Lottie Swan-Crawford – Embracing Equity

Lottie Swan-Crawford with current Human Rights Commissioner, Spencer Chiimbwe

On Monday, March 6, 2023, a resident at Dowling Gardens, Ms. Lottie Swann-Crawford, was honored for her work as a former Human Rights Commissioner in Rockland County. During her tenure, she founded a coalition that built affordable housing and passed the first fair housing law in 1983 in Rockland County. She was presented with an award and a bouquet by the current Commissioner, Spencer Chiimbwe, who expressed gratitude for all her efforts to promote equity. He said that he was “standing on her shoulders, and all human rights advocates, which allowed [him] an immigrant from Zimbabwe, to become a Human Rights Commissioner in Rockland County.”

Lottie was born and raised in Piermont-Sparkill area, attended Sparkill Elementary School, Tappan Zee High School, and Rockland Community College. She recently celebrated her 100th birthday!

Two years ago, some of the Dowling residents did an intergenerational project with South Orangetown students studying art and language arts.  According to Beth Doherty, Activity Director at Dowling, two groups of students worked with Ms. Lottie. She was interviewed by the language arts students and then, based on her interview; the art students created a memory bottle for her.

According to Lottie,

I was always helping people, and someone said that I should apply for a job because I was already doing it anyway. So, I applied to the Commission of Human Rights, and they hired me as a community worker, which allowed me to work helping African Americans to get better jobs. I took it a bit further and helped to get students into college, which enabled them to go even further in their careers. My best memories are of helping others fulfill their dreams.  Eventually, I became the first African American Woman Commissioner of Human Rights appointed by the County Supervisor, John Grant and I investigated complaints of bias in housing, jobs, and public accommodations. I did speak out against whatever I saw that was wrong.

We celebrate Woman’s History Month, with the International Women's Day 2023 campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity. We accept the challenge to follow Lottie’s example and imagine and strive for a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination—a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

The residents and staff of Dowling Gardens want to thank Lottie Swann-Crawford for her selfless and tireless service.


Sr. Susan Dunn– Sister Susan Dunn, OP


Sister Susan is active in social justice efforts, and is on the staff of, Dowling Gardens in Sparkill.


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