NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Sherman L. Ragland, MSW
Sherman L. Ragland has made many important contributions to the social work profession, to society, and to the National Association of Social Workers.† Since his professional career began in 1970, he has been a champion of the underserved and for victims of discrimination in both the military and civilian populations.
Ragland made the decision to become a social worker and completed his professional training while still on active duty in the military.† While serving in the military, he became one of the chief advocates for equal employment opportunities for women and people of color.†† His success in that role ultimately led to his promotion to chief of the Human Resources Directorate at Walter Reed Medical Center, the Armyís number one medical facility.† Raglandís clients included active duty military personnel, as well as their families and civilian employees.
In these roles, Ragland found himself in the unhappy position of having to deal with bigotry and discrimination on a daily basis.† He also found it necessary to harmonize the social work values, the ďAmerican Dream,Ē and military culture with American law.† In the process, he became an active member of NASW and learned to use the professionís collective voice in the interest of those lacking power.† He became a leader in the Washington, D.C. Metro Chapter, NASW, was elected president of the Chapter, and served two terms on the National Board of Directors.† Ragland chaired the committee that researched and developed the voluntary National Affirmative Action Policy and Program, which earned acclaim from several federal agencies and national organizations, and became a model for a number of associations headquartered in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.†††
At the time of his retirement in 2007, Ragland served as Acting Associate Director, NIMH, where he successfully organized campaigns to encourage citizen participation in mental health and led the creation of a manual on citizen participation in boards of community mental health centers. This manual became part of the working protocols for all federally funded community mental health centers.†
Ragland has received a number of honors and awards, including: Social Worker of the Year, D.C. Metro Chapter, NASW; Distinguished Black Marylander Award, 1993; NIMH Special Achievement Award; Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) Administratorsí Meritorious Achievement Award; Legion of Merit Award- Department of the Army; and a listing in Whoís Who in the East.
Ragland earned a bachelor of arts degree from Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and a masterís degree in social work from Catholic University, in Washington, D.C.†
Social Work Pioneer 2003