In September of 1970, Gene Capello, MSW ’71, and Doris Correa-Capello, MSW ’72, attended a demonstration at New York University protesting the Silver School of Social Work’s lack of scholarships for minority students. Gene was a member of NYU Silver’s Black Student Union, and Doris of the School’s Puerto Rican Student Association. The two groups had simultaneously and independently decided to protest the lack of representation for minority students in NYU’s financial aid allotment. Recognizing the power in numbers, the two groups organized a meeting to join forces and plan the protest. As Doris describes it, “I saw somebody sitting in the back [of the room] with big brown eyes...and the rest is history. When we tell friends and family we met on a picket line, we get raised eyebrows and smiles."
Following graduation, the couple married and embarked upon accomplished disparate but social work-oriented careers. Gene received his JD from St. John’s University, and balanced a successful career in legal practice with extensive pro bono social justice work. He retired from the Pfizer Corporation in 2012 as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. He currently serves as president of the board of the Fair Housing Justice Center in Manhattan and is a member of the board of Riverside Health Care System in Yonkers. Doris received her DSW from Fordham University and went on to teach at Fordham University and Kean University, where she also served as a field instructor. She was a founding member of and headed the Child Advocacy Resource Association (C.A.R.A.S.), an agency dedicated to identifying and retaining Hispanic foster families in New Jersey. Doris is currently a volunteer in the nursery program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. On April 5, Gene and Doris will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
Partners in life, love, and the pursuit of social justice, they have never forgotten their time at NYU Silver nor the circumstances that brought them together. In 2012, the couple made a donation to the School’s Puerto Rican and African American student organizations, to be used for programming, to commemorate their 40th and 41st anniversaries of graduating from NYU and to foster continued collaboration between minority student groups within the social work school.
“I think social work is a wonderful field,” shared Doris. “I think we as a society need to support people who are doing the front-line work, both financially and emotionally. There’s still much work to do. We need to recruit more people to go into social work, and we need to provide a link to how the individual and clinical work connects with the policy people.”
Gene, reflecting on his education and career, seconded his wife’s statements on the importance of the field: “I think the social work degree was, is, and will continue to be an extremely valuable degree to have. I have a bachelor’s, an MSW, and a law degree, and social work essentially was the only place where you could actually stop and consider the policy implications of almost everything that happens, whether it's political, social, or economic. That was one of the most valuable things I got out of the school of social work—to understand all these implications and see how interrelated they are. I’m grateful to my teachers at NYU who led me in the direction of trying to understand these things.”
By Penelope Yates, MSW ’15