In acknowledgement of a professional and personal life devoted to social justice and social transformation in building a civil community, Keith A. Alford will receive the 2018 InterFaith Leadership Award at the “Creating a Civil Community” celebration on May 1 at the SRC Arena & Events Center.
Dr. Alford is chair and associate professor in the School of Social Work, Falk College. A former child protective services worker, outpatient family therapist and therapeutic foster care supervisor, he has devoted his professional life to serving and researching the needs of children and families. He became affiliated with InterFaith Works in 1996 when the agency was launching the Community-wide Dialogue Circles to End Racism.
“Dialogue is so important versus debate,” he says. “When you debate, you have winners and losers. But when you engage in dialogue, it is a process of really trying to understand where the other person is coming from and where he or she would like to go. Through dialogue, we are always looking for ways to clear up misperceptions and understand the lived experiences of others. It also provides the opportunity for relationship building. Sometimes lifelong relationships develop across multicultural lines as a result of dialogue circles.”
In addition to his involvement with InterFaith Works, Dr. Alford has regularly served other organizations across Onondaga County. For eight years, he served as a trustee of the Onondaga County Public Library. He is a current board member of Access CNY, an organization that serves people with disabilities. In 2014, he was named by Social Work Degree Guide as one of the 30 most influential social workers in the nation. In 2015, he was given the Harriet Tubman Spirit Award from Bethany Baptist Church and the Excellence in Service Award from Falk College, Syracuse University. His academic writings have appeared in numerous social work journals and he has authored book chapters in Mental Health Care in the African American Community (Haworth Press, 2007) and Educating Our Black Children (Routledge, 2001). He is co-editor of Rural Families and Reshaping Human Services (Routledge, 2015).
Says Alford, “I am humbled by this award. I am aware of others who have received it over the years and they are people I have always admired. It is also a reminder that my work is not complete. There is still much to do. So this award will be an energizer in many ways—inspiring me to persevere in the work I have always done and will continue to do with a renewed sense of purpose.”
2018 InterFaith Leadership Awards will also be presented to Dennis Baldwin, Esq., Counsel, Mackenzie Hughes; The Rev. Frederick Daley, Pastor, All Saints Church; Rabbi Daniel Fellman, Rabbi, Temple Concord; Melanie Littlejohn, Regional Executive Director, National Grid; Peggy Ogden, Former President/CEO, Central New York Community Foundation; The Rev. Peter Shidemantle, Pastor, Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church; and Yusuf Soule, Coordinator, OnCampus Program, Syracuse City School District, and; the Syracuse University School of Education.