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September 19, 2022 / Articles

Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea is honored with YMCA Central Carolinas Lifetime Advocate Women of Achievement Award


YWCA Central Carolinas has honored Presby Psych executive director Mary Gail Frawley-
O’Dea, Ph.D. with the 2022 Lifetime Advocate Women of Achievement award for exemplifying
a lifelong commitment to promoting social justice. Since moving to Charlotte in 2005 and
leading Presby Psych since 2010, Mary Gail has been dedicated to reducing the stigma too often
associated with psychological distress and to widening access to counseling and psychotherapy
in Charlotte. Under her leadership, Presby Psych now offers free and financially assisted
services to all employees of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, CMPD, Matthews PD, Pineville
PD, CFD, Matthews FD/EMT, area health care workers as well as to members of FOP NC Lodge
While this award recognizes Mary Gail’s leadership in Presby Psych’s trauma-informed services
to the residents of YWCA Central Carolinas’ Women in Transition program, she is also
internationally credited for her teaching, lecturing, writing and clinical work with adult survivors
of adverse childhood experiences, especially sexual abuse. As the only psychologist to address
the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the consequences of sexual abuse by clergy,
she became a regular contributor to National Catholic Reporter which received the 2017 Gerry E.
Sherry First Place Award for Best Investigative/Analysis Newswriting for her 4-part series on
sexual abuse and recovery (https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/hell-hope-and-healing-
four-part-series). In 2013, NYC’s William Alanson White Institute recognized Mary Gail for her
humanitarian approach in writing and clinical presentations. In June 2023, she will be traveling
to Israel for the second time as the keynote speaker at the Haruv International Institute’s Third
Annual Conference on Child Maltreatment. In addition to these clinical pursuits, Mary Gail has
served as an expert witness in sexual abuse litigation.
Mary Gail declines any notion of herself as a one-person show. She acknowledges the
incomparable doctoral and post-doctoral training she received at the Gordon F. Derner School of
Psychology as the bedrock of her clinical acumen and relational approach. Over a career
spanning almost 40 years, teachers, supervisors, colleagues, students, supervisees, editors, and –
especially – the courageous men and women who trusted her to walk with them on their journey
towards healing all have both supported her and challenged her to grow and further develop her
craft. Today, she is honored to lead a group of impressive clinicians who are passionate about
clinical work, dedicated to lifelong learning, and drawn to the outreach work that makes Presby
Psych the special place that it is. They make her leadership responsibility a joyful passion. She
also credits members of Presby Psych’s Board of Directors who have trusted her to steer the
organization in directions once never even considered.
Receiving this award from YWCA of the Central Carolinas is extraordinarily moving for Mary
Gail and is a deeply appreciated highlight of the Charlotte portion of her career. She also wants
to acknowledge staff member Dr. Amanda Jamison who is Presby Psych’s liaison to YWCA’s
Women in Transition Program. Mandy deserves a lion’s share of credit for the success of the
Presby Psych program there.

YWCA Central Carolinas will present the award at its Women of Achievement event, a
celebration of donors and honorees, on Oct. 27.