NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Dorothy M. Pearson, PhD, ACSW has had a distinguished career in social work practice and social work education. She was a graduate of Southern University where she earned her bachelor's degree. She later went to Wisconsin on a vacation and ended up going to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, School of Social Work, and received her master's degree. She began her professional career as a psychiatric social worker and later accepted a teaching position in the clinical track of the University's curriculum. She then pursued doctoral study at the University and received her Ph.D degree in 1973. Her dissertation on social class and the mentally retarded was selected by the American Association on Mental Retardation as an outstanding contribution to knowledge in the field. She went on to publish some of her findings in Social Service Review.
After receiving her Ph.D. she accepted a joint appointment at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Barry University School of Social Work. At the University of Miami she was part of an interdisciplinary training and research team at the Mailman Center that provided educational experiences for graduate students in social work, psychology, pediatrics, nursing, speech and hearing, special education, law, and nutrition. In 1975 she moved to Howard University and provided the leadership for the Board of Trustee approval of a Doctor of Social Work degree program and became the first director of that program. At that time this doctoral program was the only one in existence university-wide program that predominantly served people of color.
In 1996 she took a one-year sabbatical leave from Howard University to go to Jackson State University, Mississippi, and did the groundwork for a doctoral program in social work which opened in 1997. Upon returning to Howard University she became a full Professor at the School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. She also was named Associate Dean of Howard's School of Social Work. She conducted research regarding the educational, social, and family life of professional African American women and later edited and published the book Perspectives of Equity and Justice in Social Work.
In 1993, Dr. Pearson received the outstanding alumnus award from the Southern University- Baton Rouge and has since been the recipient of other honors and awards and organizational appointments. In 1999 she was recognized by the Council on Social Work Education for her leadership in the establishment and development of their Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund. The Fund sponsors an annual lecture series featuring a social work scholar from an ethnic group of color, hosts fund raising events, awards book scholarships to social work students, and it also has a publication program.
Pearson received the University of Wisconsin-Madison Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017.
She was nominated in1999 as a NASW Pioneer.