Anja Mäntylä (1939–2007)
Anja Mäntylä was born in Seinäjoki in December 1939 to parents who worked on the railways. She passed the matriculation examination at Seinäjoki grammar school for girls in spring 1959 and applied for social worker education in Tampere. After completing the degree (1965), her first workplace was the child guidance and family counselling centre of Hämeenlinna.
In April 1969, Anja Mäntylä returned to her birth city. Her first employer was the joint municipal authority of Seinäjoki central mental hospital, from where Mäntylä moved on to launch the operation of the child guidance and family counselling centre of Seinäjoki in 1973. Alongside her work with clients and her work coaching and training tasks, Anja Mäntylä acted as the chief social worker. Her contribution to the development of foster care and family-based care was considerable. Anja Mäntylä retired in 1998, after which she actively participated in the work of non-governmental organisations, such as the Cancer Society.
In her work, Anja Mäntylä emphasised the importance of professional competence, education and development work in the social sector. She often visited Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, where she spoke to the students and also stressed the importance of continuous education to them. Anja Mäntylä’s key values were a community-based approach, attention to diverse social issues, promotion of professional work of a high standard and quality, a work approach in which peer support and expertise by experience are taken into account, appreciation of the client’s will and resources, highlighting disadvantage, and international interaction. The same socio-ethical principles continue to govern the operation of the donor fund set up with Anja Mäntylä’s bequest.