Heidi Peck, a life of Advocacy
For Heidi Peck, 2004 BASW alum, social work has always come naturally. During her time at Rutgers, she lived on Livingston Campus and was elected to the position of committee member of Middlesex County for Piscataway, New Jersey Ward 4, District 6, where she served two terms. She also completed a two-year fellowship at Eagleton Institute of Politics as an undergraduate associate. Peck said, “My time at Rutgers certainly helped to shape my career. Learning more about the political process, the needs of my constituency, and starting the first successful on-campus voter registration initiative helped me to learn what it means to help a community.”
After receiving her MSW from NYU in 2005, she began her formal career as a social worker at Realization Center, Inc., a privately owned substance abuse outpatient treatment center in Union Square, Manhattan. Then she worked as a social worker for six years at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Brooklyn Hospital and Harlem Community Based Outpatient Clinic. During her time at the VA, Heidi was also selected for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Office of Diversity and Inclusion in Washington. Starting in 2012 she was asked to serve on the advisory board for female veterans at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and Peck continues her role there today.
After many years of advocacy and volunteerism, Peck decided to leave federal employment and formally pursue her passion, to work in the LGBTQ community of which she is also a part. Peck came out as “gay” in graduate school, and now identifies as both a lesbian and gender non-conforming person. In 2013 she became the associate director of Adult Services at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center) in Manhattan. “Understanding first hand that even today many LGBTQ young people still face being disowned and kicked out by their families, which puts them at high risk for homelessness, under education, unemployment, social stigma, suicide, sex trafficking, HIV, and more, drives my passion to work in this community,” Peck said.
Peck says her other biggest honor is being an adjunct lecturer at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. “Working with, learning from, and influencing the next generation of social workers has truly been a dream come true.”