CRISP to Honor Former Rep. Ed Towns on Social Work Day on the Hill

Former Congressman Ed Towns

The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) invites social workers and friends to join in honoring the lifelong contributions of former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns during its third annual Social Work Day on the Hill Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Mr. Towns was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and went on to serve 15 terms, retiring in January 2013. Over the course of his time on the Hill, he rose to chair the powerful Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He also chaired the Congressional Black Caucus in 1991 and created the Congressional Social Work Caucus in 2010 to provide a platform on the Hill for the social work profession.

He was able to realize one of his dreams when he and CRISP organized the first Social Work Day on the Hill March 17, 2014. At that time he said, “Having a day for social workers on the Hill has been a dream of mine for a long time. This will be a day held each year when social workers from all walks of life can gather on the Hill to celebrate the many accomplishments we have made in Congress and salute the many social workers working with the federal government to create a more just and equitable society for all people. March is Social Work Month so this is the perfect time to do this.”

Ed Towns with mentor the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm.

Mr. Towns began his political career when he left his position as an administrator at Beth Israel Hospital to become Brooklyn’s first African American Deputy Borough President in 1978.  He won the admiration of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and she began grooming him for an eventual run for Congress. Mr. Towns viewed his work in Congress through the lens of his commitment to improving the lives of others as a professional social worker and ordained minister.  He received his Master in Social Work (MSW) degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He is the recipient of seven honorary doctoral degrees.

Mr. Towns is married to the former Gwen Forbes and they have been happily married for more than half a century.  They have two children, a son Darryl who served 10 terms in the New York State Assembly before being appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as commissioner and chief executive of New York State Homes and Community Renewal and a daughter, Deidra. Mr. and Mrs. Towns are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren.

Not quite ready to fully retire, Mr. Towns maintains connection to Washington and the Hill working closely with CRISP. He is also a Senior Advisor with Gray Global Advisors, a company started by his colleague the late William Gray, a Philadelphia pastor who served in the House of Representatives from 1979 until 1991. Rev. Gray was the first African American to chair the House Budget Committee. The advisory firm is now headed by Rev. Gray’s son Justin. Mr. Towns continues to support and participate in social work events and activities.

CRISP to Launch Towns Congressional Fellows Program

The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) is inaugurating the Ed Towns Congressional Fellow Program to support its work to create more opportunities for social work students to engage Congress and the Federal government. CRISP will facilitate placements in Congressional district offices as well as offices in Washington, DC. CRISP will provide stipends to support Fellows. The fellowship will be for one year, during which Fellows will be expected to engage in designated activities.

The Ed Towns Congressional Fellows Program advances CRISP’s mission to encourage more social workers to engage and participate in political processes in pursuit of social and economic justice. CRISP believes that social workers will initiate and support policies, laws and regulations that lead to more fair and equal opportunities for all Americans.

The Fellows Program is open to all social work and public health students in good academic standing with a proven record of volunterism in civic activities. CRISP will assist in the placement of BSW, MSW, and MPH students in Congressional district offices. Placements in Washington, DC will be limited to second-year social work and public health master’s level students. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 grade average (in a 4-point grading scale) and must have recommendations from the dean or director and at least one faculty member.