April 3, 2014
The New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC) and United Social Services, Inc. (USS) recently named its first public service award in honor of Albion alumna Phyllis Harrison-Ross, '56 (right). Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins will be its inaugural recipient at an April 3 benefit that will include tributes from NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, New York Yankees President Randy Levine and National Medal of Arts recipient Harry Belafonte, Jr.
"It's a real honor," said Harrison-Ross, who is especially pleased to be associated with an award for public service. "It’s very difficult to accomplish your goals and objectives working in the public sector. You legally have to consider all stakeholders, not just unions or policymakers or special groups. For me, the more that I feel I’m helping people in need, the better I feel. NYSEC really emphasizes this philosophy, too."
We felt it was important to have an award honoring public service that embodies the ethical action we are founded on," said Heather Grady, NYSEC trustee. "Phyllis has been a real trailblazer and her achievements are the inspiration for this award."
Harrison-Ross's professional career has included roles in hospital administration, public health consulting, forensic and child psychiatry, public education and research. She spent more than two decades at the Metropolitan Hospital Community Mental Health Center, serving as director and chief of psychiatry, associate medical director and president of the medical board.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, she has immersed herself in interfaith disaster mental health services, which led to her current position as chair of the USS Social Service Board. In 2008, Harrison-Ross joined the Medical Review Board of the New York State Commission of Corrections. She is the architect of the USS's Supportive Televisiting Program that enables children to visit with an incarcerated parent. Current partners include Sesame Workshop, New York Public Libraries and Carnegie Hall. Harrison-Ross also serves as secretary of the NYSEC board of trustees.
Ross received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Albion College in 1976.
The NYSEC, founded in 1876, created or helped establish important civil rights, social service and educational organizations including the NAACP, the ACLU, the Visiting Nurse Service and the National Urban League. Each year, NYSEC hosts hundreds of community programs ranging from lectures and theatre performances to town meetings and arts workshops. Its affiliate, USS, is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable members of the New York City area through social service projects.