Honoring 100 for the 100th: Robert Lee

Image of Robert LeeRobert Lee, LCSW, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where he received a Master's Degree in Social Work in 1977. Robert learned the values and ethics of social work from professors Olds, Pierce, Norlin, Chess, Richek, Ho, Bender, Lindeman, and Kirkland. After graduation, Robert took these skills to the ODH Child Guidance Center/Family Planning services in Lawton where he served as social worker, and then to Youth and Family Services in Canadian County where he served as social worker and youth shelter director.

Robert then served from 1980-2013 in various state government and private non-profit positions, and held the positions of Executive Director for nine years at Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center. During this time, he initiated the implementation of the first state funded (non federal grant funded) Systems of Care project in the state. He went on to become Executive Director for three years for the Oklahoma Youth Center, and, under Robert’s leadership, OYC became one of only seven facilities in the nation to receive a federal grant implementing the “Sanctuary Model,” which is a trauma informed treatment program. Under Robert’s leadership, this model became part of the Nascent National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

He went on to serve as Executive Director for six years at Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma. In 2010, Mr. Lee began serving on the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers, four of those years he served as board chair. In 2013, Mr. Lee retired from the Agency and began working with the Evolution Foundation to support community participation in the ODMHSAS Systems of Care projects across the State of Oklahoma. In all these positions Robert has advocated for social work education and has served as a Practicum Instructor and Field Liaison for the OU School of Social Work. He has also taught various classes as an adjunct faculty member.

Robert has provided licensure supervision to dozens of social workers and continues to do so. Mr. Lee was honored to receive the status of emeritus member on the OU School of Social Work Board of Visitors where he served as Secretary/Treasurer for several years.

Robert has won numerous awards and honors, including Community Mental Health Center Executive Director of the year in 1997, the prestigious National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-OK) Outstanding Professional Service Award in 2004, and the Oklahoma Chapter of NASW “Social Worker of the Year” in 2007. In 2009, he received the State of Oklahoma Leadership award with commendation from the Oklahoma State House and Senate. He has served on the Board of Directors for the McKenzie Gardens housing project targeted for mentally ill consumers in Norman, and has also served on the Board of Advisors for Cedar Ridge Hospital in Oklahoma City.

Leading by example, modeling social work values, and advocating for others has been his motto and is the result of his training, mentors, and the OU School of Social Work that has molded social workers for 100 years. Robert stated that he is humbled to be selected as one of the100 social workers to be recognized by the School in the 100th anniversary year.

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