NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Alan Wade (1927 - )
Alan D. Wade was the first vice president of NASW. His belief that the organization’s members “should stick their necks out” (Board Profile, NASW News, March 1970, pg. 6) made him a strong advocate and occasional critic. His stand against means testing for voters nearly led to his being evicted from the 1962 NASW Delegate Assembly. However, two years later, the 1964 Assembly adopted the principle of “income as a matter of right” in large part because of the floor fight led by Wade. NASW became the first national professional organization to go on record supporting a guaranteed income. However, Wade expressed disappointment at NASW taking a middle road between philosophical adherence to the concept of income maintenance and a stronger advocacy position. Wade was a charter member of NASW and served on the national Commission on Social Work practice, the national Commission on Social Policy, and the cabinet of the Division of Social Policy and Action. He also served on the Chicago chapter’s Human Rights Committee. Wade also headed the NASW Committee on Relationships with Students and noted “students are the lifeblood of the organization. We can’t survive without them.” This philosophy survives to this day.
Wade’s early professional experience included casework in public child welfare and mental health. He moved into teaching at the Chicago University’s School of Social Service Administration until 1967. He then became dean of the Sacramento State College School of Social Work. Wade served on the Chicago area chapter of NASW from 1959-1967 and was vice president for Social Policy and Action, chairman of the Federal Social Policy Committee, and chapter delegate to the Assemblies of 1962, 1964, and 1967. He believed his most important work in Chicago was the “assault on the welfare system.” He also stated that his broad teaching experience is reflected in his conviction that social action and practice are “two sides of the same coin. There can be no effective practice unless it is supported by social and political action. And social action without the goal of improving social services would be meaningless.”
Alan Wade received his BA and MSW from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD from the University of Chicago.
His outside interests included motorcycling, hiking, skiing, and handball. He has a wife and two children.
On Humanizing the Bureaucracies, in Politics and African-American Ghettos, Roland L. Warren, editor. Transactions Publishers: New Brunswick, NJ, 1974.
Wade, Alan D., Lifting the Poor Out of Poverty; a Background Paper, for the NASW Commission on Social Policy (National Association of Social Workers, 1967).