Co-founder of the Citizens Advocacy Center, 2015 I.C.E. Lifetime Achievement Awardee
David Swankin was distinguished by exceptional charm and energy, and a lifelong commitment to the cause of public interest advocacy. Drawing on his legal training, organizational skills, and interpersonal magnetism, he expressed this commitment first in the government as Executive Director of the White House Office of Consumer Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor, and subsequently in the private sector with Consumers Union, the public interest law firm of Swankin and Turner, and since the 1980s, the not-for-profit Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC), which he co-founded to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of health professional licensing and credentialing boards. During a period when the regulatory powers of government were under challenge, CAC grew to be a countervailing force seeking to enhance consumer protections and provide resources and support for the thousands of “public members” appointed to these boards to represent the consumer interest.
Mr. Swankin was an indefatigable upbeat networker and convener of citizen advocates and others, enabling them to share ideas and gain confidence in the importance of their voluntary efforts. He was a constant ambassador for the cause, regularly writing papers and making speeches across the U.S., and even in other countries.
He was a pillar in the world of consumer advocacy, providing counsel to the National Consumers League, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, and others. He advocated before Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and elsewhere. He took consumer advocacy to novel areas, such as the development of technical product standards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and, in the private sector, ASTM (formerly, American Society for Testing and Materials).
He was versatile and omnipresent. He served on the Pew Health Professions Commission, an Institute of Medicine Advisory Committee, and was a Senior Fellow of the UCSF Center for the Health Professions. He was a member of the original National Advisory Council to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and of the faculty of the University of Southern California, Washington, DC campus. Mr. Swankin received numerous honors and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.
As impressive as was Mr. Swankin’s professional career, what most endeared him to his friends and colleagues was his humanity. He cared deeply about people and made committed friends in every dimension of his life. He worked hard and he also loved to play, with similar passion and infectious delight.