NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
John Eldon Davis
John Eldon Davis expanded social work roles and presence in Texas. He was only the second private social work practitioner in Dallas, and was almost certainly the first to work with an interdisciplinary team in the city. Davis began private practice in 1960, eventually founding an interdisciplinary practice that included a psychiatrist and psychologist. His pioneering work made it possible for local psychiatrists to see the value of and make referrals to social work practitioners. Davis was the first social work consultant to Terrell State Hospital in the mid-1960’s. He was also the first social worker to do in-home disability studies in north Texas for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. Finally, he was the first social worker in Dallas to note the absence of a social worker section in the Yellow Pages and advocated successfully for the addition of that section for practitioners.
In addition to his private practice, John Eldon Davis is noted for his career with the medically compromised and disabled as a clinical consultant and staff trainer to an HIV positive outpatient treatment program at Saint Paul Hospital in Dallas. These same skills were employed when he later trained volunteers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School’s Bone and Joint Clinic.
Davis’s experience in the field of domestic and international adoption has gained him an international reputation. He has worked with local agencies as well as those in central Europe and the People’s Republic of China. He participated in an innovative program at the Dallas Child Guidance Clinic that offered in-home casework and family therapy services in coordination with the local juvenile probation agency. For ten years Davis also taught a number of social work courses at the School of Nursing at Texas Women’s University.
Davis received his MSW and BA in Social Work from Michigan State University in 1955 and 1953, respectively.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1997: Michigan State University’s Alumni Association Service Award
1996: Lifetime Achievement Award, NASW Dallas Chapter; and Distinguished Alumnus Award, Michigan State University’s School of Social Work
1985: Social Worker of the Year, NASW, Dallas Chapter