Influential supporter for Central Valley social services
For four decades Patricia Pickford was a social worker and educator in Central California. She received her MSW from UCLA in the 1950’s and a major part of her early practice was spent with the Fresno County Department of Social Services where she was one of the rare MSW’s in the department and in the Central Valley.
During the 1950’s she played a key role in the continued development of the undergraduate social work program and helped educate hundreds of social workers who themselves became practitioners and leaders of social work and social service programs. With the beginning of the decade of the 1960’s, Ms. Pickford played a critical role, along with Tom Brigham, in the development of the MSW program at Fresno State University (now formally known as California State University Fresno) and its successful accreditation in the mid 1960’s. She was active and influential in developing university and community support for the development of the BSW and the MSW programs and helped in the recruitment of its teaching staff, including its first doctoral level faculty.
Ms. Pickford carried out many important roles in the program including instructor, coordinator, field work, program advocate at the university level, accreditation writer, and grant writer.
Ms. Pickford was an instructor and mentor for thousands of BSW and MSW students at CSU-Fresno. Many of them are now practitioners and leaders in both the public and private sector in the Central California region in social services, aging, mental health, child welfare, regional centers for the developmentally disabled, school social work, corrections, juvenile justice, and the courts.
She was a leader and advocate in the community and at CSU-Fresno for the establishment of programs for the aged and for women. She was also very influential in the development and initiation of the university’s Women’s Studies and Gerontology Programs.
During the 1980’s, Ms. Pickford formally retired from the university but remained active in the gerontology program and in its Friendly Visitor program. Since her retirement she has served on the Friendly Visitor program’s board. She also served on various occasions as its director. She helped keep it afloat at various times during its history at the university. She currently is an active member of the university libraries’ friends committee helping to raise money for the library as well as supporting it herself individually.
Ms. Pickford’s influence at CSU-Fresno and her continuing work in the community has made a significant impact on professional social work in the Central Valley.