A huge loss! Adrienne was a shining example for social workers in Ohio.


In remembrance of Adrienne Gavula

We are distressed to share that social worker Adrienne Gavula died in a car accident on Saturday. Prior to her role as development manager at The ACLU of Ohio, Adrienne built the power of social work in our state as the relationship manager and associate director of NASW Ohio Chapter. In her two years at the Chapter, Adrienne revitalized our organizing efforts, mobilizing hundreds of social workers to advocate for state issues and developing member services now considered indispensable. Wielding her expertise in public relations and deep commitment to social justice, Adrienne advocated fiercely to change systems of oppression.

On a personal note, saying “it was an honor” cannot sufficiently encapsulate what it was like to work with Adrienne. She was our comrade, our mentor, and our friend. She will be missed greatly.

Our deepest condolences go to her family, her friends, and to all of you who knew her. We are devestated by the loss of her.

A celebration of her life will be held in Columbus this Friday, September 8th at 6pm. The location information will be posted on NASW Ohio’s Facebook page.

Adrienne Gavula 1982 – 2017

From the ACLU of Ohio

Adrienne Gavula, a longtime colleague, passionate civil libertarian, and friend—passed away unexpectedly on September 2, 2017. Adrienne began working for the ACLU of Ohio in 2004, and later served as regional office director of our Columbus office and then development director.

As a student at Ohio University, Adrienne first became involved with the ACLU when a speaker came to campus and sparked her interest in civil liberties. She immediately became involved with the ACLU student chapter and served as their public relations director, where she planned events on topics ranging from the USA Patriot Act to access to reproductive healthcare. When she graduated, she moved to Cleveland and was hired by the ACLU of Ohio as a field organizer, where she worked with activists from Akron to Marietta to advance justice and liberty.

Adrienne left the organization in 2009 to pursue her master’s degree in social work at Ohio State University. Her social work education only deepened Adrienne’s compassion and understanding of social justice. She was incredibly proud of being a social worker, and later on in her career served as a mentor to students from OSU’s social work program.

After becoming a licensed social worker, Adrienne worked as a medical case manager at Columbus AIDS Task Force where she helped improve clients’ quality of life through access to medical care, counseling, and housing. She also served as associate director for The National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter, an organization dedicated to advancing and protecting social workers and the clients they serve.

In 2013, she rejoined the ACLU of Ohio in the Columbus office as regional director. Adrienne’s leadership helped grow the Columbus office into a powerful presence in central Ohio, and she led important campaigns that merged her passion for civil liberties and social work. In 2015, she transitioned to development director, where she was able to share her deep love of the ACLU of Ohio with donors and members across the state, and ensure the organization was able to stay strong and effective.

Adrienne was a fearless advocate for people with disabilities. She utilized her background as a social worker to take on the use of solitary confinement on people with mental illness. As a result of her tireless activism, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction committed to no longer housing people with serious mental illnesses in long-term solitary confinement—a major victory. In 2015, she also launched an innovative pilot program in Dayton to assist voters who used American Sign Language with obtaining a translator during early in-person voting.

Adrienne also cared deeply about advancing reproductive freedom in Ohio; she served on the Freedom of Choice Ohio Coalition and as chair, board member, and current volunteer for Women Have Options, Ohio’s abortion access fund.

Previously, she volunteered as a health educator at Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio and as a facilitator for eating disorder support groups at The Center for Balanced Living.

In her personal life, Adrienne was an avid sports fan. She travelled with her family yearly to the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, and fiercely defended her beloved Steelers from any gentle ribbing from Cleveland Browns fans in the office.
Noted social worker Jane Addams’ words ring true:

“What after all, has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and courage to advocate them.”

Adrienne’s life taught us much about empathy, courage, and determination. She always believed in the basic decency of every person, and never lost hope for a better world.