Hershel K. Swinger, Ph.D., founder of Project FatherhoodSM, the program created to address the problem of absentee fathers, died in his sleep at his Baldwin Hills home recently.

A nationally recognized expert in the cultural aspects of family and community violence and drug abuse, Swinger was the senior vice president of the Leadership Center at the Children’s Institute of Los Angeles, and a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 35 years of experience treating individuals and families affected by violence and substance abuse. A retired professor of counselor education at California State University, Los Angeles, Swinger earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from USC. He died on May 23.

Last year Swinger was the recipient of Walden University’s Presidential Award for Leadership in Social Change for the significant contributions he made to advancing the roles of absentee fathers in the community and bringing about positive social change through his program Project FatherhoodSM, which has helped more than 7,000 low-income, culturally diverse fathers across Los Angeles County to become effective parents. Today, the reach of Project FatherhoodSM now been extended through a community grants program that enables other organizations to replicate its model in their own neighborhoods.

“Dr. Swinger’s vision of addressing the problem of absentee fathers lives on,” remarked Alan-Michael Graves of the Children’s Institute of Los Angeles. “Dr. Swinger was my mentor and I am committed to carrying out his vision of giving fathers the tools they need to actively participate in the rearing and well-being of their children.”

With the theme “Strengthening Relationships Between Fathers and their At-Risk Children,” The 4th Annual Fatherhood Solution Conference will still take place Friday, June 17, at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles and will pay a special tribute to Swinger for his pioneering and visionary leadership.