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Martha Hayden Kendall Holmes (1945 - 2011)


Pioneering Contributions


Martha Hayden Kendall Holmes was a pioneering social worker in the fields of neonatal and maternal care.  She was instrumental in establishing the second Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (N.I.D.C.A.P.) training center in the world,  created in 1986 in Oklahoma City.  The Center is a comprehensive, evidence-based model of developmentally supportive care and assessment for pre-term and newborns and their families.  The establishment of these centers has helped to drastically decrease mortality rates for newborns and developmental disabilities in young children.


Kendall Holmes was the first social worker at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center and was hired as a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics.  Her certification for N.I.D.C.A.P. was earned at Harvard University’s Medical School in 1986.  Holmes was one of the founders of the Oklahoma City Parents Assistance Center.  Her research addressed and sought to alleviate the problems of fetal alcohol syndrome, the effects of chronic illness on families and caregivers, and how to deal with death and grief in the perinatal setting.

Her pioneering work extended to the macro level, where Kendall Holmes was active in politics and tirelessly advocated to improve the lives of children and families.


Career Highlights


In addition to serving as Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Kendall Holmes served as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social Work at the same institution from 1977 until her death.  She was part of the core faculty of Oklahoma Interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Health Professionals Caring for Children with Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (L.E.N.D.), also at the University of Oklahoma.


Holmes was also Director of the Oklahoma Infant Transition Program, at the university’s Health Sciences Center’s Department of Pediatrics.  She obtained and oversaw many grants that funded studies on at-risk infants and parents, as well as conducting workshops for professionals who provided services for these infants. 


Kendall Holmes was active in NASW. at the national and local level from her days in graduate school until her untimely death.  She was a founding member of the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers and of the Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health.   She also spoke at dozens of conferences, seminars, and panels across the country.


Biographic Data


Martha Kendall Holmes received her MSW. from the University of Oklahoma in Norman in 1976.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Oklahoma in 1970.


She was active in Oklahoma’s anti-death penalty campaigns with her partner, Tedd Fulp, both of whom were recognized for their efforts by the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (



Significant Achievements and Awards


2009: Lifetime Abolitionist Award from the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty


1999: Awarded Social Worker of the Year by NASW.


1998: Social Worker of the Year, NASW., Oklahoma Chapter.


1991- 1995: Founding member, Board of Directors, Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health


She was also listed in Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals.


Significant Publications


Holmes, M. & Rice, R. (1990). The social worker and parent para-professional: Working together as a team. Proceedings: Focus on the Future, Bi-regional conference in Public Health Social Work, Patricia Conway (ed.), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health and the University of South Carolina.



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