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Gwendolyn E. Lawson Townsend, Member

Gwendolyn E. Lawson Townsend is the Chief Executive Officer of One Church, One Child of Washington State, Inc. now doing business as UJIMA Community Services - an adoption/permanency planning foster care/kinship care agency which specializes in recruitment, training, licensing, placement, and support of families for African American children. Gwendolyn is a national presenter, facilitator, and trainer and is active in local, state, and national efforts to increase the awareness of the need for permanency planning resource families for African American children who are within our nation's child welfare systems.

Gwendolyn was licensed as a permanency planning foster parent over twenty five years ago. Gwendolyn is a proud graduate of Garfield High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration in 1992, in order to better serve children and their families. In addition to her leading work with OCOC/UJIMA, Gwendolyn is a member and vice-chair of the State Children's Administration CYF Advisory Committees, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a member of the National Foster Parent Association, Inc., a Representative for the North American Council for Adoptable Children (NACAC), a member of the Washington State Child Welfare Transformation Design Committee, and a member of many other local, state and national boards and initiatives regarding child and family welfare, primarily children of color.

Gwendolyn, a pastor's wife, District (Evangelist) Missionary and Washington State Board Leader/Women's Department of the Church of God in Christ, is the mother of sixteen biological and adopted children and grandmother of 41 (the number continues to grow).

She was presented the 1990 National Black Child Development Institute-Bunny Wilburn Award, the 1993 and the 1994 National One Church, One Child Leadership Awards for child advocacy, the 1996 Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Community Service Award, and was selected as the 1997 Washington State Mother of the Year by which she made Washington State history being the first African American woman so selected. In July 1999, Gwendolyn led her agency in becoming the first statewide African American licensed placement agency in the State of Washington which is continuing on now to fully service the African American children, families and communities in Washington State. In 2005 she received the Esther Award and in 2008 she received the Beyond The Walls Award, both for community service.

Gwendolyn is now mentoring others to take up where she is at so that she can continue child advocacy in other areas such as addressing racial disproportionality and advocating for African immigrant recruitment for foster care families.

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