Deb Privott to be Rewarded for Her Long Testimony of Service to Community

An invitation to a Girl Inc. event honoring Deb Privott, shown at right
Deb Privott, beside an invitation to Girls Inc.'s 2022 Fuel Her Fire Lifetime of Inspiration Award program.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 10, 2022) — Debernee (Deb) Privott is not sure if her parents knew how closely she was watching them as a girl when they attended to community needs in the United States and overseas, including two years in the Philippines.

“Their community work made up some of my best memories; and I’ve been deeply involved with service since that time,” she said. She described her father, who worked for the U.S. federal government, and mother as "educators in their souls, and they believe in ‘heart work.’” Throughout Privott’s upbringing, they encouraged her and her siblings to make similar levels of commitment to human service.

Their witness and counsel were well heeded, as the College of Arts & Sciences’ (CAS) Assistant Dean for Public Engagement’s portfolio is overflowing with contributions to community. This will be duly noted by one organization of which she’s lent much support, Girls Inc., as it honors her with its 2022 Fuel Her Fire Lifetime of Inspiration Award on Tuesday, March 8, at The Edison Downtown, 132 Broadway, Schenectady. The breakfast and awards program begins at 8:30 a.m.

Privott’s involvement with Girls Inc., is as program coordinator for the CAS-hosted Eureka! program, helping guide girls into the STEAM fields and beyond. It is one of her many commitments to enhance the lives of girls and women; among these are work with the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, UAlbany’s Women In Government and Civil Society, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 

Her desire to teach goes back to her girlhood. “Some of the richest opportunities to serve that I can recall include teaching students during grade school in Florida,” she said. “I participated in similar work throughout college as a Bonner Scholar and Dewitt Wallace Community Service Scholar at Spelman College in Atlanta — 'a global leader in the education of women of African descent.'"

A poster for a Feb. 24 event in Albany, the State of Health and Mental Health for Black Americans in New York, with five individual photos of participants
Privott, lower right, serves as moderator for this Feb. 24 mayoral event.

Privott said her work with Girls Inc. began “while studying to earn my doctoral degree with the great support of the late Julie Horney, then dean of Criminal Justice. At that time, I was also involved in research through the Continual Improvement Project — now known as SOAR — working with youths in community-based treatment centers in the Capital District. Simultaneously, I worked with the late Father Peter Young’s treatment, employment and housing programs.” Prior to arriving at UAlbany, Privott worked at the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy and the Army Environmental Policy Institute at Clark Atlanta University, also addressing concerns affecting marginalized individuals and groups.  

It was natural, through a shared commitment to community, that Privott met her husband-to-be, three-time UAlbany alum Jermaine (Jay) Privott. (Deb has a masters and doctorate from UAlbany.) In 2009, they co-founded and for nearly 10 years directed Leaders In Service at UAlbany, which immersed students in community service through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, Center for Disability Services, Meals on Wheels, Make-A-Wish, and Ronald McDonald House and others. Today, they also support students traveling through Operation Crossroads Africa — a cross-cultural exchange and service-learning program.

Jay and Deb Privott instilled in their three children the desire to live purposefully — “fulfilling the callings that are upon their lives” — with contributions beyond the University. She chairs the Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, is a board member of the Albany South End community group AVillage, and is an advisor to the Office of the (Albany) Mayor’s Equity Agenda. On Feb. 24, she moderates an Albany mayoral event, The State of Health and Mental Health for Black Americans in New York.

Somehow over the years she has found time to teach several courses in Criminal Justice, including one, she said, “that included a community engagement focus — a needs assessment, with the class meeting at what was then the Capital South Campus Center.” She has also engaged students from China and Germany in global learning through SUNY’s Collaborative Online International Learning program.

What encourages Privott includes her faith, acquired in part from her parents; her dad was an ordained minister. “Both he and mom were very spiritually connected,” she said. She recalled being reminded that she must do what she loves and fulfill the purpose for which she was placed on this Earth.  “One of the best lessons was ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’"

“I look at my life. I've been blessed with so much! God has been so good to me! That is my testimony. I live my life in alignment with my Creator, who orders my steps. I am constantly reminded that where God guides, God provides. I’m forever grateful!”