NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Anita J. Mackey (1914 - )
Anita J. Mackey was born in Riverside, California in 1914. She completed her B.A. at the University of Redlands and received her M.A. from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in 1941. She accepted a position teaching elementary school soon after her marriage in 1937 to Harvey A. Mackey, a Chicago postal worker and son of an emancipated slave, before attending graduate school. After graduating from the SSA she worked for the Red Cross and then the Veterans Administration. She moved to California with her husband and in 1953 and she became the first African American supervisor in the VA's outpatient clinic in Los Angeles. Her last professional employment was with the Los Angeles office of the VA. She retired in 1976.
Anita and her husband who had no children of their own adopted a promising 22 year old young Nigerian man whom they accommodated and nurtured through his achievement of a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, after which he became a college professor in Nigeria and a Chief of his community. Subsequently his son, then 16, was sponsored by the Mackeys and later became an architect.
Anita has served on many committees, boards and commissions, and she has said that those which were the most important were those which had dealt with people who were most in need of advocacy - The County Parole Board, Fire and Police Commission, Civil Service Commission, and the City Housing Authority. Of importance as well was her service to the Mental Health Advisory Board, the Civil Rights Commission and the Mental Health Association for which she received status as an honorary member of the board after 25 years.
Her recognition and awards are numerous, including the Santa Barbara Council on Social Services Award for Distinguished Service, 1972; Regional District (VA) Director's award for service to the public, Veteran's Out Patient Clinic, Los Angeles, 1971; University of Redlands Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, 1972; Federal Employee Distinguished Public Service Award of Southern California Area, 1972; Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan; Santa Barbara Woman of the year, 1976; Seventh -day Adventist Distinguished woman award, 1976; Honorary member Delta Kappa International Society; Life Member NAACP; and University of Chicago alumni association citation for public service, 1981, among others.
On her 90th birthday the Anita J. Mackey Minority Merit Scholarship was established in her honor. She has traveled extensively, in part to witness what the Seventh Day Adventists do worldwide. To this end she has visited all seven continents and more than 130 countries and islands. She has been active over the years with the NASW program in California and is the oldest licensed social worker in the state of California.