Edith Crigler has been a driving force and “legendary” leader throughout her nearly 20 years of volunteer service to the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. In 2022, she received the Volunteer Leadership Award from the School. One nominee said, “Edith’s nearly two decades of dedication and commitment to the Crown Family School is without measure. Her relentless perseverance to advance the school has and will always be present.”
In addition to her Crown Family School credentials, Edith has a BA in political science and a paralegal certificate from Roosevelt University. She is a nationally certified Balance and Restorative Justice Trainer, was an adjunct professor in the criminal justice department at Chicago State University, and serves as a field instructor at the Crown Family School. Edith, who has a keen interest in the area of women and children’s rights, was one of the first advocates in Chicago’s domestic violence court, and has worked tirelessly for victims of domestic violence and other marginalized individuals.
Her volunteer involvement with the School began when she was an EEP student. Although working full-time with women in poverty, she volunteered to join in policy discussion and deliberations regarding noncustodial fatherhood policy initiatives. As the first and only coordinator of the African American Caucus of the Family Resources Coalition, she was responsible for coordinating and directing all projects focused on African American family issues, including publications, policy analysis, consulting, and training. Today, though she is retired, Edith’s commitment to volunteerism continues as she serves as Chair of the Illinois Prison Review Board, the first African American to lead this group. She has been described as “among the most able leaders of prison review in the United States.”
As a founding member of the African American Alumni Committee, Edith has shaped the AAAC’s reach and impact among prospective students, alumni, and community members. She has been a frequent and enthusiastic participant and facilitator on alumni panels, including career talks, influencing many students to pursue their training at the Crown Family School.
Notably, Edith played a vital role in developing, expanding, and formalizing the professional development activities of the AAAC. This effort included establishing the AAAC Symposium and Social Justice talks as significant elements in the School’s celebration of Black History Month. Edith, according to one nominee, “actively enlisted leading social service professionals to participate in and add expert commentary on symposia presentations and discussions topics” and helped elevate the symposia programming to the “level of rigor and relevance sought after by the social work community.”
Her involvement in producing the symposium “Phenomenal Black Women and Girls” was a standout achievement, including notable speakers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the White House Council on Women and Girls, as well as a future Cook County State’s Attorney. The panel discussion she organized, which was at room capacity, examined the impacts of incarceration and violence on African American women and girls, included attorneys, academics, and directors of legal organizations.
Most recently, Edith’s volunteer commitment helped launch the successful campaign for the AAAC Endowment and Scholarship Fund, which already is benefiting and changing the lives of Crown Family School students. She is, said one nominee, “not only a champion for students, but also a champion for social justice. Her passion for social justice is heartfelt and contagious.”