NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Joe R Hoffer (1907 - 1977)
A man of courage and vision, dedicated to ideas and ideals, Joe Hoffer served as Executive Secretary of the National Conference on Social Welfare from 1948 until January 1972, and was Secretary General of the International Conference of Social Work from 1948 to 1966. When he died in 1977, he was Chief of the Medical Assistance Program of the Ohio Department of Public Welfare in Columbus, where he had been since 1974.
Following his retirement from NCSW in 1972, Dr. Hoffer became a Visiting Professor at Ohio State University in the School of Social Work - his alma mater where he had earned two degrees, a BS in 1932 with a major in Personnel Management, and a PhD in 1942 with a major in Social Administration.
At Ohio State's Centennial which was celebrated in 1970, the University honored him with one of its Centennial Achievement Awards. He was also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the OSU College of Administrative Science that same year.
In 1973, the National Conference on Social Welfare presented him with its Distinguished Service Award at its Centennial Forum in Atlantic City, a year after his retirement. In 1972, the American Public Welfare Association gave him its Award of Special Merit NASW recognized his ability by electing him its Treasurer for two years and President of its Ohio Chapter, a post he was holding when he died. He was also chosen "Social Worker of the Year" in 1967 by NASW's Central Ohio Chapter.
Even before he became affiliated with NCSW, he had a broad knowledge of national organizations and the social welfare field. Being an Ohio boy, he started out as Director of Community Activities with the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Xenia, and then was State Director of Community Organizations for NYA in Ohio. He became Secretary and Budget Consultant for the Community Division of the Philadelphia Council of Social Agencies, and this was followed by other positions, Program Director for the United Seaman's Service, National Consultant with the American Association of Social Workers, and Executive Director of the Social Work Vocational Bureau, all in New York City, until he returned to Ohio with NCSW.
Quiet, unassuming, and calm, Joe Hoffer was a perfectionist, an achiever, well disciplined and able, in his administration, in his teaching, in his athletics, in his writing, in everything he did. He expected his staff and students to be the same. He was the sort of man who realized people's potential expected the best from them, and who generally got it.