NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ruth Insel (1912 - 2009)
Ruth Insel was born on October 27, 1912. From 1937 until 1942 she worked at the Association for Crippled and Disabled in Cleveland, Ohio and helped them start their rehabilitation program.
She graduated from New York University and was awarded a full scholarship to the Columbia University School of Social Work. She graduated from there in 1946 as a medical social worker. In 1945 she married H. Herbert Insel and they had four sons all of whom became doctors. One of the four sons, Dr. Tom Insel, is the current Director of NIMH. Her husband was an ophthalmologist and the two of them took on the cause of blindness in developing countries.
She served as President of the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington and as Vice President of the Pan American Health and Education Foundation. She was very active in the International Eye Foundation, as a member of the IEF Board of Directors, Chair of the nominating and finance committees, and Vice President of the Foundation. Working with IEF she supported visiting ophthalmological from African and Eastern countries helping them attend training programs at various international ophtalhalmological meetings. She gave strong support to the IEF River Blindness program in Cameron.
Ruth Insel was a charter member of NASW and was also a member of the CUSSW Advisory Council. Ruth and her family established the Ruth Insel Scholarship which is awarded to students who pursue studies in medical and/or psychiatric social work.