UGA alumna Shelly Hutchinson (MSW ’00) commits to improving
social services for families in need across the state of Georgia.
On a mission
UGA alumna Shelly Hutchinson (MSW ’00) is on a mission to ensure that families in crisis across the state of Georgia are provided the best social services and programs. As the founder and director of the Social Empowerment Center, her goal is to provide quality support to the most at-risk individuals while advocating for fair and effective policies and programs across her home state. In addition, Shelly is expanding the influence of her cause by supporting future social workers and leaders in her field with a generous commitment to the School of Social Work.
Entering the School of Social Work in 1997 as a part-time student on UGA Gwinnett’s campus, Shelly quickly formed close bonds with her peers and professors—relationships that remain strong today. Now, she feels those networks have helped the Social Empowerment Center thrive. On top of forming close connections with others working in her field, Shelly values the hands-on nature of the School of Social Work’s program. Through eye-opening field trips, like one to a prison in Brunswick, Georgia, she was exposed to things she’d never seen before.
In her own words
“I feel compelled to give back, I am incredibly fortunate in business and life today, and if I am able to give back to a worthy cause, School of Social Work is one of the top.”
the power of
Shelly is fortunate to have melded her passion—helping people in need—with a successful career and business. In 2014, the Social Empowerment Center was named the fastest-growing Bulldog-owned business during UGA’s annual Bulldog 100 Celebration and has been on the list ever since. Shelly credits much of her success to the School of Social Work and feels it is important to give back to her alma mater. “I feel compelled to give back,” said Shelly. “I am incredibly fortunate in business and life today, and if I am able to give back to a worthy cause, School of Social Work is one of the top.”
As director of the Social Empowerment Center, she is uniquely positioned to show others—particularly policy makers and administrators across Georgia—what they don’t always see. “We have lots of mental health policies and administrations [in Georgia]—when it comes down to it, those decisions affect real people,” said Shelly. “It’s not until you work with those people that you realize how much they affect them. One policy decision can result in a child going without services. It’s my job to advocate and say this is what’s happening.”
In her own words
“If I can make gifted students stay in the field that would be phenomenal, and helpful for our planet.”
Her gift to the School of Social Work will help educate and train future generations of social workers, and her hope is to make things easier for students going into this difficult but critical field. “If I can make gifted students stay in the field that would be phenomenal,” said Shelly, “and helpful for our planet.”
Shelly not only wants to help the planet but she wants to see it too! “I will always have goals that I may never achieve, but I will try. Right now my goal is to visit all seven continents.” After a recent family trip to Maccu Piccu, she just has Asia, Antarctica and Australia to go.