NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Vivian L. Smith
In 1966 Vivian L. Smith MSW, ACSW was awarded the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Lifetime Achievement Award. She had previously received the Social Worker of the Year Award from the NASW-Metro Chapter. Her social work career spans more than four decades. Before retiring she was deputy director of the Center for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). During her ten years at the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), she launched initiatives to promote the benefits of substance-abuse prevention, including the National Center for the Advancement of Prevention. An outgrowth of CSAP's successful demonstration programs, the center analyzed and synthesized research findings and transformed them into practical and timely programs. Due to her creativity and persistent follow-through, a professional linkage was developed between CSAP and NASW. Twenty-one deans and faculty of prestigious schools of social work met and agreed to explore the possibility of including a "prevention track" in the social work curricula at the graduate level.
Vivian L. Smith had previously worked for more than twenty years at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, starting there in 1960. During that time she achieved accreditation status for its Area D. Community Mental Health Center at a time when St. Elizabeth’s had lost its accreditation. She began her association with the hospital as a social worker/social work supervisor and before moving to the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, she became the first nonmedical director of a major division at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital.
She was born in Tampa, Florida, and received her schooling in Sumter, South Carolina, her BS degree from the Ohio State University, and her MSW from the Catholic University of America. She attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, for one year followed by serving 2 1/2 years in the Women's Air Force. She has been a lecturer at the Catholic University School of Social Work, the Washington School of Psychiatry and the Metropolitan Mental Health Skills Center. She has earned more than 50 national and community based awards including three United States Presidential Rank Awards; Senior Executives Association Distinguished Rank Award, Department of Health; and Human Services Volunteer Award, as well as the awards from NASW.