NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Maurice V. Russell (1923-1988)
Throughout his social work career, Maurice V. Russell has forged new ground for social work and the advancement of health and mental health services. He had done so as a practitioner, an educator, an administrator, and a leader. His contributions to social work practice, education, and research are both unique and distinguished. Through his work in a variety of settings and with numerous interdisciplinary groups and associations, Russell's contributions have transcended the boundaries of social work and at the same time they have enriched the social work profession.
Russell received his bachelor's degree at Temple University in 1948 and his master's of social work degree at Columbia University School of Social Work in 1950. He received his Ph.D. at Columbia University Teacher's College in social psychology in 1964. In the 1960s he developed the Social Work Department at Harlem Hospital in New York City and received wide recognition for the community services which he innovated both in health and mental health context. From 1965 to 1970 he was associate professor of administrative medicine at Columbia University School of Public Health. He became director of Social Service and Professor of Community Medicine at Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York until 1973. From 1973 until 1988, Russell was director of the Social Service Department and Professor of Clinical Social Work at NYU Medical Center.
In all of these positions, he was responsible for innovations in social services, in broad health and mental health services, and for educating both social workers, medical students, and other health workers. He served as chairman of the Task force on National Prevention Policy, the American Public Health Association, as a special consultant to the Social Work Training Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, as an officer of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and as chairman of the Service and Rehabilitation Committee of the American Cancer Society. He was chairman of the first national conference on Practice Education and Research in oncology social work. He has served as a member of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. As president of the Kenworthy-Swift Foundation, he has facilitated the development of scores of health and mental health programs that have been funded by this foundation.
Russell received many awards for his outstanding achievements including those from the National Urban League, the American Hospital Association, and the Social Worker of the Year Award from American Public Health Association. In 1993 his countless contributions to Columbia University were recognized when the University-wide Alumni Federation presented him with its Alumni Award for Conspicuous Service to Columbia University. Russell has been an elected member of the Board of Trustees of the Columbia University, and, for more than a decade, was on the advisory council of the School of Social Work. He was also honored by the establishment of an endowed professorship in Social Policy and Social Work Practice at the Columbia University School of Social Work. A charter member of NASW, a life member of NAACP, and a life fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, Russell lives in New York City but maintains a country home as well so that his memberships include the Rheincliff Volunteer Fire Company.