NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Patricia Martin-O’Meally (1946 - )
Pioneering Contributions: Patricia Martin O’Meally has had a distinguished career as a direct-service provider, union organizer, tenant and mental health advocate in the Washington, DC area since the 1970’s. She has been a ground-breaking organizer of community based programs to serve seriously mentally ill individuals, and established critically needed opportunities for de-institutionalized persons from the Federal St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
In 1973 as a charter member of the Landlord and Tenant Commission of Prince George’s County Maryland, Martin-O’Meally was a Tenant Advocate, who helped tenants 1) with Rent Control legislation and Landlord/Tenant adjudication hearings; 2) to establish and incorporate Tenant Associations and 3) develop collaborative efforts with Civic Associations and Landlords. In addition, she addressed issues related to improving apartment living standards, condominium conversions, lobbying on the local, state and national level for tenant rights and the development of a Federation for Tenant Associations. For her efforts at the county level, she was appointed by Governor Blair Lee to serve on the Governor’s Landlord Tenant Laws Study Commission for the State of Maryland beginning in1978 and reappointed over several administrations serving until 1992.
As President of the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital Social Work Association, Martin-O'Meally helped to establish the organization as a voting member of NASW DC Chapter’s executive board. As an officer of the Association, she pioneered the establishment of a Social Worker of the Year Award. It was during her 30-year tenure at St. Elizabeths that Martin-O’Meally worked to establish the social work bargaining unit, which allowed social workers to have a seat at the table equal with other mental health-care providers during contract negotiations.
Martin O’Meally was Founder and Executive Director of the Life Studies Institute (LSI). Established in 1990, LSI created grass roots programs in the Washington, DC community meant to reduce risk of substance abuse and mentor teens and youth through community programs and schools. One of LSI’s programs, the Aunts and Uncles Mentoring Program, brought mental health professionals, educators and youth together for tailored workshops and mentoring opportunities during a 6-week training program several times a year. The program grew in scope, becoming an after-school tutoring and mentoring program that eventually received support through grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the DC Public Schools.
Career Highlights: Martin-O’Meally served as a geriatric case worker from 1968-1973. During that time a successful social work demonstration program was launched that resulted in Family and Child Services of DC, being awarded the Model Cities’ Senior Citizens Program grant. She has also worked as a consultant for numerous organizations, including the Washington, D.C.’s Citizens Review Panel on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, the Arlington Virginia County Board of Education, the Washington, D.C. Fire Department, Friendship House and many others. From 1973-1997 she held clinical social work and supervisory positions at St. Elizabeths Hospital. Martin-O’Meally was a social work training specialist for the D.C. Commission on Mental Health Services from 1997-2000, developing initiatives to comply with accrediting bodies, directing grants and in-service and continuing education programs, and providing clinical and program consultation to community agencies. She developed and coordinated the Court Ordered Dixon Training Initiative to prepare the in-patient staff to refocus the work effort toward community based patient services.
Martin-O’Meally served as Director of Staff Development and Training for the D.C. Community Services Administration (CSA) from 2000-2004. She helped provide staff development and training opportunities for the Department of Mental Health staff and other community-based caregivers to the mentally ill. She also provided leadership for the CSA Training Division and served the CSA and Department of Mental Health as a consultant in many areas of concern.
She has been an adjunct professor of social work at Howard University School of Social Work since 1993. Martin-O’Meally has also worked closely with the Metro DC Chapter of NASW where she has held elected and committee positions. She now serves on the NASW Social Work Pioneer Annual Program Committee.
Biographic Data: Martin-O’Meally received her M.S.W. in 1979 from Howard University’s School of Social Work in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Virginia Union University in 1968.
Martin-O’Meally participated in post graduate studies in Public Administration at the University of Southern California, D.C. campus in 1985.
Martin O’Meally also received a Certificate in Public Management from the George Washington University in 1999.
Significant Appointments, Achievements and Awards:
2014-2016: Member – Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship Awards Panel
2004-2008: Board Member, NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) DC
1997: Theodore Hagans finalist as Creative Employee of the Year
1992-1996: Member of the Board of Directors for CAPACCESS (Internet provider)
1992-94: Appointed as Commissioner to the Governor’s Landlord/Tenant Commission - MD
1988-1993: Outstanding Service as President - Virginia Union University Alumni
1978-1992: Commissioner, Governor’s Law Study Commission for the State of Maryland
1990-91: Outstanding service as President - Saint Elizabeth's Hospital/CMHS Medical Society
1986: St Elizabeths Hospital Social Worker of the Year
1982-86: President St Elizabeths Hospital Social Work Association
1973-79: Commissioner, Prince George’s County Landlord Tenant Commission