NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
William C. Pugh (1921-1989)
In a social work career spanning over 35 years, William "Bill" C. Pugh developed and implemented social service programs for thousands of Alabama's citizens. Many of his innovations brought national acclaim to the Alabama social work community: the development of the state's first legal services program for the poor in cooperation with the Alabama Law School, the development of the first model day care program in the state through the University of Alabama School of Home Economics, and the establishment of the state's first statewide advocacy program for individuals with developmental disabilities.
During the period between 1969 and 1972, Pugh served as the first Deputy Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Pensions and Security (now Human Resources). His creative approach to the use of federal social service funding under Titles IV-A and XX of the Social Security Act resulted in significant improvement in the quality of life for poor adults and children, the mentally ill, and the developmentally disabled in Alabama. The programs developed under his leadership during those important times were viewed as national "models" by many professionals in other states and the nation.
Following his long career with the state's Department of Pensions and Security, Pugh assumed the position of Special Assistant for Academic Development with the University of Alabama. His creative social work skills resulted in the establishment of the nation's first management training program for welfare administrators. Participants in this training program are now providing administrative leadership in various social service programs in over 40 states.
Pugh's career took another turn when he "retired" from the University of Alabama and began work as Director of AGAPE of Central Alabama, a children's agency devoted to services to unmarried mothers, adoption placement, marriage counseling, and other family services. Pugh's legacy to the social work community in Alabama goes far beyond the program developments and management improvements he spearheaded. His most significant legacy is perhaps the identification and "discovery" of potential social work talent in the scores of young professionals he recruited, trained, and encouraged during his career. Those social workers cause his name and spirit to continue as they work to improve the quality of life for others.
Pugh received an MSW degree from Florida State University and a BS from the University of Alabama. He was nominated for NASW's National Social Worker of the Year in 1983. The social work profession and the state of Alabama lost a leader and pioneer with the death of Bill Pugh.