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School of Social Work

Social Work

Alicia Laura Smalley

Obituary

Alicia Laura SmalleyAlicia Laura Smalley, 54, died December 16, 2006, in Carson City. She was a 32-year resident of Carson Valley. Alicia was born on February 19, 1952, in Las Vegas, Nevada to her parents Jim and Rae Smalley. She is survived by her mother Rae, her older brother Ed, and younger sister Esther Cothrun. She is also survived by her three children, Brook Adie, Darin Arigoni, and Drew Arigoni, two grandchildren Sierra and Sage Adie (5 months old), many nieces, nephews, cousins, and her life partner, Stephen Nicholas.

Alicia was the consummate Nevadan. She grew up in Henderson where she graduated from Basic High School in 1970. Alicia earned her BS in Social Work from Arizona State University in 1974. Upon graduation she moved to Carson City and began working for the State of Nevada. She worked for the State of Nevada for over twenty years working in the Employment Security Division, the Welfare Division, SIIS, Vocational Rehabilitation, the Division of Aging Services, and the Sierra Regional Center. She was a long time advocate for the causes of social justice and equality among people. She supported the goal of diversity in communities and lives. She lobbied for these and other causes on the local and national level. She worked to bring resources to people in need and transition.

She started her family with Richard Arigoni in Northern Nevada in the late ‘70s. She loved being a mother and relished in creating opportunities for her three children. She was a foster parent for a number of kids. She was elected to the Douglas County School Board and served 10 years in this position. In this role she reconciled the philosophies of home schoolers and of the public education system among other challenges.

In 1995 Alicia earned her MS in Social Work at University of Nevada Reno and relocated to Washington, DC, to work as an intern in the offices of Senator Carole Mosley Braun of Illinois. Upon completion of her internship she began working at the University of Nevada, Reno as the Educational Equity Coordinator in the College of Education. She eventually earned her position as Field Work Coordinator in the Social Work School. In addition to her commitments at UNR, she taught social work courses at TMCC. She also traveled statewide, teaching ethics to social workers and donating her earnings to the Nevada chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Alicia was active with the Women for Political Action and served on the National Women's Political Caucus. She was on the National Board for the National Association of Social Workers and traveled to Washington, DC six times a year to meet with the board. She served on their National School of Social Work Credential Committee, was chair of the National Political Action Committee, and chair of the legislative committee of the NASW of Nevada. She served as President of NASW of Nevada and earned their Nevada Social Worker of the Year Award in 1993. She was also the recipient of the Social Work Congressional Fellows award. In 1995 the National Association of School Boards awarded her their "A Worker for Children" award.

In addition to memberships in NOW, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, and the Women's Resource Center in Carson City, Alicia also served on several community boards including the Judicial Selection Committee in Douglas County, the Board for the Partnership for Community Resources, Douglas County Mental Health Advisory Board, the state Community Mental Health Advisory Board, and the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Board. She was appointed by the governor to the Human Resources Block Grant Commission. She served as Co-chair of the All Students Action Team Nevada, School-to-Careers Committee, and as a member to the Dept. of Education Dropout Coalition. Alicia was Board Decretary of the Nevada Women's History Project.

Alicia had completed all course work necessary for her PhD in Social Work at the University of Utah when lymphoma symptoms interrupted her work on her dissertation. She began chemotherapy treatment July 2005 and she continued through all the protocols over the next 14 months, all to no avail.

In lieu of flowers please make contributions to the Scholarship Fund of the Partnership of Community Resources in Douglas County to help local youth further their education. The Partnership's address is PO Box 651, Minden, NV 89423.

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Notes

"I recently heard the news of Alicia's death. I am not alone when I say that Alicia was a teacher, a mentor, an inspiration, and the first person I called when I was fresh out of graduate school and looking for a job.

"Alicia's fingerprints are everywhere and she knew everyone. But for every social worker she molded, mentored, and eventually connected, she indirectly changed the lives for many more. For many of us,without Alicia Smalley we would not be where we are today. And without us, I like to think, many of our clients would not be where they are today.

"Alicia, you will be missed." -- Joe Saiz,MSW, St. Louis, Missouri

"I was thinking of Alicia lately - I often do when faced with a challenge. I think 'what would be Alicia's point of view, her thoughts.' I didn't see Alicia often after we were no longer working together in the early nineties for Aging Services. Fortunately, I was in Nevada briefly in 2005 and spent some time with her. To paraphrase a line I heard once that sums it up: I haven't seen Alicia in at least five years, but I will miss her always." -- Bonnie Andrews, Friend"Our dear friend and colleague, Alicia Smalley, died Saturday evening at 9:10 at Carson-Tahoe hospital (12/16/06). We send our heartfelt condolences to her children, Brooke (who is a graduate of our BSW program), Darren, and Drew; to her beloved partner Stephen, who is completing the last year of the MSW program; and to her wonderful family including her mom, Rae, and her new grandchildren, twins Sierra and Sage.

"Alicia will never be forgotten. Her spirit extends throughout Nevada, her homeland, and out to the corners of the world. She loved social work and devoted her life to extending the profession. We will always remember her at the legislature, talking to policy makers on the flights to and from Las Vegas, reminding us all to not just vote but to become involved! Call our legislators, come out to meetings, walk a picket line! It seemed everyone in Nevada knew Alicia. She worked tirelessly to build the School's field program. How many students who have graduated from the BSW and MSW programs first were won to social work by a conversation with Alicia or one of her introductory social work courses? 'You should think about becoming a social worker,' we can hear her saying that now. Her commitment to social justice was ever present, especially when it came to issues of poor women and children. She served on many regional and national social work committees, and wherever she went she made friends, especially with activists. We remember, too, her love of the Nevada landscape, the hot springs, and especially her devotion to her family and friends. There is a big, sad hole in our lives this morning. Thank you, Alicia, for everything." ------From the Faculty and Staff of the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Social Work

"Good morning faculty and staff of the School of Social Work. I just heard from Denise about Alicia's death. It doesn't matter that she had been very sick for quite a while. What matters is that you have lost another colleague. I can't imagine the loss that you must feel. Alicia was always such a bright and cheery person, not to mention such a great faculty member and professional. We were lucky to have her as part of us for her time on this earth. As you sort this out and move forward, please know that my thoughts are with you. If there is anything that I can do to help with the healing process, please let me know."-- From Charlie Bullock, Interim Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences

"To all of you who knew Alicia, first of all, I can hear her chuckle as I begin to write this, what with all of the marathon talks that we have had over the years about life and death, while riding through the desert or up in the mountains camping. Alicia wanted to stay with us all for many of reasons, two of the most recent of course the birth of her grandbabies. Her excitement over their birth was off the scale and yet she managed to make it up to the mountains later that day as we had planned for a bit of nature and friend time. Her contagious energy has always amazed me and I think many of those around her. Yet in a second she could be pensive, moving into that spirit place where she lived....that place of compassion driven by a vision of our world becoming a better place. She has never minced her words about that just not happening on its own and her commitment helped give rise to my passionate life voice and likely that of many others. In one sentence during a particularly difficult time, she caused me to completely reframe. She said, "When everything is up in the air, just think of all the possibilities!" -- In love and peace, Diane Moyle Phenix, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

"I was so saddened today to hear of the loss of Alicia. She was such an instrumental voice in social work, both within the School of Social Work and in the community as a whole. Alicia was my advisor and at the beginning of my final year we were having an extremely difficult time finding placement. Alicia called me one day and said, 'I can't believe we didn't think about this. You should be at Northern Nevada HOPES (HIV Outpatient Programs, Education and Services)!' Her insight changed my life and I am still at HOPES today. Without her wisdom and guidance I would probably still be a fledgling student with no direction. I will miss Alicia and we have all lost of champion of our cause." - Lindsay Lightfoot

"Thank you so much for telling me about Alicia. I remember that I was thinking last year, how can she stand so strong with cancer? She helped me a lot with my internship placement, and she always found the one that I really enjoyed. She was just amazing woman. I am pretty sure it is a great loss for social work students and department as a whole.

"Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said in her last book she wrote, 'Life ends when you have learned everything you are supposed to learn.' Maybe, it is true. Years she was with us is quite short considering our longevity in these days, but I am pretty sure she lived fully. And I thank her so much, I wish I can tell her." -- Hitomi Mori

"I was really shocked to hear this sad news.... it is hard to believe this. I have taken her classes and she was wonderful... I still remember her voice, smile, laugh, classes, even office. I really wished I could have joined her memorial ceremony. May she rest in peace..."-- With deepest regret, Izumi Koike

"Alicia's will and determination were qualities I admired." -- Anonymous

"Alicia cared so much about social work and social justice and we will always remember her for this." -- Anonymous

"She rallied the troops wherever she was." -- Anonymous