NASW Foundation National
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
(1935 - 1992)
Georgia McMurray was a pioneer in developing educational services for children in New York City, focusing on pregnant adolescent girls. She was the founder of Project Teen Aid and was a tireless advocate for all underserved children, despite her own health challenges, serving the community and teaching until her death.
McMurray was opposed to the then-current philosophy that girls leave school when becoming pregnant. She was adamant that teenaged girls not leave school, despite being viewed as a “bad influence” on other teenagers. McMurray reasoned that teenagers denied an education would never rise above their impoverished circumstances.
McMurray became Commissioner of the New York City Agency for Child Development in 1971. She was its first director, having served for two years in Mayor John Lindsay’s administration as a director of the Early Childhood Task Force, developing services for young children and families.
When McMurray was hired to the direct the City Agency for Child Development, she was tasked with increasing its budget, staff and programs. Within three years, the number of city day care centers had grown from 260 to 300 and served a population of over 45,000 children, a 300% increase. Some of the innovative plans generated by McMurray were using female neighbors to care for children of working mothers, increasing daycare program allocations to accommodate “latch-key” children, and setting up federally-funded centers for middle-class families who could afford some of the operating costs. Her family visits hearkened back to the beginning of social-work-in-the-community days as she solicited parents’ feedback on needed programs.
She became Deputy General with the Community Service Society from 1978 to 1986, producing reports on homelessness and the changing demographics on urban poverty. McMurray also taught at Fordham University from 1989 until 1992.
She was the New York City Chapter NASW President from 1978-82.
McMurray earned her MSW from Bryn Mawr College in 1962. She received her BA from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1959.
Despite suffering from the neuromuscular disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth her entire adult life, Georgia McMurray rose above her circumstances to serve the community for whom she cared so much.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1992: Essence Magazine Award
1992: Children’s Aid Society Award for Distinguished Service
Her musical talent won her the Marian Anderson Scholarship to Temple University.
McMurray, G.L, & Kazanjian, D.P. (1982). Day care and the Working Poor: The Struggle for Self Sufficiency. Published by the Community Service Society, New York
McMurray, G.L. (1971). Disturbing the Status Quo. (out of print). Florence Crittenton Association of America
McMurray, G.L. (1968). Project Teen Aid: A community action approach to services for pregnant unmarried teen-agers. American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health, 58(10), 1848-1853.