Field Agency Awards: 2022 Field Instructor of the Year


Tiffany Gallegos Whitley

Field Instructor of the Year

Agency: Prosper Waco
Title: Director of Workforce Initiatives

1. Why is it important for you to work with social work interns?
I’m passionate about workforce development and consider field work to be crucial in training and equipping emerging social work practitioners. I love social work and take working with interns as an opportunity to model, practice, and guide what they will find in the workforce. It is always fun to see them making connections between what they learn in the classroom and their field experiences. I also love getting to see former interns transition to colleagues and watch them grow in their profession. Field instructing is truly a wonderful experience!

2. How long have you had GSSW interns?
I’ve had the opportunity to field instruct GSSW interns for the past 5 years.

3. Tell us a little about yourself and your job.
I came to Waco to attend Baylor in 2008 and never left. I received my B.A in international studies and took a year to work with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger & Poverty (then Texas Hunger Initiative) before I got roped into the GSSW for my MSW (best decision ever). I specialized in community practice and started working at Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries right after graduation. I fell in love with the intersection of social work and workforce development and had opportunity over the years to hone my strategic partnership and fund development skills in a very macro setting. I worked there over 5 years before taking my current position as director of workforce initiatives at Prosper Waco. I have been in my current role for almost 2 years, where I oversee workforce projects that bring together key stakeholders to collaborate and continue building equitable training and career pathways for all McLennan County residents. In addition to serving as a field instructor for GSSW, I sit on the board of directors for Greater Waco Legal Services. In my spare time I enjoy doing house projects, taking care of my 50+ plant babies, and spending time with my husband and rambunctious 3 year old.

4. Tell us a little about your agency.
The mission of Prosper Waco is to build an environment in which all members of our Waco community are able to measurably improve their education, health, and financial security. To do this, we use the Collective Impact model, which brings together key leaders and organizations to coordinate community wide work and promote collaboration through the following seven core elements:

1. Shared visions for change that lead to a common agenda
2. Shared measurement systems to track pursuit of a common agenda
3. Stakeholders working together for mutually reinforcing activities
4. Continues communication to build trust among stakeholders
5. Public will and leadership in pursuit of common goals
6. Mobilized funding from within and beyond Waco
7. Public policy advanced in support of community goals

5. What does it mean to you to receive this award?
It was such a pleasant and kind surprise to receive this award. I feel honored, humbled, and thankful. I had such a wonderful field instructor and internship experience during my time in the GSSW program. My goal has always been to give back to the school and provide students with the type of field instruction that was so formative to me. And of course, I always want to encourage my interns to become field instructors themselves one day!

What others have to say about Tiffany...
Tiffany has been a tremendous resource for me both personally and professionally throughout this year. She has been a field supervisor for the GSSW for 6 years, first in her role at Goodwill and now in her Role as Director of Workforce Initiatives at Prosper Waco. She has graciously directed with care and flexibility the three interns that started in the Fall, and this spring added three more as other internship placements and instructors fell through. She has stepped up and provided each of us with her time and grace and attention. Personally, she has taken the time to hear both my strengths and weaknesses and encourage me to develop both in equal measure, pushing me where needed and providing space to try and fail when necessary. I appreciate her time, her candor, and her work that is the prime example of an effective social worker in our community. For Tiffany to receive this award would simply be an acknowledgement of all the work she has already done.

Tiffany has been a consistently strong field instructor in each agency she has served and our students gain rich learning experience because of the time and dedication she provides them. She goes out of her way to incorporate their work in the life and goals of the organization, highlighting each student’s strengths and opportunities for growth. She works alongside her agency to prepare ahead of time for ways their learning can be achieved through work that will directly impact the agency and community. Tiffany is an alum of our program, knowledgeable and skilled in Advanced community practice and passionate about her work in the Waco community. She quietly, humbly and consistently works alongside Prosper Waco and the community to help the community grow and achieve their goals. This year she willingly took on two additional students mid-semester when their placements experience unexpected change. She worked hard to ensure one student’s work could be continued through Prosper Waco and the staff came around this student as well to champion this conversation.

Congratulations, Tiffany! We are so glad to have you as part of the GSSW team!