NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Rufus Sylvester Lynch (1946 - )
Pioneering Contributions: Rufus Sylvester Lynch has spent much of his career as a social worker interfacing with societal institutions responsible for law enforcement and the protection of civil rights. He became one of the first, if not the first, social worker to graduate as a Fellow from the Institute for Court Management (ICM), National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. In Pennsylvania, while serving as Deputy Court Administrator, for the State Supreme Court, and Director of Court Management, he trained District Justices and their staff, County Deputy Sheriffs, and State Constables. In his work within the court system and his continued devotion to justice system advocacy in non-traditional social work settings, he demonstrated that social work skills and social workers are extremely valuable in creating an effective judicial system and helped expand and legitimize the role of social workers in court settings.
He has been the catalyst and founder of key service/research organizations as well as charitable enterprises related to family and community empowerment. Lynch founded and served as president and principal investigator of the Institute for the Advancement of Working Families, a forensic education, behavioral change, and employment services corporation focused on welfare recipients and the working poor. As President and Principal Investigator of IAWF, he pioneered efforts in Pennsylvania to deliver forensic education and navigation services to TANF recipients and low-income wage earners that desired to reconnect with their children and/or families, but was facing legal impediments to employment and therefore self-sufficiency. He created a support group, Men Working Toward Economic Self-Sufficiency to assist men in their responsibilities as fathers.
Lynch is a Founding Board Member of The Center for Working Families, Inc., in Atlanta, Georgia, which was pioneered by the Casey Foundation.
Rufus Lynch worked for the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania as well as the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House of Representatives. From 1987 through 1994, Lynch served as Deputy State Court Administrator and Director of Court Management for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). In this position, he was responsible for the unification and standardization of court administrative practices in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. One of his most noteworthy accomplishments was the spearheading of the development of the first comprehensive legislation in Pennsylvania history to regulate constables who serve the judiciary. The legislation was ratified by both Chambers of the General Assembly, and signed by Governor Robert P. Casey on November 29, 1990.
Lynch was dean and professor at the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University where he oversaw the redesign and construction of the school’s permanent home. During his tenure he created the concentrations of gerontology and forensic social work. In 2009, Lynch accepted an invitation from the Morehouse School of Medicine/Cork Institute to serve as Chair of its Advisory Committee for the recently established Historical Black Colleges and Universities-Center for Excellence in Substance Abuse and Mental Health. Presently, Dr. Lynch serves as a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow for Social Change, as well as a Research Associate at Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. As Principal Investigator for the Project "The Integration of Responsible Fatherhood within Foster Care Service Delivery and Other Systems of Care," he explores best practices for integration of Responsible Fatherhood programming within family focused systems of care. In January 2013 he was voted Chair of the Philadelphia Strong Families Coalition (PSFC) Core Group, which has as its mission to strengthen families and improve child well-being through advocacy for effective policies and programs, for leveraging resources, and for encouraging collaboration among Philadelphia's organizations that are family focused and inclusive of fathers.
Dr. Lynch received his BA in sociology from Morgan State University in 1968. He received his MSW from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970 and his DSW from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work in 1973.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Rufus Lynch received the Pennsylvania Social Worker of the Year award in 1978. He was twice recognized by the U.S. Jaycees as an Outstanding Young Man of America. Lynch was the first African American elected to the presidency of the Pennsylvania chapter of NASW. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work and served as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Penn State’s School of School Work in 1981.
He has participated in several White House conferences and or White House public forums, including the White House Conference on Aging, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and the White House Roundtable discussion on "Faith-Based and Community Strategies to Promote Healthy Families."
Lynch, R.S. & Rice, K. Understanding Responsible Fatherhood in the Context of Modern Day Family Formation (Chapter 12), Counseling the Addicted Family: Implications for Practitioners, Edited by Stephanie Lusk, PhD, CRC Copyright © 2014 by Aspen Professional Services.
Lynch, R.S., J. Mitchell, and E. Herrington. “Social Work Education in Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Managing the Legacies and Challenges.” Management and Leadership in Social Work Practice and Education: Ed. Leon H. Ginsberg. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education, 2008 (411-30).
Lynch, R. S., and J. Mitchell. "Do the Ethical Standards of the Profession Carry a Higher Authority Than the Law? Yes.” Controversial Issues in Social Work Ethics, Values, and Obligations. (Ed.) Eileen D. Gambrill and Robert Pruger. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.