NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Irving Levin (1924-2010)
Irving Levin received the NASW Social Worker of the Year Award in 1996 in recognition of the outstanding work he had accomplished in Paris, France over a period of 30 years. He has been, in fact, a Pioneer on two continents, and in many facets of mental health care.
After graduation from the Richmond School of Social Work, Richmond Professional Institute (1952), he worked in several mental health settings in the District of Columbia, including St. Elizabeths Hospital, the Juvenile Court, and the Department of Pupil Appraisal of the DC Public Schools. Then, in 1960 he became the Chief Psychiatric Social Worker on the Northern Virginia Mental Health Project, where he developed follow-up services for patients discharged from the nearest State mental hospital 150 miles awayand stimulated mental health activities in many community agencies. In 1963, when project funds were terminated, he went to Montgomery County, Maryland, where he helped develop the first comprehensive mental health center in that area. At that time, these were both innovative programs.
During the three decades that he lived abroad (he maintained his US citizenship), Irv Levin identified many mental health needs, and has done something about them. He was counselor for more than twenty years at the American School of Paris where he worked with students, parents and teachers. He made weekly visits to Americans in jails or who were hospitalized and he was instrumental in founding both the Students Advisory Service which provides counseling for college students and the International Counseling Service. He organized a Free Anglo American Counseling Treatment Support for People with or affected by HIV/AIDS (FACTS) and established effective communication and networks between English-speaking and French social workers. He has worked with many organizations, both French and American, as a consultant and lecturer.
Irv Levin was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1924. He spent four years in the Navy during WWII. At the Great Lakes Naval Hospital, he had the assignment of interviewing patients on the psychiatric wardsthis began his interest in psychology and social work. He received a BA from George Washington University, and then went on to get his degree in social work. At the same time, he worked part time for the Travelers Aid Society. Thus, he started his long career to being there to help others who were in trouble.