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Morgan, Essie D.

in: People

Essie Davis Morgan (1920 — 1990): Social Worker, Chief, Community Service Section, Social Work Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Mrs. Morgan was a native of Georgia and a graduate of Alabama State College. She received a master’s degree in social work from Atlanta University.  After earning her MSW degree at Atlanta University, Morgan joined the staff of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. There she developed a community placement program for psychiatric patients that served as a model for the VA’s psychiatric hospital system.  Morgan spent a large part of her career working on programs for spinal injury patients. She transferred to Washington in 1965  and joined the VA’s Washington Central Office, Social Work staff, where she became the Chief, Community Service Section. In this capacity, she provided national leadership and direction in the out-placement of patients into community care settings. She also served as liaison social worker to the Spinal Cord Injury Service. Later, she became the first Chief of a newly created program: Rehabilitation and Staff Development, for the Spinal Cord Injury Service, a program that grew out of her effective work as the liaison social worker.

In recognition of her demonstrated administrative and leadership qualities, the VA Administrator of the Department of Veterans Benefits selected her for the post of Area Field Director, Western Region. She completed her VA career as the Manager, Washington, DC Regional Office. She was the first African-American woman to hold these positions. Among her many awards were the Federal Career Women’s Award from the Civil Service Commission, and the Speedy Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, an award she prized above all others.  Morgan retired for health reasons in 1986 and died of a brain tumor Feb. 27, 1990 at her home in Washington, D.C.

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Social Welfare History Project (2011).  Essie Davis Morgan (1920–1990): Social worker, Chief, Community Service Section, Social Work Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from

One Reply to “Morgan, Essie D.”

  1. Esssie Morgan’s legacy is honored annually by=
    Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals
    division of Psychologists, Social Workers and Counselors (formerly the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers)
    Established the Essie Morgan Excellence Award to honor her pioneering work in advancing the psychosocial care of persons with spinal cord injury, In her role as Chief of Rehabilitation and Staff Development for the Spinal Cord Injury Service, she established a network of social workers attached to designated Spinal Cord Injury Centers within the VA health care system. These social workers received training in providing specialized psychosocial care for persons with SCI. She is honored for her pioneering work each year at the ASCIP meeting, attended by 4 different professional organizations working with persons with spinal cord injury. (attended by 500+ professional in 2019.

    Essie Morgan Lecture (Formerly Essie Morgan Excellence Award 1990-2007)
    This award is only given to an active member of AASCIPSW who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the areas of psychosocia ladjustment and rehabilitation of persons with SCI in service delivery, research, education, or administration. It is expected that recipients of this award will have achieved national recognition for their work as well as demonstrated leadership and scholarship in the psychosocial rehabilitation of persons with SCI.”


    The nominee has demonstrated outstanding leadership and scholarship, and is a recognized authority in the area of SCI psychosocial rehabilitation.
    The nominee has demonstrated exceptional clinical, scientific, educational, or administrative achievements in the psychosocial rehabilitation of persons with SCI.
    The accomplishments of the nominee have had a positive nationwide impact on persons with SCI.
    The achievements of the nominee are recognized by peers, professionals, or the community.
    submitted by
    Marguerite David MSW, LICSW
    Founder and former Board member AASCIPSW

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