To say Al Kasprowicz was a forward thinker would be an understatement. Even early in his tenure at St. Aemilian’s, Al anticipated – and sometimes, instigated – major changes in the field of child welfare at the Diocesan, public and county levels. His innovations far exceeded the 1960’s expectations of orphanages and opened the door for a more comprehensive coordinated care model. Al worked for St. Aemilian (which became SaintA in 2014) for 30 years, starting as a social worker, then executive director and eventually serving as President and CEO from the early 1970s until he retired in 1990.
Al passed away, at the age of 88, on February 11, 2016. A memorial service is being held for him Saturday, March 5 from noon – 3 p.m. at the Rotary Building in Waukesha.
First, a decade of pace-setting change
As a social worker, psychotherapist, and President/CEO, Al’s list of professional accomplishments was impressive. He started at St. Aemilian in 1960 and by 1965, his vision for a day treatment program with coordinated services including therapy and academics had come to fruition. In 1966, St. Aemilian created what Al called, “foster homes with a twist,” and began training foster parents to provide out-of-home care for children with special needs. In 1969, Al oversaw St. Aemilian’s reincorporation to a non-profit, non-sectarian residential and day treatment center.
Then, two decades of business and programmatic leadership
Beginning in the 1970s, Al commandeered many organizational and administrative changes, which led to better financial viability and put St. Aemilian at the top of the state’s largest treatment programs. And, it set the stage for the St. Aemilian and Lakeside merger that would happen later, in 1989.
Al became known for the way he always kept pushing the organization to innovate and measure the outcomes of its interventions. “The question was always, ‘how can we expand our services and create new concepts?’ Because the world was really changing,” Al said in a 2010 interview, celebrating the organization’s 160th anniversary.
Al and his St. Aemilian colleagues became nationally recognized for their model of child and adult treatment programs. It wasn’t called trauma informed care back then, but Al’s determination to understand the link between current day circumstances and an individual’s experiences was truly ahead of its time.
A man of both humility and pride
Of all his accomplishments, Al was most proud of leading the transformation from orphanage to residential treatment center. “We had to change the concept that a child’s placement at St. Aemilian meant they could never return home,” Al said in a that 2010 interview. It was this thinking that led to the family-centered care that informs child, adult and family treatment plans still today.
The staff and friends of SaintA are grateful for Al’s influence and leadership, which set the stage for many of our successful, outcomes-based programs today. One of our SaintA Way Values is Innovation and we certainly have had a great role model for that.