Alan began his career as a social worker in the family policing system, where he worked as an investigative caseworker and administrator. Today his work focuses on ending the harm that results from this system.
In 2020, Alan helped to create and launch the upEND Movement, a collaborative effort dedicated to abolishing the family policing system and building alternatives that focus on healing and liberation. Through the upEND Movement, Alan co-authored upEND’s foundational policy document, How We endUP: A Future Without Family Policing, and upEND’s recently released Framework for Evaluating Reformist Reforms versus Abolitionist Steps to End the Family Policing System.
Alan is author of Confronting the Racist Legacy of the American Child Welfare System: The Case for Abolition, published by Oxford University Press in 2023. He is co-editor of Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice: Reckoning with Our History, Interrogating Our Present, Reimagining Our Future, also published by Oxford University Press in 2023. Alan is also the co-founding editor of Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work, a peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journal dedicated to developing and disseminating an abolitionist praxis in social work.
Alan formerly served as Dean of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) from 2015 through 2022. During his tenure as Dean, Alan led the transformation of the college into a premier educational destination proudly focused on the pursuit of racial justice through an abolitionist social work lens. In 2021, he launched the nation’s first Master’s-level specialization in Abolitionist Social Work. Despite record enrollment growth during his time as Dean, he was removed from this position in December 2022 due to concerns among the university administration over the abolitionist direction of the college. In May 2023, Alan was named Outstanding Faculty Member by students of GCSW’s graduating class.
Alan received his bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU, and master’s and PhD in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington. His work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Houston Matters, and The Isiah Factor, as well as in The Appeal, Mother Jones, Truthout, Buzzfeed News, The Imprint, Texas Monthly, and The Texas Tribune.