"Current times force our society to engage in deep individual and collective introspection. Social workers must respond and reinvigorate our core values in the process. Research remains vital as we continuously spread empirical understanding and foster diverse and expansive training opportunities."
Culturally specific service delivery for special populations; the exploration of helping approaches in family mental health; rites of passage programming for adolescent African American males; kinship care and child welfare interventions.
Keith A. Alford was named dean of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work in August 2021. Previously, he served in multiple positions at Syracuse University, including as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO), a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Team, professor of social work, chair of the School of Social Work in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, MSW director, and BSSW director. He was also named faculty member of the year on multiple occasions.
In his role as CDIO, he provided executive leadership, oversight and vision for a range of services, programs, policies, and procedures related to advancing the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Alford’s areas of professional 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, and loss/grief reactions among African American families.
He is involved with a National Science Foundation grant, supporting the training of diverse undergraduates in conducting trauma research with veterans. At Syracuse, he also served on the Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity and was a member of the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.
A former child protective services worker, outpatient family therapist, and therapeutic foster care supervisor, Alford has devoted his professional life to serving and researching the needs of children and families. He has been affiliated with Syracuse-based InterFaith Works for over 22 years as a facilitator of community dialogue circles to end racism. He has served on boards and advisory committees for a number of organizations, including InterFaith Works and AccessCNY, and is a past trustee of the Onondaga County Public Library. As a volunteer, he has served at the Dunbar Center as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters School-based Mentoring Program.
Alford’s academic writings have appeared in numerous social work journals, and he has authored several book chapters, and contributed op-eds and columns to newspapers and magazines on issues associated with diversity, human services, and volunteerism. He has served as an editorial board member of the Journal of Urban Social Work, the Journal of Brief Therapy, and the Journal of Family Social Work. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Academy of Certified Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Social Workers, the Society for Social Work and Research, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and the Child Welfare League of America. Alford has served as principal investigator, co-investigator, and consultant on various grants over the years from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Children and Families, New York State Office of Mental Health, United States Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Gifford Foundation.
Alford earned a PhD from the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he received the Edwin Sharp Burdell Award and was honored as teaching associate of the year. He earned a Master of Social Work, also from OSU, and a Bachelor of Arts in history and sociology from Coker University in Hartsville, South Carolina.