Social work practitioner, professor and social justice advocate
Alex J. Norman received his bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College, then attended Atlanta University where he studied with Whitney Young and received his MSW. He returned to school in the early 1970’s and received his PhD, becoming the first African American doctoral graduate from the UCLA Department of Social Welfare.
Norman’s association with UCLA continued when he became a lecturer, then acting associate professor and later associate professor of Community Organization Planning for the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. Among his many professional activities, Norman served as the Associate Director of the Los Angeles Center for Social Research; Director of the Departments of Urban Affairs and Social Welfare at UCLA Extension; worked as the supervisor of investigations for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Los Angeles Area Office; and, as the Training Director of the Economic and Youth Opportunities Agency of Greater Los Angeles.
Sharing his expertise and capabilities with a wide range of individuals and organizations, Norman has provided consultation to Los Angeles County Departments of Community and Senior Citizens Services, Children and Family Services, Probation and Chief Administrative Offices; the Southern California Metropolitan Water District; Riverside County Department of Social Services; Regional Centers for the Developmentally Disabled; and, Kaiser-Permanente Hospital, to name just a few.
Norman is first and foremost a proponent of social justice and wellness. To that end, he has contributed to nine books on topics related to multiethnic coalition building, evaluating community collaborations, and urban planning. His more than 20 peer-reviewed articles have been published in a variety of journals and address community organization, planning human service delivery systems, and building coalitions across ethnic and racial lines.
In 2003, Norman was among the founders of ReThinking Greater Long Beach, an organization with an open membership that promotes and conducts research pertaining to the issues African Americans encounter in the city and identifies potential remedies. In 2013, Norman co-wrote State of Black Long Beach: A Call for Action, a research-based report that outlined the quality of life of the Black community in Long Beach providing historical background and presenting education, health and crime data to convey the problems the Black community faces. The African American Convening Committee hosted an event centered on the report, and 150 Black leaders from the area came together to discuss potential solutions to overcome the obstacles presented. Additionally, Norman has advocated for his community by serving as the first vice president of the Long Beach Community Action Partnership and is currently a member of the Long Beach Community Foundation Board of Trustees.
In the tradition of his mentor, Whitney Young, Norman has illustrated how the pursuit of social justice requires the courage to voice unpopular opinions and the determination to initiate change. He has been a social welfare trailblazer and inspiration, and a role model for generations of social workers to come.