entire view of psychology and what it could do to improve the lives of children and their families. I added a psychology major to my curriculum and the rest is history.”

"Our alumni award winners this year have both used their education to benefit others – Stephen Garber through his work as a therapist and Sandra Barnhill through creating a support network for families," said William Long, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "They embody the GSU ideal of education as an investment not only in individuals, but in the entire community."

The Outstanding Alumni Awards for 2012 will be formally presented to Barnhill and Garber at the college’s annual Honors Night banquet, scheduled for April 18.