Special Honorees: Child and Youth Advocates
While media headlines involving Milwaukee Public Schools are oftentimes negative, the truth is there are dedicated, hardworking professionals working in earnest to ensure students’ lives are enriched. Alex Hardy is among those professionals.
As one of the school district’s social workers, Alex says he works hard to ensure the students under his guidance are poised to learn. His goal is for MPS students to aim for the same pursuit of excellence he has sought after throughout his life.
“I enjoy helping people, and I enjoy giving back to the community,” Alex said of his philosophy toward social work. “In my piece of the world, I would like for it to be better than the way I found it.”
Alex credits a strong upbringing in the outskirts ofMyrtle Beach, S.C., with the values he holds today. He was raised by his grandmother, Pauline, who is still alive today at 101 years of age; and his grandfather, the late Jeff Hardy.
“They had a very strong influence on me,” Alex said. “I saw fi rsthand how they gave of themselves to their friends and neighbors. I oftentimes say that experience was the birth of the social worker in me. What they did left a great impression on me.”
That powerful formative experience inspired Alex to make a positive difference in the lives of children. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C.
An opportunity to further his education eventually led Alex to the midwest when he attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and later earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
From the early 1980s onward, Alex has been involved with a number of agencies and organizations in Milwaukee. Before landing a position with MPS, Alex provided resources through the Social Development Commission and did outpatient work through the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. He also had a role in examining the overcrowding
at county-run jail facilities and sought other alternatives.
Child welfare is among the causes Alex readily admits he holds near and dear to his heart. When the opportunity to serve as a social worker and work as a liaison between MPS schools and families arose, he accepted the new chapter in his professional life.
“I’ve been involved in research that looks at some of the barriers students are facing; some of this involves school attendance and a student’s overall achievement,” Alex said.
As a further extension of his day-to-day social work activities, Alex is involved in a number of organizations. In the Milwaukee Boys to Men Coalition (MBMC), he serves as a mentor to students involved in that community-based cooperative resource that is aimed at developing young boys into empowered, healthy, self-sufficient adult men.
“It’s an opportunity for boys to come together and talk about issues that are of concern to them,” Alex said of the MBMC.
Alex also serves on the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the Wisconsin School Social Workers Association and is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Alex has attended Community Baptist Church on Sherman Boulevard for 30 years. Throughout his time as an active congregant, Alex has taken on a variety of roles, including church treasurer, brotherhood member, deacon and teacher of Sunday school and new member classes. He also co-chaired the church’s education committee, playing an active role in setting policy decisions for the early childhood and daycare programs being offered.
Alex has been married to wife Patricia since 1984. They have two adult children: Brandon, age 27, and Charles, age 23.