NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Barbara Silverstone (1931 - )
Barbara Silverstone has been a leading figure in the field serving the aging and those with disabilities, in particular vision deficits. For 21 years she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse International a comprehensive vision rehabilitation agency encompassing direct service programs in the Greater New York Metropolitan area and national and international education and research programs. Silverstone has been an advocate for enhanced services for the aging and for the impaired. She demonstrated her commitment to both areas in facilitating the growth of the Lighthouse from its local commitment to the international arena. She is a much sought after speaker on aging and the visually impaired, lecturing across the country and in Europe. Her extensive writing dealing with aging, vision loss and rehabilitation has appeared in important social work and other professional journals and in books. Silverstone created the Fund for the Advancement of Social Services, the focus of which is to educate policy makers, in both the public and private sectors, regarding the meaning of quality social service delivery.
Barbara Silverstone has been president of the Gerontological Society of America (1987-1988), president of the NASW, New York City Chapter (1990-1992), and chaired the Executive Director Search Committee for the National Association of Social Workers in 1991. She represented social work as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1981.
Silverstone’s career, largely in the field of aging, has covered many areas of social work from direct practice to teaching and administration.
She was Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University from 1977-1984 and taught at the School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, where she was Associate Professor from 1979-1982. She also served as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City from September 1975 to June 1978.
Dr. Silverstone was the executive director of The Benjamin Rose Institute in Cleveland,Ohio, from January 1978 to March 1984. The Institute is a non-sectarian, voluntary health and social service agency providing institutional and community-based care and rehabilitation to the frail and impaired elderly and conducts research as well as provides programs for family caregivers. From September 1972 to December 1977 she was Chief of Social Services and Outreach Programs at The Jewish Home and Hospital for Aged, New York City, a facility serving over 1200 elderly residents in the Bronx and Manhattan, operating a community outreach and day program for Impaired elders.
As a part-time instructor, she developed and taught courses on aging and the frail elderly at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, Hunter College’s School of Social Work, and the Syracuse University All-University Gerontology Center. She provided psychiatric social work to young adults and children during her early career.
Silverstone received her DSW from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1973 and her MA from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration in 1954. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA from Duke University in 1952. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and the New York Academy of Medicine. She is a member of Columbia University School of Social Work's Advisory Board.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Dr. Silverstone was awarded the 2012 Columbia University Alumni Medal and was inducted into the School of Social Work's Hall of Fame in 2001. She received the Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Aging award (1997) and Outstanding Leadership Award (1988) from the American Society on Aging. Other recognition includes the Walter N. Beattie Award for Distinguished Service in Aging of the New York State Society on Aging (1992); Distinguished Practitioner and Member, National Academies of Practice (1990); Social Worker in Aging Distinguished Service Award, the NASW, New York City Chapter (1986); and Distinguished Human Service Award, Yeshiva University Gerontological Institute (1982).
Silverstone has published over 40 articles, chapters, and books. One of her best-known publications “You and Your Aging Parent”, coauthored with the late Helen Kandel Hyman is now in its 4th edition. She is also the author, with Helen Kandel Hyman, of “Growing Older Together: A Couple’s Guide to Understanding and Coping with the Challenges of Later Life” (Pantheon Press, New York, 1993).
Barbara Silverstone has delivered over 50 papers and presentations, including the Ellsworth 0. Stanton III Lecture In Gerontological Social Work at the Five New York City Schools of Social Work, November 10, 1999. She presented at the Distinguished Speaker Series at The Gerontology institute, Ithaca College, New York, April 21, 1994. Silverstone was the keynote speaker at the International Conference on The Special Needs of Blind and Low Vision Seniors in Heidelberg, Germany, March 16-18, 2000.