NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Madeleine Lay (1901- 1970)
Madeleine Lay was best known for pioneering work as educational secretary of the American Association Psychiatric Social Workers (AAPSW) from 1947 to 1950. There, she was responsible for assisting to develop psychiatric social work curriculum in U.S. schools of social work. However, she also was a pioneer practitioner in mental health settings in many areas in the country.
Born in New York City, she was graduated from Adelphi College in 1922, and from the New York School of Social Work in 1924. From 1929 to 1932, she was chief social worker at the Commonwealth Clinic, Louisville, Kentucky and from 1932 to 1933, a psychiatric social worker at the Payne-Whitney Clinic in New York City. Later, she worked as an assistant professor of psychiatric social work at the University of Chicago and as student supervisor at the New York School of Social Work. She also worked in the social services in the Court of Domestic Relations, New York City, and was secretary of the Family and Child Care Division of the Council of Social Agencies in Houston.
During World War II she was with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency in Germany and Poland, working with displaced persons. In 1950, she accepted a position as professor of social work at Adelphi College and later as chief consultant for New York City Community Mental Health Board. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health. She was president of the AAPSW from 1953 to 1955.
Following her retirement in the late 1960's she traveled abroad. Upon her return to the United States, she lived in New York and Connecticut until her death.