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Division Director, Outpatient Services Division, Gandara Center, age 39
William Davila is passionate about providing families in Springfield’s North End with the support and services they need.
“I tell my staff that it’s really personal for me to work here because I was born in the hospital about two miles away and grew up in the projects about a half-mile away. I understand this community and want to help people looking to improve themselves who are seeking a better way of life,” he said.
To that end, the father of two, who leads a staff of more than 70 employees at Gandara Center’s two sites in Springfield, makes sure everyone who calls or walks through the door gets immediate help. “People often have a moment of clarity in which they decide to seek help. But if they don’t get it right away, their motivation decreases,” he said. “And in inner cities, if families don’t get the services they need, it has a spillover effect that prevents parents from providing loving homes for their children.”
He has increased client access to mental-health services at Gandara by more than 20% in the past two years, brought services to more than a dozen locations throughout the community, consistently improved Gandara’s financial performance, and increased the number of staff members who can meet the community’s linguistic and cultural needs.
Family is critical to Davila, who recently earned his doctorate of Education from the University of Hartford, is an adjunct professor of Social Work at Springfield College, and serves on the advisory board of the Springfield College School of Social Work, as well as the boards of the Sisters of Providence Health System Foundation and Partners for a Healthier Community.
His history of civic involvement includes many other organizations and began when he was about age 12 and joined a peer-education program that did advocacy work in Springfield Public Schools.
“I always knew I would work in social services,” he said, adding that he believes education is critical to success in life and has afforded him the opportunity to “give back to my community and make a difference.”
— Kathleen Mitchell