In 2010, Cynthia Grayson and Gwendolyn Lawson Townsend vocalized what they saw as a reoccurring happening…whenever a gathering, board, committee, workgroup, meeting was called, those at the table called upon specific persons to “represent the African American community”. Since these ladies believed in “Nothing About Us, Without Us” they began to brainstorm a variety of African American child welfare providers to gather together and discuss next steps.
Many came to the table but the work was hard and tedious. Soon a small committed group of dedicated professionsal found themselves meeting diligently, every week, to organize. This small group of visionaries consisted of:
Cynthia and Sam Grayson of Family Connections NW
Gwendolyn Lawson Townsend of One Church, One Child of Washington State/UJIMA Community Services
Alice Coleman of Coleman Family Services
Esther Patrick of Patrick & Associates
In 2011, the Association of African American Service Providers was formed.
As this Association continued to meet and stratigize, it became evident that a broader vehicle was needed. From this came the vision of a full service Child Placement Agency with Departments dedicated to Family Preservation and Family Reunification and the services which constituted these.
In 2013 this broader vehicle was incorporated as the InterCultural Children & Family Services with the merging of Family Connections NW (Sam and Cynthia Grayson), One Church, One Child of Washington State/UJIMA Community Services (Gwendolyn E. Lawson Townsend), and Coleman Family Services Alce Coleman):
Cynthia & Sam Grayson
**Cynthia Grayson received her Masters Degree from Southern California University in 1978. She began her carreer as a mental health professional and an adoption worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Adoption. As a social worker she has expertise in the areas of adopton, child welfaer, and child protective services.
She as over 25 years of educational, administrative, and clinical supervisory experience. She has provided culturally relevant training and consultation services and cotinues to deveolpe and maitain positive community, educatonal, and institutional relatonships.
Ms. Grayson was the co-founder of Family Connections, NW and now serves as the President of the Bard of Directors and as Executive Director of ICCFS.
** Samuel L Grayson, Chairman and co-founder of Family Connections NW. He began his career as a youth counselor as part of a new concept in counseling specifically targeting the reduction in recividism among incarcerated youths. The treatment modality was Reality Therapy, a discipline that taught individuals to learn skills necessary to avoid consequences, take responsibility for their actions, and gain independence and self reliance.
Samuel studied Civil Rights law at the University of California Los Angeles, School of Industrial Relations and served as Title 7, 1964 Civil Rights Act Compliance Investigator under the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) for Los Angeles, Standardized Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA).
Samuel created and managed the first ethnic specific program serving the black mentally ill offender titled Specialied Black Services, at Central Area Mental Health, Seattle. It's uniqueness was that it combined clinical, professional and para-professional personnel as a team that was both clinical and home based.
In 1989 Samuel was recruited by Snohomish County Government to serve as the Countiy's Affirmative Action and EEO Officer. His primary responsibilty was to develop and implement a diversity program throughout all county departments and services. The program was succesfuliy implemented and continues to date.
Samuel is also a certified mediator, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) through the University of Washingon, Law School Foundation, and has adapted it to Family Conflict Resolution.
Sam now serves as busines and marketing manager an as member of the Board of Directors of ICCFS.
Gwendolyn Lawson Townsend
Gwendolyn E. Lawson Townsend is a child and famly advocate who prides herself in obtaining her M.O.M. (self-degreed as a "Mom Of Many") with 16 biological and adopted children. As one who graduated in Seattle from Garfield High School in 1968, she learned to relentlessly state - “the struggle continues,” but also learned, believes, and lives to constantly be part of the solution.
She has received many state and national awards, recognitions, and appointments to committees, workgroups, and boards for child welfare and family preservation. She was licensed as a permanency planning foster parent for over 20 years, and served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for 15 years.
As one of the founders of One Church, One Child of Washington State/UJIMA Community Services she enjoyed a 25-year tenure as Chief Executive Officer leading it in becoming Washington State’s first licensed African American CPA (child placement agency). Its goal of advocating for our children who are in the child welfare system (foster care) and identifying and supporting strong families who would care for them aids in family preservation, kinship care, foster care and/or adoption to maintain a healthy lifestyle for our children.
Her mission is community engagement and co-strengthening as she walks beside empowered children and their families, toward the elimination of racial disparity and disproportionality in the child welfare system.
Gwenolyn now serves as a retired supporter of ICCFS.
Alice Coleman, founder of Coleman Family Services, is a master's level certified counselor with a wealth of experence in the fields of education counseling, culturally sensitve training.
Alice worked as a high school principal working with parents and youth in problem solving and guiding youth in reaching educational goals. She has conducted, created and facilitated workshops in understanding cultural differences. As a college professor she was instrumental in teaching and leading students towards postive life changes.
Her goal in working with families and individuals is for them to become self-sufficient and independent as they build positive support networks within their immediate and exended families and their comunity at large.
Alice now serves as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of ICCFS.