Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meet Virginia Gauld - 2011 Mildred Bell Johnson Awardee

Coming from a family of educators, Jenny Gauld began her career in 1967 as a first grade teacher and retired in 2006 after serving as Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Alabama at Birmingham for 16 years. Her professional journey took her through ten years as a counselor, ten years in various administrative positions with UAB Special Studies, and twenty years as Associate Vice President and then Vice President for Student Affairs at UAB, along with a faculty appointment in the UAB School of Education. Gauld received her B.S. from Emory University, an M.A. from University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Highly regarded by her peers as a leader in the field of higher education, Gauld served on the boards of several professional organizations and was sought after regionally and nationally as a speaker on college student issues, adult education, and educational leadership. In the community she served on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Fulbright Association, NCCJ and the Amelia Center. She belonged to the Rotary Club of Birmingham and served as chair of several of its committees for many years before moving her membership to Pell City in 2007. She was a member of The Women’s Network in Birmingham for 16 years and served as President in 1995.

Gauld has used her leadership skills to serve the greater Birmingham community for over 40 years, and since 2006 when she retired has used those same skills to serve the Pell City community. Elected to the YWCA board in 1985, she served as its president from 1989-1995, and as Co-Chair of two successful YWCA capital campaigns. Chosen to participate in both Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama classes, she continued to be active in both alumni groups. She served on the Boards of the Literacy Council of Alabama, National Association for Community and Justice, and Birmingham YouthServe, and as President of the Boards of Leadership Birmingham, the Birmingham International Festival, and The Women’s Fund.

Her leadership roles in Girl Scouts began in 2003 as a Board member of the Cahaba Girl Scout Council. In 2008 she became an Executive Committee member of The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama. She is a Board member of The Imagination Library of the Pell City School District and a Commissioner on the Pell City Housing Authority. As a YWCA board member and a Pell City resident, she led the way for the establishment of the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter for St. Clair and Blount counties.

Gauld’s civic honors include earning the Birmingham YWCA Woman of Valor Award and the 2010 Pell City Citizen of the year for her community service. Gauld has been a prior Woman of Distinction and has received numerous Girl Scout Thanks Badges. Gauld also received the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn – the Gold Award.

Gauld has helped many women and children in Birmingham and Pell City as well as enriched hundreds of students’ lives through her work and leadership as an educator. Though according to Gauld, her greatest accomplishment is being the mother of two incredible children and three step children. She has eleven grandchildren and one great grandchild. For someone who has accomplished so much, Gauld says she has a terrible sense of direction. “Thank goodness for my GPS!”

Gauld will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. For more information, visit