DU Alumni

Psychology alum’s career in child care services comes full circle

Margot Lacey (BA ’77) began her years at the University of Denver on her 18th birthday: a day that remains an enduring memory of a college experience where she made lifelong friends, met her future husband and was set on an academic path that led to a career in psychology.

Lacey is now director of psychology for the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), a multicultural nonprofit that serves underprivileged and underrepresented youth of New York. Lacey oversees the mental health services, residential diagnostic center and recruitment of PhD/PsyD students to intern at the agency. She also maintains a private psychology practice.

“I love being a psychologist and feel lucky to be part of a profession that helps people,” Lacey says. “I also experience great pride in my private practice, working with people from all walks of life. Touching people’s lives and seeing them grow and change is so rewarding.”

Lacey’s journey to Colorado began with a visit to DU, where she was “very impressed with the beauty and size of the campus, perfect for someone from a small village in western New York.”

She made many new friends on her first day, including her husband, John. “I watched a young man play football under my window,” she says, “and ended up marrying him.”

John Lacey (BA ’75) went on to become a producer in advertising.

Margot Lacey loved the intimate atmosphere of DU and working in small groups with fellow students and teachers. “My psychology professors were outstanding and inspired me,” she says. “They were erudite, yet made learning fun and interesting, and were excellent role models.”

After leaving DU, Lacey earned a master’s degree in counseling at New York University. She went on to become a psychology intern as part of a doctoral training program at the JCCA. Lacey was hired full time upon completion of her internship and has been with the agency ever since, working in the foster care and residential treatment facilities.  Promotions over the years have led to her current position as director of psychology.

The JCCA attracts doctoral-level students in the field from across the country, and this year, Lacey returned to DU to recruit and interview PhD and PsyD students for one-year clinical internships at the JCCA.  (She typically gets more than 150 applicants for six spots).

“I have had the privilege of training doctoral-level psychology students for all these years, and I truly enjoy it,” Lacey says. “Working with this population has deeply impacted me. There is truly no better way to give back.”

Lacey was able to accept one University of Denver student into the internship program this fall. “Visiting DU and having a role at my agency given to a student from my alma mater felt like coming full circle,” she says.

Lacey’s daughter, Danielle, is a junior at DU majoring in psychology, and many other family members have attended as well.

“I am so proud to have Danielle at DU to carry on our family tradition,” Lacey says. “It’s a pleasure to give back to my school, and I feel grateful to have attended a university which has influenced my life on such a deeply personal and professional level.”

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