NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
William Meezan (1947-2016)
Pioneering Contributions:William Meezan's contributions to child welfare and social work education improved the lives of children nationwide through his involvement with social agencies, foundations, schools of social work, national organizations, and the federal government. From 2010-2012 he left academia to become the Director of Policy and Research at Children's Rights in New York City, where he assisted this public law firm in its advocacy efforts to reform the child welfare systems in a number of states. Meezan's commitment to scholarship and research was complimented by his leadership in the social work community, especially in advocating for childrens rights and in the exploration of issues faced by LGBT families. Meezan co-authored four books on child welfare, and co-edited six other volumes including the only book dedicated to research methodology with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.From 2010-2012 he left academia to become the Director of Policy and Research at Children’s Rights in New York City, where he assisted this public law firm in its advocacy efforts to reform the child welfare systems in a number of states. Meezan’s commitment to scholarship and research is complimented by his leadership in the social work community, especially in advocating for children’s rights and in the exploration of issues faced by LGBT families. Meezan co-authored four books in child welfare, and co-edited six other volumes including the only book dedicated to research methodology with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. .
Professional Career: William Meezan began his career in social work in a residential facility for emotionally disturbed boys and their families located in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Within a few years, he took an interest in child welfare research, and in 1974 began teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels while conducting studies at the New School for Social Research and the Child Welfare League of America, where he directed a national study of independent adoptions. By 1978, his expertise had been acknowledged by the federal government and other agencies, and he was hired as a consultant, and was soon invited to join the faculty at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Meezan held positions as assistant professor, associate professor, and professor and director of the Ph.D. Program during his time in Chicago. After ten years, he moved to the School of Social Work at University of Southern California (USC), where he was the John Milner Professor of Child Welfare. While working at USC, he also worked in the Baltic States, helping to create the first social work programs in Lithuania and Latvia. In 1999, Meezan joined the faculty at University of Michigan's School of Social Work in Ann Arbor as the inaugural holder of the Marion Elizabeth Blue Chair in Children and Family Services. In 2005, he became dean of Ohio State University’s School of Social Work.
In addition to his books and edited volumes, Meezan has written more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters related to child welfare. He has served on the Boards of various groups including the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (President), the Society for Social Work Research (Secretary and Treasurer), the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (Secretary), the ANSWER Coalition, and the National Publications Committee of the National Association of Social Workers (Chair). He served in editorial roles for 11 journals including Social Work, Social Work Research, Children and Youth Services Review and Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. He is currently the inaugural Mary Ann Quaranta Professor of Social Justice for Children at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York, NY.
Background: William Meezan grew up in the University Heights area of the Bronx, NY. His parents, both socialists during the 1930s, were instrumental to his developing a sense of how the world can become a better place if people are willing to be responsible for the wellbeing of one another. Meezan earned his BA at the University of Vermont, his MSW at Florida State University, and his PhD at Columbia University where his dissertation was concerned with child welfare decision-making.
Awards and Recognition: William Meezan received numerous awards, fellowships, and grants for research throughout his dynamic career. In 1997, he received an honorary degree from the Higher School of Social Work and Social Pedagogics "Attistiba," Riga, Latvia. Five years later Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania would recognize his contribution to their social work program. In 2000, Meezan received the Outstanding Research Award from the Society for Social Work and Research. In 2005, he was inducted in to the Columbia University School of Social Work Hall of Fame. The National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi inducted him in 2007. In 2009, Meezan received a Leadership Recognition Award from the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research and the Pro Humanitate Literary Award/ 2009 Herbert A. Raskin Child Welfare Article Award from the Institute for Human Services/Center for Child Welfare Policy of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare. In 2013 the University of Vermont granted him the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honaris causa.
Meezan, W. & Martin, J. (2009). Handbook of Research with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations. New York: Routledge.
Meezan, W. & Martin, J. (2003). Research Methods with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Populations. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press. (Published simultaneously as an extended double issue of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 15 (1/2)).
McCroskey, J. & Meezan, W. (1997). Family Preservation and Family Functioning. Washington, D.C.: CWLA Press.
Pecora, P., Fraser, M., Nelson, K., McCroskey, J. & Meezan, W. (1995). Evaluating Family-Based Services. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Meezan, W. & Shireman, J. (1985). Care and Commitment: Foster Parent Adoption Decisions. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Meezan, W., Katz, S. & Russo, E. M. (1978). Adoptions Without Agencies: A Study of Independent Adoptions. New York: Child Welfare League of America.
McGowan, B. & Meezan, W. (1983). Child Welfare: Current Dilemmas‑Future Directions. Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock Publishers.
Stoelker, Tom. (2013). “New Quaranta Chair Seeks Justice for Society’s Most Vulnerable Children.”
NASW Social Work Pioneer® 2013