Alumni Profile: Charity Douglas, MSW ’98

Charity Douglas, MSW ’98, once a social welfare recipient, now leads a department of social services with 4,700 employees that serves one million community members

Charity Douglas wearing glasses, in front of black screen
Charity Douglas

As a young mother with a special needs child, Charity Douglas spent a short time receiving benefits from Wisconsin’s public welfare system. That experience, coupled with the need to engage with many social service agencies for her daughter, was formative in the amazing trajectory her career has taken.

After first working as a Program Manager for Children’s Service Society in Milwaukee from 2007-2011, she relocated to California where she consistently moved up the ranks at Riverside County Human Services. Charity is currently the Director of Riverside County Human Services.

Riverside, in Southern California, is the 10th largest county in the U.S. With over 4,000 employees, Human Services offers access to health care coverage, temporary financial assistance, employment programs and training, and services that protect children and adults from abuse and neglect.

After receiving her BSW degree from UW-Milwaukee, Charity came to UW-Madison for her MSW degree.  While describing the experience as “scary,” two significant experiences shaped her current career. Her field placement at the UW-Madison’s Waisman Center, a multi-disciplinary campus teaching, research, and service organization dedicated to advancing knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases made her better understand the needs and resources available for those with special needs. The Foster Care course she took with Professor Rosemarie Carbino opened her eyes further to the needs of children and families, which is where her passion and efforts have taken her.  One thing she always remembers about that class, is when Professor Carbino met with her and said, “in five years you’ll be an administrator.”  Though Charity explains, she wasn’t sure what that meant at the time, it proved to be prescient about her career.