Following graduation from the University of Chicago with a social work degree in 1975, Barbara Coats began her career in social work, which included positions in medical and psychiatric social work. In 1993, her love of students, community, teaching, and learning brought her to the Jane Addams College of Social Work (JACSW), where she remained for 28 years until her retirement on June 30, 2021. Prior to becoming the director of field education and community partnerships, Barbara served in the College as a field liaison and the director of the BSW program. As field director, Barbara focused on engagement within communities of color in Chicago, and made it a priority to cultivate field sites where students could have opportunities for learning the skills and knowledge needed for organization and community macro practice.

Barbara’s commitment to the mission of Jane Addams, and to ensuring that students truly understood the importance of social work and their role as social work students, is legendary. Upon her retirement there were numerous accolades, with the following two comments capturing them all. “Barbara is amazing! She stands out in my memory as such a wonderful source of support and insight” and “Barbara is a compassionate, strong, and bold leader—inspiring my own career into field education! The ripple effect she has had on generations of social workers and the impact on social justice is immeasurable.” Barbara has left large shoes to fill and a huge hole in our hearts. Our loss is a gain for the communities and projects to which she will now have more time to devote herself. Congratulations Barbara! We wish you well, and you will truly be missed!