Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, Ohio’s premier champion for children and families, passed away on April 17, 2023. Gayle dedicated over 40 years of her life to all aspects of human services and was known as the go-to woman for children and family issues. Gayle was affectionately called “G-Force” for the gentle pressure she exerted when lobbying and “Mother Courage” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer when she was named Ohioan of the Year in 2001.
Gayle freely shared her own life story of child abuse, trauma, and mental illness to educate policy makers and practitioners about the importance of early intervention in children’s lives. She served as a Visiting Fellow, Children and Youth for the Center for Community Solutions, where she led a multi-year successful effort to end the practice of forced custody relinquishment of multi-system youth. The effort culminated in the 2019 announcement by Governor Mike DeWine that the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Job and Family Services would issue $31 million in new funding to support multi-system youth and their families. Her efforts led to the creation of OhioRISE in 2021, a Medicaid program that provides comprehensive care for thousands of Ohio children with complex needs.
Gayle worked tirelessly with policy makers on both sides of the aisle on budgets and legislation to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens.
Gayle worked tirelessly with policy makers on both sides of the aisle on budgets and legislation to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens. She was the co-chair and founder of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, where she worked for eight years uniting health, hunger, older adults, human service, and early care & education advocates to maintain vital public services in the state budget.
As a nationally known expert and a trusted advisor to government, foundations, and local, state and national organizations, she served on the Children’s Advisory Committee during the Obama presidential campaign and continued as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Transition Team. She also received the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner’s Award, given to an individual in each state for exceptional contributions to the prevention of child abuse.
Gayle was devoted to teaching the next generation of social workers and advocates. She served as adjunct faculty at the Ohio State University School of Social Work, as a Senior Fellow at the Voinovich School at Ohio University, and as Adjunct Faculty at the Center for Child Studies at the Schubert Center, Case Western Reserve Center. She served as a mentor and advisor to scores of students of all ages.
Gayle was devoted to teaching the next generation of social workers and advocates.
She held many positions throughout her career, including Health and Human Services Policy Director for Governor Ted Strickland’s Transition Team and executive assistant of human services for Governor Richard Celeste. In 1986, Gayle was employed to lead the Public Children’s Services Association initial advocacy efforts, and she served in that role for nearly 30 years. She founded Channing and Associates, a human services and public policy consulting firm.
Gayle received numerous awards during her lifetime, including Ohioan of the Year by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2001 and an induction into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. She was also a recipient of The Dan Schneider Strategic Leadership Award from the Voinovich School at Ohio University.
Gayle was the proud mother of two grown daughters, Carin and Rachel. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her, but her legacy of advocacy and dedication to children and families will live on. A celebration of her life is being planned for early this summer.