University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

Alison Flakes, In Memoriam

Alison Flakes Memorial Tree

As a family member of the UB School of Social Work, we celebrated Alison Flakes' life at a Memorial Tree Planting Ceremony on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014.

If you would like to visit the memorial tree, it is located:
Outside of Park Hall/Alfiero Center
University at Buffalo
North Campus
Amherst, NY

ALISON L. FLAKES, a School of Social Work adjunct faculty member beloved by students, colleagues and countless others, passed away at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. on June 5, 2014. 

There is not a student, a faculty member or a community who has not been touched by Alison Flakes and her loss is deeply felt by her family, friends, and the social work community of Western New York. She had a remarkable history in the SSW as a student, director, practitioner, and adjunct faculty member that spanned more than 20 years. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from Buffalo State College, she earned her MSW at UB in 1996. She was the School’s director of recruitment, admissions and student affairs from 1998 to 2000; she was also an adjunct in the School in 1998 and from 2007 until 2014. Alison’s experience working in an alternative sentencing program sparked her interest in women facing substance abuse, mental health issues and trauma – a research area she further explored as a doctoral student at University at Albany before taking leave to serve a women’s residential drug treatment program in Georgia.

Alison was involved with many community-based organizations, including the Red Cross, the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Lakeshore Behavioral Health and so many others. Alison loved the classroom and relished in engaging students to think big and to make a difference in their communities. One of her great joys was seeing that “Aha!” moment in those she taught – those moments, she said, “get the butterflies in my stomach just buzzing!” She had an iridescent smile powerful enough to lighten any heavy heart with optimism and hope. It is not surprising that she was the 2014 recipient of the “Adjunct Faculty of the Year” award.

Alison was a Buffalo native with a personal and professional dedication to understanding and addressing the poverty and violence affecting so many Buffalo residents, particularly in the inner city. With a deep-rooted sense of the generational impact of these issues, she devoted many of her years to serving as a change agent and advocate in her community.

Her gentle grace, her care and nurturing of others, and the compassion and strength with which she approached being a cherished family member, a social worker, a friend and a mentor was consistent with Nelson Mandela’s admonition (a lifelong hero): “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

- Sarah Goldthrite and Barbara Rittner, Mosaics magazine, Fall 2014

Photo Celebration of Alison Flakes