Catalyst Magazine

Meet UMB’s Public Servant of the Year

Shantay McKinily, MS School of Social Work
Photo by Matthew D’Agostino

About Shantay McKinily, MS

McKinily is director of the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s (UMSSW) Positive Schools Center (PSC), whose work is built on a strong racial justice understanding and equity focus, approaching school change through embedding restorative practices, trauma-responsive strategies, social-emotional learning, and community voice into schools’ routines, policies, and culture. Since leaving her role as a Baltimore principal to lead the center in 2017, McKinily has transformed it from a startup program into a nationally recognized educational innovation center.


McKinily has helped grow PSC from a budget of $400,000 and three employees to a budget of $4.8 million, 35 employees, and 10 UMB graduate students. The center is one of the largest lead agencies in Maryland for community schools. She offers trainings nationwide, and many organizations visit PSC to learn how to replicate its results.


“Shantay has dramatically expanded the resources and reach of the Positive Schools Center through increased funding support, expanded services, and strategic mergers. At the core of these initiatives is a mission to foster school climates where students feel safe and nurtured and where their families feel welcome. Shantay works alongside vulnerable and underserved families and children to help them thrive in school.” — Paul Sacco, PhD, LCSW, associate professor, UMSSW, and McKinily’s colleague

“Restorative practice is essential in building school community in an equitable way where students feel like they have some voice in what’s going on in the school. And 80 percent of that is building this community, getting to know each other, supporting one another so that when something happens, and people have to respond that 20 percent of the time, the community is already built. There are norms already in place and agreements already made, which is helpful when crisis comes.” — McKinily

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Jen Badie

Jen Badie is the assistant director of editorial services in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

CATALYST magazine

Executive Board

Lynne Henry, Laura Kozak, Larry Kushner, Jennifer Litchman, Thomas Sullivan, Kate Ostrowski


Lynne Henry

Managing Editor

Chris Zang

Assistant Editor

Kate Ostrowski

Photography Director

Matthew D’Agostino


Michelle Baffuto

Web Director

Amir Chamsaz

Marketing Manager

Kristi McGuire