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Kenneth S. Carpenter (1924 - 2018)


Ken Carpenter retired in 2004 after working in the field of criminal justice for 55 years. During this period of time, he  introduced social work principals, programs and policies in juvenile and adult criminal institution settings. Upon earning his MSW in 1950, he became director of the Minnesota Youth Commission’s Diagnosis Treatment Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, where he remained for ten years. He was responsible for developing group and individual treatment and diagnostic programs as well as the training of staff which had previously been largely custodial in nature.

In 1960 he moved to Washington, DC and joined the staff of the Juvenile Delinquency Division of the Children’s Bureau, United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He started in the division as their juvenile delinquency institution consultant and later became director of the technical assistance branch. While he was with the bureau he was responsible for editing a new directory of services for juvenile institutions and supervising consultants in police work with children, juvenile detention facilities, juvenile courts and group work. In 1970 he left the Children’s Bureau to join the staff of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, United States Department of Justice, a program that had recently been established by Congress. He became the director of corrections and was responsible for providing funding for state and local departments to develop a fund for a wide range of juvenile and adult community and institutional programs. From 1980 until his retirement in 2004, he worked at the National Institute of Corrections located in the Department of Justice. He served as the Technical Assistance Manager of the Community Corrections Division.

Mr. Carpenter was a charter member of the National Association of Social Workers. While he was in Minnesota he was a member of the Southern Chapter, NASW, and was President Elect of the Chapter when he moved to Washington, DC. He joined the Metropolitan Chapter of NASW upon moving to Washington, D C, and was a member of the Chapter's Criminal Justice Committee.

Mr. Carpenter was  active for many years as a member of the International Council on Social Welfare and has served as a member of the U.S. Committee, ICSW. He has attended ICSW Conferences in North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, and has served as a conference speaker, workshop leader, and resource consultant on criminal justice. 

Ken served as President of the Columbia University Club of the Metropolitan Washington Area and  was active in the alumni programs of the Columbia University School of Social Work officiating as Committee Chairman of the CUSSW Alumni in Minnesota and Washington, DC. In 1976 he received the Columbia University's Alumni Federation Medal for Conspicuous Alumni Service Award.  In addition, he received the Social Worker of the Year Award from the NASW- DC Metro Chapter. 

Ken Carpenter authored a number of professional articles on criminal justice.  Upon his retirement in 2004, he was awarded a plaque from the National Probation and Parole Association for decades of service in the field of criminal justice.

Mr. Carpenter graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He worked as a Public Assistance Worker for the Polk County Welfare Board in Minnesota for two years before attending the Columbia University School of Social Work, where he obtained his MSW. 

Mr. Carpenter was married to Margery P. Carpenter who is also a NASW Social Work Pioneer®.


Video: Kenneth Carpenter receives Alumni Medal from Columbia University (April 2011)