NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Iris Carlton-La Ney, P.hD., MSW
Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey has concentrated throughout her career on issues involving African-Americans and has brought to the attention of the social work profession historical figures of influence in the African-American community, as well as having trained students to continue and expand her work. Although her efforts have been largely scholarly and academic, Carlton-LaNey has had an impact on the people who continue to benefit from her research and on her students who carry on her work.
Unlike most Pioneer nominees, Carlton-LaNey is not a clinical social worker, but is a teacher and researcher whose work has enriched the entire profession. Treading new ground, she has honored the work of pioneers of the past and is worthy of being named a pioneer of the present.
For 36 years, Carlton-LaNey has taught in social work programs in three North Carolina universities: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and North Carolina A & T State University. After receiving her doctorate degree, she began teaching at the University of North Carolina's School of Social Work, where she would remain for 21 years.
Carlton-LaNey's major teaching focus has been African-American social work pioneers who, until her study and research, were little-known. She has advised and mentoring her students, who have produced scholarly works far beyond expectations. Her focus on social work African-American pioneers has filled gaps in history, which she has connected to contemporary policy and practice. Without her academic works, African-American contributions to the development of the profession may have been missed.
Carlton-LaNey received her M.A. in social work at the University of Chicago in 1974 and her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Maryland. She is known as an outstanding social work academic, mentor and scholar.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Among her honors, Carlton-LaNey can count the following: Distinguished Achievement in Social Work Education Award, from the National Association of Black Social Workers; "Heroes for Justice," from the University of Maryland School of Social Work; and numerous teacher appreciation awards.
Carlton-LaNey has published four books, two (African-American Leadership in Social Work History and Preserving and Strengthening Small Towns-and Rural Communities) of which were published by NASW Press. Several social work scholars have noted that Carlton-LaNey's work was essential in teaching them how to conduct historical research. Carlton-LaNey's historical research has provided a framework and model for other scholars who have followed her lead in the exploration of the contributions of African-American social work pioneers. In addition, Carlton-LaNey has written multiple book chapters and articles on African-American aging, social work in the American south, African-American breast cancer survivors, and training African-American social workers, among many other topics of relevance, which are far too numerous to cite here.