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Three 2012 Ruth Taylor ScholarsThe Ruth Taylor Award Fund Committee announced the scholarship winners for the 2012-13 academic year. The Ruth Taylor Scholarships are given through a partnership between United Way of Westchester and Putnam, Westchester County Department of Social Services and Urban League.

Four of the recipients are from White Plains:

  • Crystal Colon who attends Hunter College and is pursuing a master's degree in social work
  • Gladys Johnson who is pursuing a master's degree in public health at New York Medical College
  • Victoria Sampugnaro who attends Hunter College School of Social Work and is studying for a masters of social work
  • Samantha Wilkinson who is pursuing a master's degree in social work at Fordham University

Two other recipients hale from Cortlandt Manor and Mount Vernon. They are:

  • Kayla Martin, of Cortlandt Manor, attends Fordham University, studying for a masters of social work
  • William Tananbaum of Mount Vernon attends both Sarah Lawrence College for a master's degree in child development and New York University for a masters of social work

Recipients were recognized at United Way of Westchester and Putnam's annual meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at the Westchester Country Club.

The Ruth Taylor Award Fund, established in tribute to Ruth Taylor upon her retirement as Commissioner of Public Welfare of Westchester County and in recognition of her nearly four decades of outstanding service to the county in the field of social welfare and health, gives grants for scholarship awards, for tuition or maintenance, or both.

Persons interested in applying for the 2013-14 school year should anticipate an announcement being released on the Web sites of the United Way and Westchester County DSS at in February 2013. Eligible individuals must be residents of Westchester County pursuing graduate level education on a full-time basis at accredited U.S. colleges or schools in social welfare or public health. Criteria used in evaluating applications are public service, financial need and scholastic capacity.

Congratulations and continued success to this year's Ruth Taylor Award winners.

Photo: (from left) Gladys Johnson, Samantha Wilkinson and William Tananbaum.

Kevin M. McGuire, Commissioner of Social ServicesKevin M. McGuire, a one-time New York City social services caseworker, who up until the end of 2010 was executive director of the Maryland Department of Human Resources Family Investment Administration, was selected following a nationwide search.

"The responsibilities of the job are enormous, especially in the tough economic environment," he said. "At the same time, we have new opportunities to think of different ways we can assist the most vulnerable and needy of our fellow citizens. The goal is to move individuals and families toward self-sufficiency."

McGuire began his career in the human services field in 1981 as a caseworker in the South Bronx for the New York City Human Resources Administration. He stayed with the department until 2003 in a variety of positions that focused on programs as well as data processing and technology. From 1998-2003, he served as the Bronx deputy regional manager, where he was part of the team that planned and implemented New York City's successful welfare reform efforts.

In his position with the Maryland Department of Human Resources, McGuire was responsible for the administration of all public assistance programs, including those dealing with welfare-to-work, food stamps, child care and medical assistance.

His accomplishments include:

  • An increase of 20 percent in job placements of public assistance recipients
  • An increase to 40 percent, from 6 percent, in the work participation rates of those receiving help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
  • Receipt by Maryland of numerous federal grants for a variety of programs, including those relating to food stamps and technology
  • Receipt by the state of almost $50 million in TANF and food stamp high performance bonuses
  • A department citation from the U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Service for exemplary service for the quick response to the needs of Maryland residents during Hurricane Isabel in 2003
  • Emergency response efforts during several national disasters, including the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and relief efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita

McGuire noted that he has great passion for his work and has worked hard to earn the respect and admiration of people from both sides of the aisle in local, state and national governments as well as from various foundations, think tanks and advocacy groups. Having grown up, gone to school and spent the better part of his career in New York, McGuire said he was delighted and excited to come to work for Westchester County.