NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Geraldine Wolter was the first executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of NASW, where she served for 14 years, a remarkably long tenure. She was a major proponent of licensing of social workers in Wisconsin during the late 1970’s and advocated strongly and persistently to get a bill passed in the legislature. Her tenacious advocacy work helped a bill pass after multiple trips to legislative committees. Assembly Bill 192 was enacted in April 1992.
Wolter worked in a Chicago settlement house, Marillac House, in the 1950’s where she focused on at-risk, adolescent girls. She changed the settlement's approach from a correctional one to a treatment program utilizing smaller group homes, a novelty in that era. She then worked at the House of Good Shepherd (now known as Cedarcrest Girls’ Residence) for two years. Following that, Wolter directed the YWCA in Greater Milwaukee, departing in 1973 to serve with NASW.
Wolter was a registered lobbyist and worked with the state legislature until 1990. She continued to stay active in politics and worked on the gubernatorial recall vote in 2012. Her concern with social service cuts kept her focused in her lobbying activities.
Geraldine Wolter received her MSW from the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) in 1963 and her BA in Sociology from Mount Mary College.
Significant Achievements and Awards
After leaving the NASW chapter, she continued to work on long-term care coverage so that individuals could receive health care in their homes rather than institutions.
The Milwaukee Sentinel, December 25, 1978. “Social Work License Fought”, pg. 8.
Chapter 457, Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board Act. Wisconsin Legislative Documents.