NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Robert H. Cohen
Robert H. Cohen earned a Juris Doctorate degree from New York Law School and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University School of Social Work. His undergraduate degree is from City College of New York. Prior to his retirement, he was a member of the New York State and District of Columbia Bar Associations and was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in 1988.
Before joining the NASW staff, Mr. Cohen served as Chief Human Services, Model Cities Service Center of the National League of Cities/U.S. Conference of Mayors; Senior Staff Attorney/Deputy Director Federal Programs Division, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Attorney at HEW and Social Worker at the Jewish Family Services in New York, New York. He taught the first course in "law and social work"
Mr. Cohen, social worker and lawyer, has pioneered in both professions and is best known around the country for his 22 years of service with NASW. In 1995, he returned from retirement to lead the nation's social workers for one year as Executive Director. This period was highlighted by a series of editorials in the NASW News and speeches to many social work groups in which he emphasized social worker's obligations to promote social justice and to help ascertain solutions to the problems of poverty and racial discrimination. He also served as a consultant to an NASW Press publication on risk management sponsored by the NASW Assurance Services (formerly the NASW Insurance Trust). His earlier assignment with NASW included those of General Counsel and Director of the Professional Services Division. In these appointments and in his earlier role as Senior Staff Associate, he worked with many issues including those around Federal standards for long term care. He was involved in concerns of certification and licensing standards, reimbursement of social workers from third party payers, social workers as expert witnesses — and other social work roles in the criminal justice system, restraint of trade litigation, inter- organizational relationships, confidentiality of social work records, social work ethics and malpractice, and liability concerns.
He was keynote and plenary session speaker at numerous national and state conferences including NASW Annual Leadership Meeting (1996), Arizona University School of Social Work Convocation (1996), NASW Annual Conference (1995), PACE (1995), NCCNHR (1995), and various NASW State Chapter annual meetings.
He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Work, Metropolitan Washington, D.C., NASW Chapter (1993); the NASW Presidential Exemplary Service Award (1994) ;and he was recognized by the Boston University School of Social Work Alumni Association for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Social Work (1996).