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Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time for us to honor Black Americans’ achievements in the face of systemic oppression throughout our Nation’s history. In 2021, we celebrated the Former Acting Commissioner of Social Security (ACOSS), Carolyn W. Colvin, M.B.A., her achievements while in office, and her support of the SAMHSA SOAR model.

Spotlight on Former Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin

Three individual and group images of Carolyn Colvin

"My prior work experience—especially the experience I have gained in social service agencies—has taught me about our obligation, as a Nation, to the well-being of our constituents. It has taught me that government can take measured, responsible steps to assist those less fortunate than ourselves, while also promoting the kind of earned right social insurance programs that America’s workers deserve in retirement."—Former Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Carolyn W. Colvin, M.B.A.

ACOSS Colvin served as Acting Commissioner from February 2013 to January 2017. Her career is one of public service and leadership—in addition to her work at the Social Security Administration (SSA), she served in the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore City Health Department, and the Maryland Department of Human Resources. During her tenure as ACOSS, Ms. Colvin led SSA to administer over $800 billion each year in monthly benefits to over 60 million recipients. Her leadership at SSA was marked with accuracy, compassion, and excellent customer service.

While ACOSS, Ms. Colvin was an ardent supporter of the SOAR model and its potential for increasing positive outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness. During her tenure, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center and SOAR providers across the country had many opportunities to meet with ACOSS Colvin to collaborate and promote the SOAR model. Here are just a few examples of her collaboration with SOAR during this time:

  • In 2014, SOAR Specialist Keyana Lewis of One Roof (Birmingham, Alabama) attended an invitation-only meeting with ACOSS Colvin. “I was able to voice opinions about my experience with the local office, how much I have been helped by important contacts at the Disability Determination Office…It was great to meet [Acting] Commissioner Colvin and to be thanked for the work that I do for the homeless community through SOAR!”
  • In 2016, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center served on a panel with ACOSS Colvin to discuss lessons learned from Virginia's work on ending homelessness. During the panel discussion, ACOSS Colvin highlighted the importance of SOAR and relationships between community providers and SSA offices. She noted how SOAR increased positive outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • In 2017, ACOSS Colvin attended the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless meeting, which highlighted the impact of the SOAR model in the State of Colorado.

We are grateful for ACOSS Colvin’s leadership and support of SOAR! She is a true SOAR Superstar!