NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Betty McCullough Spencer (1923 - 2010)
Throughout the years, Betty McCullough Spencer served as a champion of the unheard and visibly challenged, both within the mental health service delivery arena and the community at large. First in the state of Louisiana and then in Mississippi, Betty served as a private practitioner and provided counseling and psychotherapy to children, adults, couples, and families. She maintained her private practice for a span of more than fifty years.
From beginning her practice career as a Supervisor with the Orleans Parrish Juvenile Court Probation Department (New Orleans ,Louisiana), Ms. Spencer took a keen interest in the sub-disciplinary area of forensic social work. Over the course of sixty years, she served as consultant, gave expert testimony in many criminal cases; and taught the rudiments, methods, theories, and practices to countless numbers of students, interns fellows and those practitioners pursuing developmental instruction.
Ms. Spencer began her lifelong legacy of service in the field of mental health practice at Tulane University’s Department of Psychiatry as a Child Psychiatry Research Investigator and Clinician. She went on to serve as the Supervisor of the Social Work Section in the Psychiatry and Neurology Clinics at Charity Hospital of New Orleans and Chatres Mental Health Centers. From 1973 to 1984, she held the position of Coordinator of Outpatient Services with Pontchartrain Mental Health Center.
After moving across the state line to Mississippi, Ms. Spencer was employed by the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center as Coordinator of Children and Adolescent Services. Simultaneously, Ms. Spencer served as a field instructor for the Tulane University School of Social Work and the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. She then served as a field instructor for the University of Southern Mississippi from 1990-1999.
Ms. Spencer is remembered for her commitment and tenacity in furthering the tenants and purposes of NASW’s Mississippi Chapter’s PACE Committee, for which she served for many years as its chairperson. One did not attend a Mississippi Chapter Annual Session without attending and/or supporting any and all of PACE activities because Betty Spencer was a force to be reckoned with!
Betty McCullough Spencer passed away from this earthly practice field on June 25, 2010. Great was her service, presence, example and legacy to the profession of social work. Countless practitioners across the country have been inspired and have benefited from the instruction, tutelage, counsel, mentorship and friendship of this true lady of wisdom.