Cornell Earns BU Award For Outstanding Career In Social Work

After 49 years in social services, Cornell is recognized for a lengthy and distinguished career

 Boston University has announced that Richard (Rik) Cornell, MSW, ACSW, LICSW, and VP of Community Relations for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, will receive the Outstanding Career in Social Work Award this fall. This Outstanding Career in Social Work Award acknowledges and honors a Boston University School of Social Work (BUSSW) graduate who, throughout their career (minimum twenty years), has consistently demonstrated exceptional contributions to the profession and the community at large. Consideration was given to contributions throughout their career in any or all aspects of social work practice including advocacy; clinical practice with individuals, families, and/or groups; education; community organization; administration; program development; research; public policy; and social planning.

Cornell started his career with The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM) in 1973 as an undergraduate student, and from there was promoted several times within the agency. After joining the Emergency Services/Crisis Intervention Team he soon became active in the community while continuing his undergraduate work. He served on the board of Manchester’s first women’s crisis center, The Women’s Crisis Shelter, and also worked with men who were struggling with domestic violence. From there he helped MHCGM to develop sheltered/supportive work environments, especially for those individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and he helped to create and grow The Center’s volunteer program. At the program’s high point, Rik managed over 140 volunteers; while also finishing up his undergraduate work, covering emergency shifts and running Domestic Violence Treatment groups. As his career progressed to the Child and Adolescent Treatment Team, Rik pursued his MSW at Boston University School of Social Work, which he completed in 1987. After earning his degree, he accepted a position with Bedford Counseling Associates (BCA) -an MHCGM group-sponsored practice – where he eventually became Director.  In addition to administrative duties, staff and student supervision, and promoting the growth of BCA, he maintained an active counseling practice and became a “go-to” counselor. Many of the individuals he supervised became great therapists and leaders in both our and other communities.

 “It has been said that -we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.  There is no doubt that Rik has made his life by giving and being of service to the patients and families he has worked with, the community he has brought awareness to and made a difference in, and his intentional focus on destigmatizing mental health especially in the care of children and veterans. It is only fitting that Rik is being recognized for his outstanding contributions in the field of social work as he begins his 50th year of work at The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. We are forever grateful and proud of his remarkable career, dedication, and immeasurable contributions.” said Patricia Carty, MHCGM President and CEO.

Currently, Cornell serves as the Vice President for Community Relations at MHCGM, where he has successfully promoted community awareness of stigma through hundreds of collaborations, trainings, radio interviews, TV shows, and other speaking engagements. Rik is also certified to teach Mental Health First Aid and has said, “Much of my career has involved helping individuals pick up the pieces of their lives, and with Mental Health First Aid, I get to venture into decreasing stigma but more importantly delve into the important work of prevention.” said Cornell.