NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ismael Dieppa has been a life- long advocate for maximizing choices and opportunities for all people, but particularly the disadvantaged and oppressed populations in the Southwest. A native of Puerto Rico, as a young man he went to Texas to begin his college education. He joined the Air Force where he left as Ismael, but returned to his home in Texas as 'Andy'. Upon graduation with a BA, he moved to Boston where he worked for the United South End Settlements as a community organizer and group worker. He received the MSSW degree from Boston College.
Later he moved to California where he worked in the Department of Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Social Work, in Fresno and became politically active with the Mexican American community. He received a MPH degree from the University of California at Berkeley. But the War on Poverty efforts commanded his interest in organizing and advocacy; first as Director of a Branch Office of Economic Opportunity Commission in Santa Clara County, then as Director of the Countywide Office Economic Opportunity in neighboring Santa Cruz County. He was admitted to the doctoral program at the School of Social Work, University of Southern California and completed the program in 1973 while teaching and becoming the initial Executive Director of the East Los Angeles Chicano Mental Health Training Center, a joint project of the USC & UCLA Schools of Social Work to train Chicano social workers to work in their own community.
In social work education, Dr. Dieppa has been a tireless advocate in recruiting underrepresented students to the profession. As Associate Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Denver, he sought to recruit a larger number of Chicano and Native American students into the MSW and the PhD programs. He moved on to become the Dean of the School of Social Work at Arizona State University where he extended the program to Tucson, developed an American Indian component and increased financial support for the social work program from $600,000 to $2.3 million in 4 years. He also planned, developed and implemented a doctoral program at that institution.
He was recruited back to California where he accepted the Deanship of the College of Social Work, San Jose State University where he was instrumental in affirming the mission of the program for generalist practice with the Spanish speaking population while expanding the schools mission to include the divergent groups, primarily from Southeast Asia, immigrating to Silicon Valley and providing the foundation for a trans-cultural social work curriculum. He incorporated three other community oriented departments under the College of Social Work: African American Studies; Mexican American Studies; and Urban and Regional Planning. He was an early promoter and advocate in developing the collaborative IV-E initiative supported by the California Social Work Deans and Directors, and now known as CALSWEC. This was the first such collaborative effort by social work programs in any state anywhere in the United States. He moved to El Paso, Texas to become the Program Director of the Social Work Program at the University of Texas at El Paso and made the necessary changes to have the program accredited for the first time. He then moved to Albuquerque where he directed the field component for the Highlands University in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Dr. Dieppa has boundless energy for his vision of bringing people together, into the mainstream, and expanding opportunities to them. In each community he has worked, he has been active at the local level: in Denver, Phoenix, San Jose, El Paso, and Santa Fe by serving on numerous private and public boards and commissions. Recognized by his contributions to local communities, he has received numerous awards. Professionally, he has been active in NASW, CSWE, NIMH, APHA, NCOA, AGA, and a founding member of several groups, most notably in the Association of Latino Social Work Educators, and in California, the Latino Social Work Network. Throughout his career, Dr. Dieppa has been a critic of the status quo and an outspoken advocate for those on the fringes of the mainstream.
His influence has been felt by many-doors he opened have benefited many more and his professional life is an exemplary role model for Latino social workers who follow.