NASW Foundation National
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Mary Blake (1909 - 1991)
Mary Blake was born in Ohio. Her father was a dentist who died when she was
a student at Oberlin College. Following graduation, she entered Case Western Reserve School of Social Work where she earned her MSW. She began her professional group work career as Executive Director of a settlement house in Cleveland, Ohio, and then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she became Executive Director of the Elliott Park Neighborhood Settlement House. She was active in local and national group work organizations and was an early leader in the American Association of Social Workers.
During the years she worked in Minnesota, she was one of a number of social group workers who made significant contributions to the development of social group work policies and practices, including Dr. Gisela Konopka and Dr. Ruby Pernell, both of whom were on the University of Minnesota School of Social Work faculty. Dr. Konopka was the author of several social group work publications and Dr. Pernell became a member of the Case Western Reserve School of Social Work faculty and later became Dean of the School. Dr. Louise Shoemaker started her group work career working with Mary Blake and later became Dean of the Pennsylvania School of Social Work. All three were later to be nominated as NASW Social Work Pioneers®.
Mary Blake joined the Division of Juvenile Delinquency, U. S. Children's Bureau, United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, as a Consultant on Institutional Group Work Services and was the author of several publications on social work in juvenile delinquency institutions. Upon retiring from the Children's Bureau, she moved to New York City and worked for the Young Women's Christian Association. She later moved to Colorado.