Former Deputy Executive Director of Richmond Social Services, Dr. Carolyn N. Graham, Dies at 75 | Richmond Free Press


Dr. Carolyn Nadene Graham, senior social services executive in Richmond, Wash. And Florida and founder of Washington-based Mary Elizabeth House to help young mothers coming out of foster care, has died .

The president and CEO of the nonprofit house died of cancer on Tuesday, Dec.21, 2021 in Washington, her family said. She was 75 years old.

A Baptist minister who sought to instill religious values ​​in his various positions, the life of Dr. Graham will be celebrated Saturday, January 22 at noon at Unity of Washington, DC, 1225 R St.

Dr Graham founded Mary Elizabeth House in 2012 after leaving Richmond after a controversial three-year stint as the city’s deputy general manager of social services during the administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

“My mom was a trailblazer,” said her son, Kofi Graham, who is facilities manager and home manager. “She saw herself in the women we take care of. She understood the trauma they had been through and wanted to help them break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their children by empowering them to become confident and empowered.

The home currently hosts 10 mothers of 12 children who were mostly homeless before their arrival, he said.

“It was his dream,” Graham said. “She brought all the experience she had gathered to create a safe space where these mothers could learn the life skills they need to be successful, while their children receive an early childhood education to put them on the line. road to success.”

Dr Graham spent her teenage years in Baltimore, where her family moved to escape the harsh segregation of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she was born. She began her career after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Baltimore and a Masters of Education from Antioch College in Ohio, as well as an MBA from City University of New York.

She also received a master’s degree in divinity from New York Theological Seminary, a doctorate in ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and was ordained to the Israel Baptist Church in Washington and the Baptist Church in Washington. friendship in New York.

Never a pastor, Dr Graham was known for preaching in the halls of government on topics such as child welfare, child abuse and foster care.

“I see what I’m doing as a ministry – a ministry in the form of a government,” Dr. Graham once said. “It’s a vocation. In the Christian context, we are called to face those who have the least.

However, in Richmond, she was forced to leave amid an outcry over her efforts to reduce the placement of abused children in foster care, which she saw as a worse alternative.

She left after failing to gain adherents to what she saw as the best approach to keeping families intact as much as possible while offering parents counseling, anger management workshops, and education classes. children, making family separation a last resort.

Dr Graham honed his skills and views in a multitude of positions before coming to Richmond. She has served as Deputy Mayor of Washington for Children, Youth, Families and Seniors, Director of Social Services in Broward County, Fla., And Consultant to the National Council of Churches in New York City.

In Washington, she was also an assistant professor at the Wesley Theological Seminary and a longtime associate minister at the Baptist Church of Israel.

She has received numerous awards for her work, including being named McDonald’s Black History Maker and Iota Phi Lambda Sorority Living Black History Maker. She was also the recipient of the DC Department of Health’s LanternAward and the HSC Healthcare System Award for Service to Children.

Her son has stated in recent years that she joined Unity of Washington, DC, completed studies in metaphysical spirituality at Duke Divinity School, and was the author of two books, “Sacred Values of Gratitude Journal: Spirit Guide’s Training Manual “and” A Journal: Twelve Sacred Values ​​of Reconnaissance. “

In addition to her son, survivors include her sister, Ora L. Graham; brothers, Larry W. Graham, Robert T. Graham, Eddie J. Lundy and Freddie Perine; and three grandchildren.


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