NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Barbara Conniff (1947 - 2015)
Barbara Conniff was an administrator, mentor, risk-taker, political activist, and an emboldened social worker for people with behavioral health and intellectual challenges during her time with Milestone Centers, Inc. (Formerly Allegheny East Mental Health and Retardation Center). Barbara came to the agency in 1981 as the Emergency Unit Supervisor and rose through the ranks to become the second CEO of the agency. Under her leadership, Milestone grew to an organization that serves five thousand consumers annually and employs over 400 employees. She grew the organization with innovative programs, such as a “blue roof” residential facility, which includes new technology to help physically and intellectually challenged residents to live independently. She also founded an art program and gallery for the residents called “Everyone an Artist,” and provided work opportunity for clients by starting a garden, which sells its produce to local restaurants.
She was an active member of NASW, serving on the NASW Board, and as Chair for the NASW Foundation and the NASW Mental Health Section. She was also active in her community serving as a member of the Renaissance Center Advisory Board, the Phoenix Corporation Board of Directors and the Hosanna House Advisory, to mention a few.
Barbara cut her advocacy teeth during the mid-1960s, when as a young girl, she went to Washington, DC to stand with others in protest of segregation and the Vietnam War. She graduated from Carlow University in 1972 with a major in Psychology and earned her MSW in 1978 from the University of Pittsburgh.