Last fall, Social Work Degree Guide published a listing of its “30 Most Influential Social Workers Alive Today.” Falk College Associate Professor of Social Work, Keith A. Alford, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., was listed ninth on this compilation that includes educators, activists, authors, and public servants. The magazine, which provides information and guidance on social work education and careers, described the honorees as “experts who instigate awareness and advocate for those affected by social disadvantage, such as poverty, abuse, illness, disability, or social injustice.”

Alford is an educator who teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses at Syracuse University in human diversity, social work intervention, field instruction, family mental health and social work practice with Black families. His students and colleagues also recognize him as a community advocate with leadership service to organizations that include board membership with the Onondaga County Public Library and AccessCNY (formerly Enable/TLS), which provides support for children and adults with disabilities. He facilitates the Community-Wide Dialogues on Race sponsored by InterFaith Works of Central New York, an organization that builds bridges of understanding among people of different religions and across racial divides where he also sits on the board of directors.

In recognition of his on-going community service and advocacy, he received the 2015 Harriet Tubman Spirit Award from the Bethany Baptist Church on February 26 during the annual Turning Another Page (TAP) Festival in commemoration of Black History Month. His featured remarks during the award ceremony were entitled, “Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door.” With this theme, inspired by the Negro Spiritual with those words, Dr. Alford encouraged the audience to listen for the knock of service to uplift others, and to be ready to answer the knock of racial and social justice for all. Michele Jones Galvin, a descendant of Harriet Tubman, presented the award to Alford. She is co-author of the book, Beyond the Underground, Aunt Harriet, Moses of Her People, which delves into the genealogical roots of the Tubman family and its struggle to survive slavery and racism.

Earlier this year, Alford’s co-edited book, “Rural Families and Reshaping Human Services,” was released, providing essential strategies and programs to address the needs of families in rural communities in a time when services are being dismantled and diminished. Originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Family Social Work, the book organizes its chapters by identification of the needs of rural families, addressing disparities in rural areas, practice in rural communities, and human service organizations and professionals. It includes a chapter by Falk College professor of social work, Deborah Monahan, M.S.W., Ph.D. entitled, “Family Caregivers for Seniors in Rural Areas.”

On Thursday, March 19, 2015, Keith Alford will also moderate a panel of activists at the ArtRage Gallery discussing the current focus of their work and strategies on local and national issues. The purpose of the interactive discussion is to exchange information and ideas, sharpen critical thinking skills, and inspire activism.

Alford’s areas of research specialization include mental health service delivery to children and families, culturally-specific programming for children in out-of-home care, contemporary rites of passage programming, loss/grief reactions among African American families. He currently serves on the editorial review board of the Journal of Brief Therapy and the Journal of Family Social Work. He received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and is a licensed independent social worker for the state of Ohio. He is an active member of the Council on Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers as well as an affiliate member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.