I wanted to thank the faculty and students at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service for the honor of receiving the Dr. Mary Ann Quaranta Elder Justice Award this weekend in New York. This is the first year of the award, which is named after one of the great public interest figures and academics of our age.
I was asked to give the keynote address at this inaugural event for the award on Fordham’s unique campus. Gathered were some of the most inspiring and tireless public interest lawyers and social workers in the country. I felt a bit foolish to be honored by such a group when most of the people in the audience were more qualified to receive such an award, but I am not giving it back. The award is a beautiful piece of crystal from Tiffany’s.
I was given the award for my work in sentencing and prison reform and the founding of the Project for Older Prisoners (POPS). Also honored was Mary Harrison, creator of the Nevada-based True Grit Program for elder inmates. Harrison has started an amazing program that helps older prisoners in areas ranging from mental health to physical well-being. I was particularly touched when Mary gave me a doll made the older prisoners as a gift in their shop. It is really amazing (and they even made me look thinner!)
Dr. Mary Ann Quaranta remains an inspiration to every in the field of social work. She served as Dean of the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service for twenty five years and transformed the school into one of the nation’s very top programs. She later become the Provost at Marymount College and had an equally transformative role at that institution. Founded in 1917, Fordham Graduate School of Social Service is one of the oldest social work schools in the country.
I wanted to thank not only the Quaranta family but Dr. Tina Maschi and Dr. Mary Beth Morrissey for their kind words and efforts in bringing me to Fordham. It was a great honor to receive this award and to meet the Fordham faculty and students.