NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Helen A. Fisher (1930 - 2005)
Helen Fisher was for 48 years a tireless advocate for social justice, particularly for young people and in the field of adoption rights. She developed programs for children in Dobbs Ferry, New York (for special-needs boys); the Children’s Aid Society in Philadelphia, where she developed special needs’ services for the child welfare department; and the Crozier-Chester Medical Center in Chester, Pennsylvania where she developed the social service component of the visiting nurse’s service. She also served the Delaware County Women’s Center to create services for women who experienced domestic violence.
Her passion for serving adopted children and their parents may have come from her personal experience as an adopted child who sought information on her birth parents for 20 years.
After her long career in the East, Fisher returned to Texas in 1980, where she joined the University of Texas Medical School’s pediatric department. She also established a private practice specializing in adoption studies and worked as a consultant for children’s services for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Church of the Holy Spirit. She also created the Search Center for the Homeless in Houston.
Fisher’s political work in Texas began in 1982 when she worked with an NASW committee to lobby for an increase in the A.F.D.C. grant. The Texas legislature subsequently passed the increase. She also served in a Bellaire, Texas precinct and has photos of herself with Tipper Gore, Carol Moseley Braun, Al Gore, Hillary and President Clinton and former Texas governor Ann Richards. She had been involved with NASW since 1956, serving on a number of Houston chapter committees. She referred to herself as a “Yellow Dog Democrat.”
Helen Fisher earned her MSW from the University of Texas in 1956. She received her BA in psychology and religion from Texas Christian University in 1952. Fisher was working on her Ph.D. at the time of her death.
Fisher was known as Helen “the Hat” Fisher to her friends and colleagues. She traveled to many countries including India, Vietnam, Tibet, Russia, Peru and China. She was a board member of Texans Against Gun Violence.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Helen Fisher served as president of the Texas chapter of NASW in the late 1990s and as a delegate for the Delegate Assembly. She was also active in the United Nations Association as a member of the board for the Houston chapter of NASW.