Dorothy Fahs-Beck (1906-2000) was the oldest of five children whose family roots and experience shaped her socially progressive point of view. Her mother, Sophia Lyon Fahs, born in China to Evangelistic Presbyterian missionaries, became an acclaimed liberal reformer in religious education, profoundly influencing teaching in the Unitarian church.
Dorothy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in1928. While studying for a master's degree in sociology at the University of Chicago, Dorothy met her future husband, Hubert Park Beck, known as "Park" (1907-1989). As newlyweds during the Great Depression, Park taught science in Bronxville, and Dorothy began her career working for a number of private and government agencies, supervising research into the costs of medical and dental care. In 1944, Dorothy received her doctorate from Columbia University and became a research statistician for the American Heart Association and then Cornell Medical College. Park became a professor of Educational Psychology at City College of New York.
In 1956, Dorothy became the Director of Research for the Family Service Association of America (FSAA), where she remained for the next 25 years. It was in this position that she would have her greatest impact as an innovator in the area of human services research, as she investigated issues that are of great interest today, but were largely unexplored in the 1960s and 1970s. On Dorothy's forward-looking agenda were such issues as evaluating the outcomes of family services; soliciting the clients' perspective on the services and the outcomes of service; comparing the perspectives of the clients and their counselors on the services and outcomes; investigating the impact of various characteristics of the clients and the counselors on the nature and outcomes of service; and investigating the impact of enhancement services, such as marital enrichment, in addition to ameliorative services. The Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation is one of Dorothy and Park's enduring legacies.
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