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Updated: August 16, 2021 / 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021

40 Under Forty 2021: Emily Swalec, LCSW

Photo | Erika Sidor Emily Swalec, LCSW
Photo | Erika Sidor 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021 members (from left) Breanna DiBella, Ronald Bernard Waddell Jr., Jessica-Lee Sabine and Emily Swalec, LCSW at the POW! WOW! Worcester mural in Great Brook Valley in Worcester (Special thanks to Che Anderson and Alex Corrales)
Emily Swalec, LCSW, 29
  • Title Program director of Worcester Family Resource Center
  • Company YOU, Inc., an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation
  • Residence Worcester
  • Birthplace Worcester
  • Colleges Smith College School for Social Work, Wheaton College
Click here to read about the other 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021
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Emily Swalec thrives in adversity while supporting others to do the same. As the leader of Worcester Family Resource Center, typically the busiest of the state’s 27 family resource centers, she has mounted two major emergency response operations, to support Puerto Ricans resettling in Worcester after Hurricane Maria in 2018 and, more recently, to create COVID-19 aid.

She became instrumental in supporting the region’s COVID-19 victims, serving thousands of hot meals and free Lyft rides to more than 4,500 individuals and families during the pandemic, including 585 households with active COVID cases. Her work implementing the Hot Meals Program won her the United Way of Central Massachusetts’ Orville Harold Award this year. Even before the pandemic, Swalec reduced write-offs for services unable to be reimbursed by insurance by more than $250,000. She offered technical support and training to more than 600 staff in Worcester County to transition to a new electronic health records system. Despite her packed schedule, she invests time in projects overseeing the vaccine rollout, creating alternatives to detention in the juvenile justice system, and bettering the lives of youth and families in the community. Worcester’s culture and arts are near and dear to Swalec, who calls herself an unofficial Worcester tourism broker.

What world record would you like to have? Most brunches attended in a lifetime

What did you learn from the pandemic? COVID taught me how to, as Pema Chödrön writes, “Relax and have a genuine, passionate relationship with the fundamental uncertainty, the groundlessness, of being human.”

What Central Mass. activity should everyone try? Visit Tower Hill in every season and watch our natural world change!

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