NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Neilson Smith (1929 - 1998)
Neilson Smith made key contributions to the field of social work career development, helping to maintain federal support during challenging fiscal circumstances. He spent 25 years at the National Institute of Mental Health in the Social work Education Branch, Division of Manpower Training, becoming chief of the Branch in 1973. The primary mission of this division was to advance professional education in social work, psychiatry, psychology, and psychiatric nursing.
In other federal roles, Smith served as liaison to state mental health agencies and on special projects. In 1988, after a reorganization at NIMH, Smith became acting chief of the Education and Training Branch, which dealt with funding for all disciplines within the agency.
Neilson Smith led research projects in Switzerland and the Netherlands and spent a year in India under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO). His role in India was to consult on administration, faculty development and curriculum for a post-master’s diploma program in psychiatric social work. He also was active in the Council of Social Work Education and was a member of the Journal of Social Casework editorial reviews. Smith also conducted research and educated social workers about appropriate medications for psychological conditions.
Neilson Smith earned his PhD in Social Work at Smith College in 1965. He received his MSW from the University of Connecticut in 1955.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1991: Smith College School for Social Work Day-Garrett Award
Smith, N.F. (1974). Interdisciplinary training for community mental health service. Journal of Education for Social Work, 10(2), 106-113.
Smith, N. F., & Wittman, M. (1974). New roles and services in the community mental health center. A Design for Social Work Practice, ed. by Felice Davidson Perlmutter. New York: Columbia University Press.
Smith, N. F. (1967). National experiment in staff development. Social Casework, 48(9), 556-562.
Smith, N. F. (1966). Practitioners' orientations to knowledge and conceptual learning from practice: Part l. Social Casework, 47(6-12), 507.