NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Dorothy Bird Daly (1910 - 1998)
Throughout her professional career, Dorothy Bird Daly demonstrated superb leadership ability as well as a strong commitment to the principles of social work both in practice and policy. Her analytic abilities were most useful in academic settings, but also in welfare organizations in which she held leadership and administrative positions.
An effective leader, she recognized the dynamics which produce effective staff relationships. Her keen intelligence and rational approach to many of the problems of the profession resulted in her lifelong achievements. Ms. Daly employed her skills throughout her active professional life to the development of the profession.
Born and raised in New York City, Ms. Daly received her master's degree in social work from Fordham University. During the Depression, she began working with public assistance programs in both New York City and Baltimore. she became a staff development specialist and wrote a textbook on casework in public assistance. Her husband, a teacher, died when her four children were very young.
In the 1960s, Ms. Daly joined the staff development program of the Federal Bureau of Public Assistance and was later appointed to staff director. During her tenure as staff director, the landmark manpower study which led to the publication of Closing the Gap in Social Work was conducted. This significant work resulted in the funding of social work education for welfare programs.
Following her directorship at the Federal Bureau of Public Assistance, she was appointed Dean of the School of social Work at Catholic University. In the 1970s, she was president of the Council on Social Work Education.
A major strength throughout her long and varied career has been her spiritual values. She has maintained a close relationship with noted Catholic intellectuals who shared her beliefs.