Remembering Virginia "Ginny" Wood

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ginny2The children’s mental health field has lost a pioneer and an extraordinary advocate with the passing of Virginia (Ginny) Wood. The founding executive director of the statewide family-run organization, Families Together of New York State, Ginny was loved and highly respected. Her perspective, expertise, and consultation were highly valued. Her smile was quick and steady, her voice strong and unwavering. She thought carefully about the issues at hand and always told the truth.

Ginny Wood gave so much to so many and asked only that we keep our vision squarely focused on meeting the needs of children, youth and families.

Our thanks to Mary Armstrong for organizing a letter of remembrances to be shared with Ginny's family and our collective national family. Read the remembrances below and feel free to add your own. 

Dear Family and Friends of Ginny,

Many members of Ginny’s national network of friends and colleagues are saddened by her passing. We would like to share with you our thoughts about Ginny’s contributions in the field of children’s mental health and what she has meant to so many of us personally. Some of our colleagues offered the following thoughts about Ginny as a mother, advocate, researcher, student, and above all, a friend.

Jan McCarthy, Georgetown University National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health

Gloria Logsdon, Former Associate Commissioner for Children and Families, NYSOMH

Trina Osher, Huff-Osher Consulting

Barbara Huff, Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Huff-Osher Consulting

Sheila Pires, Human Service Collaborative

Sybil Goldman, Georgetown University National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health

Mary Evans, University of South Florida

Beth Stroul, Management & Training Innovations

Mary Armstrong, Dept. of Child and Family Studies, University of South Florida

Children's Mental Health Network readers are invited to share their remembrances of Ginny in the comment box below. 


  1. Kathleen 'Kathy' Berg's avatar
    Kathleen 'Kathy' Berg
    | Permalink
    The most difficult thing about losing memories is that when someone dies you only know they'd been a good friend because you feel it in your heart. I do know that Ginny and I attended many conferences, meetings and grant reviews together and I do know we shared so many laughs...I know these things not because I remember specifics but because I remember how it felt to be around Ginny. I can think of Ginny and still feel the warmth and happiness we shared when we were together. I hope these 'feelings' will always stay with me as specific memories of my friends slip away.

    I wish we could say all of these kind words and share these wonderful memories with friends while they are still alive but it seems like it takes a death to remind us how much we loved our departed friend. If nothing else we can share these words, "thank you for being my friend", now, while folks are still with us.

    To you all, thank you for being my friends, and to you Ginny...thank you SO very much for being my friend.
  2. Marie Niarhos's avatar
    Marie Niarhos
    | Permalink
    I had the privilege to train with Ginny, presenting the original family driven care curriculum. She knew and taught me the depth of the movement, the value of family participation. It was serious business.
    Ginny also spoke with love and pride about her family, especially her grandchildren. She made a difference and certainly will be greatly missed. I am sorry she is gone so soon.
  3. Evelyn Frankford's avatar
    Evelyn Frankford
    | Permalink
    Ah, Ginny...I first met Ginny almost 30 years ago when I was first organizing New York State's Children's Mental Health Action Network and people said you should involve family members. It was a new idea at the time but we were all new at it then. Both she and I lived in East Greenbush, a "suburb" of Albany NY, and I went over to her house. I remember that so clearly. I remember her in her living room. I found her difficult. Years later, she said that she had found me difficult. But we worked together to move the agenda forward, with Mary Armstrong and Gloria Logsdon and many others so that NYS OMH became a beacon of good policy and practice for children's mental health. Perhaps 10 years ago, at one of the Tampa conferences, when we saw each other, she said "you've softened, even your hair is softer." Very observant, I thought...Life had softened me up. We both enjoyed our meetings at the conference and a few emails in between. I will keep her in my memories
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