Devereux’s Gail Atkinson retires after more than 50 years of service
When Gail Atkinson applied for a job in 1971 as an activity instructor and counselor at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s former summer camp in Mount Ida, Ark., she wrote, “I am very warm and outgoing. I always stick my finger into every pie. I want to do a little bit of everything for everyone, and this keeps me happy.”
More than 50 years later, Atkinson’s self-description remains accurate – evidenced by a career, and a life, lived with passion and purpose.
In July 2022, Atkinson, who most recently served as Devereux’s vice president of operations and marketing, retired after five decades of exceptional leadership and service to the organization.
“We want to thank Gail for her unwavering dedication and support, and for embodying our mission in her every action. Devereux will not be the same without her – she will be missed every day,” said Devereux President and CEO Carl E. Clark II. “No member of our team has given more to our organization, or to the individuals and families we serve, than Gail. She is quite simply an institution who will forever be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our work.”
Leading to serve
In 1973, Atkinson graduated with a degree in psychology from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and accepted a full-time position as a recreation counselor at Devereux Texas. Over the next 20 years, she served in a variety of roles of increasing responsibility, including: unit supervisor/parent coordinator, communications coordinator, complex coordinator, treatment supervisor, director of operations, acting executive director and executive director.
In 1993, Atkinson transferred to Devereux Florida in the role of executive director. After a successful year helping the leadership team in the Sunshine State, she returned to Devereux Texas to serve another 12 years as executive director.
Then, in 2006, Atkinson was promoted to vice president of operations. During her tenure, she managed the organization’s Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia and Texas centers. While serving as vice president of operations, she also held a dual role of Devereux Colorado executive director from 2013 to 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to her most recent position of vice president of operations and marketing, which included overseeing the organization’s national marketing efforts.
A lasting legacy
While serving Devereux, Atkinson earned a master’s degree in general administration from the University of Houston, as well as Texas certifications as a licensed master social worker and licensed child care administrator. In addition, she took on volunteer leadership roles in both state and national trade and advocacy organizations. She served in board leadership of the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services.
In the spring of 2022, Devereux named its school in League City, Texas, in Atkinson’s honor: The L. Gail Atkinson Learning Center.
“Gail is truly one of a kind. She leaves behind a legacy that will be felt across Devereux for years to come,” noted Devereux Texas Executive Director Pam Reed. “The L. Gail Atkinson Learning Center will stand as a testament to the indelible impact she made on Devereux, our staff, and as importantly, on tens of thousands of lives. Her contributions will never be forgotten, and we will strive to always live up to the example she set for all of us.”
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