NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Sidney Barthelemy has been a pioneering political social worker in Louisiana. In 1974, he was elected to the Louisiana state senate, the first African American to serve in that body since Reconstruction. His greatest contributions came while serving two terms as mayor of New Orleans from 1986 – 1994. Although controversial at the time, his efforts to re-vitalize the city have recently garnered more favorable analysis. During his tenure, new development included the Aquarium of the Americas, the Riverfront streetcar and a major distribution center. The city hosted the Republican National Convention in 1988 and the NCAA Final Four tournament in 1993. His administration was key in passing an anti-discrimination ordinance, which affected membership in Carnival krewes. The Barthelemy Administration was also responsible for major restructuring of the mayor’s office.
After preparing for the priesthood during the 1960’s, Barthelemy changed career goals and earned his master’s degree in social work in 1971. He immediately moved into government administration, serving as the director of the Department of Welfare under Mayor Moon Landrieu from 1972-1974. While serving in the state legislature, he joined Xavier University as Assistant Director of the Urbinvolve Program and instructor in the Department of Sociology at Tulane University.
Barthelemy was elected to an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council in 1978, a position he held for two terms until his election as mayor in 1986.
In addition to his long political career, Barthelemy served as an adjunct faculty member in the Applied Health Sciences Department, Maternal and Child Health Section of Tulane University. He is now Vice President of Government Relations at HRI Properties.
Sidney Barthelemy received his M.S.W. from Tulane University’s School of Social Work in 1971. He earned his B.A. in philosophy from St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1967.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1994: National League of Cities Leadership Award
1990: Daniel E. Byrd Award, presented by the New Orleans Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).
1989: Louisiana Conference of Black Mayors’ President’s Award; and the American Spirit
1988: B’Nai B’rith Torch of Liberty Award
1987: Social Worker of the Year, NASW Louisiana Chapter
Barthelemy, S. J. (1984). The role of Black colleges in nurturing leadership. In Black Colleges and Universities: Challenges for the Future (Antoine Garibaldi, Ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger Publish.