Richard Albrecht has dedicated his professional career to serving the needs of individuals and communities. Having seen people at their best and at their worst, he has remained focused on working with individuals to develop the best course of action to provide them with the help and support they need most.
That was true when he was a corrections officer and corrections treatment specialist at the Franklin County Jail; true when he was a protective services investigator and deputy director for the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging; and it has been true ever since he arrived at Temple University Harrisburg in 2015.
"I think my career prior to Temple has always been service related. Working in corrections gave me a good sense and understanding of some of the underlying causes that lead people to be incarcerated," said Albrecht, who has been appointed Acting Director of Temple Harrisburg following the recent retirement of longtime director Link Martin. Working with those populations really helped prepare me to be an investigator for older adult protective services. That is a human services field directly related to serving the community working specifically with older adults that are abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned — I think that through that process it solidified my drive to want to help others."
During his time at the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, Albrecht was offered a Program Manager position in Temple Harrisburg's Institute on Protective Services where he went on to become Assistant Director of Training and Curriculum Development and then Associate Director.
"The driving force for me to come to Temple was the opportunity to increase my reach in providing community support services and working with others to increase their reach. Instead of just focusing on Franklin County, being a program manager with the Institute allowed me to expand my training and support opportunities to the entire Commonwealth," he said. "Since then, we've been integrally involved with the National Adult Protective Services Association; I've done a number of training workshops through their annual conference."
During his time helping guide Temple Harrisburg's Institute on Protective Services, "my goals were to develop and deliver the best training products that we could to support the work of Older Adult Protective Services investigators," Albrecht said.
"Having been in that field, I think I brought an understanding of the complexities and difficulties of that position and what is required from a knowledge base. I've worked with my colleagues at the campus to expand the breadth of our training programs," he said. "In the last couple of years, we've focused on expanding the modality of how individuals get that information — moving a lot of curriculum online to asynchronous learning modules and starting to work with virtual reality as a method to provide training opportunities."
The work of the Institute and its 20-year relationship with the Pennsylvania Department on Aging "has allowed us an opportunity to expand into other training programs with other state departments that do similar work," Albrecht said.
"That's allowed us to go into some other program areas to expand our external funding and the number of state departments that we're able to partner with to develop and deliver quality training products for the populations they serve," he said.
Becoming Acting Director of Temple Harrisburg, Albrecht said, "means a lot to me because of the programs we offer and the teams that work so hard to put them together."
"When I think about the work that we do at our campus — training programs, professional development, non-credit opportunities — I'm looking forward to being able to work with more people supporting the communities that we do. That connects right back to my initial drive of wanting to help others; I think it's a logical continuation and expansion of those opportunities," he said. "I certainly appreciate the support from Link Martin and the faith that (Vice Provost for University College) Vicki (Lewis McGarvey) has placed in me to continue to lead the campus following Link's tenure. Link did an amazing job for 27 years. They're big shoes to fill but I'm eager and excited for the opportunity and looking forward to what's to come."
Prior to his retirement Martin has some advice for the incoming director.
"Trust the staff, they know what they are doing. There is a good network of people at Main Campus and within University College that support the mission of this campus," Martin said. "The new director needs to build relationships with the University deans and directors and make sure they are aware of the opportunities available to them to use this campus."
Albrecht has taken that advice to heart. Continuity during this transition period, he said, is key to ensuring the programs and services Temple Harrisburg provides remain at top quality.
"We have a lot of moving parts — we have significant external funding. I want to ensure that our funders understand that the transition is not going to impact the quality of the work that they receive," he said. "I'm excited to be on the forefront of assessing opportunities for additional funding as well as developing and continuing the strategic vision of the campus to identify program areas that we are interested in expanding, programs that we find value in and that we excel in to best serve the community. Additionally, I am eager to work with our long-standing partners that we have within the University and look for opportunities to expand our collaboration with new academic units."
One of the things that makes Temple Harrisburg unique, Albrecht said, is its reach in the Commonwealth and well beyond.
"While we are located in the central part of the state, we offer training programs throughout Pennsylvania. We are also partnering with school districts in the area to offer dual enrollment for high school students and we continue to look for ways to further the mission and values of Temple in the region," he said. "There is great value to the community engagement we are engaged in and what we bring to the field of human services not only in Pennsylvania but across the country. We provide support to the community not just from an academic standpoint, but in enriching and bettering the lives within the communities our campuses serve."