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Simmons University Magazine

Community Impact

Professor Gary Bailey is one of Boston’s “Most Influential People of Color.”

For more years than he cares to specify, Gary Bailey, professor of practice at Simmons’ School of Social Work, has called Boston home. His unwavering commitment to contributing to the community is rooted in the way he was raised by his parents, who were politically active in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

“This is part of my DNA,” says Bailey. “My parents were very active in the community, especially in the area of civil rights; they were also actively engaged in efforts to change aspects of the judicial system in Cleveland. I learned from watching and I brought that energy with me here to my life and work in Boston. A family motto is that you should always leave wherever you are better than how you found it. That’s how I get up every day.”

Clearly, Bailey’s impact is being recognized. In 2018, he was named one of Boston’s Most Influential People of Color on the GK100, created by Colette Phillips Communications, Inc. and Get Konnected! in partnership with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Boston Foundation.

He describes Boston as “accessible and charming,” and those qualities make him fall in love with the city over and over again. It is also a complex city, particularly in terms of racial issues.

Bailey, who has taught at Simmons since 1999, is honored by this public recognition, but it also reminds him that there is more work to be done. In 2017, he was named to the Massachusetts LGBTQ Youth Commission by Governor Charlie Baker. He tries to make a difference at Simmons, in Boston and across the Commonwealth by being both visible and present—leaning into the values he espouses.

“It’s made me recommit to being vigilant in doing the work with even more gusto,” says Bailey, who directs Simmons’ Urban Leadership Certificate in Clinical Social Work and coordinated the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression sequence. “Show up with a sense of integrity, dignity, pride and honor. To be able to live in my truth as an openly gay African-American man of a certain generation, knowing that all of those markers have meaning to someone.

“I know from former students, that living my truth has made a difference to and for many of them,” he adds. “That gives me a sense of pride and comfort.”

“You should always leave wherever you are better than how you found it. That’s how I get up every day.” —Professor Gary Bailey, School of Social Work