Glenn S. Allison in Memoriam

Glenn S. Allison (1925 – 2007)
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Glenn S. Allison died Tuesday, April 24, 2007 in California. He was born on November 18, 1925.

Following his service during World War II as a member of a squadron in the Pacific theatre, Glenn S. Allison graduated from Olivet College in Michigan, took graduate work at the Chicago Theological Seminary, then obtained his master of social work degree at the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, in 1956. He then served as a psychiatric social worker for the Illinois Department of Mental Health, rising to the position of assistant chief of Psychiatric Social Services. From 1965 to 1968 he was consultant to the

Community Welfare Council of San Diego County and a member of the faculty of the School of Social Work at San Diego State College. During this period, Mr. Allison also served as president of what was then the San Diego Chapter of NASW.

In August 1968, Mr. Allison joined the staff of the Washington office as an associate director of public relations. For a number of years, when the NASW National Office was still in New York City, Mr. Allison headed NASW’s government relations activities from Washington, DC. A registered lobbyist, he was known as the “face of NASW” on Capitol Hill. Former NASW Executive Director Chauncey Alexander described Mr. Allison as “one of the great organizers in NASW’s history.” Mr. Allison was a founder and key figure in the development and success of ELAN, the educational legislative action network for NASW members, and served for more than 12 years on the NASW National staff. According to NASW Past President Suzanne Dworak-Peck, “Glenn was our person on the Hill and made significant inroads. He really had a presence.”

He returned to San Diego in 1981 to become executive director of Episcopal Community Services. He later became a permanent deacon in the city’s Episcopal diocese. He also received the Christianity Unity Award from San Diego’s Roman Catholic Diocesan Commission for Economic and Inter-religious Affairs. The award is presented yearly to a person who has worked for the cooperation and unification of all Christians. Mr. Allison served on numerous community boards and commissions, as well as NASW CA Chapter Committees and taskforces. He was state treasurer of the California Council of Churches and on the executive committee of the County Commission on Children, Youth, and Families. He recently served as deputy director of the Ecumenical Council of San Diego County. In addition to his wife, the Rev. Allison is survived by his daughter Lesley Allison of Sisters, Ore., son, Dr. Glenn W. Allison of Roslindale, Mass; stepdaughters Heather Crews of Baltimore, and Shannon Andrade of Alpine; two grandchildren, five stepgrandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Tributes to Glenn S. Allison

“…Glenn had played a crucial role in establishing and leading key NASW initiatives…” – Elizabeth J. Clark

“…Glenn was a Social Worker’s Social Worker…” – Suzanne Dworak-Peck

“Glenn was a true pioneer…” Mark Battle and Ruth Knee

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  1. From: Suzanne Dworak-Peck
    NASW Past President
    To me, Glenn was a Social Worker’s Social Worker, a role model, a mentor, and simply one of the brightest, most ethical professional social workers the world has known. He had the vision of how to make a difference for our clients, our profession, and our society. Glenn made that real difference and impact for the benefit of all of us here today .

  2. From: Mark Battle and Ruth Knee
    Co-chairs – NASW Social Work Pioneers

    Over the four plus decades that we have known Glenn Allison, we have been impressed with his abilities to be a quiet leader who could further understanding among diverse groups and/or difficult individuals. He had a broad knowledge of social issues and of the special needs of disadvantaged persons and of the evolving public policy and programmatic efforts to remedy these problems. Glenn was a true pioneer in the work that he did in establishing good working relationships with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government on behalf of the social work profession.

  3. From: Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
    Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers and President, NASW Foundation

    May 1, 2007

    Dear Family, Friends, and Associates of Rev. Glenn Allison:

    I am writing to you, on behalf of the 150,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers, to let you know how very sorry we were to learn of Glenn’s recent death.

    I would have liked very much to be present with you at the memorial service. As my schedule made that impossible, I have asked NASW Past President Sue Dworak-Peck to represent the national leadership of NASW.

    When I came to the NASW National Office in Washington, DC in 2001, I immediately heard about Glenn Allison from Mark Battle, Ruth Knee, and other NASW leaders and staff. I quickly learned that Glenn had played a crucial role in establishing and leading key NASW initiatives, including our public relations, lobbying, and government relations activities. During his 12 years working for the National Office, from 1968 to 1981, Glenn became known as the “face of NASW” on Capitol Hill. Former NASW Executive Director Chauncey Alexander described Glenn as “one of the great organizers in NASW’s history.”

    I was pleased to meet Glenn in person when I visited San Diego in 2002. Kurt and Betty Reichert graciously hosted a small gathering for me at their home—and Glenn was one of the people whom they felt I absolutely must meet. We spent a delightful afternoon together.

    Glenn was an NASW Social Work Pioneer®, one of social work’s highest honors. Out of hundreds of thousands of social workers, only 400 or so have been elected. Glenn’s name is permanently mounted on a brass plaque in the Pioneer Room in the NASW National Office. Glenn’s name and a brief biography are included on our web site. We hope his story will inspire students, social workers, and others to continue the important work to which he dedicated his life.

    Over the course of his career, Glenn served in a variety of professional roles and positions. One constant was his deep commitment to the values of social work. I am inspired by Glenn’s lifelong devotion to helping to improve the lives of others. He truly lived out what he believed. We are proud to claim him as one of our own.

    NASW will continue to uphold—and fight for—the ideals by which Glenn lived, and we will do our part to ensure that his legacy lives on.


    Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
    Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers and
    President, NASW Foundation

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